There appears to be a confusion of sort in the governing All Progressives Congress (APC) with some members forming a parallel national caretaker committee, purportedly sacking the Mai Mala Buni-led Caretaker/ Extraordinary National Convention Planning Committee (CECPC) and scheduling the party’s convention for February 26, 2022.
But the Buni-led CECPC has disowned the group which it described as impostors, and asked security agents to swoop on them.
The new group which appointed President Muhammadu Buhari as head of its advisory committee also named Speaker House of Representatives Femi Gbajabiamila, Lagos state Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu and others as members of the new caretaker Committee.
Addressing journalists Monday in Abuja, the group under the aegis of Progressive Youth Movement (PYM) announced the sack of the Buni-led committee and announced a new national caretaker committee with Mustapha Audu as chairman.
Audu, who briefed journalists on the development, also announced the formation of a national reconciliation committee with a mandate to reconcile aggrieved members before its national convention slated for February, 26, 2021.
He said a zoning formula for positions in the new National Working Committee is expected to emerge at a national convention slated for February 26, 2022.
While inaugurating the new committee, Audu the self-acclaimed national chairman said: “Today, we are here to inaugurate the PYM – CECPC, these young men and women of noble repute have been carefully selected and mandated by all the well-meaning young stakeholders of our great party- the APC- to plan and execute our convention before the end of February 2022.
“We are aware of the plethora of issues within the party. Our party has had a history of shying away from true reconciliation and in many cases inflicting chastisement on members that should have been rewarded for their effort towards building the APC. We will also be setting up a reconciliatory committee to help reconcile aggrieved members within the party.
“It is clear that in the last couple of years, the party has been on a regressive course and it is necessary for all well-meaning party members to roll up our sleeves and do the needful to ensure that we correct the mistakes that have been made to ensure victory in 2023 for all stakeholders.”
“I would advise all party members to look inwards and understand the need to do things differently so that we can ensure we win back the trust of the Nigerian people as we move closer to the election year.
“Let’s join hands and strengthen our internal democracy in our dear party- the APC- and show Nigerians that we have what it takes and we deserve their votes in 2023,” Audu added.
Reacting to the development in a statement, National Secretary of the Buni-led CECPC, Senator John Akpanudoedehe, described the new group as a “paid and misguided group.”
Akpanudoedehe said: “We have received several enquiries from the media and concerned APC members on the felonious activities of a purported group parading themselves as “Progressive Youth Movement.”
“The purported group and membership are unknown to the Party, its structure or as a registered support group. Hence, we completely disown them and cannot account for their activities or join issues with them.
“However laughable, the criminal attempt of the purported group to usurp the leadership of the President Muhammadu Buhari-led APC now bothers (sic) on treasonable felony. Relevant security bodies must now check and address their unscrupulous activities.
“The attention the purported group seeks will not be given to them by the party. We can only advise that the general public completely disregard them. Members of this group are not registered members of the APC and are being used by opposition elements and fifth columnists to cause confusion.
“As widely reported, the successful meeting between the APC leadership, Progressive Governors’ Forum and the President produced February 2022 as the timeframe for the party’s National Convention.
“Our focus now is preparing the ground for a rancour-free exercise.”
Sheriff tackles Buhari, govs
In a related development, an APC national chairmanship aspirant and former Borno state Governor Alimodu Sheriff has warned President Buhari and governors elected on the party platform against jettisoning the party’s constitutional requirements for a national convention.
The former governor said both the president and the APC governors lacked the power to fix a date for the party’s national convention unless a National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting is summoned.
Sheriff spoke through his campaign media director, Senator Victor Lar in Abuja Monday.
He said the February date must therefore be rectified by the party’s NEC to make it constitutional.
“We want to add that though we have commended the Progressive Governors Forum (PGF) for taking the initiative to meet with President Muhammadu Buhari on the need for the party’s National Convention to hold, the decision to hold the convention in February 2022 has to be by the party’s National Executive Committee (NEC).
“It is normal for members of the party’s national caucus to meet that meeting between the PGF and the president was maybe a partial caucus meeting, even though it was not properly constituted and convened.
“But both the governors and the president do not have the constitutional powers to take such decision. That decision is supposed to be taken by the party’s NEC. So, we suggest that the APC governors, the president and the party should call a NEC meeting to rectify that February 2022 suggestion for the party’s national convention.
“The president does not have the constitutional powers to call for a meeting, neither do the governors. It is only the party’s NEC that can take such decision as regards when its national convention will hold.
“We, however, appeal to our members and supporters to remain calm and focused, we are on course and victory is certain,” Modu Sheriff said.
When asked to comment on media reports that APC has zoned the national chairmanship position to the North-central, Senator Lar described the report as laughable.
He said: “The Modu Sheriff Campaign Organisation finds the purported story as very laughable because the organs of the party that are supposed to communicate that kind of information, are not the ones communicating it, for that reason, we will take it with a pinch of salt.
“Again, the All Progressives Congress (APC) as a party has never adopted zoning. At what point did they start zoning that they are talking about zoning the party’s national championship position to the North Central?
“We believe that this is an open contest and the best candidate should emerge for the party to be galvanised for victory in 2023 and Sheriff remains the best candidate. We find the report as the very poor scheming of people who are scared of contesting the position with Sheriff.”
Party denies zoning
Speaking on zoning, the APC said it did not discuss or reach any decision to zone its national chairmanship position to the North-central zone as reported in a section of the media.
The party’s scribe, Senator Akpanudoedehe, said the issue of zoning was not in the mandate of the CECPC. “I have the mandate to report whatever decision the CECPC takes and to the best of my knowledge, the committee has not discussed zoning.”
He added that with the party’s national convention fixed for February 2022, it was expected that party members would come up with different zoning speculations.
“People are just flying what will favour their interest, all I know is that the caretaker committee has not discussed or reached a zoning decision,” he said.
Mustapha lauds Buni c’teee
Also speaking on the party leadership, a top national chairman ship aspirant, Malam Salihu Mustapha said the Buni-led committee was on course in its given assignment.
He said contrary to expectations in certain quarters, there was no uncertainty in the direction of the party under Buni’s watch.
Mustapha said this at an interactive session with journalists recently in Lagos.
He said: “There should be no blame game at this stage in our party. Honestly, there should be no blame game. Don’t forget the caretaker committee has the mandate to stabilise the party, and that Governor Buni is doing creditably well. I think we should give it to him. This is not the time to be pointing accusing fingers. We must come together to ensure the committee realises its set objective of stabilising the party.
“Yes, the committee is on course. No uncertainty in party direction. We are on the right course and we must not allow this collective effort to be derailed. The prayer is that we (referring to his chances) come out victorious so we, as a party, under my watch In Shaa Allah, can deliver dividends of democracy to Nigeria beyond the tenure of the present administration.”
On what he hopes to do differently if he emerges as the party’s chair, Mustapha, who was the deputy national chairman of the defunct Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) led by Buhari, said “what I will do differently is looking at the future via what is obtainable now.
“It is against this background that the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) made a 25-year-old man its national youth leader. So, if making a woman the national chairman is a strategy for a party to win election, why not?”
Assuring of a brighter chance over all fellow top contenders, the youthful politician said “my youthful age is an added advantage. Any party that wants to win in 2023 has to factor in the young generation because 75 per cent of the votes belong to the youths.
“The ENDSARS has revealed some lessons. The message the ENDSARS was trying to pass before it was hijacked and mismanaged was that the youth should be effectively be part in the scheme of things. So, for me, having seen it all, I will perfectly fit into ensuring a kind of synergy between the old and the youth.”
While priding himself as having the endorsement of party stakeholders, Mustapha also said he looked forward to being the chairman for all.
“I want to be the chairman for all, and those contesting with me will be the first people I would approach after the election for them to buy into my programmes,” he said.
The APC chieftain also identified the imposition of candidates on political parties as a major source of conflict in the nation’s polity, saying this comes with a consequence.
“We have seen several cases of imposition of unpopular candidates within our polity. You, as will suffer within and the party will also suffer outside because the ultimate of any political contest is to win election after which you settle down to good governance,” Mustapha further added.
The former governorship aspirant in Kwara state also promised to bring about a leadership that would ensure equity and justice in the party and hold governors accountable to their manifestoes.