APC Governors Set For Showdown Talks Over Convention, Primaries

Governors elected on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC) have summoned an emergency meeting for tomorrow in their latest effort to stop the party’s downhill slide.

Top on the agenda, The Nation gathered last night, is finding a way to douse the tension sparked by the continued delay in fixing a date for the party’s crucial national convention.

Some of the governors are kicking against an alleged plot by some forces to retain the Governor Mai Mala Buni-led Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC) of the party till after the primaries.

A few of the governors have also asked President Muhammadu Buhari to call the CECPC to order.

An investigation by our correspondent revealed that the APC is divided along the lines of pro and anti-February convention date.

It was gathered that those that are pushing for June timeline are finding it difficult to sell their agenda because it could affect the conduct of the party’s primaries ahead of next year’s elections.

Proponents of the June timeline, allegedly being backed by three governors, are said to be the brains behind the latest litigation to stop the national convention.

It was gathered that some governors and party leaders are tired of what they perceive as foot-dragging by the Caretaker Committee on the national convention.

A source said: “The waiting game is over because time is not on the party’s side. APC leaders’ and members’ patience has been exhausted.

“Even the President has demanded the convention timeline from the Caretaker Committee because as the ruling party, our government must provide direction for political and electoral developments in the country.

“So, the pressure has been too much on the CECPC, which is now mostly on the defensive.

“Although the delay has enabled the governors and party leaders to consult on the way forward for APC, the governors have to resolve the impasse because the fate of APC is at stake.

“Actually, the governors were expected to meet on Wednesday but Governor Dapo Abiodun (of Ogun State) was said to have requested a slight shift to enable his state host President Buhari on Thursday.

“Also, the Chairman of the Progressive Governors Forum (PGF), Governor Atiku Bagudu, postponed the meeting to enable all his colleagues to participate.”

Confirming the pressure, one of the governors said: “We have received a notice of an emergency meeting in Abuja on Sunday.

“There was no agenda in the notice, but because of its emergency nature, it presupposes that we are going there to manage the looming crisis in the party.

“Imagine, at our level, we do not know what we are going to discuss.

“Certainly, no other issue can be on the table than fixing a date for the national convention of the party.

“The CECPC knows that there is heat on them. They have burnt their goodwill, but they are lucky that Governor Buni, who we respect, is chairing the caretaker committee.

“This is a democracy. Our party should not be managed by an ad hoc committee.

“We are going to the meeting to demand a definite date for the national convention. We have about six options to choose from.”

Responding to a question, the governor said: “When we agree on the convention date, we can start horse-trading on the choice of the next national chairman of APC.

“The outcome of Sunday’s meeting will pave the way for some activities in the party, like the election of a new APC national chairman, zoning of offices for 2023 poll, reconciliation, preparation for Ekiti and Osun governorship elections, and the conduct of presidential and other primaries for the general election.

A party source said “the Caretaker Committee may meet on Tuesday on the decisions of the governors’ meeting.

“But the plans of the governors include going to consult with the President after their session in Abuja.”

When contacted, the Director-General of PGF, Comrade Salihu Lukman, said: “I can confirm to you that the governors are going to meet on Sunday. There is a notice to this effect.”

The six options on the convention allegedly being considered by the governors and party leaders are as follows:

• Holding convention in February as initially agreed upon and despite ongoing reconciliation

• Fixing a new date in March or April to conduct congresses in Anambra, Zamfara

• Allowing all congresses, reconciliation to be completed, court case resolved before convention

• Conducting primaries for 2023 poll before convention

•Holding presidential primaries, national convention on the same date

•Adopting consensus approach for convention, presidential primaries.

All Progressives Congress state governors had met with President Buhari penultimate Friday in Abuja just 24 hours after the President warned that the party must keep its house in order if it was desirous of winning next year’s elections.

Buhari, at the meeting, had personally asked for the convention timetable from the CECPC.

Governor Simon Lalong of Plateau State had told reporters at the end of the meeting with Buhari that the President’s warning to the party to resolve its differences immediately was a signal for the APC to have a seamless convention to avert disintegration.

The warning, according to him, was for the APC to redouble its efforts and do the right thing.

Lalong also said the governors would meet last Sunday, but the meeting never took place.

He said: “All the fears that we’re talking about, which the President also re-echoed, is all about telling the governors: please do more, keep the party alive. So, by God’s grace, we’re going to keep our party alive.

“Well, these are things we’re going to discuss, but I’m not drawing conclusion. But I always tell you that a political party is a cumulation of interests.

“The interests may be the same, they may not be the same, but at the end of the day, what we’ll do is that we are going to elect people who are going to represent you.”

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