There are strong indications that the All Progressives Congress is in a dilemma over the zoning of the 2023 presidency.
The PUNCH gathered on Sunday that although the party was looking southwards to pick its presidential candidate, there was a strong possibility that it could still throw the race open for both northern and southern aspirants.
A top leader of the APC, who confided in one of our correspondents, said the party was still considering options that could make it retain the presidency in 2023.
The party leader said, “Although from all indications, the next chairman will come from the North, that will not stop interested northerners from vying for the APC presidential ticket. We have competent aspirants in the North and the South. We have not made up our minds, but we will go for the best, who will help us retain the presidency in 2023.”
Also, an APC leader from the North stated all options were still on the table for the party.
The party leader stated, “If the chairman and the President come from the North, the worst the party can do is to give the chairman a political appointment and allow his deputy, who will be a southerner to step in. Also, we can retain the present arrangement by retaining a northern chairman and picking our presidential candidate from the south.”
It was, however, learnt that chieftains of the APC, who were pushing for a president from the South were insisting that the party could not turn around to zone Presidency to the North after the same region had produced the chairman of the party.
It was gathered the party’s National Executive Committee would meet on the issue after the February 26 national convention.
“We are studying what is going on in the PDP, but NEC will meet after the national convention and decide the best option,” a national officer of the party said on condition of anonymity.
Efforts to get the National Secretary of the Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC), Senator James Akpanudoedehe’s comment on the issue, on Sunday did not succeed as he did not pick calls to his phone nor responded to an SMS sent to him.
But Akpanudoedehe had two weeks ago said the party had yet to take a position on zoning.
Parties free to pick presidential candidates from any zone, says ACF
Commenting on the issue, the pan-northern socio-political organisation, Arewa Consultative Forum said it was not interested in which section of the country, north or south, produced the presidency in 2023.
The National Publicity Secretary of the ACF, Emmanuel Yawe, who stated this in a chat with one of our correspondents in Kaduna, wondered if the socio-cultural organisations dictating that the 2023 presidency must come from a section of the country knew what they were doing.
The spokesman noted that the northern body would allow the rule of law to prevail by allowing the political parties to carry out their responsibility as enshrined in the constitution.
He said, “We have said it again and again that we are not interested or going to show interest in which section in of the country produces the president – north or south – we accept all.
“The constitution assigns the responsibility of choosing candidates – presidential candidates included – to the parties. It is an exclusive responsibility.”
“Those socio-cultural organisations going all over Nigeria dictating where presidential candidates must come from know what they are doing, we hope.”
APC yet to inform INEC as activities for convention begin
Meanwhile, the APC has yet to inform the Independent National Electoral Commission of its planned national convention even as activities leading up to its convention begin this week, The PUNCH has learnt.
The Electoral Act states that any political party planning to hold its national convention must inform INEC at least 21 days prior to its national convention.
The APC fixed its national convention for February 26, meaning the deadline for it to inform INEC lapses on Saturday, February 5, 2021.
The Chief Press Secretary to INEC Chairman, Mr. Rotimi Oyekanmi, told The PUNCH that the APC had not yet informed the commission.
“The APC has yet to officially notify the commission of its planned convention,” said Oyekanmi.
When contacted, the Secretary, APC Caretaker Committee, Akpanudoedehe, said the party still had time to do the needful.
“We are fully aware. We send notices to INEC to conduct primaries and congresses. We are fully aware of this. We have a date that we will transmit the letter. We have a particular date when we will send the letter. We are fully aware of our responsibilities,” he said during a chat with The PUNCH last Thursday.
He, however, did not respond to a call on Sunday.
According to the APC’s schedule of activities, the APC Caretaker Committee will receive the interim report of the National Reconciliation Committee on January 31, 2022 (today). It is expected to be presented by a Former Nasarawa State Governor, Abdullahi Adamu.
The party will on February 2, 2022, consider and adopt reports of state congresses and inaugurate legitimate state executive on February 3, 2022.
Sale of Forms to all aspirants vying for national offices will start on February 14, 2022, while all accompanying documents must be completed on or before February 19, 2022.
The sub-committees that would undertake the convention would be inaugurated on February 19, 2022, while the screening of all aspirants vying for national offices would hold between February 20 and 22 2022. The screening appeals will hear and resolve complaints arising from the screening exercise on February 23, 2022.
The accreditation of all statutory and elected delegates to the national convention will be conducted between February 24 and 25 2022 ahead of the February 26 date of the convention.
The National Executive Committee led by the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), had in June 2020 sacked the National Working Committee chaired by former Governor Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State.
Buhari had subsequently set up a caretaker committee led by Governor Mai Mala Buni of Yobe State with the mandate of holding its convention in December 2020. However, the committee has continued to receive extensions.
Within the period, the state, local government and ward congresses conducted by the APC deepened the crisis in the party in more than 12 states, leading to several factional state executives in Lagos, Ogun, Osun, Zamfara, Bauchi, Kebbi, Kano, Delta, Akwa Ibom, Rivers and Kwara.
APC reconciliation committee yet to visit Bauchi
In a related development, the factional Chairman of the APC in Bauchi State, Sanusi Kunde, said that the national reconciliation committee of the party had yet to visit the state.
He said: “Up to this moment, the reconciliation committee hasn’t come to Bauchi yet. And we are still expecting them to come before the convention.
“Meanwhile, the case we filed in court will continue tomorrow (Monday), 8.30am. The Bauchi Central Zone Stakeholders who elected me, filed a case in court and obtained a court order restraining Babayo Misau from parading himself as Chairman and his executives.
“If they don’t come to Bauchi, then that means that Bauchi delegates cannot be allowed to vote with the court order obtained.”