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At last, APC fixes date for national convention but venue is uncertain

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THE NATIONAL convention of Nigeria’s ruling party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), has been fixed for February 26.

Chairman of the party’s Caretaker Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC) and Yobe State Governor Mai Mala Buni announced the date in Abuja on January 18.

But the venue of the national convention is uncertain.

Buni did not disclose the venue of the convention when he announced the date while addressing party members at the Progressives Women Congress in Abuja.

“We look forward to having more women contesting in the forthcoming national convention of the party on February 26, 2022, and the general elections,” he said, while thanking the women for supporting the party.

The CECPC has been running the affairs of the party since June 25, 2020.

The CECPC was expected to organise a national convention in December 2020, where new national officers of the party, including a national chairman and members of the National Working Committee (NWC), will be elected.

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But the CECPC has remained in office since and had its tenure extended three times.

Governors elected on the platform of the APC, known as the Progressive Governors Forum (PGF), had, at a meeting in Abuja on January 17, proposed February 26 and 27 as date for the national convention.

The governors at the meeting also passed a vote of confidence in the Buni-led CECPC, stating that the caretaker committee had “done an incredible job” by running the party successfully and mobilising new members.

However, Buni’s position as Yobe State governor and equally caretaker party national chairman is at the heart of a crisis in the APC, which has resulted in several lawsuits filed by aggrieved members who want the CECPC disbanded.

The crisis ensued after the Supreme Court faulted Buni’s dual role as state governor and caretaker chairman of a political party.

The Supreme Court made the pronouncement on July 28 while delivering judgment in the petition filed by People’s Democratic Party (PDP) candidate Eyitayo Jegede against the election of Ondo State governor Rotimi Akeredolu of the APC.

Although the Supreme Court declared Akeredolu winner of the election and dismissed Jegede’s petition, some justices on the panel of the apex court pronounced that the composition of the leadership of the APC was not in compliance with the provisions of Section 183 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended).

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Section 183 of the 1999 Constitution states: “The governor shall not, during the period when he holds office, hold any other executive office or paid employment in any capacity whatsoever.”

Following the development, the APC was divided into two camps – stakeholders who supported Buni’s leadership, and others who felt the Supreme Court pronouncement signalled impending legal woes for the party and as a result pushed for governor’s removal from the role of acting national chairman.

Until Buni announced the date for the national convention in Abuja on January 18, there had been suggestions that the caretaker committee was not willing to hold the convention and wanted to remain in office until the party selects its candidate for the 2023 presidential election.

Some chieftains of the APC backed the postponement of the national convention which, by implication, would mean the extension of the tenure of the CECPC.

A former Governor of Abia State and Chief Whip of the Senate Orji Kalu had, in a letter addressed to Buni and other members of the committee, called for the postponement of the convention.

Kalu said the party’s presidential primaries and election of the National Working Committee should be held on the same day.

But some party stakeholders mounted pressure on the CECPC to proceed with the national convention.

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Pressure on the CECPC heightened after President Muhammadu Buhari, in an interview with National Television Authority on January 6, warned that the APC could provide the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) an opportunity to take power in the 2023 general elections if the party was not able to hold the national convention within the available time frame.

Director-General of the Progressive Governors Forum Salihu Lukman was particularly vocal in criticising the CECPC for delaying in commencing the process of organising the national convention.

However, about 24 hours before Buni announced the date for the convention, Lukman resigned his position as DG of the APC Governors Forum.

There were reports that the APC governors forced Lukman to resign during their meeting on January 17.

Former Governor of Edo State Adams Oshiomhole was the last elected national chairman of the APC.

Oshiomhole was elected at the party’s last national convention on July 23, 2018 but he did not complete his four-year tenure in office as a crisis that emanated from the Edo State governorship election led to his removal on June 16, 2020.

The position of national chairman has been zoned to the North and several former governors have since been campaigning to be elected as the party’s next leader.

The aspirants include: a former Zamfara State governor Abdul’Aziz Yari; former Nasarawa State Governor Tanko Al-Makura; former Borno State governor Ali Modu Sheriff; former Bauchi State Governor Isa Yuguda; former Gombe State Governor Danjuma Goje and former Benue State Governor George Akume.

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