President Muhammadu Buhari
Party zones secretary to S-West
No plan to shift convention date — APC govs
Buni absent at meeting
By Johnbosco Agbakwuru
ABUJA—GOVERNORS of the All Progressives Congress, APC, were, yesterday, unable to convince President Muhammadu Buhari in their attempt to make him change his mind on his preference for Senator Abdulahi Adamu as the consensus candidate for the party’s national chairman.
The APC governors on the platform of Progressive Governors Forum, PGF, met with the president at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, shortly before he departed for Kenya.
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This came as the South-East geopolitical zone has lost out in its bid to produce the national secretary of the party in the forthcoming national convention.
It was learned that the office of the national secretary was zoned to South-West rather than their region.
The South-East APC leaders, it was further learned, have resolved to take their agitation for the party scribe post to a meeting of the APC that was expected to hold later, yesterday night.
Sources at the meeting blamed the representatives of the South East at the meeting for not being forceful enough in their demand.
Though, Governor Dave Umahi of Ebonyi State, who has indicated interest to contest for presidency in 2023, was absent, Governor Hope Uzodimma of Imo State and the outgoing deputy governor of Anambra State, Nkem Okeke, were present.
A Presidency source said the APC governors had hoped to get President Buhari to change his mind on the former Nasarawa State governor and serving senator, who has since emerged as his favourite for the party top job.
The source said the governors’ efforts hit brick walls as the president was said to have bluntly refused to shift ground when the governors presented their reasons against Adamu, who currently represents Nasarawa West senatorial district.
The governors were led to the meeting with the President by the chairman of the PGF and governor of Kebbi State, Atiku Bagudu.
Aside Bagudu, other APC governors at the meeting were Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti), Aminu Masari (Katsina), Nasir el-Rufai (Kaduna), Abubakar Badaru (Jigawa), Yahaya Bello (Kogi), Uzodimma (Imo), Gboyega Oyetola (Osun), Dapo Abiodun (Ogun), Sani Bello (Niger), Umar Ganduje (Kano), and the outgoing deputy governor of Anambra State, Nkem Okeke.
Even after the meeting with the president, some of the governors, who were rattled by the president’s insistence on Adamu were seen speaking in hush tones and planning on their next step.
It was gathered that the chairman of the APC Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee, CECPC, and Yobe State governor, Mai Mala Buni, was also absent at the meeting.
No plan to shift convention date — APC govs
The governors affirmed that there was no plan to move the national convention of the party from the scheduled date of March 26, 2022, in Abuja despite the tight time frame provided by the time table of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, just released for next year’s general elections.
There had been speculation that a section of the party was pushing for the postponement of the national convention so that both the election of the national executives and the primaries to select its candidates for the 2023 elections could be done simultaneously.
Fielding questions from State House correspondents after the meeting with the president, the PGF chairman, Bagudu, assured that the March 26 date for the exercise was sacrosanct.
He said the governors met with the president to congratulate him for signing the Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill, 2022 and as well on the victory of the APC in some of the by-elections conducted, weekend.
Asked if the idea of further postponement of the convention was discussed at the meeting, Bagudu said: “Last week, we were in this hall (Villa), about 20 APC governors, and this question came up and we clearly said we came to discuss the national convention, which is slated for March 26 and are working hard to ensure that on March 26, we have our convention and elect our national officers and that remains the case.”
He dismissed speculation the APC governors were still divided over the direction of the party, especially after what seemed to be an altercation among them as they emerged from the meeting with the President.
On the necessity for the yesterday meeting, Bagudu explained: “Today (Tuesday), March 1, a number of APC governors came to Mr. President to, among others, congratulate him on signing the Electoral Act.
“This is something many Nigerians have expressed different views about, but Mr. President had once again taken the courageous step of, even while having observations, signed and requested the National Assembly to look at it. So, we congratulate the National Assembly for passage of the amendments and equally congratulate Mr. President for signing the amendment.
“Second, our party, the APC, participated in a number of by-elections over the last weekend and equally we congratulated Mr. President and in addition, we spoke about other issues that concern our party.”
Bagudu dismissed insinuation that governors were still not comfortable with certain provisions of the Act, saying: “I’ve always had cause to address this, legislation everywhere in the world is based on continuous improvement. Constitutions that are 200 years old are subject to reviews sometimes and those reviews are not cut and dry. Even people who truly believe in the need for a legislation may have worries about the implications of it.”
It was also learned that Southeast APC governors also complained about the zoning of the office of the national secretary to South West rather than their region, with Bagudu telling them that it was too late to amend the zoning formula.
Despite the position of the chairman of the Progressives Governors Forum, the South East governors were said to have expressed their resolve to take their agitation for the party scribe post to a meeting of the APC governors that was expected to hold later yesterday night.