By Clifford Ndujihe & Omeiza Ajayi

After series of back and forth, the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, has finally announced February 26 for its national convention.Chairman of its Caretaker Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee, CECPC, Governor Mai Mala Buni, disclosed this yesterday in Abuja at a women conference organised by the party.

Noting that the APC is the most women-friendly party in Nigeria, he assured that the party would continue to support women to realise their political dreams.

The CECPC held a marathon closed-door meeting at the party’s national secretariat, yesterday, to ratify the date and to decide on the various sub-committees to be saddled with putting in place a hitch-free national convention next month.

Top party sources told Vanguard that a former Minister of Aviation, Chief Femi Fani-Kayode is being tipped to head the Publicity Sub-committee while the Commissioner for Information in Kogi State, Kingsley Fanwo, would serve as secretary.

Equally, the Kogi State Governor, Alhaji Yahaya Bello, is to head the security sub-committee, same role he played during the 2018 APC National Convention.The meeting could not however finalise discussions on the composition of all the sub-committees and was therefore adjourned to today.

Party sources said the adjournment was necessitated by the need to re-examine some membership of the sub-committees with a view to satisfying all interests.

The CECPC, the source added will release a comprehensive time table for the convention, today.“We look forward to having more women contesting in the forthcoming national convention of the party on February 26, 2022, and the general elections.   As we approach the convention, and draw closer to the general elections, I wish to remind you of your Progressives roles and supporting progressive minded leaders aspiring for various offices for the betterment of our country,” Buni stated.

According to Buni, who is also Yobe State governor, APC has over 41 million registered members, adding “this figure has asserted our position as Africa’s largest political party and of course, Nigeria’s leading political party.

“With this, we are confident of winning the 2023 general election with huge success,” he declared.  Why Buni’s CECPC ratified Feb 26A top leader of the party told Vanguard, yesterday that Governor Buni and the CECPC ratified the February 26 date in spite of obvious obstacles because Buni is not a sit-tight leader as alleged by critics.

“He has shown that he wants the best for the party. He is determined to reposition the party, get the job of organising a rancour-free convention done and return to his main job of providing good governance in Yobe State. Now, the task before leaders and members of the APC is to join forces and make the convention a huge success,” the APC chieftain said.

How to ensure successful convention

Meanwhile, to ensure a successful convention on February 26, the CECPC must write and inform the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, on or before February 5, which is the mandatory 21 days required by law. For the convention to be monitored by INEC, the party must write the commission 21 days before the exercise.

The CECPC must also address some critical issues it identified last week. The issues are “addressing contestations within the party, litigations, fallouts of recently-conducted Congresses and generally repositioning the party” ahead of the convention.

Indeed, the crises arising from the recent Ward, Local council and state congresses are still raging. The congresses are yet to be conducted in Anambra and Zamfara. The party is factionalised in both states.

In most of the other 34 states and Federal Capital Territory, Abuja where the congresses were conducted, feuding stakeholders are locked in bitter tussles for the control of the party’s soul. Also, some aggrieved elements are in court challenging the outcome of the congresses in their states just as five members have approached the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja for an injunction to stop the party from going ahead with the national convention.The Plaintiffs- Suleiman Dimas Usman, Muhammed Shehu, Samaila Isahaka, Idris Isah and Audu Emmanuel- told the court that they are members of the party in Zamfara State and the Federal Capital Territory.

Their argument is that going ahead with the exercise would mean disenfranchising delegates from Anambra and Zamfara states.To ensure a rancour-free exercise, the party must get these suits withdrawn or resolved before the convention.There is also the issue of six by-elections across four states holding on February 26, the same day as the convention.

Following the declaration of vacancies by the Speaker of the House of Representatives and Speakers of some State Houses of Assembly, the INEC had scheduled bye-elections for six constituencies in four States on February 26 as follows: Akure North/Akure South Federal Constituency, Ondo State; Jos North/Bassa Federal Constituency, Plateau State; Pankshin South State Constituency, Plateau State; Ogoja/Yala Federal Constituency, Cross River State; Akpabuyo State Constituency, Cross River State; and Ngor-Okpala State Constituency, Imo State.

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The APC is fielding candidates for these bye-elections and as such must handle the tough task of contesting the polls and holding the convention simultaneously.

Osinbajo’s women demand ticket

Meanwhile, hundreds of women from across the country, yesterday, stormed the Abuja International Conference Centre, venue of the APC National Women’s Conference to demand the actualization of a Professor Yemi Osinbajo presidency in 2023.

With an empathic presence, the women’s coalition which included market women, farmers, traders, artisans and professionals chorused demand for Vice President Osinbajo to become the APC presidential candidate in 2023.

They urged the party’s caretaker committee to strictly ensure that delegates to its national convention are not hijacked by those who have participated in looting states or federal resources in the past.

Leader of the Steering Committee of Women’s Coalition for Osinbajo, Hajia Rabi Dauda, who addressed journalists at the venue emphasized that women’s assessment of the current line up of presidential aspirants across various political parties indicates that Osinbajo is the best option for Nigerian women.

“We are rooting for Osinbajo not because there are no other aspirants but because he is the most qualified and the one with the most easily predictable disposition towards development issues that are of utmost concern to women.

“Nigerian women trust Osinbajo more than any other presidential aspirant and he has an idea of what the specific challenges of governance in present times really mean.

“We believe that Osinbajo can consolidate upon whatever good foundation that Baba Buhari has laid and Nigerian women are more optimistic about prospects for a better future under an Osinbajo presidency.“At this APC National Women’s Conference and beyond here, we are urging all Nigerian women to actively mobilize support for Osinbajo in the interest of generations yet unborn because 2023 elections will leave a very enduring impact on the fate of Nigeria,” she said.

Speaking in a similar vein, Madam Scholastica Dominic, who led a group of market women to join the women’s coalition for a peaceful rally at the International Conference Centre, stated that it was a voluntary demonstration of support,” she said.

Also, Evangelist Ochoja who is a member of the inter-faith group within the women’s coalition expressed women’s confidence in Osinbajo’s preparedness to justify the nation’s collective hopes, adding that many people like her who cannot be swayed with money prefer to back Osinbajo in view of demonstrated capacity to serve with empathy.

Stakeholders slam govs

Also, concerned stakeholders of the APC under the aegis of APC Rebirth Group have slammed governors of the party for instigating the resignation of the erstwhile Director General of the Progressive Governors’ Forum PGF, Salihu Moh. Lukman.The stakeholders in a statement by Engr. Aliyu Audu said there was nothing progressive about the action of the progressive governors.

According to him, the stakeholders received with sadness the news of the resignation of Mallam Lukman, who they said was a moral compass for the party.

“While we hail Lukman for his decision to tender his resignation as the honourable thing to do in the present circumstance, we are not unaware of the fact that the governors of the All Progressives Congress at their meeting on Sunday orchestrated the resignation over his position on the state of affairs of the APC, and particularly his calls for the conduct of the national convention which is long overdue.

“Our disappointment is in the fact that a party that prides itself as a progressive party, more so governors elected under its platform, would be so intolerant to opinions that are not in agreement with their desires.

He said just like the APC Rebirth Group, Lukman shares a deep concern about the state of affairs of the party.

Having now resigned his appointment, the group said Lukman has freed himself from the shackles the position of the Director General of the Progressives Governors Forum placed on him.

“He is now at liberty, more than ever before, to continue his constructive engagement on behalf of millions of APC members who count on the bravery and fair mindedness of people like him. The governors and leaders of the party on the other hand have exposed their lack of principle as progressives, their inability to embrace opposing views or even the capacity to make substance from them.”

Serial violations

Since inception, the APC has been in serial violation of an important provision of its own constitution with regards to holding its national convention to appraise its state of affairs and make necessary adjustments.

Specifically, Article 25 (A)(i) of the APC constitution stipulates that the National Convention of the Party shall be held once in two years at a date, venue and time to be recommended by the National Working Committee and approved by the National Executive Committee subject to the giving of the statutory notices to the Independent National Electoral Commission and at least 14 days notice given to members eligible to attend.

The Convention is used to ratify policies and programmes of the Party; Elect or remove the national officers of the Party; Elect the Presidential Candidate of the Party; Amend the Constitution of the Party from time to time as the need may arise among other issues.

After its national convention in October 2014, the party should have held another one in 2016 but it did not do so until June 2018. By implication, a mid-term national convention should have held in 2020 but despite the ouster of the Comrade Adams Oshiomhole-led National Working Committee NWC and the constitution of a Caretaker Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee CECPC, the hopes of having a national convention have been constantly deferred until now.

Vanguard News Nigeria

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