• Governors’ protest changed indefinite postponement plan
The ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) convention has been shifted to March 26.
The initial signal was an indefinite postponement before the Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC) announced a date.
It said the change of date is to enable the party to organise zonal congresses across the six geo-political zones on March 12.
It was learnt that the governors protested the indefinite postponement by sending a strong signal to the Mai Mala Buni-led caretaker committee.
This, it was learnt, led to the decision on the one-month postponement.
The Progressives Governors’ Forum (PGF) was locked in a meeting last night on the convention and to prepare for today’s meeting of the governors and caretaker committee with President Muhammadu Buhari.
Sources said the governors are unhappy that the caretaker committee took a unilateral decision to postpone the congress.
Other decisions that would be taken today at the meeting with the President include zoning and micro-zoning of party offices, sales and return of forms, screening of aspirants and the zonal congresses.
The caretaker committee informed the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) of the zonal congress date in a letter yesterday.
The Nation gathered that the sale of nomination forms for the zonal congresses will take place between March 2 and 5 at the zonal headquarters.
The caretaker committee also released some guidelines on the zonal congresses, particularly the purchase of nomination forms by aspirants contesting in any of the zonal congresses.
For the zonal chairman form (National Vice Chairman), aspirants are to pay N5 million.
For zonal secretary, zonal legal adviser, zonal organising secretary, zonal publicity secretary and zonal youth leader, aspirants are to pick their forms for N500,000 each.
Aspirants for zonal woman leader are to pay N250,000 for their nomination forms.
To encourage female and physically-challenged aspirants, the committee pegged their fees for any of the positions at 50 per cent of the prescribed fees.
The decision on the change of convention date was reached at the 20th regular meeting of the caretaker committee in Abuja.
Addressing reporters after the meeting, CECPC Secretary John James Akpanudoedehe said: “We have agreed and approved that activities for the party’s national convention will commence from February 24 and terminate on March 26 at Eagle Square with the National Convention.
“Inbetween the convention, we have agreed to have zonal congresses, and all the activities are hereby given as approved by the CECPC.”
A source said: “The caretaker committee ran into a problem when the criticism greeted the leaked letter to INEC informing the electoral body of the zonal congress in place of the national convention.
“Acting on security and intelligence reports on party members’ reactions to zonal congresses, the meeting had to repackage the schedule of activities to accommodate the convention.
“The Secretary was directed to send a new letter reflecting the new dates arrived at today’s caretaker committee meeting to INEC by tomorrow (today) unfailingly.”
APC governors, who expressed shock at the sudden postponement, alleged that they were not consulted by the caretaker committee.
They protested to President Buhari and party leaders.
Apart from writing a secret letter to INEC, some members of the caretaker committee were not informed about the postponement because no formal meeting was held.
But the leakage of the CECPC letter to INEC caused an uproar at the party last night.
Upset by the action of the CECPC, a governor said: “The CECPC has unilaterally postponed the convention and it is unfortunate. We were not consulted. They just decided on their own to postpone the convention.”
Another governor described the decision of the CECPC as an ambush.
He said: “We are not sure whether or not they have the backing of President Buhari but it was the most insulting decision I have ever experienced.
“The CECPC did not wait for all the PGF governors to meet before writing INEC. The Caretaker Committee has made it a fait accompli.”
The governor said: “The pressure from governors forced them to fix the convention for March 26.
“But we are suspicious of the CECPC members.”
APC chieftain Ayo Oyalowo faulted the committee for waiting till yesterday before announcing the postponement.
He said the shift was a ploy by the committee to elongate its stay with a sinister motive of imposing its selfish interest on the party in 2023.
He said: “I already said it last year that the February 26, 2022 convention date was a farce.”
But speaking on Channels Television last night, Chief Femi Fani-Kayode defended the caretaker committee’s decision to shift the convention.