After several months of horse trading the All Progressives Congress (APC) is set to conduct the much-anticipated presidential convention where its standard-bearer will emerge ahead of the next general election.
The national chairman of the party, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, on Sunday inaugurated 19 committees to handle the process, barely 24 hours to the scheduled date.
Against the stand of the northern APC governors to cede power to the South, certain aspirants in the race from the North have refused to defer to the resolution asking them to withdraw from the race.
Six of the northern governors in a communique issued at the end of their weekend meeting in Abuja “strongly recommend to President Muhammadu Buhari that the search for a successor as the APC presidential candidate be limited to our compatriots from the southern states’..
They further maintained that, “It is a question of honour for the APC; an obligation that is not in any way affected by the decisions taken by another political party.”
Feelers from the camp of the aspirants, however, revealed that they might have decided to snub the northern governors.
At the weekend, only Jigawa State governor, Abubakar Badaru, formally withdrew from the race.
Head of Communications, Yahaya Bello Campaign Organisation, Dr Yemi Kolapo, said the Kogi State governor would not drop his ambition as he dismissed the resolutions of the northern governors as mere recommendation that is not binding on her principal.
She said: “Are they presidential aspirants? They only gave mere recommendations . Has the party agreed to their suggestion? Even the national chairman of the party said no decision was taken at the dinner with Mr President on Saturday.
“We started this campaign before any of the aspirants. At this stage, on the eve of the election, you can’t be telling us to withdraw.”
President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, who incidentally is from North-East, has also snubbed the resolutions of the northern governors.
Iyke Ekeoma, spokesman of the Ahmed Lawan campaign organisation, said the position taken by President Buhari mandating presidential aspirants to present a consensus candidate superseded the resolutions of the APC northern governors.
He said: “The president’s position supersedes the resolutions of the APC northern governors. It is merely advisory, not binding on the aspirants. Even the party’s national chairman hasn’t said anything on zoning.
“The president has tasked aspirants to bring a consensus candidate. That’s the level we are; we are still in the race.”
The meeting to produce a consensus candidate among presidential aspirants from the South-West, held at the Abuja residence of former Ogun State governor, Chief Segun Osoba, also ended in a deadlock.
A source at the meeting told Pt that none of the aspirants was willing to step down.
“All of them asked Chief Osoba and Baba Bisi Akande to give them time to consult with their supporters. Some even said they want to consult their immediate family. Only Pastor Tunde Bakare was absent,” he said.
Ahead of the convention, investigation revealed that party chieftains and aspirants are involved in several meetings to arrive at the consensus option suggested by President Buhari.
On Sunday, however, Senator Adamu inaugurated the 19 committees of the presidential convention.
According to an earlier statement by APC national publicity secretary, Felix Morka, Kebbi State governor, Abubakar Atiku Bagudu, will chair the election management sub-committee.
There was drama at the inauguration as the APC national chairman announced Imo State governor, Hope Uzodinma, who was initially paired with Governor Bagudu in the election management committee, as chairman of the central steering committee.
Borno State governor, Professor Babagana Zulum, however, objected as he noted that his Imo State counterpart was assuming the status of a sole administrator.
Adamu later announced the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Mohammed Bello, as deputy chairman to Governor Uzodimma.
Lagos State governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, is to lead the finance and logistics subcommittee, while the Ogun State governor, Dapo Abiodun, will superintend over accreditation and decoration.
The APC national chairman, in his remarks, appealed to the leadership of the various committees to be diligent in order to achieve a seamless process.
“This convention is a bit different from other conventions. It is different because it is the first transition convention of our great party. The forthcoming convention will be expected within our constitution to produce the standard-bearer of our great party to contest the presidential slot.
“We are very careful that we choose different persons to be part of the committees that have been enumerated by the national secretary. It is our prayers and hope that every person who is allotted a committee will be anxious to give his or her best to serve in the slot that is given to him or her,” he said.
Uzodinma, in his speech on behalf of chairmen of other committees, assured the APC National Working Committee that they would live up to expectations.
Meanwhile, contrary to expectations, the actual process of voting will take place on Tuesday.