Saturday, 19 February 2022

Plot to Postpone APC National Convention Thickens

February 19, 20220


Some governors elected on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC) have launched an underground move to shift next Saturday's national convention of the party.

The aim is to buy time with a view to perfecting their strategy to install a candidate of their choice as the next national chairman of the party.

The governors are already mounting pressure on state chairmen of the party to push for the shift agenda, The Nation gathered last night.

Preparation for the convention is already on hold at Buhari House, the APC national secretariat.

However, the cash-for-postponement plan appears to be unattractive to the state chairmen, many of whom are unwilling to play ball, sources said.

It was also learnt that some APC governors have extended their search for a new national chairman to a former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara.

The Dogara project unfolded on Thursday night.

Some of those pushing the Dogara agenda, it was gathered, want the APC presidential ticket to go to the North-Central in 2023 instead of the chairmanship.
It was gathered that some other pro-Dogara supporters are determined to frustrate some chairmanship aspirants from the North-Central.

All the governors, party leaders and stakeholders were awaiting the return of President Muhammadu Buhari from Belgium last night to take a final decision on the convention and the choice of a new national chairman.

Before Buhari jetted out to Brussels for the EU-AU Summit, there was a consensus on ceding the slot to the North-Central.

Going by the plans of the Caretaker Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC), APC ought to release the list of sub-committees for the convention today.

But investigation in Abuja revealed that some governors were still plotting the retention of the Governor Mai Mala Buni-led CECPC to conduct 2023 election primaries of the party at all levels.

The affected governors are understood to have infiltrated the rank of the state chairmen of the party to push for the postponement of the convention.

Sources said some of the governors were dangling cash at the state chairmen to have a deal on the postponement of the convention based on the following grounds:

"No time and resources for the chairmen to take over their new offices and settle down to work.

"No time for pre-convention consultations at the state level

"State branches still dealing with multiple petitions, complaints and court actions

"Lack of funds and allied logistics to mobilise and cater for APC members from the 36 states and the FCT at the convention in Abuja.

A top source said: "State chairmen are under pressure from some governors to prevail on CECPC to shift the convention.

"They have been mandated to raise four demands which the Caretaker Committee will take to the President.

"The demands are suspected to have been prepared by one of the governors.

"Some of these governors have allegedly dangled cash at state chairmen in order to sign a communiqué of a meeting which they never held.

"They have been pleading with state chairmen to agree to approach and persuade CECPC to postpone the Convention from the earlier date of 26th February, 2022 till a convenient date which may be determined by the Caretaker Committee.

"But most state chairmen have been avoiding the governors behind the convention postponement agenda because it is against the directive President Muhammadu Buhari gave before he travelled to Brussels.

"The state chairmen became suspicious of the affected governors because they have not secured the buy-in of most members of the Progressive Governors Forum (PGF).

"When some of them called their governors, they claimed that they were not aware of any decision to shift the convention."

Some of the state chairmen confirmed the plot to shift the convention.

A source said: "We have not met as a body but they are mounting pressure on us to claim that we met on Thursday and demanded the postponement of the convention.

"Those governors behind this latest plot have been restless. It is quite unfortunate. They are even trying to teach us what to say to justify it."

Authoritative party sources confirmed yesterday that some governors had extended their search for a new national chairman to former House of Representatives Speaker Yakubu Dogara.

A highly-placed source said: "A governor from North-Central and some CECPC members have suddenly come up with the Dogara card for the national chairman.

"They are opting for the North-East in order to disrupt the previous permutations and consensus for North-Central.

"Some of those behind Dogara agitation are doing so as part of calculations for 2023 presidential election.

"They said they prefer presidency for North-Central to the office of national chairman.

"We are all looking forward to the President for direction.

"We don't know whether or not he will support the postponement of the national convention."

Preparation for convention on hold at APC secretariat

The uncertainties surrounding the February 26 date were underlined by a slow-down in the preparation for the convention at the party's national secretariat yesterday.

The CECPC and the Progressive Governors Forum (PGF) also appeared to have put their preparations in connection with the convention on hold while they wait to hear from Buhari on the next line of action.

Some party members were also doubtful last night about the inauguration of the convention's sub-committees originally scheduled for today.

Secretary of the CECPC, Senator John James Akpanudoedehe, at the end of committee's 19th regular meeting last month, had announced February 19 as date for the release of names of various sub-committees for the convention.

Suspicion about the reality of February 26 began to grow on Monday when CECPC failed to begin the sale of nomination forms to aspirants for the various National Working Committee (NWC) positions.

The situation was not helped by the last-minute cancellation of a meeting between President Muhammadu Buhari and the APC governors on the convention on Tuesday.

A source at the party secretariat said the caretaker committee, the governors and other party members are awaiting the return of the President today.

"Nothing seems to be happening in the true sense, though high wired consultations and negotiations are taking place by those who want the convention and those scheming for shifting of the convention," a source said.

"The Belgium trip by the President has stalled plans for the convention.

"Some of the governors and caretaker committee have cashed in on the trip to perfect their plans for the shift of the convention, while those who are bent on having the convention as scheduled are equally prepared to convince the President when he returns.

"The truth is that nothing will happen in the party about the convention until the President returns to the country from his Belgium trip."

A source said the President, on his return, would meet with the governors and caretaker committee members tonight, while the Mai Mala Buni-led CECPC will meet tomorrow.

A close associate of one of the northern governors told The Nation that the governors are now pushing for the second week in March for the convention.

"The CECPC and some governors have prepared a template for March 12," the source said.

He added: "They intend to sell this new date to Mr President on Saturday night. They are equally going to hinge their request for the new date on the need to raise the N5 billion budget for the convention.

"Though the President is not disposed to any shift of convention date, the reality on the ground is that the February 26 date is no longer feasible and the need for a new date."

Governor Ben Ayade of Cross River State said in an interview on Wednesday that there was nothing sacrosanct about the February 26 date for the convention.

"If there is a need for a little shift then it is allowed, particularly when it is within the ambit of the law," he said.

He added: "But as of today, I have no indication that it will happen. But the President will return and address this."

Other issues which he said the President would address on his return from Brussels are zoning and the crises rocking the party.

A meeting between Buhari and APC governors on the convention was called off at the last minute on Tuesday following the inability of the governors to reach a consensus on the next national chairman of the party.