There were strong indications on Monday that the National Executive Committee of the All Progressives Congress (APC) would meet before December 25.
It was gathered that because of the limited time at the disposal of the party’s National Convention Planning Committee, it would seek an extension of its tenure for six months during the meeting.
Multiple sources in the party, who confided in our correspondent, said it was becoming inevitable that the national convention would hold next year.
Recall that the APC NEC at its meeting in the Presidential Villa on June 25, 2020, dissolved the Adams Oshiomhole National Working Committee and set up a panel headed by the Yobe State Governor, Mai Mala Buni.
According to the decision reached at the NEC meeting and the constitution of the party, the Buni-led interim committee has a six-month tenure within which it is expected to organise a national convention, where substantive leaders of the party will emerge.
But multiple sources within the party’s hierarchy, who spoke to our correspondent on condition of anonymity on Monday because they were not authorised to speak to the media on the issue, said it was now almost certain that “the convention can no longer hold this year.”
One of the sources said, “The process of rebuilding anything takes time, efforts and patience. The wounds inflicted on cohesion within the party by Adams Oshiomhole are still fresh.
“You will agree with me that the National Caretaker Committee started the reconciliation process while preparing for the governorship elections in Edo and Ondo states, respectively.
“With these elections over, they are just settling down to the real business of reconciling aggrieved party members and have just set in motion the machinery for the planned nationwide registration, update and revalidation of the party’s membership register.
“These are needed not just for record purposes, but to ensure that those who will participate in our forthcoming convention are actually party members. Other things being equal, we should have our National Executive Council meeting on or before December 25, when the initial six months given to the caretaker committee will lapse.”
Another party leader, who confided in The PUNCH, said, “It is almost certain that the interim committee is not prepared to hold the convention this year. If it is ready, it would have started preparations from the ward level. Besides, no timetable has been released for the convention.”
Hold convention in Dec or resign, Marafa group tells Buni
However, a factional leader of the party in Zamfara State, Senator Kabiru Marafa, restated his position that the caretaker committee, which was a creation of compromise, would be overreaching itself if it failed to hold a national convention by December.
He said, “Our position is clear; the Buni committee was given six months to conduct a national convention to elect substantive leaders of the party; that has not changed. It is either Buni does this by December or he resigns.”
The spokesperson for a group of party supporters under the aegis of Concerned APC Members, Abdullahi Dauda, while supporting Marafa’s position said, “We are waiting. The tenure of the committee will expire in December, so we expect our convention to hold on or before the expiration of the tenure of the caretaker committee. A fresh registration of members is not part of their mandate; they should leave that one for the incoming NWC.”
Disregard Marafa, he’s not an APC member – Zamfara faction
However, the National Secretariat recognised APC Chairman in Zamfara State, Alhaji Lawal Liman, in a statement titled: ‘Marafa Remains Suspended – Zamfara APC’, issued in Abuja on Monday in response to Marafa, said, “As far as we are concerned in the APC in Zamfara, Senator Marafa remains suspended because in 2019, we suspended him in accordance with the party’s constitution and our decision has been forwarded to the APC national secretariat, Abuja.
“We are calling on the National Caretaker Committee of the party to ratify his suspension. Therefore, members of the public should not regard him as a member of the APC. We don’t consider Marafa as our member, because he is being used by the opposition Peoples Democratic Party to disrupt the peace and stability in the party.”
We didn’t envisage enormity of our assignment, says Buni panel
When contacted, the Secretary of the Caretaker Committee, Senator John Akpan Udo-Edehe, told The PUNCH in an interview on Monday that every member of the party had a right to hold and express an opinion.
He, however, said the party under the leadership of Buni, was currently focused on its core mandate of reconciling aggrieved members.
According to him, the committee is working hard to ensure that party members go into the convention as one united family.
Udo-Edehe said, “The important thing is that when the six-month tenure was given to us by NEC, it did not envisage that the enormous crises in the party would take this long to resolve. When we took over, we went round the country to meet our leaders and explain things to them.
“The party brought us from all over Nigeria, because you cannot play politics, especially in the APC, without reaching out to (Asiwaju Ahmed) Tinubu and Baba (Bisi) Akande; we went and explained things to them; that was the first thing we did.
“We inherited a crisis from the former NWC; we had a crisis in Edo and had to set up a committee headed by Ken Nnamani, the former Senate President, to reconcile everybody so that we could win. We had a situation where our state chairman accused the other group of working with the opposition party. We went for the campaign and election; how many months did that take?
“We went on to conduct the primary in Ondo and it took a lot of time; other aspirants were against the governor and we had to bring them on board so that we could win; this took time.
“We set up a reconciliation committee headed by the Niger State Governor. When we came back, we had to organise primaries to replace senators, who died and those that were removed by courts.
“When we finished, COVID-19 came and because of the COVID-19 protocols, we could not gather. Even with that, we were preparing that INEC will hold the elections and the #EndSARS protests came and you cannot play politics under that atmosphere; even INEC had to postpone the elections and it doesn’t have a date for the elections yet.
“We don’t have the power to extend our stay; we are not asking for it; we are all very busy people. Those, who are saying we should not go ahead with the registration, go to your APC ward chairman and ask him to give you the register of members in your ward if he has one. What we want to do is to complement what was done before; we want to have a proper register of members and have a database.”
He added, “We want to build the party from bottom up. If you are going for a convention, are you not going to elect delegates and in a state where you have a parallel exco, who do you elect? We don’t want to leave loopholes. We want to return the party back to the real owners, the ordinary people.
“It is only when you finish what you are doing that you take a timetable to those who sent you; it is left for them to agree or disagree.”
He, however, refused to speak on the proposed date for the NEC meeting and whether or not the committee would be requesting additional time.
It’s important we hold convention as a united party, says Nabena
The Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the party, Yekini Nabena, who also spoke in a similar vein, said while a section of the media had been awash with reports of a tenure extension for the committee, it remained focused on achieving and sustaining its core mandate of reconciliation.
He said, “It is important that the APC conducts its planned national convention to produce the party’s national leadership as a united house. Otherwise, the main aim of constituting the CECPC following the dissolution of the immediate-past National Working Committee will be defeated.”
According to him, the Buni-led CECPC has over the past few months displayed an uncommon determination to rebuild the party from the ashes of the crises, which led to the dissolution of the former NWC.
He maintained that it remained to the credit of the committee that it was able to reconcile aggrieved members in at least 10 states of the federation and had brought on board notable party members for one reason or the other. (The Punch)