The Nation newspapers said that a plot to postpone the All Progressives Congress (APC) National Convention slated for February 26 to a yet-to-be determined date may have triggered fresh tension in the party.
The suspense, The Nation said, followed leaks that the Caretaker and Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC) has not notified the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) of its plan to hold convention on February 26.
A reliable source in INEC confided in The Nation that the electoral commission has not received communication from the APC on the date for its convention.
As at 7:00pm, on Wednesday, INEC officers were in the office awaiting a notice from APC, which was not forthcoming.
It was learnt that the APC was slow in notifying INEC because certain forces within the party, including some governors and ministers, have concluded plans to prevail on President Muhammadu Buhari to extend the tenure of the CECPC.
The final decision on the convention date or further extension of the tenure of the CECPC will be taken by the President.
All contending groups, including pro and anti-convention, were locked in a battle last night to have the ears of the President.
Investigation by our correspondent showed that the leaks of plans to shift the convention created tension among party leaders, chairmanship aspirants, others seeking to be in the next National Working Committee (NWC) of the party and other members of APC.
Some members of the CECPC, allegedly eyeing governorship and National Assembly tickets, were in support of the extension of the tenure of the caretaker committee.
The affected CECPC members were implicated in the alleged foot-dragging of APC in sending a notice to INEC on APC national convention.
The same anti-convention forces were said to have influenced the “non-conclusion” of the assignment of the National Reconciliation Committee of the party, which is headed by former Nasarawa State, Governor Abdullahi Adamu.
It was gathered that those opposed to national convention were banking on Adamu Committee’s Interim Report for the extension of the tenure of CECPC.
The affected forces were also said to be relying on the fact that Buhari “respects and listens” to Adamu to extend the Governor Mai Mala Buni-led CECPC.
A source, who spoke in confidence, said: “There is tension in APC following the uncovering of plans to postpone the party’s national convention.”
The source added: “Some forces/ groups in the party want to shift the convention until when it is too tight for APC and the party will be left with no choice than to pick their anointed presidential and vice presidential candidates. That is the bigger picture of the plot.
“As part of the game, the same forces/ groups will want the CECPC to conduct presidential, governorship and legislative primaries before the National Convention.
“Although the party has fixed February 26 for the convention, it has not written INEC to serve the electoral agency a statutory 21-day notice for the convention.
“Other than chairmanship aspirants trying to outwit each other with campaign, all the necessary sub- committees have not been named. The party’s leadership claimed that the sub-committees might be put in place on February 19th.
“The latest strategy is to take advantage of the interim report of the National Reconciliation Committee to postpone the convention.
“They know ex-Governor Abdullahi Adamu is well-respected by the President and Buhari will not joke with the recommendations of the committee. This is a straw they are clinging to.”
Another source in the ruling party gave another dimension to the plot, which borders on attempt by some groups to seek tenure extension for the CECPC.
He said: “They want to slow down the process until a time when the period to give INEC 21 days’ notice will elapse. They will then have no choice than to pick a new date for the national convention and extend the mandate of Buni’s Caretaker Committee.
“Those behind this plot prefer the comfort and protection of CECPC for the realization of their aspirations 2023 than a new National Working Committee (NWC).
“Members of the CECPC aspiring for governorship and legislative seats in 2023 also do not want to handover their fate to new party executives.
“There is a particular member who aspires to be a governor in his state and he doesn’t care to say that he won’t allow this opportunity to slip away.
“A member of CECPC has concluded plans to install a candidate as the incoming governor of his state. The leader prefers the retention of the CECPC in order to meet his goal as a godfather.
“Each time we asked some of our leaders why they are keeping APC in suspense, they used to say ‘this is politics, the end justifies the means.’ It is that bad.”
Some governors and others seeking tenure extension for Buni were said to be at the crossroads on how to table their position before the President.
The pro-convention vanguards have also perfected plans to reach out to the President to reject any request for the postponement of the national convention.
According to records, another request for tenure extension by some groups in the party will be the fourth for Buni Committee if the latest plot scaled through.
A former governor said: “Buhari has given them the benefit of the doubt. Only God knows if they will be lucky this time around or they will burn their luck.
“The battle is already on in the party for and against national convention. The ultimate decision lies with the President.”
When one of our correspondents contacted INEC, a source said: “This commission is yet to receive communication from APC. Our officers have been waiting to receive a convention notice from the party.”
CECPC Secretary, Sen. John James Akpanudoedehe, was not categorical on whether or not the Interim Report of the National Reconciliation Committee will lead to the postponement of the APC National Convention.
In a chat with The Nation last night, Akpanudoedehe said: “I cannot answer that question now. There is no need for that question now.
“We have set up our timetable and we believe in what we have done. Except you are now doubting the timetable, the most important thing is that we have set the timetable and we are on top of our timetable.”