By Emmanuel Mogbede
Conducting the All Progressives Congress (APC) National Convention in February 2022 as approved by President Muhammadu Buhari no doubt is a welcome development, especially as most stakeholders of the party believe that the Gov. Mai Mala Buni-led APC Caretaker and Extra-ordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC) has over stayed its welcome.
The Buni-led APC CECPC, which currently pilots the party`s affairs, was inaugurated on June 25, 2020, to, among other things, conduct a national convention for the election of new National Working Committee (NWC) members to manage the party`s affairs.
While some members of the party have decided to just sit and watch unfolding events in the party, others believe that conducting its National Convention in February 2022, will help douse tension arising from its congresses.
Even as agitation mounts on why the national convention must hold, the Chief Whip of the Senate, Sen. Orji Uzor Kalu, in a recent letter to Buni, urged the committee and its members to consider postponing the party’s national convention.
The former Abia governor appealed to the party to consider conducting the presidential primaries and election of National Working Committee (NWC) members of the party on the same day.
To him, holding the convention in February without sorting out issues of disagreements that came up during the party`s congresses will lead to implosion.
In reacting to Kalu`s suggestion, concerned APC Stakeholders, said because the former Abia governor was not a founding member of the APC, he has no right to say the party’s national convention should not hold.
Alhaji Abdullahi Dauda, spokesman of the group which is a sub political group within the APC, stressed that holding the party’s national convention is critical to avoid issues within its ranks and files.
“Kalu has PDP to fall back to if the court gives judgement against the actions of the Buni-led APC CECPC in future, while we don’t have where to go, because APC is all we have.
“Therefore, members of the APC CECPC should rise and save the party before it’s too late.
“It is our hope and belief that the CECPC will not employ any delay tactics that will result to further postpone the national convention from the February 2022 date as it has done in the past,’’ Dauda said.
He noted that the original six months mandate of the Buni-led committee was extended to almost by 18 months.
According to him, the major, if not the only task before the committee as of today, is the conduct of the party`s national convention which must be pursued with all vigour and seriousness it deserves.
He reiterated the group`s earlier position that the upcoming national convention must not only be free, fair and transparent, but must be seen to be so by all party men and women.
To Dauda, the convention must be open, credible and devoid of any form of imposition in whatever guise.
“It is time the APC again, subject the emergence of its leadership to the will and consent of the majority of party members, rather than the backdoor consensus arrangements of any bloc or group.
“The Concerned APC Stakeholders, in their avowed commitment to ensuring that our party is returned to its core progressive ideals and foundation, will continue to watch the processes leading to the convention closely,” he said.
Dauda added that the group would ensure that only individuals with requisite pedigree emerge as new leaders of the APC.
He appealed to members of the APC CECPC to resist further temptation to postpone the party’s national convention in the interest of larger party members.
Dauda equally appealed to President Buhari to call the committee to order before it becomes too late.
The APC CECPC, in a bid to prove its readiness to conduct the national convention in February 2022, said it will set up a budget sub-committee and other relevant structures ahead of the party’s National Convention, a decision that was applauded by most members of the party.
Dr Salihu Lukman, Director-General Progressives Governors Forum (PGF), while expressing appreciation for the steps taken so far, commended Buni and his committee for rising up to the occasion and affirming that the February date for the party`s national convention is sacrosanct.
He, however, said there is need for the committee to go a step further by announcing the national convention date, stressing that it must remain proactive and ensure that certain issues are not allowed to go into speculation.
“Information about the date of the convention, I think should be made public so that every party member knows when the convention is going to hold in February,’’ he said.
Lukman, while acknowledging the crisis in some of the party`s state chapters, said there is the need for its statutory organs to meet regularly to deepen negotiations within its ranks and files, adding that the party`s leadership should prioritise internal negotiations.
He particularly appealed to APC leaders to prioritise sustaining relationship, noting that the major challenge of politics in the country is poor management of relationship among party leaders.
“This is creating a lot of internal crisis, and I believe that as we move towards the party`s national convention, we should resume meetings of statutory organs of the party.
“Because that will help to resolve a number of issues, whether it is that of congresses or any other disagreement. One meeting can settle everything.
“Our leaders should be able to convene a meeting, possibly, a meeting of National Caucus or National Executive Committee (NEC), before the National Convention,’’ he said.
Lukman, however, noted that the Buni-led CECPC has demonstrated good capacity to make sacrifices, which, he said, is the way to go.
He said it is important for party leaders to embrace negotiation and ensure that meetings took place and decisions taken are respected.
According to him, it is the capacity of the party`s organs to meet that provides a platform for negotiations that will move the party forward.
The Saliu Mustapha Campaign Organisation, while also applauding the APC CECPC on its decision to set up a budget sub-committee and other relevant structures ahead of the party’s National Convention, said the decision showed that the committee is committed to the mandate given to it by the party’s National Executive Committee (NEC).
Saliu Mustapha is one of the frontline national chairmanship aspirants of the APC.
Mr Dapo Okubanjo, of his campaign organisation, said the move is a sign that the APC CECPC is prepared to ignore Kalu`s call to defer the convention.
“We see the move as a sign that the CECPC is prepared to ignore calls to defer the convention and work in line with the position of majority of party stakeholders who are already bracing up for February 2022.
“We are looking forward to the committee naming members of the budget sub-committee and of other structures in order for them to begin work in earnest, and set a definite date for the convention,” he said.
Like the PGF DG, Okubanjo advised the Buni-led committee to, however, go a step further to prove critics wrong by releasing the guidelines for the convention as well as set up other sub-committees as soon as possible.
“This will go a long way in laying to rest all sorts of suggestions about the intentions of the interim party executives,” he said.
He urged the APC CECPC to reject any proposals or suggestions at variance with the clear position of President Buhari on the forthcoming national convention.
However, as the clock ticks, a sub group of the APC: the Progressive Mandate Movement (PMM), has threatened to occupy the party’s national secretariat until the right thing with regards to the party’s national convention is done.
The group, which claimed to be a foundational group of the APC, appealed to the Buni-led APC CECPC to ensure that the party’s national convention is conducted on February 5, 2022.
It also urged the APC CECPC to ensure the immediate release of processes leading to the national convention, latest by Jan. 5, 2022, to avoid crisis within the party’s ranks and files.
It called on the Buni-led CECPC not to prolong the date for the party’s national convention a day beyond Feb. 5, 2022.
“This organisation has always been in the forefront of upholding the progressive ideology of our party and we will not stop at this critical period.
“The delay in conducting the overdue APC national convention is already giving the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) some advantages, making it look like nobody is in charge of the ruling party.
“We therefore call on the APC national caretaker committee not to go beyond Feb. 5, 2022, to hold our party’s national convention,” Alhaji Abdullahi Mohammed, National Coordinator of the group, said recently.
He said the group is in possession of the instructions given to the committee by the Presidency on the need to conduct the party’s national convention on Feb. 5.
He, therefore, appealed to the CECPC to respect the party’s leaders and President Buhari by releasing to the public all the necessary information concerning the forthcoming national convention.
“We also warn that if nothing is made public before Jan. 5, 2022, we shall launch an aggressive operation #OCCUPYAPCNATIONALSECRETARIAT to force our leaders to do the right thing.
“We made bold to say that we do not have another party and we will not allow our leaders to make mistakes that will eventually make us lose elections in 2023,” he said.
To Sen. Victor Lar, Campaign Director of Sen. Ali-Modu Sheriff Campaign Organisation, one of the frontline national chairmanship aspirants of the APC, while the February date is welcomed, there is need for the APC National Executive Committee to meet ahead of the national convention to ratify the February date to avoid issues in future.
The APC national convention has been described by most of the party stakeholders as the factor that will determine the party’s future. To them, it will either make the party stronger or weaken the more its foundation which had been threatened by the outcome of its congresses and internal wranglings among its members in some of its state chapters. Time will however tell. (https://newsatlarge.ng)