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    March 26 convention: APC factions fault party, Buhari, govs opt for consensus, zoning

    The All Progressives Congress state factions have warned the party against going ahead with the March 12 zonal congresses and March 26 national convention without resolving crises in its state chapters.

    This is just as the APC governors in Abuja on Tuesday endorsed the new date for the national convention while also revealing the zoning formula. The party also said its next chairman would emerge through consensus.

    The Progressive Governors Forum revealed that it had agreed on a simple, equitable zoning formula for all the six geopolitical zones by swapping positions between northern and southern zones.

    This confirms an earlier PUNCH report on the APC’s zoning formula which was published on January 19, 2022 but was tagged fake news by the Secretary to the APC Caretaker Committee, John Akpanudoedehe.

    Addressing State House correspondents shortly after a meeting of the governors at the Presidential Villa, Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai, said positions that were previously zoned to the North would go to the South and vice versa.

    The governor, who spoke shortly after the council chairman, Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi State, also revealed that although the governors initially disagreed on the timing of the party’s national convention, said they have since settled on a suitable convention date and zoning formula.

    He explained that the division was a mere disagreement typical of any group and does not constitute fallout in the forum.

    According to him, “We have agreed on a zoning formula for all the six geopolitical zones and essentially we swapped. Northern zones will take positions that southern zones held in the last eight years and vice versa. So, it is a very simple, equitable and fair formula.

    “We will now go back and consult at the zonal level, and look at the positions that are available and the process of the convention preparation will start in earnest. So, by the grace of God on March 26, we will have a national convention. Whether we do zonal convention before that, or do it at the same time, again, the constitution is silent. So as our chairman said, we can decide either way.”

    Based on El-Rufai’s statement, it means the next chairman of the party will be from the North while the Secretary will go to the South. The national treasurer (South), national financial secretary (North), national legal adviser (North), national organising secretary (North) national welfare officer (South), national youth leader (South), national woman leader (South) and national publicity secretary (South) among others.

    Asked if there were disagreements between the governors, he said “Yes, we were divided. We were divided over the timing of the convention. There were some governors that felt that we should put off the convention until we resolve all the congresses’ ssues in some states.

    “So some governors held the view that we should wait until all this was resolved. And this is not borne out of any agenda or selfishness. It is just a realistic proposition to avoid us violating any laws or putting our party structures of elected candidates in danger.

    “So yes, there were differences in opinion about timing. Some of us are saying the constitution allows us to have a convention even if three or four states have issues that are unresolved, while others were saying no, let us finish all the reconciliations and we do this convention. After all, there is no time limit for the convention as long as we do it before the time for the primaries. So that was the difference. This is what the media have called divided governors.”

    He, however, said all issues had been resolved and all governors are now on the same page.

    Earlier, the Chairman of the Forum, Bagudu, revealed that the next APC chairman would emerge from consensus. He added that the President backs the consensus route because past chairmen such as Bisi Akande, Dr John Odigie-Oyegun and Adams Oshiomhole emerged from consensus.

    Bagudu explained that “Mr. President reminded us that we have produced a number of national chairmen by consensus. Baba Akande emerged as the pioneer chairman of the party by consensus. His Excellency John Oyegun emerged by consensus. His Excellency Adams Oshiomhole emerged by consensus. So, he is a believer in consensus as one of the options of producing leadership, and he urged us to explore consensus, so that we can generate a list.

    “While recognising that many people who have indicated interest are equally competent, but knowing that just one person will occupy the office, consensus is part of our constitution and he urged us to work towards consensus.

    “And the governors I have said earlier have also been working to ensure that as part of equitable arrangement, zoning and consensus are incorporated. We have done that at the lower levels, and even at the national level it’s almost certain that we will achieve it.”

    On his part, the Governor of Plateau State, Simon Lalong, said the APC would outlive Buhari.

    At the State House were 19 governors and one deputy governor.

    Convention will be rancorous – Osun APC faction
    However, some APC state factions warned the party against going ahead with the March 12 zonal congresses and March 26 national convention without resolving crises in its state chapters.

    The secretary of the APC faction backed by the Interior Minister, Rauf Aregbesola, in Osun state, Mr Lani Baderinwa, in an interview with The PUNCH said going ahead with the convention without resolving the crises in the party might lead to rancorous show.

    Baderinwa, who said his faction should have been recognised, having complied more with the procedure laid down for conduct of the exercise, said anticipation of resolution of the issues must have caused the postponement.

    “As of today, I learnt we have crises in Osun and 21 other states. I don’t think it is right to go into convention in that manner otherwise we may have a rancorous show.

    “I believe the anticipation of resolution of those issues made them to postpone it by a month, thinking that probably within the period, they should be able to resolve the issues,” Baderinwa said.

    But while reacting, the Special Adviser, Political Affairs to Osun state governor, Sunday Akere, said the issue of state Congress in Osun APC had since been resolved.

    Akere said the congress that produced the executives that were recognised by the national leadership complied with guidelines, adding that no APC official supervised the factional congress held by the group backed by Aregbesola.

    APC deceiving itself by going ahead with convention without resolving crises – Lai’s faction
    In Kwara State, where Governor Abdulrahman Abdulrazq and the Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, are at loggerheads, the faction loyal to the minister advised the national leadership to first resolve crises in the state branches and promote unity among members before holding the convention.

    Chief Sunday Oyebiyi, Vice Chairman of the group told The PUNCH that “holding the convention of the party without first reconciling the factions in the states is like one deceiving itself, it is not advisable.”

    “Some of the state branches of the party have filed cases in court, the leadership of the party should obey the rule of law by obeying court judgment,” he said.

    In Rivers State, the Senator Magnus Abe led APC faction which opposes the legitimacy of the faction led by the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, said it was not right to hold the convention without resolving the festering crisis.

    Responding to a question on the convention, Golden Chioma, who is the party’s factional chairman, You know it is not right,” he stated simply

    Chioma, however, said the party’s national leadership could recognise any faction in the state, “If they are fair to themselves and to the extent of resolving the crisis. These crises were all avoidable, especially that of Rivers State which is the oldest in the country.

    “There were ominous signs that we were heading to that kind of situation. The signs were there on what and what to be done. People bought forms, but they never knew where they did the congress. They never saw the forms they paid for.

    “The party did say that the congress should be by consensus. That was never followed in Rivers State. The minister of transportation feels that he has all the money and connections in the world that all smaller members should die. Is it fair?”

    Chioma further said that when a crisis was allowed to linger it dimmed the party’s chances in the election and gave the other party and their candidates more opportunities.

    Efforts to reach the party’s Publicity Secretary, Chris Fynebone to react to the allegations against Amaechi probed abortive as he did not answer several calls put a calls put across to his mobile telephone by our correspondent nor responded to SMS sent to him.

    He had also not responded to a text message sent to him as at the time of filing this report.

    In Benue State, a factional chairman, Omale Omale advised national leadership of the party to toe the path of reconciliation.

    He noted that the party was bedevilled with series of issues ranging from ward, local government, state congress and adding that there was bound to be issues after the zonal and national convention.

    He said, “I know that about 13 or 14 states are bedevilled with crises and there are other states where we have ward and local government matters that are in court.

    Omale however advised the leadership of the party not to ignore all the teething issues arising from ward congress, local government congress and state congress.

    In Benue State, however, James Orgunga, who is the Organising Secretary of the APC loyal to the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, George Akume, applauded the decision of the President and APC governors to adopt consensus.

    He said, “Consensus is part of democracy, if people come together and agree and micro-zone their position to a certain area and they are able to arrive at a choice there is no problem and that is not imposition at all.”

    PDP mocks APC
    Meanwhile, opposition Peoples Democratic Party on Tuesday mocked the APC for postponing its national convention for a third time.

    The PDP argued that a party that could not put its house in order was unfit to rule Nigeria beyond 2023.

    The APC National Publicity Secretary, Debo Ologunagba, said in a statement that “the continuing inability by the APC, a party in government, to conduct a routine national convention has further explained why all sectors of our national life have been in shambolic state under the incompetent, corrupt, rudderless and overtly confused APC administration.”

    The PDP stated that the incessant postponements of the convention APC is evidence that the party is a special purpose vehicle of strange bedfellows, political buccaneers and ferocious power mongers on a mission to wreck Nigeria.

    “The PDP states that the APC which cannot conduct its own internal affairs could not be expected to successfully manage the affairs of a nation like Nigeria. The APC is a perfect example of failure both as a party and government unable to conduct a simple national convention in two years. It has become a Russian roulette with an unending request for extension of time to undertake a routine statutory political activity,” it said.

    The party described the APC as a vacuous political contraption without a soul, populated by political warlords without conscience and operating without rules. It noted that the ruling party operated without a Board of Trustees and a National Working Committee in violation of its own constitution.

    The PDP argued that the activities of the Mai Mala Buni committee remain invalid and unconstitutional by virtue of Section 183 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria which bars a sitting governor from holding “any other executive office” in any capacity whatsoever while serving as a state governor.

    “The failure of the APC to hold a national convention is therefore a clear warning to those aspiring for various positions in the 2023 election on its platform to note that with the APC, they are on a journey to nowhere. The only way the APC can legitimately participate in the 2023 general election is to re-apply to the Independent National Electoral Commission for fresh registration as a political party,” it said. ,,

    Copyright PUNCH.

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