All Progressives Congress (APC) leaders appeared yesterday to have found the consensus option of picking the new national executive committee of the party harder than they initially thought, with agreement tough to reach on who would occupy many of the positions.
The unity list which Governor Abudulahi Sule of Nasarawa State said the party leadership was working on to pick consensus candidates was far from ready at press time.
Governors elected on the platform of the party and other caucuses, including state and zonal, remained locked in marathon meetings trying to reach agreements yesterday.
It took the persuasive skills of Governors Babajide Sanwoolu (Lagos State), Atiku Bagudu (Kebbi), Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti) and Nasir El-Rufai (Kaduna) to convince six chairmanship aspirants to step down for ex-Governor Abdulahi Adamu, the anointed candidate of President Muhammadu Buhari.
But former Deputy Governor of Osun State, Senator Iyiola Omisore, emerged the favourite for the position of National Secretary following his endorsement by the Southwest caucus, just as was Victor Giadom (Rivers State) for the National Vice Chairman.
Giadom is said to be the candidate of Transportation Minister Rotimi Amaechi.
The various meetings and consultations were still in session at press time.
Party sources said intrigues, including plots to alter zoning and micro-zoning within the six geopolitical zones, caused the delay in compiling the Unity List.
It was gathered that Governors Babajide Sanwoolu, Atiku Bagudu, Kayode Fayemi and Nasiru el-Rufai had to wade in yesterday to persuade ex-Governor Umar Tanko Al-Makura (Nasarawa State); Mallam Saliu Mustapha (Turaki Ilorin) from Kwara; Senator Sani Mohammed Musa and Mohammed Etsu (Niger State); ex-Governor George Akume (Benue) and another former Chairman of the Nigeria Governors Forum, Abdulaziz Yari (Zamfara) to forgo their aspiration to lead the party, 48 hours after the unveiling of ex-Governor Adamu as the preferred candidate for the position.
The aspirants reluctantly agreed to step down.
The governors were said to be concerned about ensuring a rancour-free convention.
Despite the efforts, it was unclear last night if the convention would not slip into election for any office.
The President and his strategists, sources said, were particularly interested in five offices, namely National Chairman, Deputy National Chairman (North), Deputy National Chairman (South), National Secretary and National Organising Secretary, to put the party in a better shape.
A top source said: “APC leaders have not been able to come up with a Unity List because of wrangling in some geopolitical zones.
“Some governors are uncomfortable with some forces allegedly breathing down on them. The interest of the presidency in five key positions has made negotiations difficult. These governors are saying that the presidency cannot have the key posts.
“There are attempts to alter the zoning formula and change a few micro-zone agreements. For instance, some forces have been attempting to re-zone the position of Deputy National Chairman (North) from the North-East to the North-West.
“Even in the North-East, some forces in the presidency and APC leaders wanted Arc. Waziri Bulama as the Deputy National Chairman (North) because of the need for an experienced hand.
“APC leaders in the zone initially recommended the Chairman of the state chapter of APC, Ali Bukar Dalori. But after intrigues, the zone settled on Senator Abubakar Kyari as Deputy National Chairman (North).
“Now, some power brokers are plotting to re-zone Deputy National Chairman from the North-East to the North-West. North-East leaders have vowed to resist it.
“To the discomfiture of the Governor of Jigawa State, Abubakar Badaru, forces in the presidency prefer a long time associate of the President, Farouk Adamu Aliyu from Jigawa as Deputy National Chairman (North). Badaru is seeking the office of National Organizing Secretary of APC for his state. Most governors in the North-West have rejected Farouk Adamu Aliyu.
“Badaru and Aliyu have parallel political views and perspectives.
“In the same North-East, some leaders are opposed to the return of Salihu Mustapha as the National Vice-Chairman (North-East) because some influential APC leaders are backing him. Some APC members see Mustapha as a front for some leaders who want to control the politics of states in the zone.
“In the South-West, there was a fresh move to change the micro-zoning formula. Some leaders have proposed that Ondo State should now produce the National Secretary instead of the Oyo/Osun axis.
“By consensus, the South-West had opted for Senator Iyiola Omisore, but suddenly, a member of the defunct Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), Ifeolu Oyedele, was being promoted by some Abuja-based forces.
“But South-West governors, led by Governor Rotimi Akeredolu, have insisted on Omisore. Oyedele is not known to be on the same political page with Akeredolu in Ondo State.”
A governor said: “We want the forces in the presidency to shift grounds. Out of five key offices, we have conceded two. Let them keep this party united for God’s sake.
“This is why we are demanding that delegates should be allowed to vote for the candidates they like.”
Sources also spoke on the 48 hours of horse-trading that trailed the adoption of Adamu as national chairman.
The sources said it was with some reluctance that Adamu’s opponents agreed to step down.
One of the sources said: “So, everything looks set for the coronation of Sen. Abdullahi Adamu. The aspirants were poised for showdown, but these governors and party leaders succeeded in paving the way for a hitch-free session today.
“Most of the aspirants wore forlorn look after the meeting, but we are hopeful that they will not breach the gentleman agreement.
“As for other posts, we are still hoping that we will not have cause to vote at the convention.”
Speaking with newsmen, a member of the Media Committee for the convention, Mallam Garba Shehu, said: “It does not foreclose election in the event that the matter has not been resolved. It is not impossible to get to the ballot. We hope it won’t get to that point.
“We are hopeful for a successful national convention. Some media reported over 200 cases, but most of the cases were taken out of the court as a result of dialogue. We haven’t ended reconciliation, the new leadership will continue with that process.”
Asked why APC is sourcing its new leaders, including Abdullahi Adamu, from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) which it had derided in the past, Shehu said: “You read scriptures. You read the Bible, I read the Quran. Each of the scriptures says if you are a bad man today, you can be good tomorrow.”
APC still working on acceptable consensus candidate – Gov Sule
Shedding more light yesterday on the party’s resort to consensus, the Chairman of the APC Sub-Committee on Media and Publicity Governor Abudulahi Sule of Nasarawa State, said it was to ensure a peaceful and rancour-free national convention.
His words: “Before we go into the convention, our first choice is always consensus, and we are still on that first choice.
“However, democracy demands, even our party’s constitution and the constitution of Nigeria demands that if that doesn’t work, we’ll go ahead and look at the other options.
“But right now, that remains our option number one.”
He said that Section 84(12) of the 2021 Electoral Act which restricts political appointees from being a voting delegate or be voted for at convention or congress of any political party, does not affect APC delegates to its convention.
The Nasarawa governor, however, said the clause does not affect delegates to the APC national convention because they are classified statutory delegates.
No fewer than 4,000 delegates from across the country are expected to elect 66 officials, including 21 National Working Committee (NWC) members and 45 non-NWC members to manage the party’s affairs for the next four years.
South-South stakeholders adopt Giadom, Edu, Morka for NWC
Stakeholders of the party in the South-South region have adopted its former Deputy National Secretary, Mr Victor Giadom, as consensus candidate for the National Working Committee (NWC).
Other adopted candidates are Cross River State Commissioner for Health, Dr Betta Edu, and Mr Felix Morka.
A statement issued by the stakeholders said that the three party members were adopted at the last meeting of the stakeholders held in Abuja.
A list signed by the stakeholders has Mr Victor Giadom for National Vice Chairman South-South, Dr Betta Edu for National Women Leader and Dr Felix Morka nominated for National Publicity Secretary.
The list of nominees as consensus candidates was signed by Gov. Ben Ayade of Cross River State; Secretary of the CECPC, Senator John Akpanudoudehe; Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Ameachi and Minister of Niger-Delta, Senator Godswill Akpabio.
Others are former APC National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole; former Minister of State for Agriculture, Heineken Lokpobiri and former Edo State Deputy Governor, Lucky Imasun.
Also at the meeting was Mrs Stella Okotete, the representative of the women in the Caretaker Extraordinary Committee; representative of the South-South in the CECPC, Mr David Lyon; Senator Ita Enaga, Senator Magnus Abe, Mr Victor Giadom and Deputy Senate President, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege.
“The National Vice Chairman South-South is zoned to Rivers/Bayelsa states, National Women Leader to Akwa Ibom/Cross River states and National Publicity Secretary to Edo/ Delta States.
“While the Governor of Cross River State, Ben Ayade picked Betty Edu (Cross River) for the National Women Leader, Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Ameachi, picked Victor Giadom (Rivers State) for the National Vice Chairman.
“The Deputy Senate President, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege picked Dr. Felix Morka (Delta State) for National Publicity Secretary,” it stated.
Meanwhile, some other aspirants had obtained the expression of interest and nomination forms to contest the positions.
For instance, Mary Ekpere Eta, former Director-General National Council for Women Development (NCWD) and Mrs Helen Boco Effiom had obtained the nomination forms to contest the office of the National Women Leader.
Also, the former Deputy National Publicity Secretary, Yekini Nabena, had obtained form to contest the National Vice Chairman South South.
Nasarawa stakeholders thank Buhari for finding Abdullahi Adamu worthy
The Council of APC Stakeholders in Nasarawa State yesterday thanked President Mohammadu Buhari and other party leaders for choosing Senator Abdullahi Adamu, a former governor of the state, to lead the party.
Chairman of the council, Dr Kassim Muh’d Kassim, told reporters in Lafia that Adamu would run the APC with all sense of maturity and give all party members equal opportunities to participate in the activities of the party.
He said that Senator Adamu as an experienced politician would use his wealth of experience to sustain the unity in the party.
Security beefed up at Eagle Square ahead of APC convention
Security operatives have been deployed at the Eagle Square, Abuja venue of today’s national convention of the ruling APC.
Police patrol vans manned by armed personnel were seen yesterday at strategic locations around the Square,
Passers-by were stopped and checked by the police men.
Vehicular movements were restricted and several vehicles were also turned back by security operatives.
The party said all routes to the area would not be accessible by 23:59hrs on Friday 25th March 2022.
Consensus arrangement for party executives violates Electoral Act 2022, says Ajulo
Constitutional Lawyer, Dr Kayode Ajulo, said yesterday that the consensus arrangement by the APC for its national executive officers is in violation of the Electoral Act 2022.
Ajulo, speaking in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja, said Section 82(3) of the Electoral Act, 2022 stipulates that the election of members of the executive committee or other governing body of a political party, including the election to fill a vacant position “shall be conducted democratically.”
He said the section further allows members of the party or duly elected delegates to vote in support of a candidate of their choice.
Ajulo said that the provision means that the only mode of election of members of the executive committee or governing body of a political party shall be by direct or indirect election.
“It therefore implies that the Electoral Act, 2022 has expressly abrogated consensus mode of election of members of the executive committee or other governing body of a political party,” he said.
He added: “It is settled that in interpreting the provisions or section of a statute or indeed the constitution, such provisions or sections should not be read in isolation of the other parts.
“Section 84(2) of the Act provides that the procedure for the nomination of candidates by political parties for the various elective positions shall be by direct, indirect primaries or consensus.
“Section 84(9) of the Act further provides that political party that adopts a consensus candidate shall secure the written consent of all cleared aspirants for the position.”
PDP urges court to declare APC convention illegal
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) yesterday filed a suit before the Federal High Court in Abuja, seeking, among others, a declaration that the March 26 national convention of the All Progressive Congress (APC) is illegal.
The PDP also wants the court to issue an order de-registering the APC as a political party on the grounds that it allegedly failed to meet the requirements of sections 222(a), 223(b) and 225 of the Constitution.
In the suit marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/389/2022 filed for the PDP by its lawyer, Samuel Irabor, the party argued that by a certified true copy of the list of APC’s current leadership it obtained from the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the party (APC) is being run by a 13 members Executive Committee, whose members fall below the number stipulated in Section 223 of the Constitution.
The PDP, in the suit filed on March 25, 2022 argued that by the provision of the Constitution, a political party’s Exco or Governing body must be drawn from 2/3 of the 36 states of federation which amount to 24 members.
Listed as defendants in the case are INEC, the APC, its Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC) and the National Chairman of the APC Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee.
The PDP is also praying the court to declare all prior acts and decisions of the Mai Mala Buni-led CECPC before the institution of the suit as well as all subsequent acts, including the convention of March 26 as null and void and proceed further to order a de-registration of the APC by INEC in line with Section 225A of the 1999 Constitution.
Party raises committee to ‘enforce’ consensus at convention
A 35 member sub-committee yesterday emerged to ensure delegates’ compliance with the consensus arrangement.
The Technical Committee on Monitoring and Supervision has Imo State Governor Hope Uzodinma as chairman.
Also on board are Nasarawa State Governor Abdulahi Sule, Zamfara State Governor Bello Matawalle; Attorney-General of the Federation and Justice Minister Abubakar Malami, Aviation Minister Hadi Sirika, Education Minister Adamu Adamu who is designated Secretary of the committee; Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management Minister Sadiyya Farouq; and Presidential aide, Lauretta Onochie.
Party sources said the main assignment of the committee is to ensure that the consensus arrangement which has thrown up ex-Governor Abdullahi Adamu as national Chairman and Chief Ken Nnamani as Deputy National Chairman, among others, is not derailed by forces opposed to a ‘unity list’ of party officials.