The All Progressives Congress (APC), has zoned the 2023 presidential ticket of the party to the South.
Briefing State House correspondents shortly after its meeting at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, Kaduna State Governor, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai, said contrary to reports in the media of division among APC governors, agreement had been reached on zoning formula.
He said: “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 levels and look at the positions that are available and the process of the convention preparation will be started in earnest. So, by the grace of God, on the 26th of March, we would have done our national convention.”
The Kaduna governor also affirmed that APC governors were divided over timing of the national convention as some were of the belief that there were many issues left unresolved.
The governor, who spoke in response 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 issues about congresses 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 or 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.
“So, that was the difference. This is what the media has called divided governors. In a democratic setting, there is no way you can have 22 governors plus the deputy governor of Anambra State agreeing on any issue. We can have differences.“But after our meeting of last night, to deliberate on the proposal by the national caretaker committee, and our briefing with Mr. President today, we are all on the same page. We are committed to ensuring that the Peoples Destruction Party doesn’t come back to power.”
Speaking earlier, chairman of the Progressives Governors Forum and Governor of Kebbi State, Atiku Bagudu, said that President Buhari is in favour of consensus to select candidates for party offices.
He said: “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; John Odigie-Oyegun emerged by consensus; Comrade 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 option, so that we can generate the best.
“While recognizing that many people who have indicated interest are equally competent but knowing that just one person will occupy the office, and consensus is part of our Constitution he urged us to work towards consensus.
“And the governors, I have said earlier, have also been working to ensure that as part of equitable arrangement, zoning and consensus are incorporated. We have done that at the lower levels, and even at the national level it’s almost certain that we will achieve it.
“On the date of the convention, the caretaker committee briefed us yesterday of their meeting and the proposed March 26, 2022. Today, the governors informed Mr. President that we have had the briefing from the caretaker committee and we are supportive of their position.”
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.
He said: “On proposed zonal congresses not being 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.”
Asked to confirm the report that the APC governors were divided, Bagudu said: “Are governors divided? Not at all. The 22 governors of the APC are united. We are in total support of Mr. President, we are appreciative of his leadership, we commend him for his leadership, we are appreciative of the sacrifice of the national caretaker and extraordinary convention planning committee. And we thanked them for the successes recorded under them. Our party, like I said, is greater and stronger, with more members by the day.
While also responding to a question, chairman of Northern Governors Forum and Plateau State Governor, Simon Lalong, dismissed fears that the ruling party will collapse at the end of President Buhari’s tenure.
“From the progress report read by our chairman, and several reports, we are seeing the tremendous efforts the Federal Government is making. And again, we’re already going around commissioning projects here and there in the various states.
“Although, you are not specific as to which reason will make us not to come back again, there is no doubt, based on what the Federal Government is doing, there is every hope that this party, this government will move beyond our president. I think that is his efforts, and that’s what he has been saying that by grace of God, this government will move beyond his tenure.”
Eighteen of the governors that were in attendance at the meeting are those of Yobe, Ekiti, Ebonyi, Jigawa, Cross River, Kaduna, Lagos, Borno, Niger, Gombe, Osun, Kebbi, Nasarawa, Kwara, Kano, Imo, Kogi, Ogun, and Plateau states.
The outgoing deputy governor of Anambra State was also in attendance.
The governors of Ondo, Katsina and Zamfara states were not present at the briefing.
The meeting was also attended by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo; Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha and Chief of Staff to the President, Professor Ibrahim Gambari.
Meanwhile, the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, has taken a swipe at the ruling APC, over the postponement of its national elective convention.
Originally billed to hold February 26, the ruling party, Monday fixed March 26 as the new date for its convention; a development the PDP attributed to confusion in the fold of the APC.
In a statement by its spokesman, Debo Ologunagba, the PDP described APC as a gathering of strange bed-fellows with little or nothing to avail the nation in terms of good governance.
“The continuing inability by the APC, a party in government, to conduct a routine national convention has further explained why all sectors of our national life have been in shambolic state under the incompetent, corrupt, rudderless and overtly confused APC administration.
“APC’s postponement of its national convention, yet again validates PDP’s stance that the APC is not a political party but “a Special Purpose Vehicle, SPV,” of strange bed fellows, “political buccaneers” and ferocious power-mongers on a mission to wreck our nation.
“As a vacuous political contraption without a soul, peopled by “political warlords” without conscience, and operating without rules, the APC is a bunch of inchoate sailors clobbered together for remote personal gain; operating without a Board of Trustees, BoT, and a National Working Committee, NWC; existing in violation of rules while constituting itself to a threat to our national unity and corporate existence as a nation.
“APC’s postponement of its national convention had always been a fallout of the horrible infighting, backbiting and gang war by ‘political bandits’ who are desperate for power and access to our national treasury. That explains why their congresses and other activities are always marred by violence, bloodletting and killings.
“Moreover, the APC is not capable of holding a national convention having become defunct since December 8, 2020 when it dissolved all its states, zonal and national party structures and set up an illegal contrivance called the Caretaker Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee led by Governor Mai Mala Buni of Yobe State.”