AHEAD of the national convention of the All Progressives Congress (APC), the Progressives Governors’ Forum, led by Governor Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi State, could not convince President Muhammadu Buhari to change his mind on his preference for Senator Abdullahi Adamu as the consensus candidate for the national chairmanship of the party.
The governors had met with President Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, shortly before he departed for Kenya, hoping to get him to change his mind on his choice of the senator representing Nasarawa West for the party’s top job.
The president was said to have refused to shift ground when the governors advanced their reasons against the serving senator representing Nasarawa West senatorial district becoming the national chairman.
Other APC governors who accompanied Bagudu were Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti), Aminu Masari (Katsina), Nasir el-Rufai (Kaduna), Abubakar Badaru (Jigawa), Yahaya Bello (Kogi), Hope Uzodimma (Imo), Gboyega Oyetola (Osun), Dapo Abiodun (Ogun), Sani Bello (Niger), Umar Ganduje (Kano) and the deputy governor of Anambra State, Nkem Okeke.
The chairman of the APC Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC) and Yobe State governor, Mai Mala Buni, was, however, absent at the meeting.
The governors affirmed that there was no plan to move the convention of the party from its scheduled date of March 26 in Abuja, despite the tight timeframe provided by the timetable of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) just released.
There had been speculation that a section of the party was pushing for the postponement of the convention so that both the election of the national executive and the primaries to select its candidates for the 2023 elections can be done simultaneously.
But fielding questions from correspondents after the meeting with President Buhari, Bagudu, assured that the party would maintain the March date for the exercise.
He said the governors met with the president to congratulate him on signing the Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill, 2022 and as well on the victory of the party in some of the by-elections conducted at the weekend.
Asked if the idea of further postponement of the convention was discussed at the meeting, Bagudu stated: “Last week, we were in this hall (Villa), about 20 APC governors, and this question came up and we clearly said we came to discuss the convention, which is slated for March 26 and are working hard to ensure that on March 26, we have our convention and elect our national officers and that remains the case.”
Bagudu dismissed speculation the APC governors were still divided over the direction of the party, especially after what seemed to be an altercation among them.
It was also learnt that South-East APC governors also complained about the zoning of the office of the national secretary to the South-West rather than their region, with Bagudu telling them that it was too late to amend the zoning formula.
Despite Bagudu’s position, the South-East governors were said to have expressed their resolve to take their agitation to claim the party scribe post to a meeting of the APC governors expected to hold later on Tuesday night.
Governors of the APC from the North-West also held a closed-door meeting on Tuesday, ahead of the convention.
The meeting, which lasted for over three hours, was held at the Kebbi Governor’s Lodge in Asokoro, Abuja.
In attendance were Governors Bagudu, el-Rufai, Ganduje, Badaru, Masari and Bello Matawalle (Zamfara).
Bagudu, however, refused to talk to newsmen at the end of the meeting. Meanwhile, a group, the APC National Stakeholders, on Tuesday, kicked against the purported endorsement of Adamu as consensus candidate.
While addressing newsmen in Abuja, spokesman of the group, Audu Aliyu, said endorsement of any aspirant would violate known democratic principles.
Aside Adamu, who they claimed was a former member of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the group further alleged that there was a plot to present former Senate president and also former chieftain of PDP, Senator Ken Nnamani, as deputy national chairman (South) of the APC.
They declared that such alleged plot was inimical to the survival of the APC as they further claimed that the APC was about to be hijacked by the PDP.
“As stakeholders, we have always been against imposition in whatever guise, considering our belief that whenever a consensus option is adopted, as long as it is not predated by wide consultation, it would no doubt violate every known democratic ethos and principles.
“The lingering and now widespread speculation as to the plan to bring a former member of the PDP in the person of Senator Adamu as the APC national chairman in the forthcoming convention, where loyal, qualified and competent foundation members of the APC are also in the race is not only an aberration but a violation of the established principle of the party which respects long term fidelity to the party and frowns on every vestige of injustice.
“While it is within his constitutional rights to vie for any position within the APC or even the country as a whole, we believe that the individuals who are purportedly behind the plot to make Adamu the next APC national chairman cannot sit down alone in their zones and decide who gets what, more so when the individual in question is of the PDP stock.
“Additionally, he does not possess the democratic credentials that should be exemplary of a national chairman in a party like the APC, considering that he was one of the strong proponents of Obasanjo’s third term agenda.
“If that agenda had succeeded, the beneficiary may be sitting as a lifetime president today, but we wonder if that development would have deepened democracy so much as to have a progressive party like the APC which some interest now want to hand over to Abdullahi Adamu,” they claimed.