By Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja
The plan by the All Progressives Congress (APC) to hold its national convention latest April by year may be scuttled by the conflicting interests of political gladiators in the party.
Bowing to growing pressure from stakeholders, the National Working Committee (NWC) last week fixed the National Convention for April 2017.
Under the constitution of the party, National Convention is to be held at least once in every two years but none has been held since the inauguration of the APC-led administration more than a year and half ago.
A statement by the National Publicity Secretary of the APC, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi, last Wednesday said the processes leading to the National Convention would commence with the congress to fill vacancies in the states across the country.
However, THISDAY has gathered at the weekend that intrigues from various powerful groups within the ruling party had set in and were threatening to further delay the convention.
There is already a disagreement building up between those who are pushing to use the convention as an opportunity to bring about changes in the national leadership of the party and others not positively disposed to the idea.
Since the idea of restructuring the leadership of the party was first canvassed by the APC national leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, and backed by powerful stakeholders like former Vice President Atiku Abubakar and Imo state Governor, Chief Rochas Okorocha, the matter has continued to generate bad blood within the party.
Apart from some of the positions in the NWC which are vacant due to appointments made by the president, there are others whose seats in the NWC are under threat.
It was learnt that members of the NWC whose positions are being threatened have developed cold feet and are trying to frustrate the convention or at least delay it further.
Yet another sign of brewing conflict of interest could be noticed from the manner the meeting of the NWC dragged on for two days without agreeing on a definite date for the proposed national convention.
According to a reliable source at the meeting, lack of consensus by the NWC forced the meeting to defer definite action on most of the issues pending further consultations with stakeholders of the party.
Also the move to replace the Board of Trustees with Elders Forum which will require the amendment to the party’s constitution was not conclusively addressed during the NWC meeting, warranting further wide-spread consultations, a top member of the party said.
Another source of friction is the speculated plot to replace the National Chairman, Chief Odigie Oyegun, with the former governor of Edo State, Mr. Adams Oshiomhole.
Although Oyegun appeared to have warmed himself into the good books of the political hawks around the Presidency after APC posted a mind-boggling victory in the Ondo State governorship election, there are indications that Oshiomhole’s interest in the job is growing by the day.
Last week, during the visit of the new Senate Leader, Senator Ahmed Lawan, to the APC National Secretariat, journalists spotted an aide to the former Edo governor, Mr. Kazzim Afegbua, in the meeting hall, apparently spying for his boss.
Oshiomhole’s entry into the leadership struggle of APC is beginning to rub off on the unity of the zonal chapter of the party.
It was learnt that the zone is becoming divided over the issue of replacing Oyegun with Oshiomhole. It was gathered that due to the growing suspicion among stakeholders from the South-south zone, a scheduled meeting of the zone where critical issues that affect it were to be tabled had to be shelved.
When contacted on the fate of the meeting, the Zonal Vice Chairman, Chief Hillard Ettah, feigned ignorance of any plan to hold a meeting in the house of one of the ministers from the zone in Abuja.
Ettah who spoke on telephone with THISDAY at the weekend said there was no such meeting fixed for last Friday as was reported in the media.
Imo State Governor Okorocha had expressed the position of APC governors on the need to rejig the NWC, adding that while new persons would be brought in to fill vacant positions, some others would be chosen to replace some NWC members.
Although the governor did not say those who are likely to be dropped, one of the persons whose name has been frequent on the replacement list is Oyegun.
But a BoT member who did not want his name mentioned said that it is not only Oyegun that would go, as some state governors are willing to withdraw members of the APC NWC who are from their states.
The source said: “Until the NWC makes peace with some party leaders, they cannot hold NEC or any convention.
“I am sure that you are also aware of the crisis in the party last year. The crisis of Kogi, Bayelsa, Edo, Ondo states governorship primaries and that of the National Assembly leadership. All these have pitted chieftains of the party against each other and some of them are looking for opportunity to take their pounds of flesh.
“So, the NWC is making sure that it reconciles with everybody in other to avoid vote of no confidence passed on it.”