APC National Convention: Plot to postpone March 26 date thickens

Following a shift in date for the 2023 general elections as announced by Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), there are fresh plots by some interests in the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) to embark on campaign for the postponement of its national convention slated for March 26, 2022.

According to INEC, the notice of election across its offices in the country would be published February 28 while political parties have from April 4 to June 3, 2022 to conduct their primaries and ensure resolution of disputes from the exercise.  

The APC had postponed its national convention three times before settling down for the 26th of March, 2022. 

After two postponements in 2021, the Governor Mala Buni-led Caretaker Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC) which earlier settled for February 26 for the much-talked about party exercise later agreed to March 26.  

Blueprint gathered that the development has, however, divided the Progressives Governors Forum (PGF) on whether the March 26 date be adjusted or left as it is, even as the governors forum has a plan to hold another meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari this week over the new INEC’s timetable.  

At the planned meeting with the president this week, a reliable source said a decision would be taken on whether another date be fixed for the party’s national convention or stick to March 26.

The source said: “I am aware that APC governors will meet with the president between Tuesday and Wednesday to discuss this new timeline for party primary election and to take decision on the national convention.”

Also, the proponents of the fresh plot are giving the new INEC’s timetable which mandates all political parties to hold presidential primary election between April 2022 and June 3, 2022, as reason to elongate the life-span of the Buni-led CECPC till the end of May, when national convention and presidential primary election should hold at once.  

Two APC chieftains who spoke with Blueprint on the condition of anonymity said it would amount to waste of time and resources to hold national convention by March 26 and primary election six or seven weeks after, hence the call for postponement. 

One of them said: “There is no more hiding behind a finger because INEC has given a timeline when our presidential candidate should emerge, so why the rush for the national convention? I think it will be wise to hold these exercises at once to avoid waste of resources, time and risk of gathering our members from across the states in Abuja within two months.

“Our message is that both our presidential candidate and the new National Working Committee (NWC) can emerge at once.”

The source said his group of APC members, in the coming days, would make an official statement to the presidency and CECPC leadership.

Another source, a senior member of the ruling party who corroborated the above position, called on the Buni-led caretaker leadership of APC to fully concentrate on emergence of zonal leaders while a new date is worked out to align with primary election between April and June.

The source said: “It is now clear that providence has planned it that Buni’s CECPC will eventually complete the tenure of Comrade Adams Oshiomhole-led NWC, we should however work against this plan.”

Continuing, she said: “We will soon come out to sell this idea for our leaders on the need to have a rethink on the new date (March 26) for the national convention. We don’t have any hidden agenda rather than ensuring that our party remains stronger after this exercise and we believe that between now and May, the Caretaker Committee can still resolve more crises, ensure emergence of quality leaders at our zonal levels and handover a stronger structure to the incoming NWC members.”

INEC warns on early campaigns 

Meanwhile, the INEC has warned political parties and aspirants to strictly adhere to the timeframe for commencement of campaigns for the 2023 general elections which commences 150 days to the polling day and ends 24hours before the Election Day. 

Chairman of the commission, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, stated this at press briefing while fielding questions from newsmen Saturday to unveil the timetable and schedule of activities for 2023 general elections.

Yakubu said there is also the time for the end of the campaigns which he said was 24 hours to the elections.

“Let me use this opportunity to draw the attention of parties and candidates that the law makes a specific definite provisions for the commencement of campaigns and end of campaigns and all Nigerians are required to adhere with the provisions of the law including political parties and candidates,” he said.

He stated that any political party that operates outside the timelines set by the commission, especially with regards to the nomination of primaries, would not be expected to nominate a candidate to the commission.

Yakubu noted that the timelines were supported by regulations and guidelines which are in the Electoral Act 2022.

“So we expect all political parties to comply. Any political party that fails to comply with the timelines provided for in the time table and schedule of activities particularly with respect to the conduct of party primaries for the nomination candidates will not expected to nominate a candidate to the commission,” he said.   

According to the timetable and schedule of activities for next year’s general election, the presidential and the National Assembly elections would hold February 25, 2022 while the governorship and State Houses of Assembly elections follow two weeks later on March 11, 2022.

INEC schedule of activities and timetable prescribes that the campaigns for presidential and National Assembly elections would commence 28th September 2022 while that of the governorship and State Houses of Assembly would commence October 12, 2022.

According to INEC, conduct of party primaries, including resolution of disputes, arising from the primaries would commence April 4, and end June 3, 2022.

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