The President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), on Monday, approved February 2022 for the All Progressives Congress’ national convention. However, there was no specific date when the convention would hold next February, meaning that nothing was cast in stone.
This comes just as The PUNCH learnt that crises had continued to rock 12 state chapters of the APC with many individuals and groups instituting court cases against the ruling party and its Caretaker Chairman, Mai Mala Buni, who is also the Governor of Yobe State.
The states facing crises are Rivers, Ekiti, Ogun, Oyo, Cross River, Akwa Ibom, Delta, Osun, Kano, Abia, Zamfara and Kwara, where factions are battling for supremacy.
Buhari had in June 2020 inaugurated the Caretaker/Extraordinary National Convention Planning Committee led by Buni with the primary aim of conducting the national convention of the party in December of that year after which the Yobe governor would step aside and a new chairman would have emerged.
However, in December 2020, the tenure of Buni’s committee was extended by six months to June 2021. In June, the convention was again shifted and was expected to hold in December. However, the congresses preceding the convention, which were conducted in the states, ended in rancour with many states producing factional chairmen.
Some of the factions are being led by serving ministers in Buhari’s government.
For instance, in Rivers State, factions led by the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, and Senator Magnus Abe elected different executive councils. While Abe’s faction has as its chairman a former member of the state House of Assembly, Golden Chioma, the Amaechi faction elected Emeka Beke as chairman.
In Kwara State, the party is divided into factions led by Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq and the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed.
The Chairman of the APC in Ekiti State, Paul Omotoso, and the state Chairman, South West Agenda for Asiwaju 2023, a pro-Bola Tinubu group, Senator Tony Adeniyi, disagreed over the suit filed by aggrieved party members challenging the conduct of ward congresses in the state.
In Kano State, two factions led by Governor Abdullahi Ganduje and Senator Ibrahim Shekarau have continued to tear the party apart, while in Osun State, factions loyal to Governor Gboyega Oyetola and the Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, produced parallel state executives.
Addressing State House correspondents after a meeting with Buhari on Monday, the Chairman of the Progressives Governors’ Forum and Kebbi State Governor, Atiku Bagudu, announced that the convention might hold in February.
Bagudu was accompanied to the Villa by Buni as well as Governor Abubakar Badaru of Jigawa State. The three are believed to be the most influential governors in the party and run its affairs.
Bagudu disclosed to State House correspondents that the meeting was to brief the President on the decision of the Progressives Governors’ Forum when the members met on Sunday night.
According to him, the governors have resolved that the convention should hold in February 2022 and the same suggestion was proposed to the President for approval.
He said, “On November 21, the Progressive Governors’ Forum met and as some of you may have seen in press reports, I spoke after the meeting, where, in addition to congratulating and thanking the caretaker committee for a wonderful job of their leadership of the party and thanking Mr President for supporting them to deliver on their mandate; I also explained that the Progressive Governors’ Forum discussed the issue of the national convention of the party.
“They mandated us to come and discuss with the President, as the party’s leader, to give the inputs of the governors so that the party and the President will consider agreeing on a date for the national convention.
“Yesterday (Sunday), part of the inputs we got was that we still have four states, which are in the process of completing their congresses; Anambra, understandably, because of the election; Zamfara and two others, because of logistic challenges are yet to complete theirs, and then, Christmas is around the corner, and then, early January we’ll be very busy with Ekiti.”
He said the governors, based on all that, agreed that the party and the President might consider February for the convention.
The President, Bagudu stated, was favourably disposed to it, adding, “The chair of the caretaker committee was part of the delegation and I’m sure there will be a conclusion between him and the President.
“But we have made the input of the governors known. It was favourably considered by Mr President.”
When asked for a specific date in February, Buni said, “Well, we’ll let you know; you know, we have to work on a timetable, which of course has to be communicated to our various state chapters for them to be ready for the convention.”
He also dispelled fears that the tentative date was just an idea of the governors and excluded other caucuses within the party, explaining that there was wide consultation over it and it was a result of good planning.
“Of course, we have to consult widely and it was part of the reasons why the governors met yesterday (Sunday); 20 of the 22 governors attended the meeting. So, it is in consultation to that effect. So, it is a well consulted and a well thought out plan,” he said.
Asked for a response to those who accused him of trying to elongate his stay as chairman of the caretaker committee of the party, Buni stated, “How? Am I a jobless person, who is always trying to extend his tenure? To do what?
“I have my primary responsibility as a governor to go back to my state and carry out my primary responsibility. What I’m here to do is ad hoc, and of course, to reposition the party, and that is exactly what we’re able to achieve.”
Quizzed about what Nigerians should expect from the party after the convention, he said, “Well, they will expect more unity and progress. Like the PGF chairman said, they have suggested to the party and Mr President has concurred; so, we are going ahead to plan for the convention in February.”
The governor said the party would notify the Independent National Electoral Commission, while it would draft a timetable.