DIVERGENT opinions have trailed Friday’s tacit endorsement of tenure extension for the All Progressives Congress Caretaker/ Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC) by President Muhammadu Buhari.
At the end of a meeting held at the Presidential Villa between the CECPC led by the Yobe State governor, Mai Mala Buni and President Muhammadu Buhari, the latter endorsed the timetable for APC ward, local government and state congresses to hold 24th July, 14th August, and 18th September respectively across the country.
The meeting was, however, silent on the conduct of zonal congresses and the national convention. Spokesman of a group within the party, APC Concerned Stakeholders, Abdullahi Dauda, expressed concern over the silence on dates for zonal congresses and national convention.
Speaking to Sunday Tribune in a telephone interview, he said the omission was deliberate to achieve a predetermined end. He accused members of the caretaker committee of trying to undermine all the statutory organs of the ruling party.
He said:” Announcing dates for ward, local government and state congresses without zonal and national convention is like wearing a shirt without a neck.
“They want to foist a dictatorship on the party. The APC isn’t a one-man property and it can never be. How can someone be governor and chairman of a political party at the same time?
“There is no Board of Trustees, no NEC. All statutory organs have been dissolved. A political party can’t operate like this. The APC is still existing because it is in government. “If it was an opposition party, it would have died. The CECPC is behaving like undertakers. Less than one year to a general election, there is no national chairman. What is happening to APC is worse than coronavirus.”
Former national vice chairman of the party in the North-East, Mustapha Salihu, however, disagreed. In a separate telephone interview, he told Sunday Tribune that the Governor Buni team needed to do further consultations with stakeholders across board before making pronouncements on zonal congresses and national convention. He dismissed insinuation of tenure extension plot as he maintained that the caretaker committee put in place in June 2020 would not stay beyond this year’s December.
He said: ”They want to finalise consultations, regarding dates for zonal congresses and national convention.
“An election like this, a lot is involved. They must have agreement with stakeholders. I want to believe that very soon, they will release the timetable.
“I want to believe that it is taking a longer time unlike before when it was a oneman show. They are building the party from bottom up.
“There is nothing like tenure extension. They want to harmonise the dates and do further consultations. They are working to leave by December.”
Another chieftain of the party, Chief Chekwas Okorie, dismissed insinuation of an ulterior motive by the Buniled committee. He told Sunday Tribune that it would be difficult for the committee to jump into conduct of zonal congresses and national convention when the issue of zoning of presidential ticket for 2023 has not been settled.
He said, “I don’t think governors have hijacked the party. That is a conspiracy theory which I don’t want to subscribe to.
“That a governor is a chairman of the party and enjoys the blessings of his colleagues don’t mean that they can hijack a party like APC. The governors need other stakeholders to win in an election.
“As their name implies, the CECPC will conduct the national convention, but they want to do it gradually. It is a strategy. The issue of zoning of national chairman is critical to the 2023 permutations. That’s why they are being careful. There is so much to put into consideration before the national convention.
“So much is tied to the emergence of national chairman and the agitation for power rotation. That’s the way I look at it. I haven’t seen any plot by governors to hijack the party. Whether they will do what they promise depends on the way they handled the ward, local and state congresses. If all these are transparent, it will remove all suspicion.”
National secretary of the CECPC, Senator Akpanudoede, however, explained why the leadership was silent on a definite date for national convention. Akpanudoedehe, who decried insinuation of tenure elongation plot, said the congresses would ultimately lead to the meeting of the highest organ of the party, the national convention.
“There is nothing to worry about. We decided to be silent on convention dates because we envisaged that there could be crises arising from the state congresses. There will be appeal committees to look at issues raised after the local and state congresses. “We can’t give a date for national convention and then reverse it.”
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