- NWC insists on right to form committees Ganduje: Party adopting guarded democracy
Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja
The All Progressives Congress (APC) has shifted the dates for its congresses and national convention scheduled to start next month due to the Ramadan fast.
The party said the national convention earlier fixed for May 14 would now hold at a later date to be determined by the National Working Committee (NWC).
Also, in the aftermath of President Muhammadu Buhariâ€™s endorsement of former Governor Adams Oshiomhole for the national chairmanship position, the partyâ€™s NWC wednesday resisted the move by governors to interfere in the composition of committees to conduct the congresses.
Addressing journalists after the meeting of the NWC and the governors of the party wednesday, the National Publicity Secretary, Bolaji Abdulahi, said the leadership has been mandated to review the timetable to cater for certain issues that have cropped up.
He said with the review, there was a possibility that the congresses and national convention may be shifted in view of the observations made by some of the governors that the timetable was too tight and made no room for errors.
The APC spokeman also said some of the governors brought the issue of the Muslim fast which will come up soon.
Abdulahi explained that the meeting was called to emphasise to the state governors the need to ensure that congresses were held in a very transparent manner.
â€œWe are aware that some governors have been making statements which we believe are giving the impression that we donâ€™t intend to hold congresses in particular states.
â€œSo the meeting was to emphasise to those governors that we want congresses in a very transparent manner and to ensure that the processes are free and fair,â€ he said.
The APC spokesman said one of the major concerns of the party at the beginning was that they should do everything possible to avoid rancour that could be generated as a result of the congresses. â€œIt was agreed that one of the major ways of avoiding that rancour is to ensure that the congresses are transparent to the majority of the people,â€ he said.
On the renewed interest by the governors to influence committeeâ€™s list, Abdulahi said the National Chairman, Chief John Odigie Oyegun, and the NWC rejected it, insisting that it is the constitutional right of the leadership to decide who would come to their states to conduct the congresses
â€œWe made it clear to them that this is a constitutional matter and the constitution of the APC imposes the power to constitute the committees on the NWC only and that by Friday this week, the list of the congress committee members will be ready.
â€œThere was also observation on the side of the governors about the timetable for the congresses and convention and the observation was that the timetable was too closely packed and that it does not leave much room for errors.
â€œThe observation was that the timetable as currently constituted was determined because of the Ramadan. We want to be sensitive to the feelings of Muslims who will be fasting during Ramadan and we wanted to, as much as possible, avoid conducting any political activity during the period of Ramadan.
â€œThere were other observations and so, there is the possibility that the timetable may be reviewed. That is not decided yet, but it was agreed that the NWC will take a second look at the timetable and see the possibility for adjustment because there are other issues,â€ he said.
When asked if the meeting discussed the endorsement of Oshiomhole by President Buhari, Abdulahi said: â€œWhat we were told at the meeting was that the president had a meeting with some governors and they asked to know who he wanted to support, and I think that he told them his preference. But that has nothing to do with the meeting we had today.â€
On whether the NWC would back Oyegun or stand with the president, he said: â€œI donâ€™t think that is a fair question to ask me because you will be asking me for my personal opinion and I am not here to give you my personal opinion.
â€œWhat I can tell you is that Oyegun will make his position known within the next couple of days whether he is going to contest the chairmanship or not.
He said the president is a party member and has the right to have his preferences, adding that he did not tell anyone to support his choice.
â€œThe consultation he had with these governors was a private conversation. He did not address a press conference to say this is the person I want.
â€œSo, if those individuals he confided in felt it was necessary for them to make the position public, I donâ€™t think it is fair for us to hold the president responsible for this. I donâ€™t think he has foreclosed anything or that he has said this is the way everyone must go.â€
While giving further details on the outcome of the meeting, Kano State Governor, Abdulahi Ganduje, said leaders agreed that the timetable be reviewed so that congresses can hold on weekends.
â€œWe discussed the issue of the timetable and time limit for the congresses and convention, and we decided that NWC should review the timetable because, in the previous timetable, the Ward and local government congresses are too close.
â€œWe equally discover that the congresses are designed to hold on working days and normally we use public premises like schools and secretariats for the conduct of the congresses. Fixing the congresses during working days means that such places cannot be available.
â€œWe also agreed that the zoning will be maintained for the party officers but the only clause is that they should go and discuss with those governors in charge of the zones where the officers should come from.
â€œFor example, the chairman of the party will have to come from the South-south, the secretary from the Northeast and all other positions like that. We have resolved all issues amicably,â€ he said.
Ganduje also responded to PDPâ€™s attack on APC that Oshiomhole was imposed as chairman of the party, saying there is no such thing.
He said that what President Buhari did was a private opinion, adding that no one is bound to toe his line.
He said what PDP is describing as imposition is nothing but a guided democracy.
â€œThere is no imposition at all. Everybody is free to contest just as everybody is free to hold an opinion on who should lead the party. I think that there is more case of imposition because it is not a guideline and jot part of the constitution.
â€œJust like every other person, Mr President has the right to air his opinion but that does jog mean he should stop any person who will like to contest from contesting. Mr. Presidentâ€™s opinion is not constitutional and it is not a non-constitutional opinion as well.
â€œHe just voiced out his thought which will serve as a guideline to some and otherwise to some. The issue of being undemocratic does not even arise. There is what we call guided democracy and we regard what Mr. President said as such. If that is what will make the party stable and avoid the fallout after the election like we saw in the PDP, it will be better for us,â€ he said.
Unlike the usual tradition of making opening remarks, the meeting which started about 2.30p.m. and presided over by the National Chairman of the party, Oyegun began without any opening remark.
Governors Rochas Okorocha (Imo), Rotimi Akeredolu (Ondo), Nasir el-Rufai (Kaduna), Abdullahi Umar Gabduje (Kano), Ibikunle Amosun (Ogun), Raul Aregbesola (Osun), Sani Bello (Niger), Godwin Obaseki (Edo), Badaru Abubakar (Jigawa), Ibrahim Gaidam (Yobe), Tanko Almakura (Nasarawa), Abiola Ajimobi (Oyo) and Abdulaziz Yari (Zamfara). The governors of Kwara and Katsina were represented by their deputies.
Governors of Lagos, Plateau, Benue, Kogi, Adamawa, Borno, Bauchi, Sokoto and Kebbi were absent at the meeting and were not represented.