THIS week is a decisive one for the Governor Mai Mala Buni-led Caretaker Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee, CECPC, of the All Progressives Congress, APC.
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As it is, the committee is in the middle of two powerful contending forces: Those who want the convention on February 26 and those against it. Both forces have governors elected on the platform of the party and some critical stakeholders as members.
Indeed, six days to the proposed national convention, aspirants jostling for various national positions have asked the Governor Mai Mala Buni-led CECPC, to postpone the exercise because the February 26 date is no longer feasible.
They spoke on the banner of ‘Forum of Aspirants for 2022 National Convention,’ the contestants in a letter signed by Mr. Maxwell Yakubu Gowon, an aspirant for National Youth Leader and chairman of all aspirants forum; and Mr. Mohammed Bala Mohammed, aspirant for National Secretary, who also doubles as Secretary for the Forum. They urged Governor Buni to “critically examine the various agitations in different states of the country”, adding that, “the feelers are not pleasant, and with the benefit of hindsight, it would indeed spell doom if the party goes ahead with the national convention under such circumstances.”
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However, top party sources said President Buhari would disband the CECPC and put up another Convention Committee over alleged compromise of Governor Buni with some Governors, who are said to be pushing personal agenda ahead of 2023.
According to sources, the President is not comfortable with extending the tenure of the CECPC, against the backdrop that this had been done twice. The only option is send the Committee home if it cannot conduct the convention.
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It would be recalled that the Buni-led Caretaker committee got the nod of the party’s hierarchy and the president to stay on for a six-month extended period in December, 2020 and also got a vote of confidence from the Progressive Governors’ Forum, the umbrella body of governors elected on the platform of the APC. As things stand, it will be difficult to hold the national convention on February 26.
Sources in the CECPC said the committee wants “the ruling party to get it right. There will be six bye-elections on February 26. We don’t want to disenfranchise members and leaders of the APC taking part in the bye-elections. The committee has fulfilled eight of the nine promises it made at inauguration. It has rescued and stabilised the party. It is building peace that attracted more lawmakers and governors raising the number of APC governors from 19 to 22 and giving the party two-third majority in the National Assembly. It did membership registration, which gave the party 41 million members, making it the largest party in Africa. The national convention is the last task before the CECPC and it wants to get it right first time by carrying all stakeholders along. Going to the convention with a divided front will not augur well.”
Buhari, govs meet on Tuesday
Meanwhile, President Buhari is expected to meet with Governors of the APC, on Tuesday at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
The meeting was initially scheduled to hold last Tuesday before it was put off shortly before the President travelled to Brussels, Belgium to attend the EU-AU Summit.
It was reliably gathered that the rescheduled meeting with the APC governors, which is at the instance of President Buhari is to look at the national convention of the party scheduled for February 26, 2022.
It was learned that the date may no longer be feasible as it is less than a week away with no known programme put in place by the party.
The meeting with the President which will be led by the Chairman of the CECPC Mai Mala Buni and 21 other APC Governors will now table another possible date and other logistics for approval by President Buhari.
Sources close to the party hinted that its interim leadership was said to be pushing for the convention to be moved by two weeks to mid March but it will have to seek the approval of President Buhari in his capacity as the National Leader of the APC.
The sources said it was the same step Buni-led interim committee took last December when it approached the President to approve the February 26 date, which President Buhari gladly did.
The sources, who claimed not to be comfortable with the development in the party said the same scenario that played out last time may repeat itself as the President may accede to the extension of the date for the convention being proposed by the party.
Last Tuesday, some governors actually turned up at the State House for the meeting with the President before they learned about the postponement of the meeting.
Most of the APC Governors were said to have arrived Abuja Monday for the Tuesday meeting before they heard of the cancellation through the Progressive Governors Forum, which is the umbrella body of APC Governors.
Chairman of the Nigerian Governors Forum ( NGF), Dr Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti state, who was sighted at the Villa earlier on Tuesday left as soon as he knew the meeting had been postponed.
Othe Governors sighted at the Villa included Professor Ben Ayade of Cross River State; Yahaya Bello of Kogi state; Senator Hope Uzodimma of Imo state and Mallam Nasir el-Rufai of Kaduna State who were said to have used the opportunity of the visit to discuss issues affecting their various states with the President.
APC govs’ interest
Said to be in this group are the President of the Senate, Senator Ahmad Lawan, who is from the same state with Buni; the Chairman of Nigeria Governors’ Forum, NGF and Ekiti State Governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi; Governor Abubakar Sani Bello of Niger State and Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State.
According to sources, with presidential and vice Presidential ambition of two governors from the North-Central where the position of National Chairman may be zoned to, various camps have emerged. One of the camps is supporting the Chairman, Senate Services Committee, Senator Sani Musa, Niger-East. Another camp is supporting Senator Abdullahi Adamu, Nasarawa West; and a third camp is for Senator Tanko Al- Makura, Nasarawa South.
Why Feb 26 date is no longer feasible — Aspirants
Seeking a postponement of the convention, the Forum of Aspirants wrote Buni: “The issues you have striven to resolve are still looking at us in the face, and it is common knowledge that all is not entirely well in the party.
“We know that issues such as this are commonplace. However, it is our opinion that it would spell doom for the party should the party go ahead with the national convention now. We are concerned about the party’s future, and it would be detrimental if we do not bring to your notice the dangers of going ahead with the national convention.
“In case you might not be aware, the Abdullahi Adamu-led Reconciliation Committee did not help matters in the task assigned to it. Instead, it further complicated the issues at stake by refusing to look at issues holistically but instead relied on rumours and hearsays in coming to a conclusion in its report.
“The implication of the above statement is that those who were meant to be reconciled ended up infuriated by the actions of the reconciliatory committee. The signs in this regard are evident for every well-meaning member of the APC to see. But they have elected in their wisdom to downplay these contentious issues in the report submitted.”
Imo APC factions clash over plot to postpone convention
Meanwhile, the camps of the Imo State Governor Hope Uzodimma and the former Governor Rochas Okorocha, have clashed over the plot to postpone the February 26, 2022 national convention.
While the Governor Uzodimma’s camp insisted on the postponement of the convention and wondered how the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, would be conducting six bye-elections and conducting a convention on the same day, the Daniel Nwafor-led Imo APC said that there was nothing to show on ground that the Mai Mala Buni, led APC, caretaker committee, was ready to conduct the convention.
Mr. Cajetan Duke, Publicity Secretary of Imo APC loyal to Uzodimma, said: “I am not aware of any postponement or document signed or not signed and if also the convention was postponed because the date was slated on a day by-elections would be held across the country. Of course, you know that there are four or six Federal and State constituents and INEC will not be doing election on that day and at the same time be organising convention for the party.
“So, if you check, it is not right, we cannot be doing convention and and bye-elections at the same time. You know here in Imo, we are involved in a bye-election. I am aware that the convention was slated for 26th February and on that date there will be a bye-election for the Federal and State constituencies in Nigeria. So, if there is any postponement it should be in that order.”
Reacting, the Daniel Nwafor-led Imo APC, loyal to former Governor Rochas Okorocha, said: “I do not subscribe to shifting the date for the APC convention, but it has already been pre-planned that this convention will not hold. Mai Mallam Buni has not done anything to improve the chances of the party going forward to 2023. He wants to be in charge and conduct the primary, that’s his problem. There is nothing ab initio to show that he wants to conduct the convention,” Nwafor said.
Gowon denies discrediting Abdullahi Adamu’s reconciliation c’ttee
Meanwhile, Mr. Maxwell Gowon, an aspirant for the position of National Youth Leader of the APC, has dissociated himself from a report, which faulted the Senator Abdullahi Adamu APC Reconciliation Committee report, saying it was a case of mistaken identity.
Gowon said that he knew nothing about the said media report, which carries a different name, Maxwell Yakubu Gowon.
Some media organizations had published a report emanating from one Maxwell Yakubu Gowon, urging the CECPC to postpone the proposed convention, for the sake of peace, unity and success of the party in the 2023 general elections. Gowon said while he is in support of calls for the CECPC to postpone the convention, he was not responsible for the statement that discredited the Adamu report.
“How can I be attacking the report of the reconciliation committee that eminent Nigerians sat to draft? Why would anyone ascribe such comments to me? I am Barr. Maxwell Gowon and an aspirant for youth leader of our party, but I never mentioned it to anyone that the Senator Abdullahi Adamu report was faulty; and I stand to distance myself from such statement.”
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