Tension As Battle For Control Of APC Begins Tomorrow


 AHMED MUSA, SAMUEL OGIDAN

ABUJA – As members of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) file out tomorrow to begin its planned mem­bership registration and revalidation exercise, there is anxiety as to whether the party will remain united or divided after the exercise.

Prominent members of the party are heavily moblising ahead of the exercise seen by many as a predetermined ar­rangement to reposition the party ahead of the 2023 general elections.

Sunday Independent gathered that the Mai Mala Buni’s Caretaker and Extraordinary Con­vention Planning Com­mittee (CECPC) is bent on dismantling the APC to displace loyalists of some party chieftains from the commanding heights of the party.

The symbolic exercise, which kicks off tomor­row, will see President Muhammadu Buhari registering at his ward in Daura, Katsina State, while the Vice President, sitting state governors, former governors and parliamentarians would follow suit on Tuesday.

The exercise would be thrown open to other members of the public from Wednesday, accord­ing to party sources.

Aggrieved Members Float New Party

Although the APC had warned that it would not tolerate any attempt by its members to hijack the forthcoming registration and revalidation exer­cise, an aggrieved group within the party had equally promised to give a new direction to Nige­ria after the exercise.

They hinged their de­cision on the ruling par­ty’s deviation from its foundational plans.

At a meeting in Abuja on Tuesday, former state chairmen of the defunct Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), one of the legacy parties that coalesced to form the ruling party formed a new political association known as the New Nige­ria Movement (NNM).

The CPC members said they had floated the NNM ahead of the 2023 election season during which President Buhari would have fully served his two terms, and ineli­gible to run again.

A communiqué issued to journalists after its in­augural meeting named a former Kano State chair­man of the defunct CPC, Alhaji Ahmed Zogo, as its national chairman.

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The communiqué read: “The inaugural meeting of the New Ni­geria Movement (NNM), a socio-political group comprising patriotic and credible Nigerians who are determined to give a new direction held in Abuja, the Federal Capi­tal Territory, on the 19th of January, 2021.

“The pioneer mem­bers are drawn from the thirty-six states of the federation and united by a burning desire to give Nigeria a new polit­ical direction that will guarantee peace, true unity, equity and mutu­al trust.”

The communiqué stat­ed that the group em­pathised with President Buhari on his efforts at salvaging Nigeria from the age-long decay and also commended him for reminding the APC na­tional caretaker commit­tee on the need to keep the commitment to all members of the merger – CPC, ACN, and ANPP.

“The New Nigeria Movement (NNM), there­fore, resolved to team up with patriotic Nigerians and the president to move the country forward.

“Our movement is in total support of the clar­ion call by Nigerians for power shift to the South and generational power shift,” it added.

An APC chieftain, Kalu Kalu Agu, had last month, approached the Federal High Court in Abuja, praying it to re­strain the party from embarking on new mem­bership registration and revalidation.

He alleged that the aim of the planned revalida­tion was to deregister members that instituted court actions against the party.

Agu, therefore, prayed the court to order the APC not to take such steps, pending the final resolution of the legal battle on the legality of the dissolution of the Adams Oshiomhole-led National Working Com­mittee, NWC.

Party Spits Fire

However, Mai Mala Buni, warned that the party would deal with anyone or group that attempted to hijack the party’s membership/re­validation.

He gave the warning in Abuja while inaugu­rating the National Com­mittee for Membership/ Revalidation, chaired by Niger State governor, Abubakar Bello.

Buni said the party had not had the oppor­tunity of renewing its membership register since the initial regis­tration in 2014.

He added that the par­ty had in the last seven years received many politicians who defected to the APC, but were not registered.

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Besides, youths who had attained the age of 18 years and above and had joined the party within the period had not be registered, while others who left the party still had their names on the register.

According to him, the registration and revali­dation provide the oppor­tunity for both new and old members to register and update their mem­bership party, and for the party to expunge names of those who had left the fold.

The chairman said the committee held the key to ensuring a successful membership registration and revalidation.

He stated: “Let me make it abundantly clear that the party would not condone any act of sabo­tage of denying anyone or group of persons from registering.

“The party would deal decisively with anyone or group who attempts hijacking the exercise. Everyone must be allowed and given the chance to register.

“The party has ade­quate back-up materials to ensure a successful ex­ercise and no one is disen­franchised.

“I am very sure that our figures in the register would surge into quadru­ples or even more, to fur­ther prove that APC is in­deed Nigeria’s largest and leading political party.”

Also, Director Gener­al of the Progressives Governors Forum (PGF), Dr. Salihu Lukman, de­scribed those opposed to the planned membership registration and revali­dation exercise by the All Progressives Congress (APC), as political bandits who were desperate to in­stall surrogate leaders.

Lukman was reacting to threats by a group of party supporters under the aegis of Concerned APC members, to take le­gal action should the Mai Mala Buni-led Caretaker/ Extra-Ordinary Conven­tion Planning Committee, proceed with the registra­tion.

He insisted that nobody should be allowed to use any bullying tactics to force the party back to the old undemocratic ways of manipulating critical pro­cesses of leadership selec­tion by undermining or corrupting the member­ship records.

Lukman, in a statement said, since the reported decision to commence the process of membership registration/verification by the APC National Care­taker Committee, there had been media reports threatening legal actions to block the committee from organising the pro­cess.

He noted that some of the threats even go as far as claiming that the only mandate given to the Caretaker Committee led by Governor Mai Mala Buni was to organise a National Convention in December 2020.

He pointed out that it would appear that it was the old challenge of en­suring that the party re­mained with crisis-prone approaches based on some tight-fisted control of party structures by some leaders.

Lukman stated: “Ideal­ly, the brewing debate in APC around membership registration should be healthy. If anyone doubt that APC is a party that accommodate internal debate and contestation, this is another evidence.

“But, this is one con­testation that can only survive if party members shy away from engaging these leaders. We will en­gage this debate with the objective of ensuring that the overarching consider­ation is the development of our party and our de­mocracy.

“The debate must go beyond schemes to subor­dinate the party under the control or manipulation of anybody.”

The director general said one would expect any leader of the party with any claim of being a progressive or even democratic politician to welcome the need to have membership registration/ verification ahead of the APC national convention.

“These so-called lead­ers advocating for APC to have national convention without going through the process of membership registration/verification simply want to plant their surrogates as the new leaders of the party.

“To achieve that, false arguments are being pre­sented that the National Convention of the party doesn’t require member­ship registration.”

Lukman stated that there was no need to wor­ry about any litigation on this matter, adding that all committed APC members should be ready for this stage of the struggle.

He said as committed party members, they should be able to combine the political battle for the democratic development of the party based on en­suring the institution of best practice standards as the operative framework for the party with skillful legal engagement.

The director general said that while it was im­portant to appreciate the need to ensure that the provisions of the party’s constitution are respect­ed by everyone, especially the Caretaker Committee, which had the difficult re­sponsibility of resolving the leadership challenges, it was important that the right thing is done to lay solid democratic founda­tion for the party.

“How can any organ of the party claim any legit­imacy when the member­ship of the party is sus­pect?” he queried, adding, “If the membership of the party is suspect, the legit­imacy of delegates who will attend the National Convention will be also suspect.

“This is because, for in­stance, Article 9.4 of the APC constitution specif­ically provide that A reg­ister of members shall be compiled and maintained at the Ward level and be transmitted to the Secre­tariat of the party at Local Government Area, which shall transmit a copy to the National Secretari­at.”

Lukman said those leaders now campaign­ing for national conven­tion without member­ship registration, might be taking advantages of the seeming respite in the party.

“However, may be as part of its efforts to re­store sanity and shame those trying to stampede it into organising a Na­tional Convention that is at best a smokescreen for the emergence of surrogate leaders, the Caretaker Committee should consider bringing forward the scheduled party’s NEC meeting where, among others, it can present its progress report.

“Once NEC is able con­sider its report and take the necessary decisions, our political merchants of crisis would need to find new handle for their dastardly campaigns.”

Why We’re Conducting Ex­ercise – Akpanudoedehe

John Akpanudoedehe, Secretary of its Caretak­er and Extra-ordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC), had announced that the reg­istration of new mem­bers and update of reg­ister of the APC would commence on January 25, 2021.

The party, in its New Year message to Nigeri­ans issued by Akpanu­doedehe, had said, “We have recognised the need for continued conflict resolution and have de­cided to vigorously pur­sue reconciliation on all fronts in order to emerge as a stronger party, ahead of the congresses and the 2023 general elections.

“Having got the ap­proval for the party membership registra­tion, CECPC is now set to undertake the exercise efficiently and effective­ly in a record time, begin­ning from January 25.”

Akpanudoedehe added that the party’s CECPC was fully prepared to conduct total congress­es at all levels, through a fair and transparent pro­cess of electing officials for its various organs.

This, he said, would culmi­nate in the party’s national convention.

The CECPC secretary added that the committee was working to create a member-centered par­ty structure that would guarantee full partici­pation of all and accord privileges to strengthen APC members’ trust, be­liefs and engagements in all its activities.

He further added that recognising that time was well against it, the CECPC was already dou­bling efforts to meet up with the tasks ahead of it in 2021.

Ak p a n u d o e d e h e stressed that the com­mittee was rebuilding the party to strengthen democracy, assuring that its commitment to lead­ing the process of politi­cal change in the country was unwavering.

He said the party’s national secretariat had discussed the need for registration of new APC members and update of its register to improve on its membership and support-base nationwide.

“Our party, its leader­ship and members join Nigerians to celebrate the commencement of another year – 2021; indeed, the year 2020 evokes mixed feelings for our great party.

“Just like every other sector and activities be­laboured by the year-long restrictions globally due to the COVID-19 pandem­ic, as a party, we did have our share of the inconve­niences.

“Aside the pause of party activities in the course of the year, we spent part of the year witnessing internal ran­cour that almost threat­ened the kernel of the party,” he said.

This, Akpanudoedehe added, warranted the prompt interventions of the party leadership, including its National Executive Committee (NEC).

He added that the fact that the party survived the onslaught, emerged yet stronger and went on to win a number of critical elections across the country in 2020, was a testament to its great strength.

He thanked APC mem­bers across the federa­tion, the leadership and President Muhammadu Buhari for the support and encouragement giv­en to the committee since its inauguration.

Akpanudoedehe also appreciated the lead­ership of the National Assembly and the en­tire APC caucus of both chambers for their total support, collaboration and understanding with­in the period.

“We thank our min­isters for their support, particularly the Attor­ney-General of the Fed­eration, for providing le­gal guidance and advice that have helped the CE­CPC’s decisions.

“The CECPC also deep­ly appreciates the confi­dence and trust our es­teemed governors of the Progressive Governors’ Forum reposed in it.

“We equally thank and appreciate all others, the media inclusive, who have contributed in var­ious ways to the success of CECPC,” he said.

Akpanudoedehe added that the party’s efforts at resolving internal con­flicts at various chapters had paid off.

This, he said, was espe­cially so with members’ desire in complying with the party resolutions to withdraw and terminate all ongoing litigations that involved the party.

He noted that in the course of the year, the committee was able to resolve the ownership tussle surrounding the building that housed the APC national secretariat, adding that necessary set­tlement to take full con­trol of the building was already in progress.

According to him, set­tlement of outstanding litigation fees is one of the targets of CECPC from the outset, which it has been able to deliver to a large extent in the last six months.

“Suffice to say that as much as CECPC is proud to announce that it has done well by all standards in the last six months, there is still more to be done and which we are set to do and complete before the end of the tenure of CECPC”, Ak­panudoedehe said.

The CECPC was in­augurated on June 25, 2020 as an interim ad­ministration, to steer the affairs of the APC and organise a nation­al convention to elect substantive party exec­utives.

NASS Postpones Re­sumption To February

Consequently, the leadership of the Na­tional Assembly has moved the resumption date for plenary by both chambers from January 26 to enable members of the ruling APC par­ticipate in the party’s membership revalida­tion exercise scheduled to commence tomorrow.

According to a cir­cular issued by the Clerk to the National Assembly, Amos Ojo Olatunde, the new date for resumption will now be Tuesday, February 9, 2021.

The circular, which was made public on Sat­urday afternoon, read: “This is to inform all distinguished Senators and Honourable Mem­bers of the National As­sembly that the resump­tion of plenary sessions earlier scheduled for Tuesday, 26th January, 2021 is hereby resched­uled for Tuesday 9th February, 2021.

“This postponement is to enable members of the All Progressive Con­gress (APC) participate in the registration and revalidation of its mem­bership, scheduled to commence on Monday, 25th January, 2021.”




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