The All Progressives Congress (APC) has fixed its national convention for June 13 and 14.
The party, which held its national executive committee meeting yesterday in Abuja, appointed a 16-man convention planning committee headed by the Governor of Sokoto State, Alhaji Aliyu Wamako, with Dr. Chris Ngige as secretary.
The Interim National Organising Secretary of the party, Senator Osita Izunaso, who read out the names, said other members of the committee included Alhaji Garba Gadi, Senator Aisha Alhassan, Ambassador Sule Buba, Senator Hadi Serika, Mrs. Bisi Shofowule, Mr. Rotimi Fashakin, Dr. Ezekiel Izuogu, Hon. Innocent Chime, Prof. Julius Ihonvbare, Senator Joseph Waku, Mr. Oko Obla, Mr. Nyanachi and Suleiman Kawo.
However, amidst brewing tussle for the control of the party, THISDAY gathered that two opposing groups have emerged among the top leadership, with one loyal to former Head of State, General Muhammadu Buhari and Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu while another group has queued up behind former Borno State Governor, Modu Sheriff, and Chief Tom Ikimi.
It was learnt that the party leadership summoned a consultative meeting of the stakeholders, which lasted late night on Monday and continued till Tuesday to try to resolve the issues surrounding the convention and zoning of offices.
Among the issues that remained intractable was the choice of the party chairman.
In the communique issued after its meeting, the party expressed displeasure over what it described as federal government’s insincerity in the fight against the Boko Haram and search for the abducted girls.
Addressing journalists on the outcome of the NEC meeting, the interim National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Muhammed, said the only response APC has received so far is that in which the government said it had implemented or it is implementing those recommendations made by it.
“Our party remains committed to a non-partisan approach to end the scourge of Boko Haram, despite the federal government’s partisanship,” he said.
Muhammed said APC leaders frowned at way the party, especially its governors in the areas affected by the state of emergency were being sidelined by federal government in the prosecution of the war against terror.
He expressed concern that up till now, the federal government was yet to reach out to the APC, the main opposition party, on how to forge a common front against this despicable terror group, despite its efforts to reach out to the government.
“The federal government that has been calling on the international community for assistance must know that charity begins at home, and that for all hands to be on deck, the APC cannot be ignored.
“A party that controls 16 out of 36 states and has over 40 senators and over 150 members in the House of Representatives is too big to be ignored at a critical time like this in the life of our nation.”
The communique insisted that a party that controls the three hardest-hit states by the Boko Haram insurgency cannot be excluded from any serious effort to tackle the insurgency.
“Interestingly, the federal government that has been clamouring for support in the anti-terrorism fight did not deem it fit to even reach out to the APC ahead of its announcement of its extension of the state of emergency in the three states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe States.
“We therefore call on the government to stop politicising the fight against Boko Haram and to show sincerity of purpose in its call for a national front to confront the sect.”
APC said the government must jettison its jaundiced, ridiculous and clearly-partisan view that portrays our party as the sponsor of Boko Haram. This is mere politicking and should stop.
“It is noteworthy that a few minutes after the first Nyanya bombing, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), issued a statement blaming the APC for the blast. Now that the masterminds of the blast have been arrested and none of them has been proven to have any link with our party, the PDP has yet to admit its faux pas and apologise not just to our party but to the entire nation.”
Also yesterday THISDAY learnt of a new proposal being canvassed that zoned the party chairman to the South-south.
A reliable source told THISDAY that the proposal allowing the South-south to produce the Chairman also suggested that if the North-west produces the presidential candidate, the South-west will take the vice-presidential ticket slot while the North-east/North-central will settle for the National Secretary and Senate President position.
On why the South-east seemed not to be considered for prime positions, the source said the party had carefully evaluated its electoral chances and felt that the area at present was in the strong hands of President Gooluck Jonathan.
Although the proposed zoning initiative is yet to receive the blessing of the party, it was learnt that it has the support most of the key stakeholders of the party and the proponents are making overtures to win the acceptance of the governors.
When confronted with the question as to if he will contest at the convention to retain his chairmanship position of APC, Chief Bisi Akande, retorted, “Do you ask such a question to an old man?”
While explaining the interventions made by the NEC meeting to address complaints trailing the nationwide congress, the Publicity Secretary said the leadership took time to consider the issues.
“We agreed that in areas where congresses have not been conducted have been given time to conduct them While those areas where there are contentions or complaints, the leadership of the party has decided to set up a committee to go and look into to it and reconcile the parties,” he said.
Muhammed urged party members not see the congress as an opportunity to secure the party structure but as a means of strengthening the structure ahead of the elections.
Among the stakeholders of the party at the NEC meeting were, Buhari, governors of Imo, Sokoto, Kano, Kwara, Edo, Lagos, Ogun, Rivers, Osun, Nasarawa and Zamfara States.
Former Chairman of the Economic Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Nuhu Ribadu was also in attendance.
•Text excerpted from a THISDAY report. Photo shows APC leaders, L-R: Tinubu, Akande, Buhari, and Governor Ahmed of Kwara State.
Source News Express