Some aspirants vying for various positions in the All Progressives Congress, including those seeking the office of the national chairman at today’s convention have refused to step down.
This is contrary to the appeal by the President, Maj. Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), that those who would be voted into offices should emerge by consensus.
It was learnt that as of 9.30pm on Friday several aspirants were still meeting at various locations in Abuja. Saturday PUNCH learnt that national chairmanship aspirants continued to meet for the second day with no agreement.
One of the aspirants, Saliu Mustapha, said he was still in the race, adding that consensus should be all-inclusive.
In a statement on Friday by the Director-General, Saliu Mustapha Campaign Organisation, Bala Usman, the aspirant said no consensus had been reached as far as he was concerned.
The statement read in part, “Our campaign organisation has received several calls from multitudes of party stakeholders, friends and associates regarding the upcoming convention of our party and the decision of Saliu Mustapha as an aspirant, especially in relation to the unravelling issue of a possible consensus arrangement.
“Indeed, we recognise consensus as one of APC’s acceptable leadership selection methods, which is completely legal and constitutional. However, we are convinced that for consensus to abide, it must be all-inclusive and devoid of any vestige of imposition.
“This is why Mallam Saliu Mustapha, together with all the other aspirants, would continue to engage to review the options before them and agree on a common and mutually beneficial decision. Until this is done, nothing has been decided yet.”
However, the APC said the much-expected Unity List proceeding from the wide consultations on consensus to pick party leaders would be out on Friday. Nonetheless, it was learnt that the list was delayed as governors continued to debate over the list.
The party reaffirmed that consensus remained its preferred mode of choosing its leaders.
Fielding questions from our correspondent at the party’s world press conference held at its national secretariat on Friday, the Chairman of the National Convention Media and Publicity Sub-committee, Governor Abdullahi Sule of Nasarawa State, said the unity list would be out soon.
He said, “From what we have from the regions, the unity list will be ready today (Friday). It will be submitted. If you are talking of consensus, you must have a unity list, because that’s the whole essence of consensus.
“If you’re having consensus, you would have people who have agreed, aspirants who have agreed, stakeholders who have agreed, and the constituency that has agreed, and in that case, that name automatically will be adopted. That’s just the meaning of the unity list.”
However, speaking on Channels Television Politics Today, Sule said a former Governor of Nasarawa State, Abdullahi Adamu, had been adopted as the consensus candidate for the office of the national chairman.
Responding to a question on the adoption of Adamu, Sule said, “Yes, he is our consensus candidate,” adding that with the adoption of Adamu had been cleared to lead the party by the President.
He said, “The President has spoken. He sat down with other aspirants and leaders of the party. The aspirants have been meeting and I know they will out of respect for the President agree. The President has disclosed his decision to them all.”
He said the unity list would show that “only a single candidate would vie for each of the positions.”
Amaechi, Fashola, Ngige get concessions
Meanwhile, it was learnt that the APC would be making special concessions for serving political appointees who previously held elective office to vote at conventions.
Such persons include a former Governor of Rivers State and Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi; the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, who is also a former governor of Anambra State; a former governor of Lagos State, Babatunde Fashola and Minister of Works and Housing; and a few others.
Governor Sule said they would be given concessions because the APC Constitution makes them statutory delegates.
He said, “Our delegates’ lists are statutory delegates. So if you have a former president as a political appointee, if you have a former senator as a political appointee, these are already automatic delegates.
“Let’s not confuse the two just because being an appointee doesn’t necessarily take you out of being a delegate, because our delegates are classified clearly. Former presidents from our party, former elected personalities, party officials and the rest are delegates.
“So if you are talking of the ones we have submitted now, we don’t have commissioners, we don’t have advisers, we don’t have all those unless somebody particularly who was a former this or former that. In that case, just being an appointee doesn’t completely exclude such a person from being a delegate.”
But speaking on the Channels TV programme, Sule said some ministers, including the one from his state, had been excluded from being delegates. He, however did not say if this would affect his earlier position.
The APC on Thursday barred political appointees from taking part in its national convention or primaries due to the controversy surrounding Section 84(12) of the Electoral Act, which bars political appointees from voting at party congresses.
A Federal High Court sitting in Umuahia, Abia State, ruled last week that the section was null and void because it was at variance with the constitution, the National Assembly had vowed to appeal the judgment.
Uzodinma, Malami, others to ‘enforce’ Buhari’s consensus
Probably sensing that his appeal on consensus could be ignored by some delegates, the President has put some of his trusted allies in a sub-committee to enforce his plan at the national convention.
The 35-member committee known as Technical Committee on Monitoring and Supervision is headed by Imo State Governor, Hope Uzodinma. Listed as members of the committee are Governor Bello Matawalle of Zamfara State; the Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami (SAN); and the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, who also represents Buhari’s home state of Katsina in the federal cabinet.
Others in the committee include Buhari’s ally and Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu; the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management, Sadiyya Farouq; and Buhari’s social media aide, Lauretta Onochie.
An impeccable source in the APC told one of our correspondents that the members of the monitoring committee would be the “President’s eyes and ears at the convention.”
“They will monitor those who defy the President’s orders and report accordingly. Some of the members of the committee were the ones that travelled to London two weeks ago to save Buni’s job. They were with him long before he became the President,” said an APC chieftain who wished to remain anonymous.
The President’s insistence on Adamu as his preferred candidate had caused friction among some chieftains of the party, including some chairmanship aspirants.
Buhari had insisted on Adamu while other aspirants were asked to step down with a promise that the money they spent on procuring forms would be returned to them.
The governors were expected to draft a “unity list” for all party positions which would be affirmed at the convention.
As of Friday evening, none of the aspirants had agreed to step down.
South-South consensus list released, Keyamo loses out
Meanwhile, the list of consensus candidates from the South-South has emerged.
In the list, the Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo, was not among the top government officials and politicians from the zone that appended their signatures to the list.
The list of nominees as consensus candidates was signed by Governor Ben Ayade of Cross River State, Secretary of the CECPC, Senator John Akpanudoudehe; Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Ameachi, and Minister of Niger-Delta, Godswill Akpabio.
Others who signed the list are the party’s former Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole; a former Minister of State for Agriculture, Heineken Lokpobiri, and former Edo State Deputy Governor, Lucky Imasuen.
Also at the meeting where the decision was made was Mrs Stella Okotete, the representative of women in the Caretaker Extraordinary Committee; representative of the South-South in the CECPC, Mr David Lyon; Sen. Ita Enaga, Sen. Magnus Abe, Mr Victor Giadom and Deputy Senate President, Sen. Ovie Omo-Agege.
However, all the six states in the region were allocated at least an office as shown in the list.
Top on the list of the beneficiaries is the former deputy National Secretary of the party, Victor Giadom, who is returning to the party as National Vice Chairman (South-South) and a member of the NWC.
Giadom, a former commissioner of works in Rivers State, became popular when he pronounced himself the acting national chairman of the party, an action that finally led to the sacking of a former Governor of Edo State, Adams Oshiomhole as the party’s national chairman almost two years ago.
Other adopted candidates are Delta State Commissioner for Health, Dr Betta Edu (National Women Leader), and Mr Felix Morka (National Publicity Secretary).
NAN reported that a statement issued by the stakeholders said that the three party members were adopted at the last meeting of the stakeholders held in Abuja.
The National Vice Chairman South-South is zoned to Rivers/Bayelsa states, National Women Leader to Akwa Ibom/Cross River states and National Publicity Secretary to Edo/ Delta States.
While Governor Ayade picked Edu (Cross River) for the National Women Leader, Ameachi was said to have picked Giadom (Rivers State) for the position of National Vice Chairman.
Omo-Agege was also said to have picked Morka (Delta State) for the National Publicity Secretary position.
The position of others who obtained the expression of interest and nomination forms to contest the positions was not clear as of press time.
A constitutional lawyer, Dr Kayode Ajulo, says the consensus arrangement by the APC for its national executive officers is a violation of the Electoral Act 2022.
Consensus illegal, lawyer warns
A constitutional lawyer, Kayode Ajulo, has warned the APC against using consensus method to pick its national officers.
Ajulo made this assertion in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria on Friday in Abuja, making reference to Section 82(3) of the Electoral Act, 2022.
Ajulo said that the provision means that the only mode of election of members of the executive committee or governing body of a political party shall be by direct or indirect election.
He said, “It therefore implies that the Electoral Act, 2022 has expressly abrogated consensus mode of election of members of the executive committee or other governing body of a political party.’’
We’ll have hitch-free convention, says Buni
The Chairman, APC Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee, Mai Mala Buni, has reassured members of the party of a successful conduct of National Convention.
Buni, who is also the governor of Yobe State, said this shortly after an inspection visit to the convention venue in Abuja.
A statement by the Director, Press and Public Affairs to the Governor of Plateau State, Simon Lalong, Dr Makut Macham on Friday said that Buni lauded the convention venue/site committee headed by Lalong on the preparations made so far.
“He expressed satisfaction with the level of preparations made so far, especially the venue, and all arrangements put in place for the convenience and safety of all delegates during the convention.
“He said the progress made by the committee was a demonstration of the unity and zeal among members of the APC, toward a successful convention that would ensure a solid future for the party.
“He also commended the commitment and synergy among various committees, for the success of the convention,” he said.
Responding, Lalong assured Buni that all facilities required to ensure smooth conduct of the Convention had been put in place.
He advised delegates to adhere to all guidelines especially the seating arrangements at the venue, to ensure a hitch-free convention.
Amaechi included dead members, defectors as Rivers delegates, Abe’s faction alleges
Meanwhile, APC faction loyal to Senator Magnus Abe in Rivers State has alleged that the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi presented names of dead persons and defectors as delegates from the state.
This was contained in a petition jointly signed by a former Commissioner for Justice and Attorney General in Rivers State, Worgu Boms, Senator Magnus Abe, and Senator Wilson Ake among others.
The faction, according to the petition, said it observed the deliberate inclusion of deceased persons in the delegates’ list already submitted for the convention by the Minister.
“We examined the list and found that it was inflated by adding names of deceased persons and persons who were never principal officers in the Rivers State House of Assembly (two categories of invalidity and nullity of delegates) status are attached to over twenty persons on the list in three broad categories of deceased persons, impostors, and persons who are no longer members of the APC,” it stated.
The petitioners alleged that such names as Chief D.U. Anucha, Apollos Amadi, Martins Mannah, Andrew Miller and Felicia Tane who are included in the list had since passed on, yet they were named as delegates for the convention.
Apart from that, the petitioners stated that some of the names included on the lists were never in the position ascribed to them by the Transportation Minister and therefore should be regarded as imposters.
“They were so presented so as to bring them into the delegates’ category since being a member of House of Assembly is not.
“We do not say that they were not in the state legislature on the dates listed against their names. We state that it is not true that they were principal officers as claimed,* they explained.
They further claimed that members like Samuel Oguru, Hon Bob Fredrick, Victoria Nyeche, Hon Collins Ordu, Onari Brown and Ibroma Kitchner were not principal officers in the Rivers state House of Assembly as described by the list.
Ignore Abe and others, they aren’t party members – Eze
But in a swift reaction, an ally of Amaechi, Chief Chukwuemeka Eze, said “Abe and his group are not members of the APC and that is why they are confused.
“You see the problem with Abe is that he is confused. He doesn’t know what he wants. One, he is not a member of the APC. When the party called for membership revalidation, he ordered his loyalists not to participate.
“He is not a member of the APC, because if he is a party member and he raises any issue, it would be addressed. But he is not,” Eze stated, saying the party has not forgiven him for making it not to be in the ballot during the 2019 general elections in the state.
“His duty as everybody is aware is that he wants to run down Amaechi. Everybody is aware that he is working for Bola Tinubu. Everybody is aware that their (Abe’s group) is to ensure that APC does not exist in Rivets State,” he stated.
Eze, a former spokesman of the defunct new Peoples Democratic Party (nPDP), further said Abe was working with the Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike to undermine Amaechi.
Soldiers, policemen, civil defence, others man strategic position at Eagle Square
In the meantime, combine team of security operatives have taken over the Eagle Square.
The operatives combine soldiers, policemen, men of Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corp, and other paramilitary operatives from the Federal Road Safety Commission, National Drug Law Enforcement agency and the Nigeria Immigration Service.
Our correspondents, who moved round the venue of the convention, observed that police patrol vans, manned by armed policemen, were stationed at strategic locations around the Eagles Square.
Also, stop and search had commenced for those who attempted to pass through the road that linked the venue while vehicular movements were restricted and several vehicles were also turned back by security operatives.
The spokesperson for the Federal Capital Territory Police Command, DSP Josephine Adeh, refused to mention the number of police officers deployed to take charge of security before, during and after the convention.
Nevertheless, Adeh, in a statement, said there would be traffic diversion at 17 junctions during the convention period.
They include areas such as the Goodluck Ebele Jonathan road by the Court of Appeal; behind the Court of Appeal; ECOWAS by Women Affairs ministry; Finance junction; behind Foreign Affairs ministry; Kur Mohammed by National Mosque; Benue Plaza; Nitel junction; Phase 3; NNPC Tower; Ceddi Plaza bridge; Gana street by Transcorp hotel; DSS headquarters; Phase 1; NASS Junction; Bullet junction and Bayelsa House.
The statement stated, “The FCT Commissioner of Police, Babaji Sunday, while expressing confidence in the revamped security architecture of the territory, urges members of the public to cooperate with the police and consider the use of alternative routes.
“He also noted that the arrangement was emplaced for security optimization and ease of transportation.”
The Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps said it would deploy 1,000 operatives in the FCT to protect lives and property during the convention period.
The corps explained that it had earlier deployed undercover agents ahead of the programme, adding that 250 personnel would be on duty inside the convention ground.
The NSCDC spokesman, Shola Odumosu said, “We have begun our deployments before now. Since last week, the undercover operatives have been deployed to gather intelligence and prevent breakdown of law and order.
“For the convention, we would be deploying around 400 within the Eagle square and the FCT. We are covering the entire FCT with 1,000 personnel not only for the convention but for protection of lives and infrastructure.
“Two hundred and fifty men would be deployed within the Eagle Square, additional 150 around the vicinity and 600 for protection of public assets and in the exit and entry points into FCT, and general deployments for protection of lives and property.”
Traders, hoteliers make brisk business
Nomadic traders were taking the advantage of the convention to make brisk money.
Many of the itinerant traders were located around the streets that lead to the square to take advantage of the large number of party members, even the party secretariat to carry out brisk business as they were seen selling branded T-shirts, wrappers, hats, key holders, wristbands and other souvenirs.
Most hotels in Abuja city centre and in the satellite towns were also said to have been fully booked a week before the convention.