Izunaso: No Plan to Stop APC Convention, Congresses

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• Party will emerge a stronger fighting force, says spokesman

By Tobi Soniyi in Lagos and Hammed Shittu in Ilorin

The National Organi-sing Secretary of the All Progressives Congress,  Senator Osita Izunaso, has dismissed claims that some  National Working Committee (NWC) members were allegedly working to thwart the move to hold the party’s congresses and national convention.

Some members of the party’s  NWC  were alleged to be working to thwart the move to hold the party’s congresses and national convention respectively.

Some members of the party’s National Executive Committee (NEC) have expressed concern that some executives members who feared they would be voted out of office are making clandestine moves to stop the convention.

A member of APC’s NEC who spoke with THISDAY  in confidence said: “These people are daring. But we are also prepared for them. It is a battle we are prepared for. We must rescue our party from the hands of these undemocratic forces.”

 APC’s NEC  had in March foreclosed any tenure extension for the members of NWC and opted for elective convention and congresses.

In response to the outcome of the party’s NEC meeting, three members of the NWC were said to have drafted a time-table for the convention and sent same to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), without carrying other members of the NWC along.

But when the purported letter was leaked during the week, it turned out that what some of the NWC members were planning was to only “fill vacant positions” and not to hold “full congress and convention” as contemplated by NEC, a member of NEC told our THISDAY yesterday.

“Because their antics have been exposed, the National Publicity Secretary in response to enquiries from journalists, said elections would hold. But the letter to INEC, signed by our National Secretary, Mala Mai Buni, said the congresses and convention were meant to fill ‘existing vacancies.’

“This is contrary to the decision reached at NEC on March 27. It not only offends the provision of our party’s constitution, it amounts to insubordination on the part of the national chairman and the national secretary who authored the letter.

“By yesterday, they are still in a dilemma whether to write another letter to INEC or not. Now the confusion is that if they write another letter to INEC, they will require another three weeks notice. If this happens, it means ward congress will not hold on May 2, as earlier proposed. 

“Others are however of the view that they can write INEC to correct the content of the first letter to the effect that there will be full congress. Whoever is trying to thwart the decision of NEC to hold congress must be exposed and shown the way out.

 “I want to appeal to President Muhammadu Buhari to note that even though these things are happening while he is out of the country, he must take particular interest in the scenarios playing out and must be prepared to ensure that NEC’s decision is followed to the letter. Whatever happens to the contrary will rub off on his integrity and credibility and may impact negatively on the party at the polls,” the source, who is a member of the party’s  NEC said.

But when contacted, Izunaso dismissed the claim, saying  the NWC is not planning to write any other letter to INEC. 

He said: “Our National Publicity Secretary has addressed the concerns from that letter. If you read that letter well, you will see that the caption captured the message that activities for the congresses and convention will kick-start on May 2.

“We are going ahead with our congresses and convention, and there is no plan to thwart it. There is no iota of truth in the claim that we want to thwart the congresses and convention.”

Meanwhile, the National Publicity Secretary of the APC, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi, yesterday said  APC  would emerge stronger as a party and a fighting force ahead of 2019 after its forthcoming congresses and national convention.

He dismissed insinuations in some quarters that the party’s forthcoming convention might tear it apart, saying he does not see the two competitive processes generating any ‘rancour’.

The APC had scheduled May 2 to 9 for its ward, local government and state congresses after President Buhari directive to its NEC to reconsider its earlier decision on ‘‘tenure elongation’’ for national officers of the party.

Abdullahi who spoke with journalists in Ilorin, also declared that the situation that led to the continued stay of officers of the party in office was not ‘‘tenure elongation’’ as described by some people.

Rather, he said their continued stay in office was the ‘‘wisdom’’ of National Working Committee (NWC) members of the party to avert acrimony that might arise from such elective process which he said could weaken the party ahead of 2019.

He, however, promised that in spite of the president’s advised that the party should reconsider NEC’S position, it would come out stronger after the congresses and convention.

 ‘‘As you know is a long road that we have walked before we arrived at this processes of congresses and convention. The idea of many members of the national executive committee of the party was that they should not go into such competitive processes at this time few months to elections, naturally congresses and conventions tends to generate acrimony is even more difficult at the ward level than at the state and national level, it tends to generate all kind of acrimony.

 “Now the fear was that and already we have issues in a couple of sate if you now throw congresses into the new, you have the potentially destructive situation that may weaken the party ahead of 2019.

‘‘So the wisdom of majority of  NEC members is that we should not have congress at the national convention rather current  officers of the party  should be allowed to complete their tenure,  this what some people called tenure elongation, it wasn’t tenure elongation by any means.’’

On whether Kwara would still retain its position of the national publicity secretary, Abdullahi responded: ‘‘The NEC’s decision was that the zoning arrangements should be sustained as much as possible. So if NEC directed that the zoning arrangement should be maintained, it means that the position of the national publicity secretary will remain in North-central and specifically in Kwara State.

‘‘So I don’t envisage any situation that is going to generate any rancour in the party as far as election into the national offices  is concerned. I think the position that will be most contested is the national chairmanship of the party, which is of course is zoned to the South-south zone of the party.

“I don’t know who else is going to contesting, I know Chief John Odigie-Oyegun will re-contest for the second time, as the chairman of the APC ,the whole arrangement will go smoothly and we believe the post congresses election, convention, APC will remain as a stronger party  and  as a strong fighting force to face  election.’’