APC finally sets the date for the national convention but the place is uncertain

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

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

But the location of the national convention is uncertain.

Buni did not reveal the venue of the convention when he announced the date while addressing party members at the Progressive Women’s Congress in Abuja.

“We hope that more women will participate in the next national convention of the party on February 26, 2022 and in the general elections,” he said, while thanking the women for supporting the party.

The CECPC has been managing party affairs since June 25, 2020.

The CECPC was due to organize a national convention in December 2020, where new national leaders of the party, including a national president and members of the National Working Committee (NWC), will be elected.

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But the CECPC has remained in office since and has seen its mandate extended three times.

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

Governors present at the meeting also voted a vote of confidence in the Buni-led CECPC, saying the interim committee had “done an incredible job” in leading the party successfully and mobilizing new members.

However, Buni’s position as governor of Yobe state and also national chairman of the interim party is at the heart of a crisis within the APC, which has resulted in several lawsuits from aggrieved members who want the dissolution of the CECPC.

The crisis ensued after the Supreme Court questioned Buni’s dual role as state governor and interim president of a political party.

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

Although the Supreme Court declared Akeredolu the winner of the election and dismissed Jegede’s petition, some judges on the Supreme Court panel said that the composition of the APC leadership did not comply with the provisions of the Article 183 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended).

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Section 183 of the 1999 Constitution states: “The Governor may not, while in office, perform any other executive function or gainful employment in any capacity.”

Following the development, the APC was split into two camps – stakeholders who supported Buni’s leadership and others who felt that the Supreme Court decision signaled impending legal problems for the party and, therefore , pushed for the removal of the governor from the role of acting national president.

Until Buni announced the date of the national convention in Abuja on January 18, there had been suggestions that the interim committee was unwilling to hold the convention and wanted to remain in office until the party chooses its candidate for the presidential election of 2023.

Some APC leaders have supported postponing the national convention which, by implication, would mean extending the mandate of the CECPC.

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

Kalu said the party’s presidential primaries and the National Working Committee election should take place on the same day.

But some party actors pressured the CECPC to proceed with the national convention.

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Pressure on the CECPC intensified after President Muhammadu Buhari, in an interview with the National Television Authority on January 6, warned that the APC could give the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) an opportunity to take the power in the general elections of 2023 if the party was unable to hold the national congress within the time allowed.

The chief executive of the Progressive Governors Forum, Salihu Lukman, particularly criticized the CECPC for having delayed in starting the process of organizing the national convention.

However, about 24 hours before Buni announced the date of the convention, Lukman resigned as CEO of the APC Governors Forum.

APC governors reportedly forced Lukman to resign at their Jan. 17 meeting.

Former Edo State Governor 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 term as a crisis stemming from the election of the governor of Edo State led to his dismissal on June 16, 2020.

The post of national president has been zoned north and several former governors have since campaigned to be elected as the party’s next leader.

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

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