•The South-East is looking for a national secretary, while the South-West is divided.
•Aspirants for the presidency differ about the date of the convention, so they write Buhari.
•Governors reach agreement on zoning list
FastNews reports that President Muhammadu Buhari met with governors of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) yesterday at State House in Abuja, where he stated his preference for Senator Abdullahi Adamu, a former governor of Nasarawa State, as the consensus candidate for the position of APC national chairman.
The conference with state chief executives was summoned to address, among other things, the party’s upcoming national convention on March 26.
The South-east APC stakeholders campaigned for the job of National Secretary, while the South-west, where the role was originally designated, was still divided over the party position.
However, under the latest agreement reached by the Governors yesterday at their meeting after the meeting with Buhari, all the previous positions in the party held by members from the North-west would now go to those from the South-east; all positions that were held by those in the North-east would go to those in the South-west; and all positions previously held by those from the North-central would automatically go to those from the South-south. Therefore, the position of party secretary and chairman were dealt with.
It was agreed that Adamu would be National Chairman.
The president’s only preference was Adamu as National Chairman, and for the rest positions, he asked the stakeholders to go and decide.
Some of the APC governors at the meeting wanted the March 26 date proposed for the party’s national convention to remain as planned, but some aspirants for the party positions wrote to the president to halt plans for the convention.
Although it would have been Buni’s preferred plan to hold the convention and presidential primary same time, that is no longer feasible given INEC’s timetable and time constraint.
At the meeting attended by 11 of the 22 APC governors at the president’s office, Buhari was said to have turned down the governors’ request for him to have a rethink on his support for Adamu as national chairman of the party.
The president, who met with the governors shortly before departing for Nairobi, Kenya, to attend a four-day international summit, said no to the attempt by the governors to get him to change his mind on the former Nasarawa State governor. He was said to have bluntly refused to shift ground, when the governors advanced their reasons against the ranking senator emerge as national chairman.
The governors were said to have expressed their desire to allow all those that have signified interest in the national chairmanship of the party to run, which the president rejected.
The engagement provided an avenue for South-east APC governors to complain about the zoning of the office of the national secretary to South-west rather than their region.
Chairman of the Progressive Governors Forum (PGF) and Governor of Kebbi State, Atiku Bagudu, who led the team to the meeting with Buhari, was said to have told them that it was too late to amend the zoning formula.
In spite of the position of the chairman of PGF, the South-east governors resolved to take their agitation for the party scribe to a meeting of the APC governors that was scheduled to hold next Tuesday at Kebbi State Governor’s Lodge in Asokoro, Abuja.
The Tuesday evening’s meeting, expected to be attended by the 22 APC governors, will take another look at the totality of the forthcoming national convention with regard to the zoning arrangement for the offices.
Apart from Bagudu, other APC governors at the meeting were Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti), Aminu Masari (Katsina), Nasir El-Rufai (Kaduna), Abubakar Badaru (Jigawa), Yahaya Bello (Kogi), Hope Uzodinma (Imo), Gboyega Oyetola (Osun), Dapo Abiodun (Ogun), Sani Bello (Niger), Umar Ganduje (Kano), and outing deputy governor of Anambra State, Nkem Okeke.
Buni absent at meeting
At the end of the meeting with Buhari, the governors affirmed that there was no plan to move the national convention from the scheduled date of March 26, in Abuja. This was despite the tight timeframe provided by the timetable of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) released for next year’s general election.
There had been speculations that a section of the party was pushing for the postponement of the national convention so that both the election of the national executives and the primaries to select its candidates for the 2023 elections could be done simultaneously.
Speaking with newsmen after the meeting with the president, Bagudu assured that the party would maintain the March 26 date for the exercise. He said the governors met with the president to congratulate him for signing the Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill, 2022 and also on the victory of APC in some of the by-elections conducted over the weekend.
On whether the idea of further postponement of the convention was discussed at the meeting, Bagudu stated, “Last week, we were in this hall (villa), about 20 APC governors, and this question came up and we clearly said we came to discuss the national convention, which is slated for March 26, and are working hard to ensure that on March 26, we have our convention and elect our national officers and that remains the case.”
He dismissed speculation that the APC state chief executives were still divided over the direction of the party especially, after what seemed to be an altercation among them as they emerged from the meeting with the president.
Bagudu stated, “There’s no altercation, I’m not aware of any. Mallam Nasiru (Kaduna State governor), again last week, answered that. Look, if by altercation people are talking about differences of opinion before a decision is arrived at, then, maybe, that is what people can… but as a body, the 22 governors of APC are united behind the party and behind Mr. President.”
On the essence of the meeting on Tuesday, Bagudu explained, “Today, Tuesday, 1st of March, a number of APC governors came to Mr. President to, among others, congratulate him on signing the Electoral Act.
“This is something many Nigerians have expressed different views about, but Mr. President had once again taken the courageous step of, even while having observations, he signed and requested the National Assembly to look at it. So, we congratulate the National Assembly for passage of the amendments and equally congratulate Mr. President for signing the amendment.
“Secondly, our party, the All Progressives Congress, participated in a number of by-elections over the last weekend and equally, we congratulated Mr. President and in addition, we spoke about other issues that concern our party.”
Bagudu dismissed insinuations that governors were still not comfortable with certain provisions of the Act, saying, “I’ve always had cause to address this. There was no time; legislation, everywhere in the world, is based on continuous improvement. Constitutions that are 200 years old are subject to reviews sometimes and those reviews are not cut and dry. Even people, who truly believe in the need for legislation may have worries about the implications of it.
“Like I said, we’re never against the principle of amending laws. They (governors) are never against the National Assembly, but even among the National Assembly, there’s debate. To imagine that there is some legislation that is punitive to the governors or to the National Assembly, I think that will be tantamount to negation of the Oath of Office, whoever is participating in doing that.”
According to a senior official of the APC caretaker committee, “As you know, our party is already fragmented along different interest groups. It is expected that there will be serious crisis within the party after the national convention fixed for March 26. And we don’t have enough time to resolve the crisis before the presidential primary that will start on April 4.
“So, our reasoning is that if we hold the national convention and presidential primary same day, we will have almost eight months to resolve the crises that will emanate from both the national convention and the presidential primary before the campaign starts – in line with INEC’s timetable.”
The APC chieftain added that almost all members of the interim committee and some governors had keyed into this news idea, saying it would be “suicidal for the party to go ahead” with the national convention fixed for March 26.
“The whole idea is to see how we can manage our crisis. We don’t want to have a sharply divided party that will be going into campaign and elections. And we hope to present this case to our leader, President Muhammadu Buhari, for approval in the next few days.”
Another source also claimed that the fresh plot to hold the national convention and the presidential primary same day had always been the “agenda” of Buni-led caretaker committee.
The source said, “We are aware of the new move by some members of the caretaker committee. That has always been their agenda. They really want to conduct the presidential primary and the convention the same day, so that they can benefit from it. Let’s see how it goes.”
Moreover, a group under the auspices of All Progressive Congress (APC) Action Group demanded that the presidential primary and the national convention of APC be held on the same date.
The group, in a statement yesterday by its Publicity Secretary, Mr. Bisi Olanipekun, said there was need to save money for the party and to shield party members from expending so much resources for the two events that could be held in a day.
Aspirants Write Buhari, Want National Convention Halted
The Forum of All Progressive Congress (APC) Aspirants for National Convention wrote to President Muhammadu Buhari and urged him to halt the forthcoming national convention of the party slated for March 26. The aspirants, in the letter jointly signed yesterday by the forum’s President and Secretary, Mr. Tolulope Ashafa and Mr. Usman Adamu, respectively, alleged that four APC governors were planning to bring the convention forward by holding it earlier than planned.
The aspirants said the development would make the APC unable to give the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) the 30-day notice required by law for it to hold the convention.
The forum said the prediction that the Electoral Act 2022 would cause the demise of APC was anchored not on the content of the legislation but the unholy manipulations going on in the party.
The forum stated, “We crave your patience to recall the near toxic wrangling over the timing of APC’s National Convention. But for the wisdom of Mr. President, who sided with critical stakeholders on the need to hold the convention at a more auspicious time, a gang of state governors had arrogated the power of decision to themselves and were going to force the gathering through without minding the consequences on the party, the country’s democracy, and Your Excellency’s image.
“Governor Nasir El-Rufai, Governor Mohammed Badaru Abubakar of Jigawa State, Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State, and Governor Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi State are among the members of the cartel that has put its interest over that of our great party by trying to forcefully conduct the convention in a manner that would have sabotaged the APC but for your timely intervention.”
The forum alleged that these governors were exploiting the names of the Progressive Governors Forum (PGF) and the president to promote one candidate above the others in a manner that completely negated the neutrality that the president had embodied in the handling of political decisions in the country.