•Faleke seeks postponement
By Udora Orizu and Adedayo Akinwale
The All Progressives Congress (APC) has assured Nigerians that it will observe COVID-19 protocol during the revalidation and registration of its members.
The assurance came in a reaction to a call on the party by a member of the House of Representatives, Hon. James Faleke, to defer the national membership registration due to the pandemic.
Faleke, in a letter to the Chairman of the National Caretaker Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Yobe State Governor, Mai Bala Bunu, cautioned against going ahead with the registration and revalidation of party members.
But the Secretary of the Caretaker/Extra-Ordinary Convention Planning Committee of the party, Senator John Akpanudoedehe, said the party would strive to observe all the protocols as stated by the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19.
He stated: “On behalf of the Chairman, Mai Mala Buni, the Executive Governor of Yobe State, we thank Hon. James Faleke for his concerns. We appreciate all the issues raised in his open letter, but as a committee, we are guided by the directive of NEC on the conduct of the registration exercise and we wish to state that the exercise will continue as scheduled.
“In doing this, we shall ensure full compliance of the PTF protocols on COVID-19 in the cause of this exercise. Our registration officers will be adequately trained to observe the protocols by the PTF.”
He added that the exercise is unit-based, adding that there will be no need for a crowd.
Akpanudoedehe said the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) conducted elections and the protocol was adhered to, adding that the registration is not a day exercise.
He said: “It is a continuous one and we assure our members of their safety and protection. We are committed to carrying out this exercise as scheduled in view of the life time of the caretaker committee.”
Faleke, who is representing Ikeja Federal Constituency of Lagos State in the House of Representatives, in his open letter on Monday, had urged the party to postpone its scheduled fresh registration and revalidation of members.
He expressed concern about the prevailing pandemic in Nigeria.
Faleke stated that the Chairman of the PTF on COVID-19, Mr. Boss Mustapha, had recently warned that the second wave of the pandemic would be more dangerous and more deadly, adding that events since the beginning of the year have proven him right.
He noted that being a survivor of COVID-19, he is wary of the implication of the registration, saying that while the decision to revalidate and conduct new registration of members os a laudable one, it will be wrong to carry it out at this time.
According to him, postponing the exercise is even more expedient, especially given the renewed surge in the spread of the pandemic as it is being reported daily while some states are already overstretched in oxygen supplies and care.
“Our government has for some time given directives to the religious bodies to reduce congregational attendance at both churches and mosques. So many states have cancelled social gatherings, while others are compelling the use of face masks to reduce the rate of infection and fatalities. So why must we go into an exercise that will certainly draw large crowds across the various states?
“The stage is set for the exercise and I must confess that I’m personally impressed with the preparations and logistics put in place for the exercise. I have no doubt in my mind that it will be a resounding success for us and will be a springboard for achieving one strong, united party,” he added.