The ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) is in a fresh dilemma over the zones that should produce its national chairman and presidential candidate ahead of the 2023 general elections.
Sources said this explains the delay in organising the convention of the party, where members of the National Working Committee (NWC) will emerge.
The committee, which was constituted following the removal of the Comrade Adams Oshiomhole led NWC in June last year, got a six-month extension last year.
Top party sources and lawmakers told Daily Trust that the tenure of the committee would be extended by another six months next week.
Controversies over which zone to produce chair
There have been controversies over which zone should produce the national chairman of the party.
It is believed that if the North produces the chairman of the party, the South will take the presidential ticket and vice versa.
It was gathered that scheming and machinations by various blocs to produce the national chairman of the party to place them in a better position in 2023 was one of the factors delaying the conduct of the national convention.
There are three main blocs in the party but there exist smaller caucuses – the bloc of the Presidency, National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu’s camp and that of the governors, who are members of the party.
A former governor told one of our correspondents that if the zoning arrangement of the party for 2023 is not properly managed, it would split the party.
“One of the reasons for the delay is to enable us to get our house together because, by the time the zoning arrangement is announced, fresh issues will come up. We need someone that has reasonable experience, maturity and is well-grounded to take over our party. Someone who can call anybody to order, bring all forces together and organise the party,” he said.
He said with President Muhammadu Buhari’s tenure lapsing on May 29, 2023, the zoning of the chairmanship seat would determine which zone will produce his successor.
A ranking lawmaker and member of the party blamed the APC governors for the delay in organising the convention.
“They want to produce the next chairman of the party at all cost. They are the most influential bloc in the party, hence they are manipulating the system to favour them,” he said while chatting with Daily Trust.
He said the statement of the Chairman of the Progressive Governors Forum (PGF) and Governor of Kebbi State, Senator Atiku Bagudu, that the presidential ticket and the chairmanship seat are opened to all is part of the gimmick of the governors.
Bagudu had in May this year said, “APC belongs to all Nigerians. Everyone, from every part of the country, is free to aspire for any position in the party in line with provisions of our party’s constitution and the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended.
“The guiding philosophy, as enshrined in the provisions of our manifesto, is economic, social and political development of Nigeria,” he said.
Buhari aware of scheming
An ally of the president from the North West told Daily Trust that Buhari was fully aware of the scheming.
“They are scheming and we are watching. The governors’ bloc thinks they have to retain the control of the party for 2023 reasons. They are the most powerful clique in the party and they are the people controlling state apparatus of their party.
“But, I am sure that it is the intervention of President Buhari that will address the situation,” he said.
He also said that there will be no national convention until November or December because congresses must be conducted before national convention.
A party source who spoke with Daily Trust Thursday warned that extending the timeline for the caretaker would spark legal issues that would nail the party in the 2023 poll.
Recently, the caretaker committee after its meeting in Abuja, directed the party’s Director of Organisation, Prof. Ussiju Medear to release the details of the timetable/schedule of activities for party congresses.
But credible sources at the APC National Secretariat told Daily Trust that the decision was later rescinded.
On Wednesday, there was a meeting of party leaders at the APC headquarters including some APC governors chaired by Governor Buni. But while newsmen waited patiently for the outcome, there was no briefing.
A chieftain of the APC, Chief Jackson Lekan Ojo, confirmed to Daily Trust in a telephone interview that the timeline of the committee would be extended by six months.
“They have already extended their timeline by six months internally. They are trying to see if they can resolve some internal wrangling.
“But it is going to be very difficult because there is no internal unity in the party. The politics of 2023 is already killing the party. The principle of letting somebody emerge and let others follow is no longer there. The idea is that it must be South.
“And within the South, it must be South South; within the South, it must be South West; within the South, it must be South-East. So even if they zone it to the South today, the South South will not support the South West; and the South West will not support the South East.
“The base is already destroyed. You will discover that no one is campaigning for the position of national chairman from the South because they believe the presidential candidate must come from the South.
“Even in the North, for the national chairmanship, some people are clamouring for Danjuma Goje, some people are clamouring for Abdulaziz Yari, some people are clamouring for Tanko Al-Makura, some people are clamouring for Senator George Akume and each of these candidates they are clamouring for belongs to different bloc within the APC.
“So postponing the evil day is not the solution. What they are doing now is postponing the evil day. The more you postpone the evil day, the stronger the evil becomes,” he said.
A few days ago, a Federal High Court in Abuja struck out two suits challenging the dissolution of Oshiomhole-led NWC and seeking the sack of the Buni – committee.
Justice Taiwo Taiwo, in two rulings on Tuesday, held that the plaintiffs lacked the locus standi (the legal right) to institute their cases against the party.
Confidence vote on Buni-led c’ttee
The APC governors last week passed a vote of confidence on the Buni led caretaker committee, a move seen as a prelude to another extension for them.
Addressing newsmen at the end of their meeting in Abuja, the Kebbi State Governor and Chairman of the Progressives Governors’ Forum (PGF), Senator Atiku Bagudu said that the caretaker committee had performed well at a “critical time.”
“There is the likelihood that once the party leaders meet with Mr President, another extension will be given to the Buni-led committee,” a source said.
Secretary of the APC Caretaker Committee, Senator John James Akpanudoedehe and the Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the party, Yekini Nabena, neither responded to text messages sent to them nor picked their calls to explain the position of the party on another extension.
Impending crisis in Kano, Benue, others
Meanwhile, fresh crises have erupted in state chapters of the party, Daily Trust reports.
In Kano, several issues have been dogging the ruling party with the latest being the controversy that unfolded following the suspension of the member representing Kano Municipal in the House of Representatives, Sha’aban Ibrahim Sharada.
But before then, issues like the attempted factionalisation of the party by a staunch supporter of President Buhari in the state, Abdulmajid Danbiliki Kwamanda and his prompt expulsion from the party had shown that all is not well within the party.
Personal ambitions of several bigwigs in the state, not least the state Governor, Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, had also pitted some of the bigwigs against each other, exchanging political diatribe mostly through their supporters.
This is also even as the battle for the chairmanship of the party between the current interim Chairman, Abdullahi Abbas and a former chairman of the defunct Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), Ahmadu Haruna Danzago, is heating up the polity without negating the camp of former governor and current senator for Kano Central, Malam Ibrahim Shekarau, who feels left out of the government despite their role in 2019.
In Osun State, the political camps of the former Governor, Mr Rauf Aregbesola has been at loggerheads with the camp of the incumbent Governor, Mr Adegboyega Oyetola over the control of the party and this has put APC in disarray in the state.
Daily Trust reports that the party in Ekiti State is polarised into two camps – the one loyal to Tinubu and Ekiti State Governor, Kayode Fayemi’s camp.
Tinubu and Fayemi are said to be nursing presidential ambitions. They are yet to formally declare for the presidency.
It is a similar scenario in Benue State. The major crisis in the state recently showed up when the expulsion and counter expulsion of factions within the party threatened its membership in Gboko LGA of the state.
Earlier this month, an alleged suspended faction slammed an expulsion on another faction of the party said to be loyal to the Minister of Special Duties and Intergovernmental Affairs, Senator George Akume, as both factions accused one another of destabilising the APC and engaging in violence.
By Ismail Mudashir, Saawua Terzungwe (Abuja), Hameed Oyegbade (Osogbo), Hope Abah Emmanuel (Makurdi), Clement A. Oloyede (Kano) & Raphael Ogbonnaiye (Ado-Ekiti)