.

…Modu Sheriff, Yari, others edged out

…Senators Al-Makura, Musa, Mustapha, others battle Senator Adamu for party chair

…CECPC in quandary, fixes NEC meeting March 17, mulls two options

...Akpanudoedehe missing as Bello inaugurates convention sub-committees

…Some govs, leaders tried to sabotage our convention — El-Rufai

…March 26 Convention sacrosanct — Gov Bello

...Buni may visit Buhari in London as his camp re-strategises

…Storm over, Buni remains CECPC chairman – APC Senate Caucus

…Don’t throw away our electoral chances, Southern Govs Forum chairman warns

…Senator Musa in Ondo, seeks Akeredolu’s support

By Dayo Johnson, Regional Editor, South-West, Clifford Ndujihe, Henry Umoru, Omeiza Ajayi & Olayinka Ajayi, ABUJA

The ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, yesterday, ratified the zoning arrangement endorsed by President Muhammadu Buhari and officially zoned the national chairmanship seat of the party to the North-Central geopolitical zone.

The party also announced a new zoning formula for various National Working Committee, NWC, offices, ahead of its March 26 national convention.

The formula tallies with the one President Buhari signed on March 1, 2022, which Vanguard exclusively reported on penultimate Thursday and last Saturday.

In the formula released, yesterday, the party zoned the office of its national chairman to the North-Central, effectively edging out contestants from other zones.

Some of the contestants effectively knocked out by the formula are former governor of Borno State, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff (North East); former governor of Zamfara State, Alhaji Abdulaziz Yari (North West), Mr Sylvester Moniedafe from Adamawa State (North-East); and former governor of Gombe State, Danjuma Goje (North-East).

However, the field is open to two former governors of Nasarawa State, Senators Adamu Abdullahi and Tanko Al-Makura; former Deputy National Chairman of the defunct Congress for Progressive Change, CPC, Malam Saliu Mustapha; Senator Mohammed Sani Musa and Minister of Special Duties and Inter-Governmental Affairs, Dr George Akume.

Senator Adamu Abdullahi had been endorsed as a consensus candidate, according to a document signed by President Buhari, in agreement with APC governors.

Most of the North-Central aspirants have kicked against the manner Senator Adamu was adopted and have continued with their campaigns, warning the party against the imposition of candidates. Their position is shared by some stakeholders.

Zoning formula

In a statement by its Director of Publicity, Salisu Na’inna Dambatta, the party also zoned the office of National Secretary to the South-West.

Dambatta said the decision was reached after the regular meeting of the Caretaker Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee, CECPC, on Tuesday.

The CECPC had deliberated on and approved recommendations of the Committee on Zoning, which was headed by the Kwara State Governor, Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq.

Positions zoned to the North-Central are National Chairman, National Vice Chairman (North-Central), Deputy National Secretary, Deputy National Legal Adviser, Deputy National Publicity Secretary, Zonal Secretary, Zonal Youth Leader, Zonal Organising Secretary, Zonal Women Leader, Zonal Special Leader (Persons with Disabilities – PWD) and National Ex-Officio Member.

The South-South got National Vice Chairman (South-South), National Publicity Secretary, National Women Leader, Deputy National Treasurer, Deputy National Welfare Secretary, Zonal Secretary, Zonal Youth Leader, Zonal Organising Secretary, Zonal Women Leader, Zonal Special Leader (Persons with Disabilities – PWD) and National Ex-Officio Member.

To the South-West, the offices are National Secretary, National Vice Chairman (South-West), National Youth Leader, National Physically Challenged Leader, Deputy National Auditor, Zonal Secretary, Zonal Youth Leader, Zonal Organising Secretary, Zonal Women Leader, Zonal Special Leader (Persons with Disabilities – PWD) and National Ex-Officio Member.

Also, the South-East has Deputy National Chairman (South), National Vice-Chairman (South-East), National Treasurer, National Welfare Secretary, Deputy National Organising Secretary, Zonal Secretary, Zonal Youth Leader, Zonal Organising Secretary, Zonal Women Leader, Zonal Special Leader (Persons with Disabilities – PWD) and National Ex – Officio Member.

Positions zoned to the North-East are Deputy National Chairman (North), National Auditor, National Vice Chairman (North-East), Deputy National Financial Secretary, Deputy National Women Leader, Zonal Secretary, Zonal Youth Leader, Zonal Organising Secretary, Zonal Women Leader, Zonal Special Leader (Persons with Disabilities – PWD) and National Ex – Officio Member.

The North-West has National Vice Chairman (North West), National Legal Adviser, National Organising Secretary, National Financial Secretary, Deputy National Youth Leader, Zonal Secretary, Zonal Youth Leader, Zonal Organising Secretary, Zonal Women Leader, Zonal Special Leader (Persons with Disabilities – PWD) and National Ex-Officio Member.

Dambatta added that zonal representatives on the CECPC will coordinate the process in each zone.

CECPC in quandary over proposed NEC meeting

Meanwhile, the beleaguered CECPC was now in a fix over its decision to convene an emergency meeting of its National Executive Committee, NEC, next Thursday.

This is because as reported by Vanguard yesterday, only the national chairman of the party and/or a two-thirds majority of NEC members can convene such a meeting.

Party sources, who are in the know of ongoing high-wire intrigues at the top echelon of the party said the CECPC, now being led by Governor Abubakar Sani Bello, as acting national chairman is tinkering with two options to convene the NEC.

The two options are — relying on Article 25(B)1, getting two-thirds of NEC members to append their signatures to a document calling for a NEC meeting. The challenge with this is that the current composition of NEC is vague, while its members are scattered around the country and it would take at least two days to mobilise them to Abuja to sign any document calling for a meeting.

The second option is that the CECPC members, with the exception of its substantive National Chairman, Governor Mai Mala Buni and National Secretary, Senator John James Akpanudoedehe, are said to have resolved to sign up for a NEC meeting. They eventually did and fixed March 17.

Their resolution will thereafter be forwarded to the Presidency for necessary input and ratification. The challenge with this is that although, as currently constituted, members of the CECPC are automatic members of NEC, they do not constitute two-thirds of NEC members, whose signatures are needed to convene the all-important meeting.

“The easiest way out is to get Governor Buni to come back, ask him to convene a NEC meeting and then remove him and adopt Governor Bello. But the fear is whether or not Buni will actually call for a NEC meeting if he is allowed to take charge of the CECPC now.

“Unfortunately, the party is in a fix because you cannot invoke any doctrine of necessity on this issue and time is running out. Article 25 (B) 1 of our constitution states that ‘the National Executive Committee shall meet every quarter and/or at any time decided by the national chairman or at the request made in writing by at least two-thirds of members of the National Executive Committee, provided  not less than fourteen (14) days notice is given for the meeting to be summoned.’

“So, it means without Buni or two-thirds of NEC members, we cannot have the said NEC meeting,” one of the sources told Vanguard.

Buni may visit Buhari in London as his camp re-strategises

Indeed, Governor Buni, who is said to enjoy the backing of no fewer than 12 APC governors is yet to return to Nigeria. He has been away for over one week and was expected to return on Tuesday. Sources said he may head to London from Dubai, to see President Buhari over his dramatic ouster as CECPC chairman.

His backers in the CECPC and party hierarchy are said to be awaiting his return before taking the next line of action.

Under him, the CECPC empowered governors, who gained the upper hand in the last congresses of the APC at all levels and were primed to play crucial and decisive roles at the National Convention.

Indeed, the CECPC National Secretary, Senator Akpanudoedehe, said on Tuesday he was waiting for Buni to take a decision on the way forward, adding that if President Buhari wanted them to go, he and Buni would resign.

Crisis of confidence

There are indications that the crisis of confidence in the CECPC is far from over as Senator Akpanudoedehe was absent from the party secretariat yesterday.

Since June 2020 when the CECPC was put in place, Senator Akpanudoedehe is the only CECPC member who resumes at the secretariat every day, understandably due to his role as the party’s bureaucracy.

However, at Wednesday’s meeting of the CECPC and the inauguration of national convention sub-committees, the party scribe was noticeably absent.

Akpanudoedehe had told journalists the previous day that he was waiting for the return of his boss, Governor Buni before taking any action.

The inauguration of sub-committees which was performed by Governor Bello had some of his colleagues including the Chairman, Nigerian Governors Forum NGF and Governor of Ekiti State, Dr Kayode Fayemi, Jigawa State Governor, Mohammed Abubakar Badaru, Zamfara State Governor, Bello Matawalle and Cross River State Governor, Ben Ayade, in attendance.

Governor Fayemi in his brief opening remarks addressed Governor Bello as “National Chairman” of the party.

Inaugurating the sub-committees, Bello said his team has begun efforts to ensure that the national convention holds as scheduled.

He said: “For those of you who have been monitoring events in the national secretariat since Monday, we have started the efforts to ensure that there is a free and fair convention. We have made efforts to see a successful convention and part of those efforts is to inaugurate chairmen and secretaries of the committees in consideration of their track records and loyalty to the party.

“We ask that you exhibit these qualities to ensure the success of the convention. I know a lot of our party faithful wanted in one way or the other to serve in various committees as their support or contributions towards a healthy party. However, we must be mindful that we cannot accommodate everyone on the committee. So, we trimmed down the number to a workable size without undermining anyone and I think this decision is the best for our party.

“I want to also commend the Caretaker Committee members for their responsibility to compile the list because our party being the largest party if not in Nigeria, probably in Africa, they went through hell because everyone wants to serve but I think they did their best.

“If you didn’t see your name on the list, please don’t be offended. I am sure other opportunities will come in future. I want to remind you that you have to work hard to ensure that the National Convention will be held on 26th March 2022. That day is sacrosanct.

Bello said that the over 1000-member committees put in place by Buni was too much to organise the convention and reduced the number to 107. These include 12 members of the CECPC apart from Buni, who will serve as the central planning committee for the exercise.

The reorganisation sees Muhammad Badaru Abubakar, governor of Jigawa state, appointed as chair of the election committee at the conventions

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Light at the tunnel

On his part, Imo senator and presidential aspirant, Owelle Rochas Okorocha, said with the emergence of Bello as CECPC acting chairman, there was no light at the end of the tunnel.

Okorocha, who attended the inauguration of the convention sub-committees, disclosed this shortly after the event.

He said: “I can see light now at the end of the tunnel. I am reassured that this convention will take place and it will be free and fair given the leadership put in place by Mr President. What needs to be done is to give every member of the party a sense of belonging. Not forgetting the founding fathers and the parties that came together to form the APC.

One is the CPC; the ACN led by Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu; APGA led by Rochas Okorocha and ANPP led by Yari, Shettima, Onu and a host of them and not forgetting the new PDP.

“If these people are carried along and the governors are recognized as the leaders of the party, we shall have a peaceful convention.”

Don’t throw our electoral chances away,  Akeredolu warns

Disturbed by the lingering leadership crisis in the APC, Chairman of the Southern Governor’s Forum, and Governor of Ondo State, Arakunrin Rotimi Akeredolu, SAN, has warned the party’s leadership not to throw away its chances at the 2023 elections.

Akeredolu stressed the need for the party to sustain internal democracy in the conduct of its national convention slated for March 26.

He said this when he received Senator Sani Musa, a national chairmanship aspirant, who visited him for consultation.

Senator Sani represents Niger-East Senatorial District and is the Senate Services Committee, chairman.

Akeredolu noted that APC must represent a democratic institution that everyone will appreciate, adding that the party cannot afford to throw away its chances ahead of the general elections.

“What we are faced with now, for me, is the soul of our party. My party, your party, our party. You have alluded to it that a number of people came together to form alliances to unseat a government that was in power for over 16 years. We have the legacy parties and other people joined.

“We got that mass of people to come together. We were able to change the narrative about politics. We took the bull by the horns. We have not been in office for up to eight years. We cannot afford to throw away our chances. We must get our acts together as a political party.

“We must have values. What are our core values? Do we want to represent a democratic institution that everyone would appreciate? Let’s create that niche for ourselves.

“I’m not opposed to zoning offices because there must be a mechanism for balance. What I have said, and that is why I will continue to encourage you, is that there must be internal democracy.”

Earlier, Senator Musa said his decision to visit the governor was due to his importance in the party and how he has held his ideas very strongly.

His words: “We know how you want this country to be united, a country where there is equity, fairness and justice. You want a country where every one of us will believe that Nigeria is for us all. I am in line with your ideas and I believe, if we can translate the same to our political party, we will be one.

“This party needs a decisive leader. It is not by age or by figure or by physical look. It is by your antecedents and how strong you can be. With the devolution of powers we are talking about, the party has done something. But still, nobody has the guts to implement it.

“We need a country. We need our people to believe that God has destined us to have everything and we can make it. Nobody will come to make it for us. I present myself to you, Mr Governor, to seek your support in the forthcoming national convention, ” Musa said.

Storm is over, Buni remains CECPC chairman – APC Senate Caucus

Nevertheless, the APC Senate Caucus said yesterday that the seeming storm in the party was over and that Buni remained the chairman of CECPC.

They spoke after a meeting that lasted three hours in room 301 of the New Senate Wing.

The meeting, which was attended by the President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan; his Deputy, Ovie Omo-Agege; the Whip, Orji Uzor Kalu; and other principal officers, adopted a seven-point communique geared towards dousing tension in the party.

The caucus specifically resolved to meet with the CECPC, leaders of Governors Fora and aspirants/ candidates from this weekend.

Speaking with journalists yesterday after a second-day emergency meeting of the APC senators, the Senate Majority Leader, Senator Yahaya Abdullahi (APC, Kebbi North), said issues facing the party were exhaustively deliberated upon with a clear indication of peace ahead of March 26, 2022, National Convention of the party.

Abdullahi said: “These are trying times for major political parties in the country, the very reason we in the APC as Senate caucus met for the second day running this week towards required collaboration with other stakeholders for the unity of purpose in the party ahead of the coming National Convention and 2023 general election.

“Required strategies have been mapped out by the caucus to bring all interest groups together in making the party stronger and well-positioned for the 2023 general elections.

“The reported storm in the party by the media is not true as there was no leadership crisis. Governor Buni, to us, remains the chairman of the National Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee of the party. He will resume in that capacity any moment he returns from Dubai where he went for a medical check-up,

“Governor Sani Bello who is acting in that capacity now is doing so to avoid a vacuum in leadership and most importantly, to put in place required arrangements for the forthcoming National Convention of the party 17 days from now.”

Earlier in the seven-point Communique signed by the Senate Leader after the meeting, the APC Caucus resolved among others to “constitute itself into a platform for articulating and canvassing the major challenges of unity, and sense of purpose that is required for the Party to win the 2023 General Elections.

“Engage all leaders, members and stakeholders of the party to come together and subordinate their ambitions and egos to larger interests of the Party in the run-up to the 2023 Elections; to consult the national party leadership on zoning and other pre-election issues and processes in order to attain an all-inclusive process of selecting the best material for leadership of the party and government.

Some govs, leaders tried to sabotage our convention — El-Rufai

Governor Nasir el-Rufai of Kaduna State, yesterday, alleged that some governors, elected on the platform of the All Progressives Congress, APC, tried to sabotage the March 26 convention of the party.

Speaking on a programme on Channels Television, ‘Politics Today’, Governor el-Rufai also said that before he travelled on Sunday to London President Buhari approved the take-over of the CECPC by Governor Bello of Niger State, on Monday, and for the processes leading to the March 26 National Convention to be accelerated.

His words:  “We have had several meetings with the President, and among ourselves to try to get the process of the national convention going, we began to get signals that there were some elements in the party who were bent on ensuring that the national convention does not take place.

“You will recall that the convention was supposed to take place in November last year, December and then finally January but no concrete step was taken to actualize that. Even the announcement of March 26 was taken without consulting us the governors. We began to get signals that there were elements in the party leadership as well as some governors that ensured that the March 26 date is missed. If it is missed, the following Saturday is the beginning of Ramadan; which means that we are not likely to have a convention until May after Sallah. And if we are having a convention in May, based on the INEC calendar, we have already lost one month ahead of the primaries.

“This really made us very concerned and we demanded to see Mr President as the Progressive Governors’ Forum along with the leadership of the party and we met the president on February 2. We laid out to him steps that needed to be taken if we are to have our convention by March 26. One of the steps is to know where the national chairman would emerge as that would determine the zoning of the rest. The President gave us a decision on who is the national chairman but we should look at the North-Central.

“We presented the zoning formula to the president and he approved the formula. The President has told us who he prefers to be the chairman of the party but I am not allowed to say it. The president is around the person. It was the same with John Oyegun and Adams Oshiomhole and we are doing the same thing in this case. So far, we are still doing the work of reconciling. Usually, other positions can be contested but the National Chairmanship would be by consensus.”

Vanguard News Nigeria

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