HOURS after notifying the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) of the indefinite postponement of its national convention, the All Progressives Congress (APC) has made another U-turn, announcing that the event will now take place on March 26.
Earlier in the morning of February 21, APC had forwarded a letter with reference number APC/NHDQ/INEC/019/22/21, dated February 21, 2022, to INEC, informing the commission of its plan to hold zonal congresses on the same March 26.
In the letter titled ‘Notice for the conduct of zonal congresses’ signed by Yobe State Governor Mai Mala Buni and John Akpanudoedehe, chairman and national secretary of the Caretaker Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC) respectively, the APC informed INEC that the notice for the conduct of the zonal congresses superseded the earlier notice for the conduct of the national convention.
The letter was silent on a new date for the national convention, a development which suggested that the event had been postponed indefinitely.
But later in the evening on February 21, the party released a timetable of activities for the zonal congresses and the national convention.
The timetable, signed by Akpanudoedehe, disclosed that the zonal congresses would now hold on Saturday March 12, 2022. The national convention was to take place two weeks after, on March 26, 2022.
According to the timetable for zonal congresses, which will take place across the six geo-political zones, publication of membership of zonal congress committees was scheduled for February 24.
Other activities are: Meeting of zonal stakeholders, February 26; sale of forms for zonal positions, February 28 – March 3; screening of zonal aspirants, March 5; screening appeal, March 6; adoption of screening report, March 8; zonal congresses, March 12; zonal congresses appeal, March 14; and adoption of appeal report; March 16.
The notice also disclosed guidelines for purchase of forms for elections into different zonal positions.
Aspirants seeking to contest election for the position of zonal chairman will purchase nomination forms with the sum of N5 million.
Forms for the positions of zonal secretary, zonal legal adviser, zonal organising secretary, zonal publicity secretary and zonal youth leader will cost N500,000.
Aspirants for the position of zonal women leader, and physically challenged persons seeking any of the zonal positions, will purchase forms at the cost of N250,000.
The timetable further announced that activities for the national convention would commence on February 28 with the publication of names of members of national convention sub-committees.
The schedule for other activities for the national convention are sale of forms, March 9 – March 11; screening of aspirants, March 15 – 17; screening appeal, March 19; adoption of appeal report, March 21; accreditation of delegates, March 24 – 25; national convention, March 26; convention appeal, March 29; adoption of appeal report, March 30; inauguration of new national officers, March 31.
Unlike previous occasions where the venue of the national convention was not disclosed, Akpanudoedehe said the event would take place at the Eagle Square, Abuja.
The cost of nomination forms for different national positions in the party was not disclosed in the notice but it was announced that female and physically challenged aspirants will only pay 50 per cent of the prescribed fee for each position.
Two bank accounts were provided for payments for nomination forms.
The new timetable emerged after the Caretaker Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC), which has been running the affairs of the party, met for several hours behind closed doors on February 21.
The U-turn is coming about 24 hours after The ICIR reported that the APC had fallen behind schedule on key items in its previous timetable of the national convention, a development which contributed to the postponement of the event from February 26, the initial date.
Why APC is conducting zonal congresses before national convention
Checks by The ICIR revealed that, initially, zonal congresses was not on the agenda of the APC.
But the party eventually decided to embark on the exercise to accommodate fresh amendments to its constitution, which created the position of zonal officials as new organs in the party leadership.
Until the APC announced plans to amend its constitution about two weeks ago, the concept of zonal officials, which necessitated the need for zonal congresses, was unknown to the party.
Zonal leaders, who were introduced in the party’s organisational structure by the constitutional amendments, are to be elected at zonal congresses, thereby necessitating the need to conduct zonal congresses before the national convention.
The zonal congresses will elect officers of the Zonal Executive Committee whose role includes approving budgets, receiving reports from regional officers and delegating powers.
The amendments to the APC constitution are to be ratified at the forthcoming national convention.
The APC national caretaker committee had in 2021 set up a Constitution Review Committee headed by Tahir Mamman, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), with a mandate to review the party’s constitution in accordance with Article 30 which provides for constitutional amendments.
Key amendments include: the replacement of the Board of Trustees (BoT) with the National Advisory Council (NAC) as well as the creation of zonal congresses for the election of zonal officials.
Akpanudoedehe had explained the amendment was necessitated by the fact that court judgments and administrative experiences had revealed flaws in the 2014 APC Constitution, which had been in force for about eight years.