National convention: APC governors propose Feb 26, Al-Makura, Musa lead in party chair’s race

Former Governor Tanko Al-Makura of Nasarawa State and the lawmaker representing Niger East, Senator Sani Musa are favoured by the leadership of the All Progressives Congress to emerge as the national chairman of the APC, The PUNCH has learnt.

A top source in the party said while Al-Makura was being favoured by most of the governors, some strong forces in the Presidency and the Senate were backing Musa.

These came to the fore on Monday as the APC governors at their meeting in Abuja on Sunday agreed to hold the party’s national convention on February 26 and February 27, 2021.

However, the decision on the convention is subject to the final approval of the National Executive Committee of the party led by the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.).

The Electoral Act states that any political party planning to hold its national convention must inform INEC at least 21 days prior.

A top APC official said, “The governors have agreed on February 26 and February 27. So, this will be proposed to the President for approval.”

According to INEC, the by-elections will hold in Akure North/Akure South Federal Constituency, Ondo State; Jos North/Bassa Federal Constituency, Plateau; and Pankshin South State Constituency, Plateau.

Others are Ogoja/Yala Federal Constituency, Cross River; Akpabuyo State Constituency, Cross River; and Ngor-Okpala State Constituency, Imo.

“The by-elections holding on February 26 may be a challenge but the governors are bent on having the convention in February. The issue now is that INEC needs a notice of 21 days. If the letter is sent to INEC on January 20, it means the election will be held in the second week of February but on February 12, the area council elections will be held in Abuja. So, you see it is dicey,” said a source.

The APC governors announced after a meeting in Abuja in the early hours of Monday that the February date remained sacrosanct.

The, however, avoided announcing a particular date, saying the forum is only an organ of the party and, therefore, cannot announce a date on its own.

Chairman of the Progressive Governors’ Forum and Kebbi State Governor, Abubakar Bagudu, disclosed this while addressing journalists

The meeting which began at about 9pm had in attendance all governors of the Forum except Aminu Masari of Katsina and Muhammad Yahaya of Gombe.

Speaking after the meeting, Bagudu said, “The progressive governors met tonight to discuss numerous issues affecting the forum and member states and we acknowledged some of the achievements in the states and members of the forum as well as the President who visited Ogun and Borno states where he commissioned projects.

The governor explained that the forum discussed the February national convention stating that it had unanimously agreed that it would hold in February; as opposed to speculations of an impending postponement.

Asked what date in February the convention will hold, he said, “Yes, February is still realistic. But we are just one group of stakeholders. Our party respects institutions. It is the appropriate organ of the party, the National Caretaker Committee that will announce a date.

In attendance were the Governors of Yobe, Mai Mala Buni; Borno, Babagana Zulum; Jigawa, Muhammad Abubakar; Ondo, Rotimi Akeredolu; Niger, Abubakar Bello; Kaduna, Nasir El-Rufai; Ekiti, Kayode Fayemi; Kogi, Yahaya Bello; Ogun, Dapo Abiodun; Zamfara, Bello Matawalle; Ebonyi, Dave Umahi; Osun, Gboyega Oyetola; Lagos, Babajide Sanwo-Olu; Plateau, Simon Lalong; Imo, Hope Uzondinma; Nasarrawa, Abdullahi Sule, Cross River, Ben Ayade; Kwara, AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq, Kano, Abdullahi Ganduje; and Deputy Governor of Anambra State, Nkem Okeke.

A reliable APC chieftain said Al-Makura, who was from the Congress for Progressive Change arm of the APC, was being backed by governors of the party.

He said, “Al-Makura is being tipped as the next chairman because he is a safe option and has no problem with any of the governors. He was the only CPC governor in 2011 and he resisted all temptations to defect to another party but remained loyal to President Buhari. And you know Buhari cherishes loyalty.

In a related development, following internal controversies between the governors of the APC and the Mai Mala Buni-led Caretaker Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee over the party’s National Convention, the Director-General of the Progressive Governors’ Forum, Salihu Lukman, resigned on Monday.

Lukman’s resignation comes barely 24 hours after the first meeting of the Progressive Governors’ Forum in the Kebbi Governor’s Lodge, Abuja, on Sunday night.

In recent times, Lukman has grown more critical about the party’s lacklustre body language towards the national convention, particularly the Buni-led Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee, which he accused of disrespecting the decision of party members.

He also faulted the idea of zoning, calling it a blast from the PDP years, which has done a great disservice to the quality of Nigeria’s leadership for decades.

The former PGF Boss also criticised the Buni-led Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee for leaving a communication gap that the opposition has exploited.

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