The national convention of the All Progressives Congress earlier projected to hold in June, may no longer hold, The PUNCH can confirm.
A top-ranking member of the national caucus of the party confirmed this to our correspondent in Abuja on Monday.
The source, who spoke to our correspondent on condition of anonymity, explained that party leaders at various levels were fully aware of the development, which would be formally communicated soon.
Recall that the National Executive Committee meeting presided over by the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), had on December 8, 2020, granted a six-month tenure extension to the Governor Mai Mala Buni-led Caretaker/Extra-Ordinary National Convention Planning Committee.
The committee was to within the period conduct a membership registration/revalidation, reconcile aggrieved members, conduct ward, local government and state congresses and a national convention to elect new national party leaders.
However, the top-ranking caucus member of the party, who confided in our correspondent, in Abuja, on Monday, noted that, the unprecedented interest shown by “enthusiastic Nigerians” in the ongoing membership registration prompted the party to extend the time for the exercise.
He also said the decision was informed by the need to resolve the litigation in the Rivers State chapter and reconcile aggrieved party members.
The source further said, “It’s not possible to hold the convention in June as was earlier envisaged. You see, the membership registration and revalidation will end on March 31st. Our Christian brothers are observing lent and conventional wisdom dictates that we allow them to observe the religious period.
“Now, as soon as they conclude, our Muslim brothers will commence the month Ramadan and you know, if not for the COVID-19, many would travel for the lesser hajj for the duration of this period. After all of that, you have ward, local government and state congresses to elect delegates for the convention.
“Let’s not deceive ourselves, congresses at the ward and state levels are not a joke. Appeal committees will be set up to review cases which definitely will come up. These will have to be thrashed out before the national convention. You will agree with me, the mismanagement of the process by the Adams Oshiomhole-led National Working Committee, in 2018, is responsible for the crisis the party has been trying to manage ever since.”
When contacted, the National Secretary of the party, Senator John Akpanudoedehe, advised the opposition and those working for them to concentrate on their parties and leave the APC alone.
He said, “The opposition should mind their business and leave the APC alone. We in the Governor Mai Mala Buni-led CENCPC have a mandate given to us by the NEC to reorganise the party, reinvigorate the party and redirect the party, we are doing just that and we are doing very well.
“You can see from the membership registration we are doing, in over 99 per cent of the states, there are no complaints of any kind. It is not just rush; you cannot build something on nothing.”
Concerned members call for caution
However, a pressure group under the aegis of the Concerned APC Members called for caution. The group advised the caretaker committee against taking the patience of party members and Nigerians for granted.
It also said it would reject any move to extend the tenure of the national caretaker committee. Spokesman for the group, Abdullahi Dauda, told The PUNCH, over the telephone that it was part of the scheme all along.
He said, “We said it right from the beginning that this caretaker committee has its own agenda. It is part of a design by our governors to take total control of the party structure after kicking out other stakeholders.
“We knew right from when they started talking about a registration exercise which is outside their original mandate. They asked for and got a tenure extension, then they set up another committee to amend the constitution. I can only tell you we will meet very soon and take a decision; we will not allow our party to be governed outside what our constitution says.”
Party sets up 61-member contact/ strategy committee
In a move to consolidate and reorganise the party ahead of the 2023 general elections, the party leadership on Monday, announced the setting up of a 61-member contact/strategy committee with 12 governors, two former Speakers of the House of Representatives- Dimeji Bankole and Yakubu Dogara –among other prominent party members expected to play key roles.
Thr Jigawa State Governor, Mohammed Badaru was named as chairman of the committee which is slated to be inaugurated, in Abuja, on Tuesday.
This was contained in a statement signed by the party’s national secretary, John Akpanudoehede.
He said, “This is part of ongoing efforts by the CECPC to rebuild and reposition our great party. The high-powered committee will be inaugurated by the CECPC National Chairman, on Tuesday 23rd March, 2021, by 2:00pm at the APC National Secretariat.”
Some members of the committee are the Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege; Kogi State Governor Yahaya Bello; his Borno State counterpart, Prof. Babagana Zulum; the Gombe State Governor Inuwa Yahaya as well as the Nasarawa State Governor, Abdullahi Sule. Ministers of Education, Labour and Employment, Petroleum Internal Affairs and that of Humanitarian Affairs were among those named as members.