By Yusuf Alli, and Jide Orintunsin, Abuja
A powerful group is mounting pressure on state caretaker chairmen of the All Progressives Congress (APC) to push for the extension of the party’s membership registration and revalidation, which expired on Wednesday.
The thickening plot, if it succeeds, will make the June expiration of tenure of the National Caretaker Committee led by Yobe State Governor Mai Mala Buni unrealistic.
It was learnt that the plot is to secure eight more weeks extension for the registration process.
The caretaker committee members were on Wednesday locked in a meeting to review the membership revalidation and registration.
Secretary of the Caretaker Extra-Ordinary Convention Planning Committee, Senator John James Akpanudoedehe said the Committee is committed to the June exit approved by the National Executive Committee.
He, however, said that the committee would approach the NEC should the need arise for more time.
“We are committed to the assignment and we are sure that June is realizable, but we will not hesitate to approach the party if we need to. This, however, will be clear to all doubting Thomases, because we have nothing to hide.
“All we are doing is to cement the structure of the party. You will recall that there are many groups that came together to form the party, so we have to be united, build the structure for future challenges and ensure the cohesion the party needs to win future elections.”
But stakeholders in the party, including some governors, have started discussions on how to resist any new request for tenure extension for the Caretaker Committee.
The state APC chairmen are believed to be tinkering with two to four weeks extension.
Investigation however revealed that while party members have been looking forward to a National Convention to produce new party leaders in June, some forces in the party are perfecting plans to give another lifeline to the Buni Committee.
It was learnt that the tenure extension plot will begin with the approval of additional eight weeks for membership registration and revalidation.
The idea of dragging membership registration and revalidation for eight weeks was hatched by some party leaders and a few APC governors to hijack the party’s structure ahead of the primaries for the 2023 general election.
Some of the forces have recruited loyal state APC chairmen, to work for the extension of membership registration.
According to a source, some governors have subscribed to both the extension of membership registration and tenure elongation for the Caretaker Committee.
A highly-placed source said: “What some governors are saying is that a National Convention in June may expose APC too early on its zoning formula for 2023. They said the opposition parties, especially the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) may easily read through APC permutations for the next general election.
“A few governors, who are not controlling the party’s structure in their states, are also seeking the extension of membership registration to consolidate their grip on the party and isolate their opponents.
“So, there is a bigger picture behind the extension of the registration of membership. It is not APC members that are really calling for it. The calculation is to extend the registration of members and leave it to snowball into tenure elongation for the Buni Committee.
“If the tenure of the caretaker committee is extended till December or January 2022, it will put some politicians in a tight corner.
It was also learnt that some governors do not want either the extension of the registration or tenure elongation for Buni Committee but are afraid of coming out to confront the Caretaker Committee.
A former NWC member said this category cannot air their views because “they are afraid that they might lose the support of the Caretaker Committee.
“Some of them do not want to lose the opportunity for a second term in office or a shot at another political office after second term.”
The state chairman, who disagree with those seeking extension of registration and caretaker tenure, said: “There is no time for the party and some forces cannot be toying with the destiny of our party. If we extend the registration by eight weeks, it means the National Convention is technically impossible in June. It will also be a prelude to tenure elongation for our Caretaker Committee.
“The real agenda is to extend the tenure of the APC Caretaker Committee by another six months. This will eat into the preparations for the 2023 polls.
“We met this afternoon and have reached a compromise. We will reject the request for eight weeks extension of the membership /revalidation exercise.
“We are suggesting four weeks but since we are products of party structure at the state level, some of our leaders insisted on a maximum of two to three weeks extension of membership/ revalidation now.
“Above all, we believe registration of new members is a continuous exercise. We want them to round off now.
“What is important is that we will request for a definite roadmap for a transition to a new leadership effective from the end of June. We will not compromise on this