President Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday, has given a nod for the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, to hold its national convention in February 2022 to elect national executive officers.
Briefing State House correspondents after a closed-door meeting with President Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, the Chairman of Progressive Governors’ Forum, PGF, and governor of Kebbi State, Atiku Bagudu, said the issue of the national convention which was the outcome of last weekend’s meeting of the Progressives Governors, was tabled before President Buhari who he said graciously gave the party the nod to hold the convention next February.
Bagudu, who was flanked by the Chairman of the Caretaker Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee, CECPC, and governor of Yobe State, Mai Mala Buni, and Governor Abubakar Badaru of Jigawa State, said the date of the convention would be announced after meeting with the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.
He said: “Yesterday (Sunday), November 21, the Progressive Governors Forum met and as some of you may have seen in press reports, I spoke after the meeting, where, in addition to congratulating and thanking the caretaker committee for a wonderful job of their leadership of the party, I thanked Mr. President for supporting them to deliver on their mandate.
“I also explained that the progressive governors forum discussed the issue of national convention of the party and they mandated us to come and discuss with the President, as party leader, to give the inputs of the governors so that the party and the President will consider in agreeing a date for the national convention.”
He also said that four states, due to logistics problem, were yet to hold their state congresses expressing the hope that between now and January 2022, the states would have concluded their congresses ahead of the February 2022 convention.
He continued: “Yesterday, part of the inputs we got was that we still have four states, which are in the process of completing their congresses – Anambra, understandably, because of the election, Zamfara and two others that because of logistic challenges are yet to complete, and then Christmas is around the corner, and then early January will be very busy with Ekiti.”
He further said that flowing from that, the party proposed the February date to the President which was graciously approved.
He said: “The governors, based on all that, made an input that we think the party and the President might graciously consider February and President is favourably disposed and I’m sure the party, because the Chairman of the caretaker committee was part of the delegation, he heard that and I’m sure they will conclude between him and the President. But we have made the input of the governors known. It was favourably considered by Mr. President.”
Also speaking, Chairman of the CECPC, Buni, assured that all stakeholders of the party would be involved in choosing a particular date in February for the convention.
According to him, wider consultations will be made among stakeholders before picking a particular date in February.
His words: “We have to consult widely and part of the reasons even the governors met yesterday, 20 of the 22 governors attended. So, it is in consultation to that effect. So, it is a well consulted, and thought out plan.
“We will let you know, we have to work on a timetable. We have to communicate it to our various state chapters for them to be ready for the convention. Like the PGF chairman said, they have suggested to the party and Mr. President has concurred so we are going ahead to plan for the convention in February.”
Asked to comment on the allegation that he would want to remain as the Chairman of the party, he said he would be glad to return to his state as a full-time governor saying he is not a jobless person but only carrying out an ad-hoc duty as APC caretaker Chairman.
He declared: “Am I a jobless person, who is always trying to extend his tenure? To do what? I have my primary responsibility as a governor to go back to my state and carry out my primary responsibility. What I’m here to do is adhoc, and of course, to reposition the party, and that is exactly what we’re able to achieve.”
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Govs pass confidence vote on Buni, say party won’t implode
Meanwhile, amid the battle to oust the Governor Mai Mala Buni-led CECPC, the Yobe State Governor, on Sunday night got a soft landing from his colleagues who passed a vote of confidence on him.
Governors of the party under the aegis of Progressive Governors’ Forum PGF had on Sunday night met in Abuja to deliberate on the way forward, especially with regards to the party’s planned national convention.
While they declared that in spite of the current crisis facing it, the party would not implode, the governors equally passed a vote of confidence on two of their other colleagues on the Buni-led CECPC. They are Abubakar Sani of Niger State and Gboyega Oyetola of Osun State.
The meeting which started around 8pm took place behind closed doors at the Kebbi state Governor’s Lodge in Asokoro.
No fewer than 20 of the governors were in attendance, including the host and Kebbi Governor, Abubakar Atiku Bagudu; his counterparts from Kogi, Nasarawa, Katsina, Plateau, Ekiti, Jigawa, Kano, Kwara, Imo, Borno, Ebonyi, Lagos, Zamfara, Niger, Ogun and Cross River.
The governors’ resolution came on a day The Progressive Youth Movement led by a former governorship aspirant in Kogi State, Mustapha Audu passed a vote of no confidence on Gov. Buni’s committee.
The youth movement had at the end of its North-West town hall meeting in Kaduna, weekend, announced the dissolution of the Buni-led CECPC, adding that it would put in place next week a committee which would conduct the party’s national convention by February 2022.
A chieftain of the APC from Zamfara State, Senator Kabiru Garba Marafa had last week declared the CECPC as an illegal entity and expressed concerns that all actions taken by the committee since it was constituted remained illegal in the eyes of the law.
Marafa also dismissed threats by the Buni-led committee to throw him out of the APC, saying doing so would only aggravate the problems afflicting the party.
Stakeholders insist on rule of law
Disturbed by Sunday’s pronouncement of the youth group, the APC Rebirth Group, otherwise known as Concerned APC Stakeholders, said the battle to get the CECPC out of the way must follow all laid down rules of the party.
In a statement by one of its leaders, Engr. Aliyu Audu, the stakeholders said while they agree in some of the sentiments expressed by the youth movement, they would not tackle illegality with illegality.
He said: “The attention of the APC Rebirth Group, otherwise known as Concerned APC Stakeholders, has been drawn to a communique by a youth group of the party purportedly dissolving the Mai Mala Buni-led Caretaker/Extra-Ordinary Convention Planning Committee. We wish to dissociate ourselves from this intemperate action and to state that we do not support it in anyway.
“While we share in some of the sentiments expressed by the youth group, especially those bordering on inclusion and the slow process leading to the much-anticipated convention of the party; we however believe that a blatant disregard for constituted authority is not the way to go.”
According to him, it is the considered opinion of the APC Rebirth Group that all party members must show respect and regard for offices and those who occupy them.
“While we believe that all groups and individuals within the party have the absolute right to express their grievances and even push for the needed reforms, just like we have done severally, we nonetheless believe that such actions must be in accordance with the rules and regulations of the party. We would not encourage any group or individuals arrogating to themselves powers they do not have.
“While we reiterate our position on inclusion and the need to build a party that works for everyone, we call on all who feel strongly about the APC to exercise decorum, respect the rules of the party and not seek to engage in anti-social behaviours that violate the sanctity of the APC. The party has rules and procedures for changing leadership, and all party members, no matter how strongly we feel, must explore the legitimate and stipulated party rules and not act outside of them.
“We would like to again use this opportunity to reaffirm our call that the Gov. Buni-led Caretaker Committee, in the larger interest of the party members, should endeavour as a matter of urgency to do the right thing and put an end to all these needless distractions”, the stakeholders added.
Vote of confidence
Addressing journalists after the PGF meeting, the Chairman, Progressive Governors’ Forum, PGF and governor of Kebbi State, Abubakar Atiku Bagudu, who was silent on the zoning arrangement for party offices at the national level, however, said they were satisfied with the work of the CECPC.
“The Progressive Governors Forum met at the Kebbi State Governor’s lodge. Among issues discussed were good governance and other issues considered developmental in the polity.
“We passed a vote of confidence on the caretaker committee that has done a wonderful job, chaired by Governor Mai Mala Buni of Yobe State and two other governors who are members of the committee.
“We appreciated their conduct of the congresses that took place in both wards and local governments as well as the state congresses and the efforts they have been making to ensure that anybody who is aggrieved or feels dissatisfied is respected and invited.
”Such individual is invited and calmed down and urged to support the party. Sometimes electoral processes are not without annoyance, but we are happy with the conduct of the caretaker committee”.
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