From Romanus Ugwu, Abuja
There is indeed uncertainty over the much-awaited National Convention of the All Progressives Congress (APC) scheduled to hold on February 26.
Currently, the convention is shrouded in confusion, intrigues and anomie, amidst speculations of its possible postponement from February 26 to the first or second week of March.
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In line with the timetable and schedule of activities released last month January, the APC Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC) tactically raised a red flag of possible postponement of the convention when it failed to meet up with its deadline for sale and submission of nomination forms scheduled to hold between February 14 to 19.
Besides the failure to meet up with the deadline for the sale of forms, the national leadership of the ruling party could not equally constitute convention sub-committees, especially the zoning committee, which will swing the pendulum to decide, firstly, the members of the National Working Committee (NWC) and ultimately the trajectory for the party’s 2023 presidential ticket.
Although the APC Progressive Governors Forum (PGF) may have temporarily resolved the lingering zoning controversy by giving the national chairmanship ticket to the North-central geopolitical zone, the zoning of the National Secretary to the South-south has been causing serious ripples between the Southeast and South-south.
Explaining the bone of contention to Sunday Sun, a reliable source who declined identity on print, described it as a decision taken in error by a critical stake of the party’s leaders.
Questioning the basis for such decision, he argued that having produced the two previous national chairmen of the party in addition to occupation of the current position as Secretary Caretaker Committee, equity, fairness and natural justice demand that South-south should allow Southeast to produce the next chief scribe of the party in the about-to-be constituted NWC.
“There is likelihood that the convention might be postponed not because of any other thing, but probably because we want to avoid any possible clash with the bye-elections fixed by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) coming on the same February 26 date.
“Yes the party has been under immense pressure to shift the date and without ruling out the possibility of the convention still holding as scheduled, I want to say that if there is going to be postponement of the date, the INEC bye-elections might be responsible for it.
“Again, the planned postponement has nothing to do with the lingering controversial issue of zoning or delay in setting up of sub-committees for the convention. For your information, the progressive governors have concluded the zoning arrangement, after their meeting in Abuja last week, by confirming that while the North-central will produce the National Chairman, the Southeast will take the National Secretary.
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“They also reconfirmed that all the previous positions in the NWC held by the South should return to the North and vice-versa. However, I must tell you that there has been serious disagreement between South-south and Southeast over which zone should produce the next National Secretary.
“But, having produced two national chairmen of the party previously and currently occupies the Caretaker Committee secretaryship position, South-south should, in the spirit of fairness and equity, allow the Southeast to have the position.
“What it means is that should the North-central produce the party’s national chairman and the South-south the secretary, the Southeast would have lost out in everything should the party also fail to zone the presidential ticket to the Southeast” our source explained.
On why the party’s national leadership reneged in the implementation of its timetable and schedule concerning the sale of forms, our source further argued that there may not be any reason to sell nomination forms to the aspirants to the NWC since most of the positions will be filled through consensus arrangements, adding that the party may sell forms for only non-NWC positions.
“It is wrong to judge the readiness of the national leadership for our convention based on the failure to meet up with the timetable deadline on the sale and submission of nomination forms last week. There is likelihood that the party may not sell nomination forms for the NWC positions because almost all the positions may be through consensus arrangements.
“The nomination forms that might be on sale however could be for the non-NWC positions. Let me add that if the party’s leadership fail nomination forms this week, it will be a confirmation that the convention may not hold this weekend as earlier planned.
“Other factors that might necessitate the postponement of the convention might likely be the INEC bye-elections. As of today, I won’t say with certainty that the February proposed date for the convention is cast in stone. Don’t also forget that the bulk stops on the table of President Muhammadu Buhari. We must look beyond interpretation of his body language as far as this convention is concerned,” the source noted.
Doubting the possibility of the convention holding, many secretariat staff ruled out the February 26 date, arguing that the indices and signals are enough confirmation that the date might be changed.
“I wonder how anybody could still believe the possibility of the convention holding on February 26 with the way the secretariat is looking. There were no preconvention activities in the secretariat one week to the convention. There has not been any composition of sub-committees, acceptable resolutions on the controversial zoning arrangements, and more importantly the nomination forms that have not been printed.
“This secretariat used to be a beehive of activities a week to the convention, but in this case, the only semblance of the possibility of it holding is the marching order President Buhari gave to the Caretaker Committee to organise the convention unfailingly this month. Well, we will, however, get the clearer picture of whether it will hold or not this week,” the secretariat staff noted.