…Begins Sale of Forms Wednesday
By Omeiza Ajayi
ABUJA – The Planning Committee of the second National Convention of the ruling All Progressives Congress APC has dismissed speculations that the May 14 event would hold in Lagos, saying the convention will instead, take place in Abuja, the nation’s capital.
This was as it became clear at the weekend that the National Chairman of the party, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun would be standing for reelection.
Speaking at the weekend in Ilorin, National Publicity Secretary of the party, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi said; “I think the position that will be most contested is the national chairmanship of the party, which of course is zoned to the South-south zone of the party. I do not know who else is going to contest, but I know Chief John Odigie-Oyegun will re-contest for the second time, as the chairman of the APC”.
However, addressing journalists shortly after the inauguration of the 68-member committee Monday in Abuja, Gov. Badaru said, “the sale of forms would start on Wednesday while the location of the convention is Abuja”.
He added that since the constitution of the party allows for a consensus, the delegates would still be asked to cast their votes in order to affirm any candidate that emerges by a consensus.
There had been speculations that a section of party chieftains who are opposed to the current leadership of the party had concluded plans to ensure that the convention holds in Lagos while those sympathetic to the party leadership wanted it in Abuja.
Inaugurating the committee, Chief Odigie-Oyegun said its membership is a reflection of varied interests in the party.
“The signs are clear that this is a party whose leadership is committed and dedicated, inspired by current events, to make sure that this party is out in political fighting mood for the 2019 elections.
“Everybody here has been specially chosen as everybody here represents major interests in the party. I am sure that everybody here is aware that the task you are going to undertake now is a major one. That we are having a very short, sharp elective convention for good reason. For months, we have been talking forward and backward and sometimes, not in very acceptable terms and language about the leadership of the party. No responsible organisation will allow these doubts to continue indefinitely. The earlier it is resolved, the better so that this party can move and forge ahead. So, we decided on a short and sharp period of elections from ward level until the final event on the 14th of May. Yes, we would have wanted probably a little more time, but I am a Catholic and I am sensitive to my religious observances. I am aware that the Muslim fast starts just a couple of days after the days we have set for the convention. That acted as a constraint. Even though some people said we could still go ahead, I said no because I fast too and I know that the first few days are the hardest and towards the end, a lot of our leaders will be heading for the pilgrimage. Meanwhile, we will be sitting with doubt about the APC and its leadership and the rest of them. So, let us get this thing out of the way as speedily as possible.
“The task that you have undertaken to perform is a heavy and tough one. The APC is known, in spite of induced controversies, for the cleanest primaries and congresses. Our last presidential primary was by all accounts one of the best ever held and I dare say, anywhere. It was a convention that was watched world wide and you are supposed to repeat the feat. I have no doubt that this one, given the controversies that has preceded it will also be a most watched convention. So, you have the task of producing a convention that is free, fair and provide a level playing field for anybody who wants to aspire to any position.
“I am passing the bulk over to you today. At the end of this exercise, I want to see a reunited APC under whatever leadership your exercise brings up. We have a tough election ahead of us and we must prime ourselves for that election. We must not cuddle ourselves with any false sense of being the party in power. Our population today is more aware of their rights than they have ever been before. So, as you proceed, please ensure that all these views and opinions are brought together into a one United APC”, he added.