After months uncertainty begotten from intra-party intrigues and subtle power tussle within its fold, the All Progressive Congress (APC) has finally slated its much-anticipated national convention for February next year.
The convention is expected to produce a substantive National Working Committee (NWC) of the party preparatory to the 2023 general elections.
Disclosing the date for the convention, Kebbi State governor and chairman of the Progressive Governors Forum, Atiku Bagudu, listed a number of reasons why February was chosen for the party’s largest gathering.
He stated that four states were yet to complete their congresses, even as he cited the Christmas Holiday which is around the corner.
Bagudu also said the party would also be busy with the governorship election in Ekiti State in January.
The Kebbi State governor disclosed this to State House correspondents after meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari alongside the chairman of the APC caretaker committee and Yobe State governor, Mai Mala Buni, and their Jigawa State counterpart, Abubakar Badaru, at the presidential villa.
The governors’ meeting with Buhari was sequel to an earlier meeting of APC governors on Sunday night which resolved to consult the president on when the convention should hold.
Speaking after the meeting with the president, Bagudu said, “Yesterday, November 21, the Progressive Governors’ Forum met and as some of you may have seen in press reports that I spoke after the meeting, where, in addition to congratulating and thanking the caretaker committee for a wonderful job of their leadership of the party, and thanking Mr President for supporting them to deliver on their mandate.
“I also explained that the Progressive Governors’ Forum discussed the issue of the national convention of the party and they mandated us to come and discuss with the resident, as party leader, to give the inputs of the governors so that the party and the president would consider in agreeing to a date for the national convention.
“And yesterday, part of the inputs we got was that we still have four states, which are in the process of completing their Congresses: Anambra, understandably because of the election, Zamfara and two others that because of logistic challenges are yet to complete, and then Christmas is around the corner, and then early January will be very busy with Ekiti.
“So, the governors, based on all that, made an input that we think the party and the president might graciously consider February, and the president was favorably disposed.
“And I’m sure because the chair of the caretaker committee was part of the delegation, he heard that and I’m sure they will conclude between him and the president. But we have made the input of the governors known. It was favorably considered by Mr President.”
On his part, the chairman of the APC caretaker committee, Buni, said the party was going ahead with plans to hold the convention in February.
“Well, they will expect more unity and progress. As the PGF chairman said, they have suggested to the party and Mr President has concurred. So we are going ahead to plan for the convention in February,” he stated.
He also dismissed insinuations that he was planning to extend his tenure as the caretaker chairman of APC, stressing that he was not jobless.
He stated: “How? 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’m here to do is ad hoc and, of course, to reposition the party, and that is exactly what we’re able to achieve.”
Asked if the date for the convention is acceptable to all stakeholders and not just the governors, he said, “Of course, we have to consult widely and that is part of the reasons why even the governors met yesterday; 20 of the 22 governors attended. It was in consultation to that effect. So, it is a well-consulted, well-though tout plan.
“Well, we’ll let you know. You know we have to work on a timetable, which of course has to be. We have to also communicate it to our various state chapters for them to be ready for the convention,” he added.
Meanwhile, addressing journalists at the end of the Progressive Governors’ Forum meeting at the Kebbi state Governor’s Lodge on Sunday, Bagudu said among other issues discussed are good governance and other issues considered necessary for development in the polity.
He noted: “We passed a vote of confidence on the caretaker committee chaired by Governor Mai Mala Buni of Yobe State and two other governors, who are members of the committee, which has done a wonderful job.
“We appreciated their conduct in the congresses that took place in both Wards and local government areas and the state Congresses, and effort that they have been making to ensure that anybody who has been aggrieved or feels otherwise dissatisfied is respected and invited. He or she is invited to come down and support the party”.
He however noted that sometimes electoral processes are not without grievances, noting that the governors and other party members are happy with the conduct of the caretaker committee.
Asked about how the party’s position on zoning and which zone would produce what, he said, “We are going to meet with our party leader. We appreciate your interest and we would certainly keep you informed as quickly as that meeting takes place.
“We felt it’s not fair to present and disclose it before the convention, we hope to secure that appointment as quickly as possible”.
Asked if he had any fear that the party could implode going by the growing agitations within the party, he dismissed such insinuation, noting that “this is a party that was not only able to mobilise into its fold three outstanding governors into the party, a deputy governor of Anambra State, members of the National Assembly, distinguished Nigerians from all walks of life.
“And this is a party where the party leadership is humbled to say that to Nigerians, that is not enough. We all are seeking for Nigerians to join us so that we would unify and serve Nigerians. While other parties are sending people away we are, despite our strengths, inviting them to join us so that together we can reposition and keep the progressive agenda going”.
On the outcome of the November 6 Anambra governorship election, Bagudu said Nigeria won and President Buhari had made a statement about that.
He said the forum was proud of the conduct of the country’s security agencies before, during and after the election.
“The party candidates in all elections have the pride of place to determine their views about the outcome. But we are proud that under the APC an election that people hitherto thought would be impossible had taken place,’’ he said.
The meeting which began about 9:00pm on Sunday at Kebbi Government Lodge, Asokoro, had in attendance about 20 state chief executives.
Those in attendance include chairman of the group and Kebbi State governor, Atiku Bagudu; Sule Abdullahi (Nasarawa), Yahaya Bello (Kogi), Babagana Zulum (Borno), Aminu Bello Masari (Katsina), Muhammed Bello (Niger), Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq (Kwara), Simon Lalong (Plateau), Dapo Obiodun (Ogun), Hope Uzodimma (Imo), Abdullahi and Ganduje (Kano).
Others are Dr Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti), Badaru Abubakar (Jigawa), David Umahi (Ebonyi), Bello Matawalle (Zamfara), Ben Ayade (Cross River), Yahaya Inuwa (Gombe), Babatunde Sanwo-Olu (Lagos) and Mai Mala Buni (Yobe).