All Progressives Congress (APC) governors have resolved to seek President Muhammadu Buhari’s intervention in the resolution of conflicts arising from preparations for the party’s national convention, it was learnt yesterday.
The divided Progressives Governors’ Forum (PGF) has also resolved to present some options to the President for resolution of the row over the convention.
However, the governors yesterday shifted their meeting earlier scheduled for today till tomorrow because President Buhari is on a one-day visit to Ogun State.
PGF Chairman and Kebbi State Governor Atiku Bagudu is said to be urging his colleagues to attend the compulsory meeting.
According to sources, there is tension between the polarised governors’ forum and the National Caretaker Committee, led by Yobe State Governor Mai Mala Buni, over the postponement of the convention.
While the governors have accused the caretaker committee of lack of commitment on a definite date for the convention, the caretaker panel said the convention was shifted at the instance of some stakeholders, particularly the governors.
In a new twist to the controversy, Senate Chief Whip Orji Kalu reiterated his call for postponement of the convention, saying the proposed February date is not feasible.
A source close to the PGF said the governors would meet with President Buhari after their meeting to discuss their resolution with party leaders.
The source said: “We are yet to reach any compromise because we are divided on the convention. But we have agreed to collate all opinions or suggestions at our forthcoming meeting and present same to the President for guidance.
“We resolved that immediately after concluding our meeting, we will all leave the venue straight to the Presidential Villa to hold a frank session with the President.
“As the party’s leader, President Muhammadu Buhari will finally make a decision on when the APC convention will hold.”
The source added: “We are not holding the meeting on Wednesday again because of the President’s visit to Ogun State on Thursday, which may make some governors to be absent.
“Governor Bagudu has said that he will want all APC governors to be around so that none will give the excuse of not being part of any decision taken at our meeting. We do not want any governor to complain of imposition.
“We are going to meet after the Presidential visit because we want a full house and a commitment of all members to our resolution.”
On the alleged plot by some members of the APC caretaker committee to remain in office, the source said: “Once the President guides the governors on what to do, they have no choice than to comply.
“We know some CECPC members have no second address. They don’t want to hand over to a democratically-elected National Working Committee (NWC). This is part of the intrigues that have delayed the convening of the convention.”
When contacted, the Director-General of PGF, Salihu Lukman, said: “There is no notice of the governors’ meeting yet.”
The six options on the convention allegedly being considered by the governors and party leaders are as follows:
- Holding convention in February as initially agreed upon and despite ongoing reconciliation.
- Fixing a new date in March or April to conduct congresses in Anambra, Zamfara.
- Allowing all congresses, reconciliation to be completed, court case resolved before the convention.
- Conducting primaries for the 2023 poll before the convention.
- Holding presidential primaries, national convention on the same date.
- Adopting consensus approach for the convention, presidential primaries.
However, a source close to the caretaker committee said despite the allegation of sit-tight levelled against it, the committee would not be stampeded into conducting the convention.
Various groups within the party have mounted pressure on the CECPC to conduct the convention in February.
Last week, Lukman called on the committee to conduct the convention on February 5 as agreed upon by the Forum and presented to President Buhari late last year or resign.
Lukman re-echoed the position in Abuja yesterday while delivering a keynote address at a Summit with the theme: “Rebuilding the APC of our Dream” organised by a pressure group within the party – APC Stakeholders.
He recalled his January 5, 2022 letter to Bagudu, blaming the continued delay in the convocation of the convention on both Buni and committee Secretary, Senator John James Akpanudoedehe.
Lukman accused the two leaders of insincerity, urging the party members to hold the two leaders responsible for any further delay in the conduct of the convention.
But, a member of the CECPC, who spoke in confidence with The Nation in Abuja on Tuesday, exonerated the chairman and the secretary from any blame but noted that each time the convention was shifted it was at the instance of some stakeholders, particularly the governors.
The source maintained that the Caretaker Committee was committed to the resolutions at its 18th regular meeting held in December last year at the national convention.
“We won’t allow ourselves to be stampeded. Every time we have cause to shift the Convention date it is at the instance of the stakeholders, particularly the governors.
“We aren’t going to start joining issues with aggrieved chieftains, we were appointed, not elected.
“All the talks about Governor Buni seeking to be re-elected as Chairman, or Vice President to any presidential candidate isn’t true. But like I said, we won’t allow aggrieved chieftains to drag us into the public space.”
When asked how soon will the committee meet to fix a date, given a proposed meeting by the governors for today (Wednesday), he asked: “Which meeting are you talking about?
“We are not holding any meeting, it is the governors that are meeting. We won’t convene a meeting because the governors want to meet. We won’t allow ourselves to be stampeded.
“The leadership is committed to its intention, as announced last December to create subcommittees ahead of the Convention for the election of substantive national officers.”
He, however, expressed that the convention will hold as planned, even with the constitutional 21 days notice to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) before the convention.
“We are not in February yet and we still have enough time to give INEC the statutory 21 days. Just watch,” he maintained.
Speaking at the Stakeholders Summit, a national chairmanship aspirant, Chief Sylvester Sunny Monidafe, said the imposition of leaders under the guise of consensus will not be accepted at the convention.
Monidafe said in rebuilding the party the emergence of new leaders should be through healthy contestation
He said: “We will resist consensus. Nobody should sit in one place and say they have endorsed a candidate. No, we won’t take that and I hope the youth won’t take that.
“We are not fighting anybody, we want a better Nigeria and that’s how to ensure a stronger APC in future, APC that is Independent.”
Lukman said any manipulation of the process will not be accepted.
“We cannot have a political party that disrespects decisions,’’ he said regarding moves to change the February 5 date.
Lukman noted that if the party was struggling to hold its national convention, it should begin to think about how it would manage the process that would produce candidates for the 2023 general elections.
He said the danger signal was that the party may end up having a convention that would not necessarily guarantee that it would have a healthy contest in the party.
Urging the party to postpone the convention, Kalu said in Abuja: “I still stand by my words that the APC convention should be postponed.
“I have a lot of respect for our people and they have to give me an alternative view to have a change of mind that what they are saying is real.
“What I am saying is a better atmosphere than what they are saying: I know what I am saying, they might not be seeing what I am seeing.
“As a party, we should not cause trouble for ourselves.
“I believe that the best thing to do is to protect democracy and our party, the APC.
“I also call on the National Executive Committee of the party to reaffirm our constitution to put a President of the Republic and President of the party.
“I want us to adopt the ANC method, where you might be president of Nigeria and not the president of the party.
“So, I want us to test run it when President Muhammadu Buhari leaves in 2023, for Buhari to become president of the party and there will be president of the republic.’’