There were strong indications on Sunday that the All Progressives Congress would hold its national convention in October.
A member of the national caucus of the party, who confided in our correspondent, said with the myriad problems arising from membership registration, there was no way the national convention would be held earlier than October.
It was also learnt the panel was still battling with crisis in state chapters of the party.
Recall that when the Adams Oshiomhole-led National Working Committee was dissolved in on June 25, 2020, and the Mala Buni-led Caretaker/Extraordinary National Committee was constituted, the caretaker committee was given six months to conduct the party’s national convention.
But on December 8, 2020 the tenure of the caretaker committee was extended to allow for membership registration.
On Sunday, The PUNCH learnt there was a plan to extend the tenure of the Buni-led caretaker committee again.
Our correspondent gathered that those who were pushing for additional time for the Buni-led committee were hinging their advocacy on the fact that the panel had yet to conclude the data capturing required to finalise the membership registration and revalidation.
It was also learnt that the committee would seek additional time to conclude the reconciliation of aggrieved party members to prepare ground for congresses before the national convention.
It was also gathered that the issue of logistics would also be a huddle as the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd), had insisted that public funds should not be used to fund party activities.
The PUNCH learnt that those who were against the tenure extension had stepped up efforts to thwart the plan of the committee on the grounds that giving the panel additional time would dent the image of the party.
It was learnt that although consultations were still ongoing about the zoning formula, multiple sources within the party hierarchy confirmed the party’s plan to commence the sale of forms for the various party offices “by the end of June.”
A member of the party’s national caucus, who spoke to our correspondent on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to speak to the media on the issue, said, “To be realistic, if we want to do a thorough job like I’m sure we want to, we cannot hold this convention before October.
“As we speak, we are still processing the raw data collected from the states after the just concluded membership registration and revalidation. We need to have the database which is required for the national membership register.
“If you recall, that was what our party was doing in Lagos in 2014 or thereabouts when the DSS (Department of State Services) under the Jonathan administration disrupted it. This whole exercise is designed to rebuild and update the database.
“You also have the issue of the ongoing reconciliation of party leaders and members across board. No party member would want us to enter into the convention with a divided house. To the best of my knowledge, members of the Buni-led committee are eager to conclude their assignment and move on but they cannot leave their job half done. That is where we are.”
An Enugu State chieftain of the party, Osita Okechukwu, who before now spoke about the possibility of the convention holding in June, said fresh evidence available to him indicated that the issue of logistics had yet to be fully sorted out.
He said, “Logistics is still a major factor. I am aware that Mr President has made it clear to all party members that under his watch, public funds would not be used to fund party activities. President Muhammadu Buhari is a stickler for respect for the rule of law and adherence to financial regulations.
“The party must look within to generate funds to fund its activities; this is a major factor. I am however confident that the caretaker committee under the leadership of Governor Mai Mala Buni remains committed to delivering its mandate.”
However, Spokesman for party supporters, under the aegis of Concerned APC Members, Abdullahi Dauda, said, “We have known from the very beginning that this delay tactics will stretch to this time. The committee was initially given six months to reconcile aggrieved members and convene a national convention but the committee added another function to its original mandate.
“The registration of members was not part of their mandate; they included it and got another six months. We can only wait to see what they want to do this time after the second six months expires.”
Recall, the pioneer Interim National Chairman of the APC, Chief Bisi Akande, had warned the committee against yielding to the temptation of sitting tight.
While speaking during his membership revalidation in his country home, Akande said, “Please, permit me to make two observations. The first is that in normal circumstances, a caretaker executive committee for a political party is an abnormality. If not carefully controlled and expeditiously managed, most aberrant authorities end up in contempt and disgrace.”
Attempts to get a response from the party’s National Secretary, Senator John Akpanudoedehe were unsuccessful as of the time of filing this report. A response to a text message sent to him on the subject was still being awaited at 9:42pm.