From Romanus Ugwu and Fred Itua, Abuja
power-play and lingering crisis are threatening plans by the All Progressives Congress (APC) to hold its national convention in February. Though the party has vowed to hold the convention on February 26 and 27, there are strong indications that it would not happen.
This is even as key presidential aspirants have intensified horse-trading and negotiations on how various positions would be zoned ahead of the primaries later in the year.
Already, Orji Uzor Kalu, David Umahi, Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Moses Ayom have publicly declared their intentions to contest next year’s presidential election.
Daily Sun has, however, gathered from sources within the party that governors elected on the platform of APC were yet to take a common position before meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari on his possible successor.
One of the sources said though governors have informally agreed to zone the position to the South, they are yet to take a position on a concensus candidate and other positions. He said three South West governors are opposed to plans by stakeholders of the party to settle for a concensus presidential candidate over fears that Tinubu could be left in the cold.
He revealed that besides Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi, other APC governors from North East, North West and North Central are unanimous in ceding power to the South. The source said Northern APC governors have also rejected plans to field a southern Muslim.
He said North West, in particular and North East, would insist on a Muslim vice president and a southern Christian president to balance Buhari’s eight years.
The top APC source said a Muslim-Muslim ticket being championed by some South West leaders would pose a threat to the success of the party in 2023. He said until the lingering issues are resolved during the planned meeting of APC governors and an expanded one with Buhari, a convention in February may not be feasible.
He said the only opposition to zoning of the president to the South, Governor Bello of Kogi State, may be appointed as the Director-General of the party’s presidential campaign organisation later in the year.
“Tinubu will be compelled to step down and support a candidate that will be chosen by stakeholders of the party. Tinubu may have no choice but to do that. That way, he will be seen as controlling the process. That’s what he wants.”
Meanwhile, some serving senators, governors and ministers have started lobbying for other top positions besides the office of the president in 2023.Some of the positions include the Secretary to Government of the Federation, senate president and vice president.
A minister from the South South, who doubles as former governor, is reportedly lobbying for the position of Secretary to Government of the Federation.The minister, it was gathered, had sought the blessing of President Buhari to contest for the position of the president but got a cold response.
On the other hand, chairman of APC caretaker committee and Governor of Yobe State, Mai Mala Buni, is being touted to be the Muslim running mate to the eventual Christian candidate that would emerge from the South. Buni, the source said, enjoys wide support and has the backing of Northern establishment, including President Buhari, to clinch the top job.
Meanwhile, the coast seems clear for the party to endorse a consensus candidate for national chairman tomorrow after the Progressive Governors Forum (PGF) meeting and with President Buhari.
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On arrangements for the convention, our source said though the governors meeting would deliberate on every other thing, especially budget, logistics, venue, which may likely be a confirmation of Abuja and sub-committees, they would not discuss zoning. Our source hinged the resolution to play down the zoning of party’s positions on the confusing body language of President Buhari, stressing that the governors deliberately left it for him to decide.
“The governors will not deliberate zoning because they have to get a clear signal of who Mr. President is endorsing for some of the positions. It is however almost certain who will be the chairman because majority of the stakeholders, including the presidency, are favourably disposed for a North Central aspirant from the Congress for Progressives Change (CPC) stock as one of the legacy parties that has not produced the party chairmanship previously.
“We had little challenge because a chieftain the party assigned responsibility exploited the opportunity and has been informing people in most of the states he visited that he is going to run for the position. The development has compelled the presidency to reappraise their position on the chairmanship position.
“However, regardless of the recent development, I can tell you for sure that the consensus candidate for the position of chairmanship will emerge by Monday next week or latest Tuesday.”
On agenda of the governors’ meeting, the source said: “The volume of the budget for the convention and how they intend to raise the money will definitely top the agenda. Other items include the composition of sub-committees and other logistics.”
Only last week, Director General of APC PGF, had urged the Caretaker Committee Secretary and Chairman to resign should they fail to conduct the national convention in February.
•Group alleges plot to extend date beyond February
However, the APC Rebirth has raised the alarm of fresh plot by the Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC) to extend the date for the party’s National Convention beyond next month, February.
The group claimed that in furtherance of the agenda to continue the extension of its six months mandate, now running into 19 month, the Buni-led Caretaker Committee has come up with another plot to deceive party members and buy time in order to further propagate its selfish agenda.
APC Rebirth, in a statement by the coordinator, Aliyu Aud, said it had been reliably informed that the Caretaker Committee was behind various news report speculating the date for the convention.
It also warned that that any attempt by the Buni-led Caretaker Committee to move the convention any further under any guise will be resisted by all means possible.
“In any case, the purported February 25 date, just like many other decisions that have been taken by the Caretaker Committee, was not a collective decision by members of the Committee. This is the reason it opted to plant the date in the media rather than coming out with an official position. We wonder why other members of the CECPC have continued to tolerate the unilateral decision making and dictatorial excesses of the Chairman of the committee…
“With our established reputation for respecting laws and rules, the APC cannot continue to disregard a clear constitutional provision as regards the composition of the Caretaker Committee. It is therefore incumbent on all APC leaders, especially President Muhammadu Buhari, to prevail on all the governors in the party’s Caretaker Committee to resign forthwith, the group said.