—Buhari’s warning on PDP tonic to avert APC disintegration –Lalong
By Johnbosco Agbakwuru
President Muhammadu Buhari and the All Progressives Congress, APC, will meet on Sunday to decide a definite date for the conduct of the party’s national convention.
The party is hoping that the date in February is still feasible as it has come under pressure from the president to clean up its act or lose power to the main opposition party.
The APC governors meeting on Sunday with the President may either make or mar the party.
Speaking with State House correspondents after meeting with the President, Chairman of the Northern Governors Forum and governor of Plateau State, Simon Lalong, said the Sunday meeting will centre on the proposed date for the convention.
Governor Lalong said that President Buhari’s admonition to the party that it risks losing power to the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, is a signal for the party to have a seamless convention so that it will not disintegrate.
He said the governors have now given the president the assurance that the convention will hold in February.
According to him, the president’s warning is for the party to redouble its effort and do the right thing.
LaLong observed that as a political party, the APC is made up of different interests saying, what matters is that at the end of the day, is that they are able to elect their representatives.
Fielding question on the efforts of the party leaders to avert the loss forewarned by President Buhari, the governor said: “Yes, I agree that all the times there are meetings, especially taking final decisions on the party, I’m always part of it and part of it was also why I visited the President and the President still stands committed that there must be an immediate convention.
“You know, when the convention is coming there are fears here and there, some people will tell you it will work, it will not work. I don’t want to jump to a conclusion, but the visit to the President has already assured us and you know that there is already a notice that all the governors are meeting on Sunday. By Sunday we will tell you when we’re doing the convention.
“We’ve taken a date already. I think our first date before Christmas we said we’re going to do a convention in February and we are still working for convention, as far as I’m concerned, except things change from another angle. But as far as I’m concerned, we’re working for our convention in February.
“These are things that the President was raising his fears, but we’ve already given him assurances that nothing will stop us from having a very peaceful election.
“Some parties have done their own, the PDP did their own, nothing will stop APC from doing their own.
“So, all the fears that we’re talking about, which the President also re-echoed, is also telling the governor’s please do more, and keep the party alive. So, by God’s grace, we’re going to put our party alive.”
Governor Lalong argued that steps will be taken to address all the contending issues affecting the conduct of the convention.
He said, “Well, these are things we’re going to discuss, but I’m not drawing conclusions, but I always tell you that a political party is a cumulation of interests. The interests may be the same, they may not be the same, but at the end of the day, what we’ll do is that we are going to elect people who are going to represent you.
“People will come with different interests and so when you are preparing like this, you have different interests and those different interests will be aired in different ways.
“But I just want to assure you that in so many ways, when we meet, we’ll harmonize all interests and we’ll come out as one APC and that’s what we’re hoping that whatever will be the interests that we’re going to discuss, I have a very great hope that at the end of the day, our goal is to elect people who will take care of our party because that will be the beginning of the process towards electing those who will take over from this present government.”
Asked whether the party can cause the withdrawal of ongoing court cases against the convention, he said the legal tussle may not necessarily affect the conduct of the exercise.
According to him, “There are procedures to holding court processes. Many of the court processes were there when we set up the caretaker committee, but up to this moment, if you go to take a census of some of the court proceedings, you will realize that a lot of them have been resolved out of court. So, it’s still the duty of the party, it’s still part of the functions of the party to resolve.
“But we must not wait to resolve all court presses before you go for the convention. I don’t think so because there is also machinery for resolving the court processes, even after the convention.
“I had a court process in my state, that did not stop me from going on and at the end of the day, we resolved the court process and we’re still going on, preparing and waiting for the convention.”
On whether the APC can meet the speculated February 5 date for the convention in view of the need for a mandatory 21-day notice to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), he said: “Well, I’m not the chairman of the convention committee, but I want to assure you that we’ve called a meeting for Sunday and if there is a meeting on Sunday, and you’re thinking about next Friday. Just wait and see what will happen before next Friday. I don’t want to draw a conclusion now.
“You’re already talking of litigations, you draw conclusions, somebody will go and file a case tomorrow. So, I don’t want us to draw a conclusion on that, but I want to assure you that we are meeting. We already sampled the minds of many of the governors.
“We’re meeting and we’re very hopeful that we’re going to keep and then with the admonition given by the President, it’s a warning signal to all of us to sit up and ensure that we have a seamless, very clean, fair and transparent convention so that our party will not get disintegrated.”
The Plateau governor also spoke on the security situation in his state, expressing delight that the military will now be able to deploy Tucano jets against terrorists following their recent re-categorization.
He lamented that kidnapping has become more prominent in Plateau state.
He said, “Well, in terms of security, some of the issues we raised with the president last year, we’re already beginning to see progress, especially you’ll recall that we mentioned that we are very eager to see the use of the Tucano helicopters so that we can have massive engagement with all the bandits.
“Part of it was also the status of some of these bandits around and you can see that already the federal government has described them as terrorists, the military is now going to do full engagement. These were some of the issues that were raised in our communique in Kaduna.
“So, we’re already beginning to see and we’re also getting prepared in the north for such action, that’s what we’re expecting. So, if we are going to …, let us do massive action that will ensure that within the first quarter of this year, people will have hope that we’re going to live with security and we’re going to live peacefully in all the parts of the north because we’re expecting these actions before the next rainy season.
“You recall that we’re an agrarian region and we want our people to go back to the farm and in most cases, it is this insecurity that is keeping them away.
“Those are some of the things and then addressed in collaboration with the security and also our vigilante, the issue of kidnapping, which is now getting very serious. So, those are some of the issues that we’re also meeting and we’re preparing for.
“The last part of it is the engagement of traditional rulers. Of course, we’ve sent a bill to the National Assembly on the role of traditional rulers and we’re hoping that we’ll pursue that on behalf of Northern governors to ensure that this bill gets through so that traditional ruler will also complement the efforts of the government in addressing insecurity in their various states.”