Stop overheating polity, Nabena tells supporters of APC Presidential aspirants

By Clifford Ndujihe & Omeiza Ajayi

LAGOS — As jostling for various positions gathers more steam, there was tension, yesterday, as the national secretariat of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, witnessed an unusual huge police presence.

Policemen in several Hilux vans were stationed in strategic locations along the secretariat on Blantyre Street, in what party sources said was to forestall any breakdown of law and order following continued interplay of forces that led to scheduling the convention for February 26.

Meanwhile, the APC has denied zoning party offices while releasing the time-table and schedule of activities for its national convention slated for February 26.

Vanguard exclusively reported on Wednesday that the Governor Mai Mala Buni-led Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee, CECPC, would release a comprehensive time-table for the convention, yesterday. The CECPC considered, adopted, and released the time-table at its 19th  regular meeting.

This happened on a day supporters of the presidential aspiration of Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo urged President Muhammadu Buhari not to allow looters hijack delegates to the APC national convention. The appeal came as former Lagos local council chairmen mobilised support for APC National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, who is also seeking for the party’s presidential ticket.

Convention time-table

According to the time-table signed by the National Secretary of the CECPC, Senator John James Akpanudoedehe, the party leadership will receive the interim report of its National Reconci-liation Committee on January 31; consider and adopt reports of state congresses on February 2; inaugurate state executives on February 3; and begin sales of forms to all aspirants vying for national offices on February 14.

Aspirants are expected to submit completed forms and accompanying documents at the National Secretariat on or before February 19, and the party will publish membership of its sub-committees same day.

Accordingly, the CECPC has fixed screening of all aspirants vying for national offices for February 20 to 22.

Other activities in the time-table are screening appeals to hear and resolve complaints arising from the screening exercise on February 23; accreditation of all statutory and elected delegates to the national convention, February 24 and 25; national convention to elect national officers to the National Executive Committee, NEC, February 26; and national convention appeal to hear and resolve complaints arising from the national convention, February 28.

No zoning yet

The party also denied reports that it has zoned the position of its national chairman to North Central, saying nothing can be farther from the truth.

Akpanudoedehe told journalists in Abuja that such reports are fake news, adding that the party is yet to meet and decide on the subject matter.

“Disregard all the fake news going around in the social media that we have zoned party offices. We are yet to meet on that issue. When the pre-convention time-table is released, the activities will be spelt out and everyone will be clear about what we are going to do each day,” he said.

Police take over APC secretariat

Following continued interplay of forces which has culminated in the decision to hold its national convention on February 26, the Buhari House national secretariat of the APC witnessed increased security presence yesterday.

“This is more like a routine. It is to inspire confidence in those who transact businesses with us, including those of you in the media who come here (secretariat) every day.

“As you know, we also work based on intelligence. There will be several meetings on the composition of sub-committees for the national convention and there is need to ensure that our property, staff and visitors are guaranteed foolproof security,” said a party official.

Abia women protest

Earlier, while the CECPC was deliberating on the national convention, scores of APC women from Abia State stormed the secretariat and accused the National Chairman, Govenor Mai Mala Buni and Senator Akpanudoedehe of imposing Chief Ikechi Emenike on their state chapter.

The women, carrying placards, barricaded the entrance gate of Buhari House for hours, grounding vehicular and human movement.

The Abia APC, women, who arrived the party secretariat at exactly 12 noon and held forte at the gate, defied all entreaties to allow free flow of vehicular movement.

They also stoutly demanded that the national leadership end the Ikechi Emenike’s “abnormal control of Abia State APC.”

Speaking with newsmen, Abia APC Women leader-elect, Mrs. Ezinne Ude-Uduma, warned that if the right thing is not done “the party will go the way of Anambra State”.

ALSO READ: Perish thought of zoning chairmanship position, S’South chieftain tells APC

“Our demand first is for the national chairman Buni to do the right thing. He should wait for the reconciliation committee report to come out. They should not impose anybody or impose any candidate. We voted for Chume Acho Iheanacho Obioha as Abia State party chairman.”

However, Mr. Okey Ezeala, Publicity Secretary of the APC in Abia State, said the people laying claim to leadership of the party in Abia did not take part in the congresses.

According to him, Chief Emenike sent a report to the Senator Abdullahi Adamu-led reconciliation committee where he urged the committee to permit the Orji Kalu group the opportunity to face the consequences of their decision to boycott the APC national congress. He pointed out that Chief Emenike attached two full court judgements that backed the congresses the National Headquarters of the Party conducted in Abia State.

He said those complaining did not participate in last October’s congress, which produced Enyinnaya Harbour as state chairman of the party. Harbour, however, died on December 9, 2021.

On January 8, 2022, Abia APC elected a new chairman to replace Harbour. Chairman of the special state congress committee, Babatunde Kolawole, revealed that the National Working Committee of the APC had scheduled the congress to fill the vacant position in the state executive committee. He announced that Kingsley Ononogbu polled 1,069 votes to clinch the chairmanship.

‘Don’t let looters hijack delegates’

Also, the National Coalition of Women working for the actualization of the 2023 APC presidential ticket for Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has called on President Buhari and the party leadership not to allow those who have looted their states and the national treasury to use such ill-gotten wealth to hijack delegates to the national convention.

This was as they said Osinbajo is one of the very few Nigerian politicians who will not turn electoral victory into an opportunity for primitive wealth accumulation, saying Nigerian women will give him resolute backing for the 2003 presidential elections.

Addressing journalists at the premises of The Progressive Project, TPP, in Abuja, members of the coalition made a six-point declaration that includes a call for President Buhari and the entire members of the Federal Executive Council to consider adopting Osinbajo as APC’s consensus presidential candidate.

Led by the chairperson, Hajia Rabi Dauda, who is also the leader of pro-Osinbajo Progressive Women’s Group, the coalition stressed that the 2023 general election will be a decisive turning point for APC, and the country.

“We urge APC Caretaker and Convention Committee to strictly ensure that delegates to its national convention are not hijacked by those who have participated in looting state or federal resources in the past,” they said among others.

Shinkafi tackles Yari, 11 others for chairmanship

Meanwhile, a second national chairmanship aspirant has emerged from Zamfara State.

Dr Sani Abdullahi Shinkafi, an ally of the state governor, Bello Matawalle, will now be challenging 11 other aspirants including a former governor of Zamfara State, Abdulaziz Yari.

Since Matawalle’s defection to the APC, there has been no love lost between him and Alhaji Yari, who has consistently insisted that stakeholders could not hand over the state party structure to the governor.

Consequently, the state chapter of the party has been factionalized, with the Yari and Senator Kabiru Marafa’s factions battling the faction controlled by the governor.

Speaking at the national secretariat of the party, yesterday, Shinkafi, accompanied by some aides of the Zamfara State Governor, however, dismissed insinuations that the governor was sponsoring his aspiration.

“I have no godfather. Before I was born, God had written my destiny. God is the master of my destiny. No one is sponsoring me. Yari knows who I am. He used to be one of my best friends before he became governor and turned himself into a mini-god. I have never also contacted the incumbent governor on my aspiration,” he stated.

Shinkafi added that he does not feel threatened by Yari’s ambition, saying the former governor is not a valid member of the APC. “I challenge Yari to show his authentic revalidated card as a member of the APC. As far as I am concerned, he is already disqualified from this race because he is no longer a member of the APC. If you go to his ward, he is not in the membership register.”

Ex- Lagos council chairmen mobilise for Tinubu

In Lagos, former council chairmen, yesterday, kick-started mobilisation for Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.

The former helmsmen under the aegis of ‘Grassroots Network for Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, GNAT,’ described Tinubu as a great benefactor, who has built many actors, including Governor Kayode Fayemi, Muiz Banire, SAN, Lai Mohammed, Rauf Aregbesola and Babatunde Fashola, SAN, among others. 

GNAT comprises serving and former local government chairmen, councillors, supervisors, secretaries to local government, secretaries to education, special advisers, special assistants and other political appointees at the local government level across the country.

GNAT leader, Abiodun Mafe, who spoke at the lunch of the group in Lagos, said the foot soldiers cannot afford to be ungrateful to the former Lagos governor, who played a great role in their rise to prominence.

Former Bariga Council chairman Omoyele Suleiman, who launched the organisation, said:”We will travel round the nooks and crannies of Nigeria to mobilise for Asiwaju to realise his dream of a greater Nigeria that works.”

A party chieftain from Kano State, Abdullahi Tanko Yakassai, said Tinubu is the answer to the myriad of problems confronting the country. 

Present, among others at the ceremony which held at the Lagos Airport Hotel, Ikeja, Lagos were Seye Oladejo, Kehinde Bamigbetan, Ayodele Adewale, Wale Odunlami, Kamal Bayewu, Samuel Adedayo, Bamgbose, Labinjo and other former local government chairmen.

Why some ex-governors, indicted persons must not lead APC — South-South group

Meanwhile, ahead of the national convention, the South-South Emerging Leaders’ Forum, SELF, has warned leaders of the party not to elect some former governors and individuals in the race who have been indicted for some financial crimes by anti-corruption agencies.

In a statement, yesterday, in Abuja, National Coordinator of the group, Barrister Preye Wilson, warned that the ruling party does not need a national chairman that will be a regular visitor to anti-graft agencies to explain past dealings when such person is supposed to be strategizing on securing victory for the party in next year’s general election.

Barrister Wilson also added that it was time the ruling party deviated from past experiences of electing former governor as national chairman.

While making reference to a media report, titled: “APC faces integrity test, five chairmanship aspirants on EFCC radar,” the South-south forum warned that if any of these allegedly indicted chairmanship aspirants was elected as national chairman, the party will be easily blackmailed by the opposition parties and other critics.

Why I resigned as PGF DG — Lukman

Immediate past Director-General of the Progressive Governors’ Forum PGF, Salihu Moh. Lukman, has said that he resigned his appointment on Monday, to put him in an unhindered position to continue to freely hold the party accountable to the principles of internal democracy.

While confirming news of his resignation in a statement, yesterday, Lukman said he restrained himself from making any public statement on the matter because he was still awaiting acceptance.

“I have privately responded to many enquiries from party leaders, friends, family members and clarified that it is true that my decision to resign my position is to enable me to continue with the campaign to return APC to its founding vision, which is to build a party that is not only democratic but oriented based on social democratic principles,” he stated.

Lukman recalled that since the buildup to the 2019 elections, internal contests in the ruling All Progressives Congress APC began to degenerate.

According to him, some leaders became intolerant and conducted themselves almost as tyrants, while every campaign to get the leadership of the party to commence the process of internal reform was resisted.

“Some party leaders in the bid to emerge as candidates of the party for offices became hostile. Party campaign drifted to almost war situations in many instances. Organs of the party stop meetings as required by the constitution. Views of party leaders became decisions of the party.

“Thank God, we have a leader in President Buhari who disagreed with what is going on in the party and support the campaign for reform. Without going into all the details, the inspiration to setup the current Caretaker Committee came from President Buhari based on the expectation of ensuring that the drift in the party is arrested. This is expected to produce a new leadership, which should emerge at the party’s National Convention. Once the Caretaker Committee began to show sign of reluctance to organise the Convention, it should be a source of concern to all party members desirous of reform”, Lukman added.

He said following the news of his resignation, many party leaders and members called to express these worries.

“One of the party leaders who honoured me with an invitation to meet him late on Tuesday, January 17, 2022, was Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu. He commended me for championing the campaigns to reform the party and expressed shock that some members of the Forum were intolerant to criticism.

“He argued that any party leader who will not accommodate critical opinion on fundamental issue such as respecting decisions and especially a matter as sensitive as organising the National Convention, which is the highest organ of the party, such a person is not a democrat and shouldn’t be associated with a party envisioned to be progressive such as the APC.

“With these words, he encouraged me to continue with my campaign, which is what the party needs. He declared his support to all decisions of President Buhari to ensure that APC Convention holds in February 2022”, the ex-PGF DG said.

Acknowledging that the Caretaker Committee has now announced that the convention will hold February 26, 2022, Lukman said the next task before all party leaders is to ensure the new leadership of the party to emerge from the February 26, 2022 National Convention will be “tolerant of criticisms, democratic and more importantly share the commitments of the founding leaders to build a truly progressive party.”

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