*Says Further Consultations Claim Diversionary

Director-General of the Forum of Governors on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Salihu Lukman, has expressed strong reservations about the declaration by the national secretary of the APC Caretaker/ Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee, Senator John James Akpanudoedehe, that his team has not concluded consultations ahead of the scheduled Convention date.

While reacting to a media report of the postponement of the Convention scheduled for next month till June, Senator Akpanudoedehe maintained that the election would hold as scheduled.

But reacting in a statement on Thursday, the Director-General of the Progressive Governors Forum accused the APC CECPC of insincerity as he noted that the National Secretary of the Caretaker team was silent on the actual Convention date and venue.

Lukman submitted that there was no need to give consultations as an excuse for the delay in unfolding processes for the Convention and likely venue since the Governors had since given a date to the national leader of the party, President Muhammadu Buhari.

He said: “In the afternoon of Tuesday, January 12, 2022, there were media reports attributed to sources close to the APC Caretaker Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC) claiming that the APC National Convention is postponed from February to June 2022. Shortly following the news of the alleged postponement, the Secretary of the CECPC, Sen. John James Akpanudoedehe issued a statement of rebuttal, calling on the general public to ‘completely disregard fake news on the reported suspension of the planned National Convention’.

“The statement further informed the public that the CECPC ‘is already embarking on consultations with party stakeholders to prepare the ground for a rancour-free National Convention.’ Sadly, the statement, like previous ones from the CECPC didn’t announce any date and venue for the National Convention. Very disappointingly, the statement said ‘sub-committee on budgeting and other substructures will be set up in due course.’

“This is a slap on the face of Nigerians and an insult on party members. How can a statement from ‘a focus-driven, process-oriented political party’, make such a scandalous statement allegedly assuring that a Convention scheduled to hold in February without indicating a date and venue for the Convention? If subcommittees, whether for budget or anything are to be set up, to perhaps mobilise funds for the Convention, why are they not set up with just about two weeks to the end of January?

“Somehow, it is difficult not to conclude that the CECPC is intentionally promoting speculations around the APC National Convention by claiming to embark on ‘consultations with party stakeholders to prepare the ground for a rancour-free National Convention.’ Recall that on November 22, 2021, the Chairman of Progressive Governors Forum (PGF), His Excellency Abubakar Atiku Bagudu led a delegation, which include the CECPC Chairman, His Excellency, Mai Mala Buni, to President Muhammadu Buhari to finalise consultations on the date of the Convention. Immediately after the meeting with President Buhari, His Excellency Bagudu announced the agreement reached with President Buhari to the effect that the Convention will hold in February 2022.

“With such an agreement, the responsibility of the CECPC is to go ahead and start organising the Convention. With almost two months after, the CECPC has not issued any notice of the Convention to anyone. Not even the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), which by the provision of the Electoral Act as amended is required to be given at least 21 days’ notice. It is very difficult not to conclude that both the Chairman and all members of the CECPC have no respect for President Buhari, which is responsible for why they are doing everything possible to sabotage decisions validly taken to hold the APC National Convention in February after consultation with the President.”

The DG, PGF appealed to the Governors to rise to the occasion by ensuring that the APC CECPC keep to the February date as he claimed that the Governors were already being alleged of goading their colleague, the Yobe state governor, Mai Mala Buni to keep pushing for alleged extension of his tenure.

“For whatever reasons, it would appear that the leadership of CECPC are enjoying all the public speculations maligning Governors and some other senior leaders of the party as working to stop the APC National Convention from holding in February 2022. This is most unfortunate. The truth must be told, the responsibility of organising the February 2022 APC National Convention rests squarely with the CECPC.

“At this point, it will be necessary to remind all members of the CECPC and by extension, all leaders of APC that part of the reasons that made it very necessary to dissolve the Comrade Adams Oshiomhole led National Working Committee (NWC) was the disrespect for leaders and members of the party, especially by Comrade Oshiomhole, the former National Chairman of the party. It was on record that during the tenure of Comrade Oshiomhole as National Chairman, the recommendations of party leaders and members were hardly considered.

“The CECPC leadership have returned the party back to mode of open disrespect for any recommendation given. It is even worse now given that the CECPC is ready to sacrifice the future of the party. Clearly, what is steering us in the face is that all the bad leadership records under Comrade Oshiomhole led NWC is about to be met and outstripped by the present CECPC.

“This clearly raises questions about political leadership recruitment approaches in the country. Unless this is addressed, as a party, APC may continue to change leaders, but the problem will remain. APC, being a party envisioned to facilitate the process of political change in Nigeria, must appropriately use the present challenges to begin to introduce changes to the process of political leadership recruitment in Nigeria.

“However, the first challenge now is to ensure that the CECPC has no option but to organise the APC National Convention in February 2022 as decided based on all the consultations that have taken place.

“The CECPC must be told that all consultations about organising the Convention ended with the meeting with President Buhari on November 22, 2021, and therefore the CECPC leadership should stop lying to Nigerians and APC members.

“The CECPC should also stop claiming that it is waiting for the meeting of Progressive Governors before it takes all the necessary decisions to commence the process of organising the Convention. Such a claim is not only dishonest but also taking the support of Progressive Governors for granted, which is why Progressive Governors have been reduced to punching bags of all party members regarding all the challenges facing the party.”

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