As the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC) prepares for its national convention, claims and counter claims on zoning of key positions of the party have continued to generate issues.
This is, even as, many heavyweights and pressure groups within the party have also relentlessly proposed one system or the other, intended to scheme other groups or bloc, with some working to sabotage the convention entirely.
For the ruling party and the convention planning committee led by Yobe State Governor, Mai Mala Buni, it is one day, three dramas – one for morning, one for afternoon and another in the evening, as days draw close to the convention.
The convention has been fixed for Saturday 26th February, 2022 with six top contenders, all from the north, gunning for the number one seat of the party.
Those frontliners are former Governors, serving Senators, serving Minister and others.
For umpteenth times, rumours have gathered that the Caretaker Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC) had zoned certain positions and for umpteenth times, Governor Buni had countered it, saying, the committee had not concluded on any zone to produce any position.
A front page story of a leading national newspaper of Thursday, February 17, 2022, with the headline, ‘Finally, APC Governors Reach Consensus, Zone Chairmanship To North Central’; stated that the Progressive Governors Forum (PGF) met in Abuja on Wednesday and agreed to zone the number one seat to North Central, while zoning the Deputy National Chairman (DNC) and National Secretary Positions to the South.
Though the paper never mentioned in particular, names of those in attendance that could have taken such vital decision on behalf of the party, it only said a source close to the Governors who did not want his name mentioned.
According to the “source”, the Governors also micro-zone the chairmanship to Benue State and tipped Buhari’s Minister on Special Duties and Intergovernmental Affairs, Senator George Akume.
But a simple fact check by this newspaper on Thursday morning, suggested that the Progressive Governors did not conclude on zoning the positions.
“Yes, they (Governors) met but they could not resolve on the zoning. Although many who spoke were in support of zoning the chairmanship position to North Centre, but it was not concluded yet.
“It is after they have convinced the southern Governors and they have accepted it that we can say the PGF has zoned the position. If anyone tells you anything otherwise, let him mention the names of the Governors in that meeting and also mention whoever addressed the press. In such meetings, the Chairman of the PGF would address the press and open up on the decision of his forum. But for now, nothing like that”, a close source at the PGF hinted.
Also, a source at the CECPC who prefers to be anonymous, said, though the PGF has the right to suggest to the planning committee or proffer advice, just like any other group or organ in the party; but the Governors had not written to the Committee on anything zoning.
“I understand their Tuesday’s meeting on zoning ended in deadlock, so don’t let anyone deceive you. Come to think of it, why would they zone a position to North Central and sat there immediately and picked only one aspirant, is Akume the only aspirant from North Central? Why would they ask those from the South to go home and meet with aspirants and bring candidates for DNC and Secretary, but in the case of chairmanship, they said they have picked a particular person.
“I don’t believe such cock and bull story and I think nobody would even believe it. We have channels of communication in our party. APC is a ruling party that has everything, the Progressive Governors that I know, are very experienced and principled. They would not want to send such a sensitive message to the CECPC via a page of newspaper.
“They have the right, like any other organs of the party, to advise the planning committee, but nothing like that has happened. We are working diligently to see that the convention holds and with a credible outing too”, the source added.
Edwin Ochogwu, a House of Assembly aspirant from Benue State, on his part, told this newspaper that, “the PGF is divided into 3 to 4 camps and the news could be the latest mischief by one of the groups to deceive other members of the PGF and the general public”.
Already, the proposed national convention has been a subject of controversy for the past few weeks, with some calling for its postponement, amidst crises at state chapters and Court suits.
As at now, several persons are in court, either at the state levels and national, trying to stop the convention.