CRISIS LOOMS IN APC AS GROUP CALLS FOR MAI-MALA BUNI COMMITTEE’S EXIT, TINUBU/ OSHIOMHOLE GROUP ANGRY

John Alechenu and Chidiebube Okeoma

A fresh crisis is looming in the All Progressives Congress over the decision of the Mai-Mala Buni-led Caretaker/ Extra-Ordinary National Convention Committee to conduct fresh membership registration.

The PUNCH gathered on Wednesday that the decision had pitted the committee and governors sympathetic to it against some elements in the party, including the immediate past National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole and its National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.

It was learnt that those who were opposed to the Buni-led committee’s decision were of the view that the panel was going beyond its mandate by planning fresh membership registration.

An APC chieftain, who confided in The PUNCH, said the committee was indirectly seeking tenure extension through the planned membership registration.

Buni, who met with APC chairmen from the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory at the party’s national secretariat in Abuja on Wednesday, confirmed that the party would embark on a fresh membership registration before the national convention, which was initially scheduled for next month.

Buni said, “Please, also allow me to use this opportunity to inform us all that the need for our party to undertake a national membership register update is sacrosanct to our strength and preparation for all upcoming and future electioneering outings.

“The CECPC is already at the table strategising on the national membership registration exercise. The responsibility is on you as able state chairmen to commence the procedure for full sensitisation and needed awareness for a successful membership registration exercise in your various states as we all wait for the final briefing from CECPC.

“The chairman of CECPC and the entire membership of the committee reiterate our unreserved commitment to the full development of our party and continually seek your full support to drive the party to our desired destination. By this, I finally submit that your freedom to express yourself within the ambit of our party laws and regulations in the interest of the party cannot be more guaranteed than it is now.”

After Wednesday’s meeting, the Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the APC, Yekini Nabena, issued a statement titled, “36 APC State Chairmen Pass Vote of Confidence in Governor Buni-led Caretaker Committee.”

The statement read in part, “Chairmen of the APC in the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory have passed a vote of confidence on the Governor Mai Mala Buni-led Caretaker/Extra Ordinary National Convention Planning Committee of the APC.”

Recall that some party members under the aegis of Concerned All Progressives Congress members, had on Monday issued a 14-day ultimatum to the Buni-led panel to release ther timetable for the party’s national convention or risk a nation-wide protest by members.

A former Bauchi State Secretary of the defunct Action Congress, Abdullahi Dauda, who is the spokesman for the group, issued the threat at a media briefing in Abuja, on Monday.

However, a top-ranking member of the party, who spoke to one of our correspondents on condition of anonymity, in Abuja, dismissed the group’s ultimatum.

He said “We were not in the least surprised. As a saying goes, you can’t beat a child and deny that child at least the right to express his feeling of privilege by crying.

“We didn’t expect those who were benefiting from the chaos in the Oshiomhole-led National Working Committee to be happy about the dissolution of that NWC.

“This (ultimatum) is the handiwork of some disgruntled members. They are already up in arms against the planned fresh registration of members of the party. Take the registration done in Lagos since 2011, for example, Tinubu is the only one who has access to it. We need to have a proper record of party members which is verifiable and accessible by members for claims and objections.”

He said that fresh registration would have been done, but was delayed because of Edo and Ondo polls.

When asked if the planned national convention would hold this year as earlier envisaged, the source said the caretaker committee would definitely ask for more time.

Another party source said there were realignments among power blocs in the party.

However, another party leader who also spoke in confidence said “What is happening is certainly not within the ambit of the mandate given to the caretaker committee. The mandate of the committee is clear, reconcile members and organise a national convention. Anything outside that is fishing in troubled waters.”

When contacted, the spokesperson for the concerned APC members, Abdullahi Dauda, dismissed allegations that the group was doing Tinubu’s bidding.

He said “Those trying to drag in Tinubu are those who don’t wish our party well. Tinubu is a thoroughbred party man. He will never do anything to destroy a house he sacrificed so much to build.

“We are doing what we are doing in the interest of our party. We want the party to win elections in 2023 and beyond. It is the interest of our party that is our primary objective, we must first have a party before anybody can aspire to office on its platform.”

He advised Buni to finish his assignment in the APC and go back to his work as Yobe State Governor.

Dauda stated, “The caretaker committee will be going beyond its mandate to begin to talk of a fresh registration of party members; that is not part of its mandate. It will also be wrong for them to extend their tenure beyond six months. If they abide by the terms of their original mandate, six months is enough.

“Buni was elected to serve the people of Yobe State as governor;this national assignment given to him by our President and our great party is for him to reconcile aggrieved party members and organise a national convention within six months and nothing more.”

Attempts to get a response from Tinubu’s spokesman, Mr. Tunde Rahman, were futile. Calls to his mobile phone indicated that he was out of the network coverage area.

Meanwhile, the APC faction in Imo State led by ex-governor Rocha Okorocha has threatened to institute a legal action against the Buni-led committee if it embarked on fresh membership registration.

The APC factional chairman in the state, Daniel Nwafor, told one of our correspondents on Wednesday, that the caretaker committee was overstepping its bounds.

Nwafor said that the caretaker committee must first settle the intra-party issues before announcing a fresh membership registration i.

But the Forum of APC State Chairmen described the Concerned APC group as unknown.

The Chairman of the forum, who is also the Borno State Chairman of the party, Alhaji Bukar Dalori and other members speaking after the meeting said, “Our attention has been drawn to social media stories, allegedly giving an ultimatum to the CTC by a group calling themselves ‘Concerned All Progressives Congress Members.’

The faction of the APC in Zamfara loyal to ex-governor Abdul Aziz Yari’, Alhaji Lawal M. Liman, in an interview with The PUNCH, said he was in total support of any reform by the National caretaker committee of the party under the leadership of Mai Mala Buni.

Copyright PUNCH

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