By JOHN ALECHENU and JESUSEGUN ALAGBE
There are strong indications that the much-awaited national convention of the All Progressives Congress may hold in July.
The National Secretary of the party’s Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee, Sen. John Akpanudoedehe, who spoke with our correspondent on Saturday, however, refused to give details of when the convention would be held.
The former minister of state for the Federal Capital Territory merely said the caretaker committee would meet the deadline for the convention.
When asked about the date set as deadline for the convention, Akpanudoedehe jokingly said he had forgotten.
“I can tell you that we would meet the deadline for the convention. That is all I can tell you,” he said.
The former minister said he was in his village, adding that he would only speak further on it when he returns to Abuja during the week.
Meanwhile, Sunday PUNCH gathered in Abuja, on Saturday, that the Presidency had waded into the convention matter and had, in consultation with other major stakeholders, agreed to work towards holding the convention in “June or July.”
The pressure on the Governor Mai Mala Buni-led Caretaker/Extraordinary National Convention Planning Committee to ensure the convention holds on schedule is said to be coming from different blocks of the party. A source privy to the development told our correspondent that it was in line with the resolve to restore confidence in the democratic credentials of the APC that the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd), held a series of meeting within the last three weeks at different times with some leaders of the party.
Among those he met were the party’s National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu; the pioneer Interim National Chairman of the party, Chief Bisi Akande; and the Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum and Ekiti State Governor, Kayode Fayemi.
The source, who is a member of the party’s National Caucus, said, “There has been a consensus among critical stakeholders of the party to get the national convention over with. The truth is, a further extension of the tenure of the caretaker committee is not on the cards as we speak.
“It is left for the committee to work out ways of ensuring that it gets its act together and ensure that congresses are held in time so that we can have the national convention to elect new leaders. The Presidency has made it clear that proper measures must be put in place for the APC to retain its democratic credentials.”
Intrigues over zoning, others stall release of timetable
Meanwhile, intrigues over an acceptable zoning arrangement that will be less acrimonious are largely responsible for the delay in releasing a timetable for the ward, local government, and state congresses.
Sunday PUNCH gathered in Abuja that leading members of the party had yet to arrive at a consensus on whether or not the party’s presidential ticket should be zoned to the south.
The Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola; and a former ally of the President, Buba Galadima, had in separate interviews made reference to an “existing gentleman’s agreement” to zone the ticket to the South.
However, several chieftains of the party who are of northern extraction have denied the claims.
Some even argued that even if such an agreement exists, it would be of no effect because it runs contrary to the provisions of both the party’s constitution as well as the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended).
A former Governor of Zamfara State, Ahmed Sani, who has signalled his intention to contest the party’s ticket in 2023, said, “There is no such agreement to the best of my knowledge. Even if there was, it cannot hold because it runs contrary to the provisions of the constitution.”
Also, the Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello, who has launched his bid for the party’s ticket, has argued that all eligible party members should be allowed to contest and that the decision as to who to succeed Buhari should be left for Nigerians.
Speaking on the issue, a former member of the House of Representatives, Adamu Jaji, expressed confidence that the Buni-led committee would do what was necessary to ensure peace reigns.
He said, “Already, there is a committee in place that will look at the issue of the convention; when and how to do it. So, we are waiting for them to come up with the modalities and what the convention would look like.
Speaking in a similar vein, the spokesperson for the Concerned APC Members, Abdullahi Dauda, said, “What we see is an attempt by the Buni committee to lay the foundation for the complete takeover of the party structure by our governors.” (The PUNCH)