- No unity list, insists party
- 42 positions for contest, 20 returned unopposed
Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja
Ahead of the national convention of the All Progressives Congress (APC) holding on Saturday, the governors on the platform of the party are billed to meet Wednesday evening in Abuja to decide on a consensus list of aspirants for its National Working Committee (NWC) positions up for grabs.
The party, however, insisted Monday that there would be no unity list, saying the playing field would be level for all the aspirants.
A member of the Publicity Sub-committee of the National Convention Organising Committee, Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, told reporters in Abuja that there would be no unity list as was being speculated, confirming, however, that the governors would meet Wednesday.
Dabiri, who spoke after a brief meeting between the governors and the sub-committee at the convention secretariat, said there was room for affirmation and consensus.
“There is no unity list but there is room for affirmation and consensus, no unity list you can say is APC list. Anywhere you see any such list, it is fake,” she said, adding that 20 positions had been returned unopposed while 42 posts are being contested.
THISDAY gathered that the screening committee headed by Imo State Governor Rochas Okorocha had completed its assignment and would submit its report Tuesday to the convention committee.
The planned meeting by governors is coming just as information emerged Monday that some other members of the outgoing NWC are facing allegations ranging from financial misappropriation to violation of party’s rules.
In addition, there were petitions challenging the propriety of allowing them to recontest for their offices without resigning their positions.
Among the members of the NWC seeking re-election are the National Secretary, Mai Mala Buni; Deputy National Chairman (North), Senator Lawan Shuaibu; National Vice-Chairmen, Hilard Etta (South-south), Emma Eneukwu (South-east); National Organising Secretary, Senator Osita Izunaso; and National Auditor, George Muoghalu.
A top party source, who confirmed Wednesday’s meeting of the APC governors, said the meeting would be hosted by the Chairman of Progressive Governors Forum (PGF), Okorocha, at the Imo State Government Lodge, Asokoro in Abuja.
It was learnt that the ruling party had reached an understanding that the governors would be given the chance to propose nominees that were zoned to their states.
However, in order to take care of the wider interests of the party and to ensure that those aspirants from non-APC states were given a fair chance, the governors had accepted to hold an enlarged meeting with the national leadership of the party to agree on what would be APC’s version of “unity list”.
According to another party source, the essence of the unity list was to minimise possible conflict at the convention.
But another source raised concerns over looming crisis in the party due to the desire of most of the governors to get even with their perceived political adversaries.
“These governors have resolved to make sure that those NWC members that have fallen apart with them did not get re-elected at the convention and they are going to use their influence on the unity list as a weapon to edge out the unwanted elements,” he said.
THISDAY gathered that the governor’s meeting became necessary following the discovery that some members of the party were working on different agenda, which might lead to either a walkout by the aggrieved members or total parallel National Convention.
Those pushing for the unity list are doing it to route for the chairmanship candidature of former governor of Edo State, Adams Oshiomhole.
Among those that had visited his campaign headquarters to express their endorsement are former Lagos State governor, Bola Tinubu; his Osun State counterpart, Bisi Akande; Governors Yahaya Bello (Kogi), Simon Lalong (Plateau), Tanko Al-Makura (Nasarawa), Ibikunle Amosun (Ogun), Rotimi Akeredolu (Ondo) and Abdullahi Ganduje (Kano), and Special Adviser to the President (Political), Hon. S.A. Samani.
Meanwhile, Okorocha who is heading the Screening Appeal Committee said 19 aspirants who were dropped by the screening committee were to appear before his committee as well as others who had petitions against them.
A party source said: “As it is now, the National Organising Secretary, Senator Izunaso, has seven petitions against him from his home state, Imo. Some of these petitions were said to have been sponsored by the agents of the Imo State Governor, Okorocha, as part of the bid to stop Izunaso from seeking re-election.”
The governor had earlier accused the National Chairman of APC, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, and Izunaso of being behind the plot to deny his favoured candidates victory during the congresses in the state.
When contacted by THISDAY on telephone Monday, Izunaso confirmed that there was a petition against him alleging misappropriation of party funds but said he was able to defend himself before the committee and to prove the accusers wrong.
“Yes, the issue was part of the petitions against me, which I was able to clear during my appearance before the Screening Appeal committee on Monday,” he said.