Nigeria’s ruling party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), yesterday, hinted that it may not be able to hold the proposed Extraordinary National Convention of the party earlier scheduled for December due to the series of internal crisis plaguing the various state chapters across the country.
Chairman of the Caretaker/ Extraordinary National Convention Planning Committee and Governor of Yobe State, Mai Mala Buni, who disclosed this at the weekend, said the interim leadership of the party was currently very busy trying to reconcile individuals, power blocs and diverse interest groups within the party as it would not want to conduct a National Convention while these internal crises were yet unresolved.
“It is important that the APC conducts its planned national convention to produce the party’s national leadership as a united house. Otherwise the main aim of constituting the Caretaker Committee following the dissolution of the immediate past NWC will be defeated,” he said.
It would be recalled that the Caretaker Committee was constituted and inaugurated by the 8th meeting of the APC National Executive Committee (NEC) in June following the suspension of the National Chairman of the party, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, and dissolution of the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party.
The committee was given the mandate to reconcile aggrieved members of the party and conduct a national convention to elect a new leadership within six months.
Buni, who spoke through the Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the party, Yekini Nabena, said the current emphasis in the party was on achieving true reconciliation within its ranks and ensuring that everybody had a sense of belonging.
“Ahead of the planned APC National Convention and, indeed, the 2023 general election, stakeholders should continue to support the Caretaker Committee’s efforts to unite the party in order to make it formidable enough to consolidate on the APC’s national governing status and landmark achievements.
“The APC must not go into a National Convention and, indeed, a general election, in crisis. We should take it one step at a time and ensure that the ongoing national reconciliation process being undertaken by the committee is sustained, successful and continue to yield results,” Buni said.
He insisted that the Caretaker Committee under his watch is currently focused on achieving and sustaining true and lasting unity, peace and reconciliation across party ranks and ahead of the planned national convention of the party.
Buni said that contrary to the reports in a section of the media, the Caretaker Committee was not interested in the alleged tenure extension plot for its members and would remain focused on its core mandate of reconciliation and peace building.
According to him, the Caretaker Committee has been meeting all leaders, known party groups and interest groups in order to accommodate all the diverse views and persuasions. This move, he said, has resulted in renewed commitment to the APC by many hitherto aggrieved members of the party.
Buni lamented that the crisis, which was before now allowed to fester in the party, hindered Nigerians from noticing the achievements of the present administration on several fronts, especially on President Muhammadu Buhari’s three critical electoral promises to fight corruption, provide security and revamp the economy.
“The Caretaker Committee has resuscitated the party’s internal dispute resolution mechanisms and has set up reconciliation committees for Oyo, Edo, Ondo, Imo, Ogun, and Ekiti, among other states chapters with reported disputes.
The committees are already meeting with the key stakeholders in the various states and have achieved substantial reconciliation in many states,” the party said.
In recent weeks, some members of the APC have been clamouring for the conduct of National Convention earlier slated for next month in line with the mandate given to the Caretaker Committee by the NEC in June.
Meanwhile, the ruling party was, over the weekend, embroiled in a corruption scandal as the Caretaker Committee and the disbanded NWC traded accusations over the alleged embezzlement of N19 billion.
As both parties pointed accusing fingers at each other, they claimed that the other party failed to manage properly the finances of the party.
A member of the Caretaker Committee, who does not want his identity disclosed because of the sensitivity of the issue, accused the past NWC members, led by the former governor of Edo State, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole of mismanaging the sum of N19 billion generated from the sales of nomination and expression of interest forms for 2019 general election.
The source alleged that the past NWC paid themselves salaries, collected sitting allowances and carried out other personal expenditures that were not statutorily provided for them.
According to him, the present Caretaker Committee met a near empty treasury and currently collects sitting allowances only. However, in a swift reaction, a member of the past NWC has equally alleged that they left over N6 billion in the coffers of the party.
The former NWC member, who also preferred anonymity, said the APC governors also owed the party N10 billion as at time they left, which he believed they must have paid. He accused the Caretaker Committee of awarding fictitious contracts and carrying out renovation of party secretariat at random.
According to him, the interim leadership of the party had abandoned their mandate of conducting a National Convention and dabbled into registration of party members to the extent of printing membership registration materials at the cost of N1.5 billion.
“You see, as at the time we left office in June, we had N6 billion in the APC account and the governors were owing the party N10 billion. “The Caretaker Committee took over and started spending the money anyhow against the mandate given to them.
We are sure they would leave the party worse than they met it,” our source said. But in the account of the Caretaker Committee member, the committee had been prudent in managing the finances of the party. Also, the Caretaker Committee has debunked another allegation levelled against it by the disbanded NWC that the current leadership had been claiming N35 million as the cost of staff salary monthly.
He said the bulk of the money spent under the interim leadership were in the course of executing their mandate. “We had engaged many party members for different assignments in the party and we pay each as much as N1.2 million.
“People must understand that one of the reasons that the past NWC was dissolved was because of its financial recklessness and our coming to work for the party has helped in uniting the party and its members,” the source said.