The crisis in the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) over the zoning of national offices, ahead of the party’s national convention scheduled for March 26, has shifted to the zones. State governors are clashing with other party leaders over who gets what in the proposed arrangement.
Multiple sources told THISDAY yesterday that the leadership of APC was sharply divided over the micro-zoning of the party offices.
An insider said many of the APC governors in the North-central, for instance, want the position of National Chairman thrown open, against the purported endorsement of Senator Abdullahi Adamu by President Muhammadu Buhari.
One of chairmanship aspirants told THISDAY, “Since the party has allocated the position to the North-central, the zone should be allowed to decide who becomes its choice, rather than by imposition, as being speculated in the media.”
Other aspirants in the race for National Chairman in the zone include Senator Tanko Al-Makura and Saliu Mustapha.
In the South-west, where the post of National Secretary had been zoned, national leader of APC and former governor of Lagos State, Bola Tinubu, was said to be at odds with the vice president, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, as well as Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State and Ogun State Governor Dapo Abiodun over the choice of Senator Iyiola Omisore from Osun State for the position.
APC governors in the zone were said to have settled for Omisore for National Secretary, “for political strategy,” but Tinubu and former National Chairman of the party, Chief Bisi Akande, were said to be opposed to the choice.
Similarly, in the South-south, the micro-zoning of National Publicity Secretary to Delta State, which was believed to have been influenced by Deputy Senate President Ovie Omo-Agege, THISDAY learnt, was generating conflict among party leaders in the zone.
The Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC) of APC officially approved the recommendations of its committee on zoning arrangement recently. In the zoning agreement, the posts of National Chairman and Deputies of National Secretary, National Legal Adviser, National Publicity Secretary, and others were allocated to the North-central.
The positions of National Publicity Secretary, National Women Leader, Deputy National Treasurer, and Deputy National Welfare Secretary were zoned to South-south.
The positions of National Secretary, National Youth Leader, and Deputy National Auditor were expected to be shared by members in South-west states, comprising Ekiti, Lagos, Ogun, Ondo, Osun, and Oyo.
The South-east got the positions of Deputy National Chairman (South), National Treasurer, National Welfare Secretary, and Deputy National Organising Secretary, among others.
North-east was to produce Deputy National Chairman (North), National Auditor, National Vice Chairman (North-east), Deputy National Financial Secretary, and Deputy National Women Leader.
The North-west zone would produce the National Vice Chairman (North-west), National Legal Adviser, National Organising Secretary, National Financial Secretary, and Deputy National Youth Leader.
Meanwhile, there appeared to be no deal yet between the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the ruling party over the latter’s planned March 17 emergency National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting. The electoral umpire insisted it was not aware of any leadership change in APC.
INEC insisted it would not monitor the NEC meeting because the letter inviting it to observe the exercise, as required by law, was not signed by persons vested with such power by the CECPC headed by Governor of Yobe State, Mai Mala Buni, and Senator John Akpanudoedehe, as Chairman and Secretary, respectively. The commission’s position on the planned NEC meeting was made clear yesterday by INEC National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, Mr. Festus Okoye, while speaking on a national television.
Okoye said INEC would follow the Electoral Act in dealing with the political parties. He stressed that the commission was only advising APC to follow the rules of the game.
The INEC commissioner stated, “INEC is only telling the APC that it recognises only letters signed by the CECPC Chairman and Secretary of APC and not letters signed by other party chieftains who are not recognised by the commission.
“Aside this, the Electoral Act states that INEC must be given a 21 days’ notice of any planned meeting of political parties for it to get ready to monitor such meetings of political parties.”
However, Okoye explained that APC could go ahead and hold the NEC meeting, pointing out, though, that if the meeting would lead to a change of leadership, the commission would not accept or recognise such outcome.
He explained, “The APC has been reminded of the provision in Section 82(1) of the Electoral Act 2022, which requires ‘at least 21 days’ Notice of any Convention, Congress, Conference, or Meeting convened for the purpose of ‘merger’ and electing members of its Executive Committees, other governing bodies or nominating candidates for any elective offices.’
“Also, Section 77 of the Electoral Act 2022 says political parties must provide the authentic Register of Members during Convention, Congress, Conference, or Meetings which INEC will monitor. These are the crux of the matter.”
INEC had on Friday stated, in response to a letter by APC inviting the commission to an emergency NEC meeting of the party convened by Niger State Governor Abubakar Bello, on behalf of the CECPC, that it did not recognise Bello as the APC chairman.
The commission’s position attracted criticism from some APC chieftains, who openly dared INEC to stand in the way of the NEC meeting on Thursday and the proposed national convention on March 26.
Spokesman of CECPC, Ismaila Ahmed, who is also APC Youth Leader, was very critical of INEC’s stand on being served a “the 21 days’ notice of any meeting by political parties”, as recommended by the Electoral Act 2022.
THISDAY reported yesterday that leaders of the ruling party might have agreed to keep Buni as Interim Chairman of CECPC, while Bello functioned as de facto chairman, though in acting capacity. Buni had travelled for medical reasons and transmitted power to Bello in writing to act as CECPC chairman. It was gathered that the party maintained that the letter of transition remained in force, even though Buni remained interim caretaker chairman.
It was also reported that the fate of the CECPC secretary was uncertain in all the permutations and intrigues playing out. A faction of the APC governors was alleged to have complained bitterly to the president that Buni was not inclined to holding the convention as rescheduled, because there were no preparations on the ground to indicate he was keen on holding the meeting. Apparently miffed by what he was told, the president was said to have directed that Buni be removed and replaced. Buni is currently in Dubai for medical reasons and was not around to defend himself.