Amidst the dark cloud hovering over the national convention of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), President Muhammadu Buhari has assured that the party would surprise Nigerians at the major event of the party.
The assurance came as the Kwara state Governor AbduRahman AbdulRazaq-led zoning committee won’t submit its report today (Monday) to the APC Caretaker Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC) as scheduled.
The party’s national convention, earlier slated for February 26, 2022 was postponed, with the party announcing March 12 for zonal congresses and March 26 for its national convention.
The development has generated some confusion as some stakeholders called for further change in date to allow the Governor Mai Mala Buni-led committee conduct the convention that would produce both the National Working Committee(NWC) and the APC presidential flag bearer in the 2023 election.
This, the proponents of such position argued, followed the delayed presidential assent to the Electoral Bill recently signed into law by the president.
Although the governors had at a meeting with President Buhari expressed their firm belief in the sanctity of the March 26 date, certain activities that should precede the national convention were yet to be in place.
At different times, the ruling party postponed its national convention.
The Buni committee, was upon inauguration June 2020, tasked with the responsibility of organising a national convention December 2020.
For reasons bordering on specific assignments to be accomplished, the committee sought an extension which was approved by President Buhari.
It’s on record that the committee was in communication with INEC July 11, 2011, intimating it of its plan have the convention same, but rescheduled it.
Again, the December 2021 which the party planned to hold the convention could not materialise and a new date–February 26, 2022 was announced, and later the March 26 date recently announced.
The CCEPC, had while announcing the new date, said it had written INEC of plan to have its zonal congress March 26, 2022.
The APC further informed the commission that this fresh letter would supersede its earlier communication to INEC wherein it informed the commission that its national convention would hold on February 26.
Dated February 21, 2022 and marked APC/NHDQ/INEC/019/22/21, the letter said the party had to hold a zonal congress first in compliance with its constitution.
Titled, ‘Notice for the Conduct of Zonal Congress,’ the letter read in part: “This notice supersedes our earlier notice for a national convention referenced APC/NHDQ/INEC/019/22/14. This is predicated on the evaluation of our party constitution.”
But at the end of a meeting with some select party leaders, the committee secretary, Senator John Akpanudoedehe, told newsmen that the zonal congresses would now hold March 12 followed by the zonal congresses appeal March 14.
The zonal committees, he said, would be announced February 24, while a meeting of zonal stakeholders holds February 26.
While sales of forms for zonal offices commences Monday, February 28 to Thursday, March 3, zonal applicants will be screened March 5, 2022; with the screening appeal holding the next day, while the adoption of the screening report would be done March 8.
The committee’s scribe also announced the prices of nomination forms, putting that of the zonal chairmanship aspirant at N5 million, while those seeking the secretary, legal adviser, organizing secretary, publicity secretary and youth leader would pay N500, 000 each.
Those eyeing the offices of zonal women leader and persons with disabilities are to pay N250, 000 for the forms.
And for the national convention, Akpanudoedehe said the pre-convention activities begin March 24 while the convention proper holds March 26.
“After deliberation and agreement with the CECPC, we have agreed and approved that the activities of the national convention will commence from March 24 and terminate on March 26.
“The convention activities commence on February 24, and it will terminate at Eagles Square on March 26. In between the convention, we have agreed to have zonal congresses.”
By the party’s arrangement, the sale of forms would run from Wednesday March 9, to Friday March 11, even as no aspirant has picked any form as at the time of this report.
The time table further showed that spirants would be screened from March 15 – 17, while screening appeals hold March 19, 2022, while March 21 was slated for the adoption of the appeal report, just as the accreditation of participants to the Convention holds from March 24 – 25.
And finally, three days after the convention, now slated for Saturday, March 26, 2022, there would be a convention appeal March 29, and the appeal report adopted March 30.
The climax of this is the inauguration of the new team March 31.
Meanwhile, the expectations of party members and aspirants for various positions to know which zone gets what may have been dashed as the party won’t be submitting the report as earlier slated.
The submission of the report would have put to rest the various conflicting zoning arrangements currently in circulation by various groups designed to suit different political interests and groups within the party.
By the schedule of activities released last week by the CECPC, the 8-man zoning committee constituted by the caretaker committee is expected to submit the report Monday March 7, 2022.
The committee has Deputy Senate President Ovie Omo-Agege as deputy chairman.
Other members of the committee include Prof. Etim Nyong, Dr MB Shehu, former National Vice Chairman (North-East), Comrade Mustapha Salihu, Sen. Teslim Folarin and Alhaji Sadeeq Sule-Iko Sami while the deputy governor of Anambra State, Nkem Okeke serves as Secretary.
A reliable source, however told Blueprint Sunday night that the committee would not submit its report as expected due to various interest and opposition to its decisions on the zoning arrangement.
The APC chieftain said: “I can tell you that the Zoning Committee has not done its work not to talk of submitting any reports to the CECPC. The issue is currently characterized with confusion and various interests are out to outsmart each other.”
‘No plan for zonal convention’
Blueprint also gathered last night that there were no plans on ground regarding the zonal congresses of the ruling party.
However, none of these plans have been followed, fuelling speculation that the zonal congresses may not hold.
“I don’t think there is plan to hold zonal convention this weekend because all the scheduled preparations toward the exercise have been defaulted. So, tell me how it will hold,” said a top party source.
But in the midst of the seeming uncertainties, President Buhari has assured the APC has the capacity to conduct its national convention March 26, saying the party would surprise its critics.