There were strong indications on Wednesday that the Mai Mala Buni-led All Progressives Congress Caretaker/Extra-Ordinary National Convention Planning Committee was battling against time ahead of the expiration of its six-month tenure, which began in June.
The PUNCH gathered in Abuja that although the tenure of the caretaker committee would end in December, it had yet to make substantial progress on its main assignments, which include the withdrawal of court cases instituted against the party and or its leaders, the reconciliation of aggrieved party members and preparations for the national convention.
It was learnt that the caretaker committee would seek an extension of its tenure to enable it to deal with these issues, which would ultimately lead to the shift of the national convention initially scheduled for November.
A member of the APC National Executive Committee, who confided in our correspondent on Wednesday, said the committee would be hinging its request on these realities.
There were indications on Wednesday the party might hold a NEC meeting where the tenure of the caretaker committee would be extended to enable it to complete its assignment.
Recall that the APC’s NEC had, during a meeting held at the Presidential Villa on June 25, dissolved the Adams Oshiomhole-led National Working Committee and set up the committee headed by Buni.
Following the decision reached by the party’s NEC at its last meeting held in June, the caretaker committee’s tenure is six months which ends by December 2020. The APC is required to have held a national convention where substantive officers of the party will emerge.
However, Article 25 A (ii) of the party’s constitution states, “Without prejudice to Article 25 (A) (i) of this Constitution, the National Executive Committee may summon an emergency National Convention at any time provided at least seven (7) days’ notice of the meeting shall be given to all members eligible to attend.”
Before the June NEC meeting, the party had been battling a protracted crisis, which led to the suspension of the National Chairman, Oshiomhole, by a Federal High Court in Abuja, a decision which was subsequently upheld by the Court of Appeal on June 16.
Soon after his suspension, 14 of 20 members of the NWC announced the late governor of Oyo State, Abiola Ajimobi, who was then the Deputy National Chairman, as acting National Chairman.
However, the next day, the former Deputy National Secretary of the party, Victor Giadom announced himself as acting national chairman citing a court order.
Just as he left the media briefing at the APC National Secretariat, the group loyal to Oshiomhole and Ajimobi, addressed a press conference announcing the National Vice Chairman (South South), Hilliard Eta, as National Chairman, to act on Ajimobi’s behalf because the former governor was then bedridden.
The President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), during the June NEC meeting directed members, who had filed cases against one another to withdraw them. However, a number of these cases are still before the courts.
The Buni-led committee was also mandated to reconcile aggrieved members before the planned national convention.
The NEC member, who spoke to one of our correspondents, said that the committee had not started its real task of reorganising the party.
The source said, “The November date for the convention is no longer feasible. The chairman is already reaching out to his colleagues on this issue. The truth is that while the committee has started on the right footing by reaching out to our leaders and winning over some of our aggrieved members especially those who left, which is a good beginning, the Edo and Ondo elections have taken the centre stage. The committee has not been categorical on the fate of the Chief Bisi Akande-led National Reconciliation Committee set up by Oshiomhole.”
Another highly placed member of the party, who also confided in one of our correspondents, said, “They have few options in this matter, unless they get an extension, they can’t do much. What is at stake is larger than platitudes. There are issues of our party register and the amendment of the constitution.
“They are currently preoccupied with the Edo and Ondo elections. Nothing else is happening seriously.”
A member of the dissolved Adams Oshiomhole- led APC NWC, who also spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of retribution, said they had yet to be approached to make any impute into repositioning the party.
The source said, “They don’t believe that we matter. They have not met with us, not even the courtesy of reaching out to us. They are talking about extension. Some of them feel that all is fair in love and war. I believe that an inter-party disagreement is not war, it is just a battle. It is when you are fighting another party that you can consider it a war of some sorts. Some of them are doing everything for us to lose Edo so that Oshiomhole will be seen as nothing.”
PGF DG writes committee, seeks another NEC meeting
Amidst these concerns, the Director General of the Progressives Governors Forum, Dr Salihu Lukman, has written a memo to the caretaker committee recommending steps which should be taken before the proposed national convention.
In the memo titled, “Appeal for reconciliation and peace-building in APC,” addressed to the caretaker committee chairman, Lukman recommended among other things that the committee should convene another NEC meeting to approve proposed activities of convention working committee up to the national convention; “commence the process of membership recruitment/verification, leading to reformation of leadership of the party from wards, local government, states to the extra ordinary national convention; as well as set up a constitutional review/amendment committee,” which should be able to submit proposals for review/amendment of the APC constitution.
Oshiomhole, others deploying unfair means for Edo election – PGF DG
He also revealed a plot by some people within the party to make Oshiomhole, a contender in the forthcoming national convention.
Lukeman also said “Everybody in the APC is being blackmailed to accept the way the Edo 2020 governorship campaign is being organised as the best way to win the election under the control of Comrade Oshiomhole. This is wrong and in the long run it will be injurious to the electoral viability of the party.
“Even more disturbing is the clear indication that Comrade Oshiomhole and section of the APC leadership that is working with Comrade Oshiomhole are not preparing to approach the Edo election based on fair contests.
“Not even the request of President Muhammadu Buhari for “a transparent process so that the confidence of the people will be strengthened” is guiding the management of the Edo campaign.”
But a former Edo State Commissioner for Information, Kazeem Afegbua, said Lukeman was still embittered by his inability to secure a senatorial ticket.
Afegbua said this in response to thr memo written by Lukeman to the APC Caretaker Committee, said, “ The grouse started when Comrade Oshiomhole refused to accede to his request of senatorial ticket in Kaduna for the 2019 election
We will meet to review our activities next week, says panel
A member of the Committee, Senator Abubakar Yusuf, did not confirm or deny the alleged move to extend the tenure of the panel when confronted by our correspondent on phone on Wednesday.
He said, “I cannot confirm or deny the said move to extend the tenure of our committee. You have to give us till next week when we shall meet to review our activities thus far.”