BY JOSHUA OMOLOYE
Fresh developments continue to define the crisis rocking the leadership of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).
Chairman of the party’s Caretaker Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee, (CECPC) and governor of Yobe State, Mai Mala Buni, on Thursday met with his Niger State counterpart, Sani Bello, over party issues.
Both came out of the meeting smiling, giving hope that the storm is over and the APC is back on track towards next Saturday’s national convention of the party.
Certain statements were made by Buni to suggest fence-mending efforts by leaders are yielding fruits. He affirmed that all decisions taken in his absence by the Gov. Bello interim body remain valid as he claimed he properly transmitted power to Bello as the CECPC vice chairman when he was leaving for Dubai on a medical trip. After the over two hours meeting, Buni said “you know that since I travelled, the party has not stopped.
“His Excellency, Governor Bello has done very well in managing affairs of the party. We are here to discuss issues and way forward for the party. We are now at the finishing line in preparations for our national convention which is at hand on March 26th.
“We are putting heads together to achieve this task ahead. I want to emphasis that the March 26th national convention is sacrosanct.” Gov. Sani Bello on his part said “I have been acting as the chairman of CECPC and what I can tell you is that, we made lots of progress towards our convention like we saw in the inauguration of the State Chairmen. “We also, adopted some of the zoning formula, and some of the decisions of the CECPC taken before he, Buni left the country.
I can tell you for free that in the last one week, we have ensured that we are good to go for the convention.” In what looked like sacking of Buni, Sani Bello took over as acting chairman of the CECPC last week, Monday. There was back and forth development after Bello’s emergence with the different organs of the party pitching tents with either Buni’s or Bello’s camp of the CECPC.
Stalwarts of the party erred in the crisis and fueled the crisis by dropping President Muhammadu Buhari’s name as ratifying certain decisions Though the silence or inaction of President Buhari did not help at all in the matter until during this week when after he had met with Buni in London, the President firmly asked that Buni should be allowed as chairman of CECPC to lead APC to the March 26 national convention.
To close watchers of political developments in the country, the temporary solution to the crisis might just be cosmetic except pending issues were resolved.
One, whatever anyone might want to say about Buni, his leadership would still be repugnant to some of his die-hard antagonists who castigated him for setting the party on the course of destruction.
His major sin was the inability of the Caretaker Committee to conduct a national convention that will set APC on the part of progress ahead of 2023. One of his major antagonists is the former Director-General of the Progressives’ Governors’ Forum, (PGF, Dr. Salihu Lukman who was allegedly pressurized to resign his appointment because of constant reprimanding of Buni’s leadership. Lukman had always demanded the sacking of Buni.
Just last week did he asked the party to sanction APC governors found culpable of working with Buni because they are “frustrating efforts at holding APC national convention as expected. Another reason why the resolution could be referred to as fragile is the division among APC governors.
While some backed the Sani Bello acting tenure, others wanted the status quo to remain with Buni as party chairman. The division was so sharp to the extent that pro- Buni governors were tagged “yahoo yahoo” governors by Lukman and re-echoed by the Ondo State Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu.
Also, anti – Buni governors who stood solidly behind Bello visited Buhari in London to seal the Yobe governor’s faith but for the position of law taken by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) which recognized Buni leadership of CECPC.
Though President Buhari in his letter asking Buni to continue in office, aggrieved governors like Kaduna governor, Malam Nazir el-Rufai will never be on the same page with Buni and his loyalists. Continued division among the governors no doubt will be evident in the outcome of the national convention. National Assembly members are not spared in taking positions for or against Buni.
Recall that the APC Senate Caucus openly rejected Bello acting in the interim. They declared their recognition of Buni as CECPC chairman.
But, when Buhari asked that Buni be recognized, the lawmakers made u-turn. Kogi Senator, Smart Adeyemi said they made the declaration because they thought President Buhari sacked Buni. Even as it, there is little to show that all is well with APC.
At the Thursday meeting at Buni’s residence in Abuja, the Secretary to CECPC, John Akpanudoedehe was conspicuously absent. Trying to exist Akpanudoedehe’s absence at the meeting, Buni said: “You know that this is not a formal meeting of the committee, The Trumpet gathered.
“These members of the CECPC just came to welcome me back to the country and wish me well after returning from a medical trip outside the country, so, it is not a formal meeting that one will ask whether the secretary is here or not. However, he was in the house, earlier today”.
There seems to be a plan to make Akpanudoedehe the fall guy in the power play. Also recall that on Wednesday, the Buni led CECPC canceled the National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting slated for Thursday by Bello as acting chairman.
The cancellation was announced in a one paragraph statement late Wednesday night by the National Secretary APC Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC), Sen. John Akpanudoedehe titled “Purported APC NEC Meeting Canceled”.
“As directed by the National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning (CECPC) and Governor of Yobe State, H.E. Mai Mala Buni, a purported emergency meeting of the Party’s National Executive Committee (NEC) slated for Thursday, March 17, 2022 is hereby cancelled”, the statement read. With a week to the national convention and lingering crisis at the national level and some state chapters of the party, post – convention unity of APC will be an herculean task.