DARE ADEKANMBI looks at the scheduled national convention of the All Progressives Congress (APC) against the background of the absence of activities that should precede the exercise, submitting that the event may be shifted once again.
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Nothing in the horizon suggests that the planned national convention of the governing All Progressives Congress (APC) will go on as scheduled. The usual activities that should precede the holding of the convention have either been not forthcoming or they, stakeholders, are in a long drawn political chess game.
On December 20, 2021, the party’s caretaker chairman and Yobe State governor, Mai Mala Buni, said the party would soon announce the convention and various sub-committees needed to make the convention hitch-free.
Sixty days after his statement, neither the convention committee nor the subcommittees have been made public. The convention is slated for February 26 and 27, eight days hence.
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The seemingly contentious issue of zoning of offices of the National Working Committee (NWC) members of the party is yet to be sorted out. Although various zoning permutations and tables showing how offices are shared have surfaced in the conventional and social media, they have been disowned by the party as untrue.
With zoning still a thorny matter, it has been very difficult for the leadership of the party to direct the sale of forms to prospective party officers, thus making the build-up activities to the convention to come to a screeching halt.
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In the wake of the controversy trailing the possibility of a further shift in the convention date, the party said there was no going back on the date. To demonstrate its commitment in this regard, the leadership inaugurated or (is it certificated?) the state chairmen of the party, following contentious congresses. Thus scaling one of the biggest hurdles in its way, albeit in a near-clandestine manner and with dire consequences being threatened by the losing factions.
APC is deeply fractured in about 13 states, a majority of which are in the southern part of the country, with only Kano being one of the three northern states where the structure of the party is hotly contested between Governor Abdulai Ganduje and one of his predecessors, Ibrahim Shekarau. The ding dong battle has been won by the former, following Thursday’s Appellate Court decision on which faction is authentic.
Apart from Kano, there have been various court verdicts in other states where the control of the party structure has been litigated, with governors having the upper hand in states like Osun, Zamfara and Kwara. But in states not controlled by the APC, like Oyo and Delta, things are not so rosy for the party. Shouts of enthronement of the minority groups over the majority have suffused the political space.
Last-ditch efforts by APC governors to meet the leader of the party, President Muhammadu Buhari with a view to ironing out gray areas, particularly the vexatious issue of zoning and the candidates to fill what positions, were unsuccessful. Buhari jetted out of the country to Belgium for EU-AU summit and he is expected back in the country by the weekend.
There had been a speculation before his travel that Buhari had okayed the North-Central zone to produce the national chairman of the party. The speculation got oxygen from the endorsement of the president’s long standing ally, Saliu Mustapha, by the zone. Mustapha, 49-year-old, is the youngest of the aspirants from the zone. Is he the anointed by Buhari? Those in the know of the power game in the party said having been Buhari’s ally since the days of the president in ANPP days, the answer is in the affirmative.
Threat of court actions
The faction of the APC belonging to Senator Kabiru Marafa is in court to challenge the legality of the inauguration of the other faction loyal to Governor Bello Mattawale.
Five members of the party in Zamfara and FCT have approached a Federal High Court in Abuja to stop the APC from going ahead with the convention, the leadership having failed to conduct congresses in Anambra and Zamfara states.
In a suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/3/2022 and dated January 4, the plaintiffs are asking the court to determine whether APC can hold its convention with congresses conducted only in 34 out of 36 states.
The Lagos faction led by Fouad Oki has threatened to go to court to stop the convention with official recognition accorded the faction loyal to former Lagos governor, Senator Bola Tinubu.
Stakeholders in the Oyo State chapter, in an advertorial, have sent an SOS to President Buhari over the manner the national leadership of the party shut out majority and gave the structure to those they called the minority. They have threatened to go to court over the matter.
Can the Buni-led committee still pull off the convention?
The Polity findings revealed that even many party stakeholders are not sure about the convention. Some of them who spoke with The Polity expressed their reservations over the contentious issues tearing the party apart.
Senator Gbenga Kaka, a former Ogun State deputy governor, is not happy about development in the party. He put the blame on those calling the party›s shot from Abuja. He however is optimistic that the party might still get it right by organising the convention, saying even an hour in politics could prove to be eterrnity.
“In politics, one hour may be too long a period of time and at the same time; it may be too short a period of time. Let’s hope that maybe those who are directing the affairs have a magic wand which they will use to quickly let us know what are the positions available, which zone is producing candidates what positions, when the forms will be out so that prospective candidates can sort themselves out within their respective states.
“If it turns out that those in Abuja have the magic wand and the people are ready to comply, fine. I am also hearing there is the likelihood of the convention being pushed forward. And since this will not be the first time they will push it forward, it won’t be a surprise to many. So, we are hopeful that things will go the normal way.
“I believe that before we put any other date, we should do our homework properly so that we don’t just continue putting our people on the edge,” said Senator Gbenga Kaka, former deputy governor of Ogun State.
“I don’t see the convention holding. This is just one week to the event and no committee has been set up. So many issues are still unresolved. People like me have already bought our flight tickets waiting to fly to Abuja. But from the look of things, it will take a miracle for the Buni committee to hold the exercise. The governors made an attempt to see the president to straighten out issues, but Buhari flew outside the country and the meeting could not hold,” said a former House of Representatives member from Oyo State, Honourable Kola Olabiyi.
The preponderance of opinion from leaders of the party is that it is a matter of when and not if the convention is postponed. What is more important is that the party must confront the demons power play created it and conquer such demons rather than postponing decisive action on the division resulting from its congresses.
The 2023 elections are just one year away and off-cycle elections are holding in Ekiti and Osun states where bitter interparty skirmishes are not simmering. With electioneering creeping in, time is running out for APC. There are chieftains of the party who are already mouthing the birth of a third force involving break away factions in AOC and other parties. The convention is a make-or-mar vent for the APC and therefore has to be delicately handled.
But like the late winner of the June 12 1992 presidential election asked, if takes 20 years to rehearse madness, how long with it take to exhibit it? How long before peace returns APC? How long?
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