By Rex Enabulele/Abuja
Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State revealed on Tuesday that the 22 APC-elected governors were sharply divided over the actual date to be chosen for the national convention of the party.
El-Rufai along with his colleagues in the Progressive Governors Forum (PGF) spoke with journalists at the State House, Abuja after a 15-minute meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari, emphasizing that the APC governors were divided over the timing of the national convention as some were of the belief that there were many issues left unresolved.
The governor, who was responding to a question, said: “Yes, we were divided. We were divided over the timing of the convention, okay. There were some governors that felt that we should put off the convention until we resolve all the Congress’s issues in some states,.
“As you know, in some states, these matters are even in court. So, some governors held the view that we should wait until all these are resolved. And this is not borne out of any agenda or selfishness. It is just a realistic proposition to avoid us violating any laws or putting our party structures of elected candidates in danger.
“So yes, there were differences in opinion about timing. Some of us are saying the Constitution allows us to have convention even if three or four states have issues that are unresolved, while others are saying no, let us finish all the reconciliations and we do this convention. After all, there is no time limit for the convention as long as we do it before the time for the primaries.”
But the governor of Kaduna State stated that in a democratic setting, there is no way you can have 22 governors plus the deputy governor of Anambra state agreeing on any issue.
He, however, explained that after their meeting last night, to deliberate on the proposal by the national caretaker committee, and their briefing with President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday, they are all on the same page.
The Kaduna Governor also disclosed that the APC has agreed on a zoning formula that will swap offices held between north and south.
By the arrangement, all offices that were occupied by northerners in the last eight years, will go to the south and vice versa in the coming dispensation.
El-Rufai affirmed further that agreement had been reached on zoning formula saying “we have agreed a zoning formula for all the six geo-political zones. Essentially, northern zone will have the positions the south have had in the last eight years. And vice versa.
“It is a very simple, equitable and fair formula.
“We will now go back and consult at the zonal level and look at the positions that are available and the process of the convention preparation we started in earnest.
“So, by the grace of God, on the 26th of March, we would have done our national convention.”
Also speaking, Chairman of the Progressives Governors Forum and governor of Kebbi state, Atiku Bagudu, revealed that President Buhari is in favour of consensus to select candidates for party offices.
“On Consensus, Mr. President reminded us that we have produced a number of national chairmen by consensus; Baba Akande emerged as the pioneer chairman of the party by consensus; His Excellency John Oyegun emerged by consensus; His Excellency Adams Oshiomhole emerged by consensus.
“So, he is a believer in consensus as one of the options of producing leadership, and he urged us to explore consensus, so that we can generate list.
“While recognizing in that many people who have indicated interest are equally competent, but knowing that just one person will occupy the office, consensus is part of our Constitution and urged us to work towards consensus”, he stated.
Bagudu explained that even though the planned zonal congresses of the APC is not provided for in its constitution, the law is also not against the process.
His words: “On proposed zonal congresses not in the constitution, I think there has been so much debate. Yesterday (Monday), there was a statement to the effect that even the letter that has gone out was withdrawn.
“So, zonal congresses are not explicitly stated in the constitution, particularly how you do zonal congresses. And we have in the past done them with national convention.
“But, nothing again in the Constitution stops them from being done outside the national convention. But the final form will be decided, given the input we have provided.”
On his part, Chairman of Northern Governors Forum and Plateau state governor, Simon Lalong, stated categorically that the ruling party will not collapse at the end of President Buhari’s era.
According to him: “I think that from the progress report, read by our chairman, and from several assumptions, and also several reports, that we’re seeing what tremendous efforts the federal government is doing.
“And again, we’re already going around commissioning projects here and there in all the various states.”
Nineteen of the 22 APC governors were in attendance at the meeting held at the Council Chambers, which also had in attendance Vice President Yemi Osinbajo; Secretary to Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha and Chief of Staff to the President, Prof Ibrahim Gambari.
They governors include those of Yobe, Ekiti, Ebonyi, Jigawa, Cross River, Kaduna, Lagos, Borno, Niger and Gombe.
Others are governors of Osun, Kebbi, Anambra dep, Nasarawa, Kwara, Kano, Imo, Kogi, Ogun, and Plateau states.