The ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) yesterday explained why it can no longer organise its national convention before the end of the year.
The party attributed the postponement of the exercise till February, next year to protracted crises in Anambra, Zamfara and other state chapters, logistic challenges, preparation by Christians for Christmas and the proposed governorship election in Ekiti State.
The Chairman of the National Caretaker Committee, Yobe State Governor Mai Mala Buni, said: There was also the need to concede to President Muhammadu Buhari the honour of picking a date for the convention, following consultations with party stakeholders.
A tripartite meeting of the president, Progressives Governors Forum, led by Kebbi State Governor Atiku Bagudu and National Caretaker Committee took place yesterday in Aso Villa to discuss the convention.
However, after the meeting, the party resolved to hold the exercise in February 2021, although it was not specific on a particular date.
Explaining the shift in the proposed date, Bagudu told reporters that it was due to incomplete congresses in four states.
“I also explained yesterday 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 the party’s leader to give the input of the governors so that the party and the President will consider.
“Part of the inputs we got yesterday was that we still have four states, which are in the process of completing their congresses like Anambra; understandably because of the recent gubernatorial election, Zamfara and two others, because of logistic challenges and then, Christmas is around the corner and early January we will be very busy with Ekiti.
“So, the governors, based on all these, suggested the party and the President should graciously consider February and the President is favourably disposed to the suggestion.”
Buni, who also spoke on the outcome of the meeting, said: “The Progressive Governors’ Forum, after their meeting, has suggested February to the party and the President has concurred. So, we are going ahead to plan for the convention in February.
“Nigerians should expect more unity and progress as a result of the forthcoming convention.”
On insinuations in some quarters that he might be delaying the convention to extend his tenure as the caretaker chairman of the APC, he said: “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 am here to do is ad-hoc, and of course, to reposition the party and that is exactly what we have been able to achieve.”
Buni said after the convention, APC will wax stronger as a more cohesive and united party.
On the crisis between the National Caretaker Committee and some chieftains, Bagudu ruled out an impending explosion, saying those thinking along that line are out of tune with reality.
He said instead of decimation, APC has enlarged its coast, adding that prominent people, including governors and National Assembly members, are defecting from opposition parties to the ruling party.
When asked for a specific date in February, he said: “Well, we’ll let you know. You know, we have to work on a timetable. So, we have to communicate it to our various state chapters for them to be ready for the convention”.
Buni also allayed fears that the tentative date was just an idea of the governors, excluding other caucuses within the party, explaining that party stakeholders were widely consulted so that there can be good planning.
He added: “Of course, we have to consult widely and part of the reasons why 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, well thought out plan”, he said.
Bagudu said the forum would keep the public informed on its decision on zoning of elective offices.
He, however, said that insinuations in some quarters that the governors’ meeting with Buhari was to discourage him from assenting to the amended electoral bill should be disregarded.
Bagudu stressed: “That is not correct. I just told you we are meeting the president, it is to discuss the on-coming national convention of the party,’’ he stressed.
Bagudu said that the forum also discussed issues of good governance, development in the polity and other issues that were pertinent to the progress of the party and the country.
He said the forum passed a vote of confidence on the caretaker committee.
Bagudu lauded the committee for organising congresses for the party at the ward, local government and state levels.
He noted that the committee had been making efforts to carry every party member along, including those that were aggrieved or felt dissatisfied by the outcome of the congresses.
The governor said that such individuals were invited and persuaded to support the party.
He said: “Sometimes, electoral processes are not without annoyance, but we are happy with the conduct of the caretaker committee.”