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• Programme postponed indefinitely
From Romanus Ugwu, Abuja
Fresh facts have emerged on why the non-elective mini-convention of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) has continued to suffer series of postponements.
Daily Sun gathered that ill health of President Muhammadu Buhari, the financial crisis rocking the party, as well as the divisions among its leaders forced the party convention into abeyance.
A member of the party’s national leadership, who spoke to Daily Sun in confidence, disclosed that the National Working Committee (NWC) had to cancel the first convention, earlier fixed for April 29, 2017 because the Presidency was not comfortable with the date, adding that they had promised to give them a new date.
Although the party constitution, which stipulated that the party must organise convention every two years, did not specify the consequences of such failure on the future of the leadership of the party, the situation has, however, created palpable tension and speculation of impeachment moves against the party chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun and his NWC members.
However, reacting to the indefinite postponement, our source noted that while the party leadership awaited a new date from the Presidency, Buhari’s health challenge forced them into discontinuing discussions on the new date, stressing that his current health status was the main reason for the indefinite postponement.
Said he: “Don’t forget that it is not possible for the party to hold national convention without President Buhari being physically present. The President must be part of the convention, especially to forestall the dangers of certain forces and factions within the party threatening to hijack the party machinery from succeeding.
“Mr. President’s health challenges necessitated the delay in the Presidency giving the party leadership new date for the convention after rejecting the April date the party leadership initially fixed earlier this year. Now that Mr. President is out of country on medical trip to London, we have to discontinue every arrangement about the convention until he returns in good health.”
Giving further reasons for the continued postponement, our source said the financial crisis rocking the party equally contributed majorly to the problem, adding that even if the President had sound health, funds must come from other sources, especially state governors.
“Finance is a big factor, but I can tell you that it is not only that. You know that even if the president were in very good health, the party will still need the governors making financial commitments to enable us organise a quality convention, which will involve thousands of delegates across the country,” our source said.
However, speaking on the convention recently, Odigie-Oyegun said the APC postponed it indefinitely, stressing that no date had been fixed yet.
Oyegun, who made the disclosure while fielding questions from newsmen during a two-day external communication workshop organised for the APC state publicity secretaries in Abuja, said consultations were, however, still ongoing.
Asked to update Nigerians on when APC would hold its convention, Oyegun said: “I want to assure Nigerians that the party will hold the convention. Nobody knows the time it would be held, but the assurance I want to give you is that it would be held.”
Many had argued that part of the reasons for the delay in holding the convention was the Ondo State governorship primary elections, which caused devastating divisions in the party, in addition to the failure of the party’s leadership to actualise the proposed replacement of the Board of Trustees (BoT) with the National Elders Council.
The crisis that trailed the Ondo governorship primary resulted in the call by former governor of Lagos State and chieftain of the party, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, for the resignation of Odigie-Oyegun, over what he described as fraudulent manipulation of the electoral processes in favour of Governor Rotimi Akereduolu.
Said Tinubu then: “In essence, the party was the embodiment of a democratic promise made between its members as well as a democratic vow made to the public. Evidently, some errant members believe promises and vows are mere words to be easily spoken and more easily broken. Chairman John Oyegun has breached these good pledges in a most overt and brazen display.
“In doing so, Oyegun has dealt a heavy blow to the very party he professes to lead. It is an awful parent who suffocates his own child for the sake of a few naira. The party was supposed to buttress APC members elected to government at all levels. Because of Oyegun’s conduct of our affairs, the party is rapidly becoming an albatross to those it was meant to help. Oyegun’s comportment regarding the Ondo State primary will become the textbook definition of political treachery and malfeasance of the basest order.
“Again, during the National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting held in 2015, the party had resolved to scrap the Board of Trustees (BoT) and replace it with the National Elders Council, however, not even the BoT or the Elders’ Council has met to discuss myriad of issues crippling the party.”
The APC governors recently held several hours meeting with the NWC, resolving, among other things, to find a convenient date for the convention, just as they admitted that the ruling party is not adequately funded.
Commenting on the outcome of the meeting, Kaduna State governor, Nasir El-Rufai, said they resolved “to look at arrangements for our mid-term convention and put in place the resources necessary to ensure that we have a convention as required by the constitution
“The 24 APC governors have committed to work assiduously at strengthening and rebuilding the party and enduring reconciliation and unification of the party at all levels. We also resolved to give the national leadership all the support it needs. We will also engage in fund raising from our donors, sympathisers of the APC to ensure that the national headquarters and indeed all organs of the party have the wherewithal to continue the difficult work of rebuilding the party.”