President asks them to submit idea to Caretaker Committee
Cracks among govs widen over plot to undermine CECPC; to meet today on zoning
Aspirants in the dark over sales of nomination forms 24 hours to start of exercise
President Muhammadu Buhari has rejected a proposal from two All Progressives Congress (APC) state governors to adopt a certain aspirant as the next national chairman of the party during the February 26 convention.
Buhari, The Nation gathered yesterday, asked the two governors to take their proposal to the party’s Caretaker Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC), their fellow governors and other party leaders for consideration.
The back door approach of the two governors is said to have widened the cracks in the Progressive Governors Forum (PGF) which is scheduled to hold a make or break meeting today in Abuja on the zoning of party offices.
The PGF’s proposal is expected to be relayed to Buhari by tomorrow for a final decision by him, party sources said.
Several APC governors and members of the CECPC are understood to have been upset by the conduct of their two colleagues who allegedly sought to sell their favoured candidate to the President through the back door.
Members of the CECPC members saw the action of the two governors as a move to undermine the caretaker committee.
The chairmanship aspirants include ex-Governor Abdulaziz Yari; Mallam Saliu Mustapha (Turaki Ilorin); ex-Governor Umar Tanko Al-Makura; Senator Sani Mohammed Musa and ex-Governor Ali Modu Sheriff.
Others are Sunny Sylvester Monidafe; Mohammed Etsu; ex-Governor George Akume; ex-Governor Isa Yuguda and Dr. Sani Abdullahi Shinkafi.
Also said to be eyeing the position are ex-Governor Abdullahi Adamu and a former Chief Whip of the House of Representatives, Hon. Bawa Bwari.
Investigation revealed that three of the 22 APC governors had agreed to recommend an aspirant to the President.
Two of them are from the North and one from the South.
However, the Southern governor backed out of the visit to the President at the last minute.
It was gathered that the two Northern governors, including one of them said to be aspiring to be Vice President in 2023, proceeded to see the President with a view to convincing him to adopt an aspirant.
A source familiar with the development said: “The affected governors went to the Presidential Villa for political ambush but the President turned down their proposal for a commitment on one of the aspirants.
“He told the governors to send their proposal through the Caretaker Committee. He said since there is a party structure in place, they should use the same platform to communicate with him. They don’t know that President Buhari is a due process man.
“The governors failed in their bid to anoint one of the chairmanship aspirants. And they cannot go back to their colleagues.”
Sources said the action of the governors has widened the cracks in the PGF which is yet to reach a consensus on the party’s next chairman.
Another source said: “Many of the APC governors are angry with these two colleagues who were trying to be smarter.
“They knew that one of them, who is aspiring to be Vice President in 2023, plotted this move.
“Some CECPC members considered the shuttle to the Villa as a ploy to undermine the Caretaker Committee. They now have reasons to suspect them.
“It is clear that some governors are not with the CECPC which is being led by Buni in spite of their outward posture.
“The game will now be more complex before the national convention of APC. We hope that the President will save the situation by providing a direction.”
Governors meet today to decide on zoning
Governors elected on the platform of the APC are scheduled to hold a make or break meeting today in Abuja on the zoning of party offices.
Their proposal is expected to be relayed to President Muhammadu Buhari by tomorrow for a final decision by him, party sources said.
The uncertainties surrounding the zoning are believed to be largely responsible for the delay by the party in releasing for sale nomination forms for the various offices.
The Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC), which is saddled with the responsibility of conducting the convention, had fixed February 14 for the sale of nomination forms and February 19 for submission of same.
Investigation showed that the party’s national secretariat was yet to take delivery of the nomination forms from printers last night.
The CECPC had promised to set up a vital sub-committee, especially the budget sub-committee.
But with the convention only 14 days away, stakeholders are wondering what is delaying the composition of sub-committees to handle various aspects of the convention.
Members feel frustrated by alleged lack of information from the CECPC on the convention.
The only signs at the party’s secretariat yesterday that a convention was around the corner were the numerous billboards and banners of aspirants jostling for different positions.
A youth leader aspirant from one of the North Central states expressed concern yesterday over the development.
He was also concerned about the delay by CECPC in setting up the convention sub-committee.
The youth leader, who does not want his name in print, said: “If by today (Saturday) the party is yet to give us details about the sale of nomination forms, if we are in the dark about the cost of purchasing nomination forms, if we are not in the true picture of which zone will produce what, then I foresee danger and confusion.
“Since January 19 that the CECPC announced the convention date, one would have expected that vital issues like sale of forms and zoning should not be left in the realm of speculation, and aspirants kept in the dark.
“By today, we ought not to be asking about the cost and mode of purchasing the nomination forms. The party ought to have placed an advertisement in the dailies stating the cost of purchase of nomination forms for various offices and the mode.
“I don’t think the party should be putting our people in avoidable tension like this. I pray there is no sabotage.
“As things are now, only the members of CECPC seem to know the mode of purchase and the cost of the forms.”
Secretary of the Caretaker Committee, Senator James Akpanudoedehe, could not be reached yesterday to comment on the situation.
He was said to be preoccupied with the Federal Capital Territory local government election.
But a top member of the party said the sale of nomination forms may have been shifted by two days to enable stakeholders make wider consultations and ensure a rancour-free convention.
The source said the convention date of February 26 was sacrosanct.
On zoning arrangement, the party chieftain said stakeholders would harmonise all considerations and submissions and come up with an acceptable arrangement.
His words: “The truth is that the issue of zoning will be concluded by Monday. Some stakeholders are already meeting. The governors are to meet tomorrow (Sunday).
“Their position will be harmonised with other stakeholders and an acceptable arrangement will be presented to the President on Monday for his approval.
“Given this development, the sale of forms may be shifted by two days. But the national convention date of February 26 stands.”
On the delay in setting up sub-committees, the party official said: “The Caretaker Committee gave 19th of February for the announcement of the sub-committees. We are on course on this and there is no cause for alarm.
“Much of the work has been done. The sub-committees will only come to implement.
“It may interest you to know that the governors are already booking hotels for their delegates. The convention is holding as planned.”
A source close to the Progressive Governors Forum confirmed yesterday that the zoning arrangement would top the agenda of today’s meeting of the governors.
Some of the governors are already in Abuja for the meeting and also to perfect arrangement for their delegates.