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2023: APC mulls consensus for president, NWC members

…uncertainty trails February convention; progressive govs meet tomorrow

Barring any last-minute modification, the All Progressives Congress (APC) is set to adopt consensus arrangements to pick members of the party’s National Working Committee (NWC) and presidential candidate for the 2023 election. Ranking chieftains of the APC, who confided in Saturday Telegraph said leaders of the party including a handful of APC governors and the Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC) chaired by Yobe State governor, Mai Mala Buni, are in consonance with the idea of a consensus candidate, but subject to President Muhammadu Buhari’s ratification.

This is as the proposed February date for the ruling party’s national convention hangs in the balance following pressures from some gladiators for its postponement over the litany of issues the party is currently grappling with. Chairman of Progressive Governors Forum (PGF) and Governor of Kebbi State, Atiku Bagudu, as well as the Chairman of the CECPC, Mai Mala Buni, had after meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari in Aso Rock Villa on November 22, 2021, announced February for APC’s National Convention.

However, the local government and state congresses of the party snowballed into crises in at least 14 state chapters of the party and no fewer than seven cases are pending before the Federal High Court, Abuja, challenging either the legitimacy of the Buni-led party committee or the outcome of decisions taken by the committee since its inauguration on June 25, 2020. As part of efforts by the Caretaker Committee to halt the party’s descent into anarchy, the leadership of the party set up the Senator Abdullahi Adamu Reconciliation Committee.

The Committee on Thursday, visited Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, after a long period of inertia. Meanwhile, governors elected on the platform of the APC, will meet tomorrow (Sunday) in Abuja for the first time in 2022 to discuss key national and party issues, including the party’s national convention. It was learnt that the meeting of the Progressives Governors Forum (PGF) will hold at Kebbi Government Lodge, Abuja, with the forum’s chairman, Abubakar Bagudu of Kebbi State, playing host to his colleagues.

Some of the issues expected to be tabled include the party’s national convention, its zoning arrangement and the Electoral Act Amendment Bill which has been sent back to the National Assembly by President Muhammadu Buhari. According to the APC stalwarts, the party is racing against time and there is a need to minimise crises, resolve all pending issues especially those already in courts and close ranks as soon as possible ahead of the 2023 General Elections. “No fewer than nine distinguished members of our party have indicated interest to contest the national chairmanship position.

The proration of the aspirants is advantageous for the party when consensus is about to happen because the majority of them are from the North Central,” one of the chieftains said. Another of the stalwarts said: “The best option for us (APC) at this time is to go for consensus arrangement and our leaders are already looking into the possibility. The option is not new to us and it is constitutional. Aside from using it to solidify our state chapters as everyone will be involved, it will douse tension and also cut costs for the party. “The next General Elections are about 12 months away and crisis must be minimised.

I believe the presidential candidate will emerge through the same consensus process and I know it will receive the President’s endorsement and devoid of rancour and litigation.” Last year, the CECPC National Secretary, Senator John Akpanudoedehe, hinted of a proposal by the party leadership to present a consensus candidate for the 2023 presidential election. “After our congresses and the national convention, we will shock them (PDP) by bringing a consensus and an agreeable candidate that will fly the flag of the party come 2023. APC has no third-term agenda like PDP.

What we are doing now is to stabilise the party and not allow individual ambitions to derail President Buhari’s administration,” Akpanudoedehe had said. Speaking on Wednesday in an exclusive interview with Channels TV, President Buhari said he withheld assent in the Electoral Act Amendment Bill because the proposed law constricts the selection of candidates for election with direct primaries without giving an option of indirect and consensus. In an interview with our Correspondent, a chieftain of the APC in Ogun State, Hon. Kolapo Lawson, urged the party leadership to coalesce all interest in the proposed consensus, highlighting the need for a comprehensive and authenticated delegates list for the convention.

He said: “The party lead-ership must duly compile the updated delegates list for the national convention for the statutory delegates and elected delegates from the wards, local governments and states. The previous list should be edited especially that of the statutory delegates.”

A former House of Reps member from Rivers State who prefers to be anonymous, said with the crises in various state chapters of the party coupled with a plethora of court cases instituted by aggrieved members, the Buni-led committee should rather intensify efforts on reconciliation than a convention that may spell doom for the party. He said, “President Buhari has said it all. This convention is a litmus test for our party, if we fail, we head to the canvas. We must put our house in order and ensure that all litigations are withdrawn and we are all the same page.

“The feasibility of a February convention is slim because I don’t think the Electoral Act provision that all political parties are expected to notify the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) 30 days before the conduct of a convention to enable the electoral body to monitor the exercise, has been done by the party. “We are to notify the Commission notification in the form of a formal letter and also announce it in an advertorial in newspapers to INEC and the public, I don’t think we have done such and the timelines are going.

“The reconciliation committee must be up and doing, and the sub-committees for the convention must start meeting and engaging. I also doubt if the national leadership of the party has ratified the membership register after the registration and revalidation exercise held across the states. This is statutory for the convention to hold, regardless of the mode to be used,” he said.

In his lucidly expressed intervention, former Abia State Governor and Senator representing Abia North, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu, urged the leadership of the APC to postpone the party’s convention slated for next month. Kalu, in a letter, addressed to Governor Mai Mala Buni, and members of the planning committee, appealed to the party to consider conducting the presidential primaries and election of the National Working Committee of the party on the same day. In the acknowledged letter, the Chief Whip of the Senate, warned that holding the convention in February without sorting out the minor disagreements that arose during the congresses would lead to implosion.

The letter, titled, ‘Urgent Appeal For Postponement of APC National Convention,’ read in part, “It is with a sense of commitment and unflinching loyalty to our great party, the All Progressives Congress, that I write to you the content of this letter regarding the national convention of our party slated for February 2022. “It is imperative to commend your sterling leadership qualities in helping to stabilise our great party across the six geopolitical zones, with high profile defections to the party to your credit as an outstanding party leader.

The APC chieftain further submitted that, “It is on this note that I write to appeal to your office and members of the Convention Extraordinary Planning Committee to reconsider the slated date for the 2022 National Convention. “It is important that we collectively save the party from implosion due to the numerous court cases across the states. It is also important that you reconsider the date due to the confusion with regards to the zoning of offices,” the Senate Chief Whip said.




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