From Romanus Ugwu, Abuja
The All Progressives Congress (APC) Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee has revealed that it has concluded plans to invoke the Convention Order given to it to extend its tenure in office when it expires in the month of June this year.
A committee source revealed to Daily Sun, that as the custodian of the power of the National Executive Committee (NEC) and power of Convention, the Caretaker Committee can meet at any time and extend its tenure after consultation with President Muhammadu Buhari and other major stakeholders.
The source disclosed that after the dissolution of the organs that constitute the party’s NEC, the Caretaker Committee would have legal powers to decide its future and the mode of convention to elect the national leadership of the party. The source however contended that with the rigours of sorting out the data involving 30 million registered members, the duration for the display of register for verifications, the conduct of ward and state congresses before the national convention, it will be practically impossible not to extend the tenure of the Caretaker Committee beyond the stipulated six month duration.
While revealing that the committee will meet to extend its tenure once the membership registration exercise is concluded, the source assured party members that it will lay a solid foundation to recapture all the states the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) took from the ruling party in the 2019 elections.
The source also revealed that ahead of the 2023 general elections, the APC will weaken the PDP by ensuring that three of its governors joining the ruling party, stating that it would be extremely difficult for the opposition to put up a fight left with only five governors.
“The dissolution of NEC means that it has surrendered all its powers; consequently, the Committee does not need to go back to it to derive powers again. That conferment also means that the Caretaker Committee has assumed the position of NEC and Convention because the NEC we used to know previously cannot be convened again.
“The Committee has the blessings of the President and other major stakeholders. We don’t have plans of extending our tenure, but when it becomes absolutely necessary, especially when you take into consideration what is involved in the sorting out the data involving 30 million registered members of the party, it looks most likely. We have recently inaugurated Registration Appeal Committee to review the complaints; we have to display the register for verifications, which may likely take some weeks, then ward and state congresses will start before the national convention will hold. I tell you that it can only take a miracle for all these to be concluded before the expiration of the tenure of the Caretaker Committee in June,” the source said.
Plans to deplete PDP
On the plans of the ruling party to wreck the opposition party to the point of ineffectiveness, our source said: “We are recapturing all the states we lost previously; we will, in no time, take three PDP governors. The three will include the ones that nobody expected to join the APC. No one can teach us what to do to weaken the PDP and I can tell you that before the 2023 elections, PDP will be left with only five governors so that we won’t be talking about opposition.”
Three PDP governors, Ben Ayade of Cross Rivers, Bello Matawalle of Zamfara and Bala Mohammed of Bauchi State have been rumoured to have plans to defect to the APC before the 2023 elections.
Ayade has been at loggerheads with the leadership of the party and the Rivers State governor, Nyesom Wike over their alleged support for Arigbe Jarigbe as the authentic candidate of the PDP representing Cross River North against his preferred candidate, Senator Stephen Odey. Reliable sources revealed to Daily Sun that Ayade, who hails from Cross River North has plans to return to the Senate in 2023 and having an ally to occupy the seat, would make it easy for his plans to come to fruition.
However, the Supreme Court had on February 25, declared Jarigbe as the authentic candidate of the PDP against Odey, who had been declared winner of the senatorial rerun by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
For Matawalle, sources said his planned defection is not due to any dispute within the PDP but his focus is on securing a guaranteed ticket for a second term in office by 2023. Speculations on his defection increased after his recent meeting with three APC governors, led by the Chairman of the APC National Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee and Governor of Yobe State, Mr. Mai Mala Buni.
In the case of Mohammed, it was the Borno State Governor, Prof. Babagana Zulum, who predicted that his Bauchi State counterpart would soon join the APC. Zulum stated this at the fourth North-East Governors’ Forum (NEGF) meeting currently holding in Bauchi State. He said it was just a matter of time before Mohammed dumps the opposition party and pitch his tent with the APC.
PDP intensifies reconciliation efforts
Last year, the PDP Reconciliation and Strategy Committee led by former Senate President, Bukola Saraki, began the task of going touring the different states of the country and meeting with party stakeholders in its efforts to address issues bedeviling the party and reconciling warring factions. With the planned defection of some of its governors, it has intensified efforts to reconcile aggrieved governors and other members.
The Committee has already waded into the rift between Ayade and Wike and a party source, who disclosed the developments so far, said, “The chairman of the committee and other members have made crucial interventions to douse tension in various circles in the party. The Saraki committee has waded into the face-off between Rivers State Governor Nyson Wike and his Cross River State counterpart, Senator Ben Ayade and there has been significant progress.”
Recently, the Committee met with governors elected on the party’s platform in Abuja. The meeting which was held at the Sokoto State Governors’ Lodge in Asokoro Abuja was attended by the host, Aminu Tambuwual, and his Edo State counterpart, Godwin Obaseki. Other governors at the meeting were Bello Matawalle (Zamfara), Seyi Makinde (Oyo), Bala Mohammed (Bauchi), Samuel Ortom (Benue), Ifeanyi Okowa (Delta), and Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi (Enugu).