AHEAD of the National Convention, of the All Progressives Congress (APC), governors are meeting on Wednesday to agree on candidates for National Working Committee (NWC) posts.
There were indications yesterday that the governors will present a list of consensus candidates to President Muhammadu Buhari.
According to a source, who spoke in confidence, the governors are unhappy with the discordant tunes in some zones over some candidates.
The source gave insights into some issues to be considered by the governors, including the following:
- the zoning formula – whether it should be retained or not;
- should there be a total overhaul of the NWC, led by outgoing National Chairman John Odigie-Oyegun?
- won’t it help party cohesion to have a mixed grill of the Oyegun team and new NWC members?
- how to accommodate the New Peoples Democratic Party (nPDP) Caucus to stave off defection;
- the need to have an NWC which can make Buhari’s re-election possible.
- suitable and acceptable candidates for seven key positions, including eight national chairman, National Secretary, Deputy National Chairman(North); Deputy National Chairman(South); National Organising Secretary, National Publicity Secretary; National Women Leader and National Youth Leader; and
- averting plot to disqualify some key contestants.
A governor, who spoke with our correspondent last night, said: “We have just been notified of a meeting of the APC governors on Wednesday night in Abuja on how to work out a rancour-free National Convention and build consensus on some candidates.
“We have differences but we will no doubt engage in horse-trading; bend backwards to accommodate each other and go to the convention ground without ill-feelings.
“Some governors would want the party to retain the present zoning formula; others have made a case for an NWC that will have a mixture of those with Oyegun and new members; and a few others have asked APC members to sack all NWC members. We want to hold frank talks and adopt a principle of give and take.”
Another governor said: “We want to correct the mistakes of the past. This is why we are meeting on Wednesday and we are hopeful that all will be well.”
“The feelers from the North-East, which is the stronghold of the President, are also not good on the choice of National Secretary. The contestants for the office are the incumbent, Mallam Mai Mala Buni (Yobe); Alhaji Kashim Imam (Borno); Buhari’s ardent supporters, Waziri Bulama; and Dr. Haruna Yerima.
“Governor Ibrahim Gaidam is insisting on the retention of Buni but some strategists of the President are opposed to him. As at Sunday, all the North-East governors and APC leaders in Taraba State have built a consensus on Buni based on the persuasion of Gaidam.
“Members of the Buhari Support Organisation (BSO) and some presidential strategists are pushing for Bulama in order to enable the President to have a firm control of the party ahead of 2019.
“If the President does not abide by the choice of the North-East governors, they might pay lip service to his re-election in 2019. What is paining the governors is alleged plot by ex-Governor Modu Ali Sheriff to make his close ally, Kashim Imam, National Secretary. They said Sheriff cannot have his cake and eat it.”
In the South-East, the battle is between the only APC governor, Owelle Rochas Okorocha, and other APC leaders. Okorocha does not want the National Organising Secretary, Sen. Osita Izunaso, to retain his seat but many governors prefer Osita.
Another source said the governors were concerned about the grievances of New Peoples Democratic Party (nPDP) leaders.
The source said: “We know that the talks between the Presidency and nPDP leaders have been stalled but we want to do our best to accommodate all tendencies that came together to form APC.
“If we stick to the zoning formula at the formative stage of the party, we believe it will help our cohesion. Otherwise, the nPDP wing will pull out of the party. Some governors are opposed to a winner takes all perspective.
“A few others want the party to damn the consequences of nPDP leaders. So, we have a crucial session ahead on Wednesday.”
The Director-General, Voice of Nigeria (VON), who is also a chieftain of APC, Mr. Osita Okechukwu, has allayed fears over the convention.
Okechukwu dismissed such fears.
He said the convention would be hitch-free because President Muhammadu Buhari remains the presumptive consensus candidate for next year’s presidential election.
In spite of conflicting reports of parallel congresses, the VON chief envisages a hitch-free national convention on June 23, since the entire tendencies within the party share a common ground in their support for Buhari.
Okechukwu, who was elected as a delegate to the national convention, predicted that most of the delegates would vote Oshiomole.
”Remember that what we operate is a presidential system, where unlike the parliamentary system the supremacy of the party is less profound. Every president in all presidential systems I know, be it in the United States, tailors the cloth of the party to his size.
“We are lucky that President Buhari is not a power-monger like His Excellency, ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo who during his tenure took ownership of the PDP and was changing chairmen like wrappers – dropped Solomon Lar of blessed memory, Senator Barnabas Gemade, Chief Audu Ogbe, Dr. Ahmadu Ali amongst others.”
“In addition those who lost in the congresses are not only loyalists to Buhari, but are aware of the truism that they were swimming against the tide of the provisions of APC’s Constitution, which mandated the National Working Committee, subject to the approval of the National Executive Committee to make rules and regulations for nomination of candidates. Nobody has the right to reverse the national delegates list validly elected during the local government congress.”
“With such iconic leader, like Buhari loyalty is enhanced. Loyalty to one leader minimizes intra-party conflict. It could have been different if we have two strong presidential contenders.”
He said their collective support for Mr. President would make it easy for reconciliation and mending of fences in APC after the National Convention and before the 2019 general elections.
Battle for slots in NWC hots up
Almost all mambers of the outgoing National Working Committee (NWC) of the All Progressives Congress (APC) may not return at Saturday’s National Convention of the party, it was learnt at the weekend.
While some of them including outgoing National Chairman Chief John Odigie-Oyegun have opted out, others struggling to return and who claimed to have been endorsed, might still lose out.
It was learnt that the “endorsement” of three NWC members from the southeast at a meeting of some of the party leaders in Abuja, has not gone down well with key stakeholders in the region.
At the meeting, former Abia State Governor Orji Uzor Kalu announced that the zone had okayed to return of Senator Osita Izunaso, Chief George Moghalu and Chief Emma Eneukwu as National Organising Secretary, National Auditor and National Vice Chairman (south east).
But a highly dependable source , said leaders like Imo State Governor Rochas Okorocha and a former Senate President Ken Nnamani,are unhappy with the endorsement.
A source who attended the meeting, described it as stormy adding that all stakeholders were not involved. He added that such a meeting should be held at Enugu, the zonal headquarters.
He added that the meeting was hurriedly put together which informed the poor attendance of party stakeholders from the south east.
“Former Senate President Ken Nnamani left midway into the meeting. He did not know the agenda of the meeting before coming and when he knew what they were up to, he left the meeting. He is not in support of the decision to adopt anybody.
“Okorocha is the only APC governor in the south east for now. Whether you like him or not, there is no way you can hold such an important meeting without his knowledge and you expect the decision from that meeting to be binding,” the source said, adding:
“We are pushing for people like Chukwuemeka Nwogbo and Oyebuchi Nnamani to take over from George Moghalu and Emma Eneukwu as National Auditor and National Vice Chairman, South East.”
Another group which called itself Chuba Okadigbo Rainbow Organization is asking President Buhari to honour the memory of his late running mate by including one of his strong supporters, Chidi Nwogu, on the unity list for the office of the National Organising Secretary.
Senator Izunaso is having a running battle with Governor Okorocha.
Those opposed to Moghalu are citing his decision to contest for Anambra State governorship ticket, which he failed to pick and then returned to his party position.
“We expected him to follow the part of honour like Chief Segun Oni did. After failing to pick the Ekiti ticket, Oni did not return tp his party post.
Other NWC members who are out incude: National Youth Leader Ibrahim Waziri Jalo who is gunning for the governorship ticket in Gombe state, and National Legal Adviser Muiz Banire, who has beaten a retreat having falling out of favour with the Lagos State executive.
Others are National Woman Leader, Hajia Ramatu Aliyu and National Treasurer Mohammad Gwagwawa, who are believed not to have received the backing of their governors.
While Gwagwawa is a supporter of Senator Rabiu Kwakwanso who has been having a running battle with Kano State Governor Abdullahi Ganduje, Hajia Ramatu has lost the confidence of Kogi State Governor Yahaya Bello because she was nominated for the job by the late Prince Abubakar Audu.