By Favour Goodness
While the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) may have tried to manage its own internal crisis and fixed its national convention for Oct. 30 and 31, this year, lack of consensus among the major blocs in the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) is responsible for the delay in fixing a date for its own national convention.
Stakeholders had predicted that the convention would hold in June, this year, but that date did not materialise and no date has been announced yet even though the congresses are currently ongoing.
Some of the party members had become agitated about the delay in announcing the date of the convention when the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) fixed Oct. 30 and Oct. 31, 2021 as the dates of its national convention.
To underscore its seriousness in conducting the convention at the scheduled date, the party also, at its National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting last week announced Adamawa Governor Ahmadu Fintiri as Chairman of its 2021 National Convention Organising Committee and his Enugu counterpart, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi as Chairman of the Zoning Committee.
However, in APC, there is disquiet as some party members are demanding the resignation of the National Caretaker Committee Chairman of the party, Governor Mai Mala Buni of Yobe State, asking him to resign his position as he can’t supervise the convention.
There has been a sharp division in the ruling party following a Supreme Court judgment that declared Ondo State Governor and APC candidate, Rotimi Akeredolu (SAN), winner of the state’s governorship election held on October 10, 2020.
Even though the court dismissed the appeal filed by the candidate of the PDP, Eyitayo Jegede, the justices of the apex court reportedly agreed that a sitting Governor could not hold the dual elective positions of Governor and national chairman of a political party.
Calls by senior lawyers in the party which included Festus Keyamo (SAN), Minister of State for Labour and Employment; Muiz Banire (SAN), Babatunde Ogala (SAN), two former national legal advisers of the party for the cancelation of the ward congresses held on July 31 were ignored by the APC leadership.
It was also reported that Vice President Yemi Osinbajo (SAN) believes that there may be trouble in the days ahead for the party if Buni continues to preside over the congresses. His views were also shared by some governors elected on the party’s platform. They were, however, in the minority.
Even though the party has held its ward and local government area congresses which witnessed parallel exercises in some of the states, however, many members of the party are worried that the exercise may be nullified by the courts due to Buni’s role as the acting national chairman of APC.
A former Governor of the party, who asked that his name be kept private, said there is no way the APC can conduct a national convention in its present state due to lack of unity and cohesion in the party.
According to him, aside the issue of Buni, several blocs in the party, who were formerly in the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) and a faction of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) are suspicious of one another over alleged hijacking of the party.
“There is no way the APC can hold any national convention in its current situation. There are many things they need to put in order before they can organise a convention. As it stands, the party is sitting on a keg of gunpowder which may explode anytime. You can see what is happening now during the ward and local government areas congresses, with parallel exercise in most of the states.
“From Osun, Lagos, Ogun, Kwara, Abia, Enugu, Rivers, the story of parallel congresses abound. How can the party now resolve all these and bring all the warring parties under one roof for a national convention?
“Right now, there are still cases in courts which are yet to be resolved. Some members are suing the Buni-led caretaker committee, claiming that it is illegal. That is the major bone of contention in the party at the moment.
“The crisis that arose over ward and local government congresses are still unresolved. If a court now comes tomorrow and say all those saying Buni’s committee is illegal are right, that means all the efforts put so far in the congresses will be wasted. They are even threatening members to withdraw the cases from court and threatening to sanction them but the members are not answering them.
“If you remember, the President set up a reconciliation committee headed by former Governor of Osun State, Bisi Akande, who is also the first national chairman of APC. That committee has achieved nothing since its inauguration. In fact, the crises in the states have doubled now compared to when the committee was set up.
“Also, the issue of zoning is another headache for the leadership of the party. The party is sitting on a keg of gunpowder. When they did APC membership registration and revalidation, leaders of the party such as Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, Adams Oshiomhole and Papa Akande said it was not necessary but their advice were ignored.
“Recently, APC member states have been fighting the Federal Government over VAT. Will that augur well for the peace of the government and the party? They know the infraction of having Governors Buni, Sani Bello and Gboyega Oyetola in the membership of that caretaker committee but they are pretending about it”, he said.
Also speaking, Hon. Bosun Oladele, a former member of the House of Reps and chieftain of the party, said maybe the Buni-led leadership wants to conclude the congresses first before announcing a date for the convention.
He said, “I’m sure the committee has not decided the dates of the state congresses. The state congresses will come before the national convention. I want to believe that the approach of finishing one before we get to another one is even better as long as we keep it up at this tempo.
“I am not the spokesperson of the Buni-led committee but I believe that in the fullness of time, they will tell us the date of the convention. We are done with the local government congresses. We will then proceed to the state and zonal congresses and then the national convention.
“I think we may not even have a zonal convention. It is going to be the national convention that will elect the zonal officers, just like we had in 2014. So, we patiently wait for the announcement of the convention date”.