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HomeNewsIssues As APC Holds Make Or Mar Convention Today

Issues As APC Holds Make Or Mar Convention Today

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The ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) is holding its much-touted national convention today, 26 Saturday, 2022, amidst critical issues affecting the soul of the party. 

The convention, which is coming after dilly-dallies on the part of the party’s top echelon, is expected to throw up a new crop of National Working Committee (NWC) of the party, which would run its affairs for an initial period of four years.

Party officials confirmed to Daily Trust Saturday yesterday that the convention would also approve and adopt a new constitution, ratify the activities and key policies of the Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee led by the Yobe State governor, Mai Mala Buni and elect zonal executives.       

The Buni-led caretaker committee was inaugurated on June 25, 2020 following the dissolution of the Adams Oshiomhole-led NWC. 

But one of the issues threatening today’s convention is the consensus arrangement brokered by President Muhammadu Buhari and state governors on the platform of the party.

 Buhari had met with APC governors at the State House in Abuja, where it was agreed that party officers would emerge through consensus.

 The president also ordered the national leadership of the party to refund monies spent on the expression of interest and nomination forms to aspirants willing to step down.  

Aggrieved founding members of the party who were dumped have become relevant following the crisis that has enveloped the party all in an effort to have a hitch-free convention today.

The APC had zoned the position of the national chairman to the North-Central. Party officials told Daily Trust that over 5,000 delegates would determine the fate of aspirants for various offices today.

Contenders for the office of the national chairman are the Minister of Special Duties and Inter-Governmental Affairs, Senator George Akume; a former governor of Zamfara State, Abdullaziz Yari; Senator Sani Musa (Niger East) and a former governor of Nasarawa State, Senator Abdullahi Adamu.

Others are a former deputy national chairman of the defunct Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), Saliu Mustapha; a former governor of Nasarawa State, Senator Tanko Al-Makura and Saidu Etsu.    

Signing of consensus pact tops agenda

But some of the chairmanship aspirants who spoke with Daily Trust in confidence on Friday said they were not ready to step down for Buhari’s anointed candidate and had not signed any consensus pact.

They confided in one of our correspondents that critical stakeholders of the party were still prevailing on them to agree with Buhari’s submission. 

There are fears that if the aspirants failed to sign any consensus agreement, it would backfire, in the event that any of them resorts to court after the convention.

One of them from the North-Central simply said, “I don’t know what you mean by consensus, but what I can tell you on authority is that my campaign office has not closed.”

 Another chairmanship contender said, “What Buhari has done is a clear case of imposition.”

 As at the time of filing this report last night, some of the aspirants for various positions had not agreed to sign any document to that effect.

A chieftain of the party and former presidential aspirant, Chief Chekwas Okorie, told one of our correspondents yesterday in a telephone chat that those opposed to Buhari’s option of consensus lacked the courage to engage him.    

He said, “It looks like the silence of a graveyard. The president has enjoyed tremendous respect, and it is a fact that those who disagree with him lack the courage to stand up to him.

“But that does not mean that they are happy with the nature of his intervention.

“Consensus lineup may be delivered as the new leadership of the party. But I am not quite certain that the fallout will be very palatable for the party,” he said.

But another source close to both the APC headquarters and the presidency said most of the contentious issues would be resolved before delegates and aspirants move to Eagle Square.

“Many mistakes have been committed in the past because many of those who invested their energy and resources in the past to nurture the party have been disappointed. That is why we are witnessing grumblings in many quarters,” he said.

We’ll adopt other options if consensus fails – Gov Sule

The Nasarawa State governor, Abdullahi Sule, said stakeholders of the party were still working on consensus as the first option, adding that if it fails, the party would adopt other options.

 Sule, who is the chairman of the publicity sub-committee of the party for the convention, said the ‘unity list’ indicating consensus across the six geopolitical zones in the country would be adopted.     

Addressing newsmen at the APC national secretariat yesterday in Abuja, Governor Sule said appointees of the president who held key positions in the past that qualified them to become statutory delegates would be allowed to play their role as delegates to the convention.

“Our first choice is always consensus. And we are still on that first choice. However, democracy demands; even our (APC) constitution demands and the constitution of Nigeria demands that if that doesn’t work, we will go ahead and look at the other options. But right now, that remains our option.  

“On the issue of political appointees of Mr President, some of them are actually statutory delegates.

“So if you have a former president as a political appointee, if you have a former senator as a political appointee, these are already automatic delegates,” he said.

Dead members on Rivers delegates’ list – Abe’s camp 

A faction of the APC loyal to Senator Magnus Abe in Rivers State has alleged that the Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Amaechi, has presented names of dead persons and defectors as authentic delegates from the state for the convention.

In a petition jointly signed by Amaechi’s former commissioner for justice and attorney-general of Rivers State, Worgu Boms, Senator Abe and Senator Wilson Ake, among others, the faction said it observed the “deliberate inclusion of deceased persons” on the delegates’ list already submitted for the convention by the minister. 

According to the petitioners, such names as “Chief D.U Anucha, Hon Apollos Amadi, Hon Martins Mannah, Hon Andrew Miller and Hon Felicia Tane,” who were included in the list, had since died.

In another category, the petitioners stated that some of the names included on the list were never in the position ascribed to them by the minister, and, therefore, should be regarded as impostors.

Lawyers divided over Amaechi, Onu, Malami’s participation

Lawyers are divided over the participation of some appointees of President Buhari at the convention due to the judgement of a Federal High Court in Umuahia.

There are reports that the Governor Mai Mala Buni-led Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee had hinted at excluding some of the political officeholders seeking to contest the 2023 polls from participating in the convention.

The move is linked to the March 18 judgement of the Federal High Court in Umuahia, which nullified section 84(12) of the Electoral Act, 2022, which prohibits political officeholders from participating in a party convention.

Some of the officials likely to be affected are the Minister of Transport, Rotimi Amaechi; Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation, Ogbonnaya Onu; Minister of Labour, Chris Ngige and the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), among others, who are nursing presidential and governorship ambitions respectively.

While the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN) had same day assured of an expedited deletion and gazetting of the Act without the section, the National Assembly moved a resolution to appeal the judgement.

Reacting to the development, a former attorney-general of Ekiti State, Dayo Akinlaja (SAN), said since there were moves to appeal that High Court decision, the ruling APC would only be riding their luck and taking their chances to go ahead with the convention.

 “It is an inchoate situation that is not clear at all. If the Court of Appeal overrules the decision of the Federal High Court, that means we will be back to square one.

“So except and until the Supreme Court makes a decision on the matter, I think, head or tail, a decision would have to be taken by the APC, whether to go with the court decision or otherwise,” he said. 

But Murtala Abdulrasheed (SAN) said the decision was declaratory, which must be obeyed, adding that even if the appeal had been entered, it does not serve as a stay of execution of the subsisting order.

 However, Solomon Umoh (SAN) said, “If they vote and it turns out that the Supreme Court later in time says they ought not to have done so, it will invalidate everything the APC has done because they won’t have a valid national chairman and secretary.

“So, it is safer to say they should not vote, it is a very serious danger.”  

Crises in state chapters

Consequently, the APC national convention is coming at a time many of its state chapters are still neck-deep in crises.

 In some state chapters, governors and ministers are at daggers-drawn over the control of the party’s structure.   

Daily Trust reports that the Zamfara State chapter of the party is still in crisis, with pending cases in court.

The state governor, Bello Matawalle, a former governor of the state, Abdulaziz Yari, and Senator Kabiru Garba Marafa, are all battling for the control of the party’s structure in the state, leading to several pending cases in court.

In Sokoto State, a former governor of the state, Aliyu Wamakko and Senator Abubakar Gada are in court over the state congress held last year. 

In Kwara, there is a running battle between the Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed and the state governor, AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq over the party’s structure.

Similarly, the Osun State chapter of the party is factionalised as some party chieftains are loyal to the current Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, while others are loyal to the state governor, Gboyega Oyetola.  

Daily Trust reports that other state chapters of the APC like Ekiti, Ogun, Oyo, Cross River, Akwa Ibom and Delta are also enmeshed in crises.

PDP seeks court nullification of convention

Meanwhile, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has filed a suit before a Federal High Court in Abuja seeking to nullify the national convention of the APC.

The PDP is also seeking an order of court de-registering the APC as a political party over failure to meet the requirements of sections 222(a), 223(b) and 225 of the 1999 Constitution.

The sections provide for the periodic election on a democratic basis and ensure the executive reflects the federal character of Nigeria.

The opposition party further asks the court for an order of perpetual injunction restraining the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) from recognising, communicating with, dealing with or having any business whatsoever with the APC as a registered political party.

In a suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/ 389, 2022 and dated March 25, 2022, the PDP listed the NEC, APC, the Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC) and its chairman as defendants.

In the suit filed by its counsel, Samuel Irabor, the PDP is contending that the APC is being run by a 13-member executive, which is below the constitutional provision in section 223(2)(b), which requires an executive of a political party to be drawn from two-third of the 36 states of the federation, which is mathematically 24.  

No date has been fixed for the hearing of the suit.

Saawua Terzungwe, John Chuks Azu (Abuja) & Victor Edozie (Port Harcourt)

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