In what appeared a patching up of the crisis that has enveloped the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), the embattled Secretary, Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC), Sen John Akpanudoedehe, yesterday, made a surprise appearance at the party’s secretariat on Blantyre Street, Abuja.
The return of Akpanudoedehe may not be unconnected with the insistence by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) that only he, alongside the embattled caretaker chairman of the party, Governor Mai Mala Buni of Yobe State, could convene the National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting of the party billed to hold tomorrow.
Also, on ground at the national secretariat of the party was one of Buni’s personal assistants, Mr. Murtala Yakubu, apparently to prepare the ground for the return of his principal to his seat.
Akpanudoedehe, who had been sidelined since the Acting chairman of the caretaker committee, Governor Abubakar Bello, took charge of party affairs last week, told reporters that both his seat and that of Buni were not threatened.
The APC youth leader in the caretaker committee, Mr. Ismaeel Ahmed, had been performing the role of Akpanudoedehe at the instance of Bello since last week.
Nevertheless, the Akwa Ibom-born politician, who is apparently excited over the latest development, insisted that the party remains crisis-free, strong and united in giving the country the transformative leadership and good governance it desires.
Expressing gratitude to INEC for its resolve to recognise Buni-led CECPC, he disclosed that the party had engaged a team of senior lawyers to address a purported court order halting the planned APC National Convention.
He called on the judiciary to give the matter the needed and expedient attention in a bid to vacate the purported order and allow for the conduct of a transparent and rancour-free National Convention deserving of APC.
The National Secretary of the CECPC, who said contrary to widespread speculations that Buni had been removed from office or otherwise replaced, all actions taken in his absence were acknowledged as acting in proxy capacity, and under the auspices of the substantive chairman, Governor Mai Mala Buni of Yobe State.
Maintaining that Buni’s CECPC was intact, Akpanudoedehe disclosed that the chairman was on his way back to Nigeria after his medical trip and would resume duty on arrival.
He further clarified other matters relating to the status of Buni and APC, thus: “That the CECPC was appointed, and has always done her best, to steer the affairs of the APC in line with the mandate invested in her at inauguration by the National Executive Council (NEC) of the All Progressives Congress.
“That on February 28, 2022 the CECPC Chairman took a long-delayed trip abroad on health grounds, leaving behind written authorisation for other members of the CECPC to continue work in his absence, particularly the day to day management of the APC.
“That in his absence, sundry activities earlier scheduled for action appeared to develop fresh urgency in order to satisfy the Timetable for the 2023 General Elections released by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), thus galvanising some within the CECPC to act in their best understanding of both the situation and the leadership dynamics in the Committee/Party.
“That all such actions were clearly identified at all times as happening in an acting or proxy capacity, and under the auspices of the substantive Chairman, His Excellency, Governor Mai Mala Buni, contrary to widespread speculations that the Chairman, Secretary or some other officials of the CECPC have been removed from Office or otherwise replaced.
“That the CECPC is intact and functional as originally constituted.
“That delivering a seamlessly successful National Convention for the APC on March 26, 2022 is top on priority for the CECPC and we shall continue to execute such assignments as are legal pending the return of the Chairman who is on his way back to the country and shall resume Office on arrival with the full support of all members and other stakeholders.
“The Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC) hereby restates absolute loyalty to the APC, thanks the National Organs and leadership of our Party led by His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR and reassures our members and citizens that the Party is stronger than ever before and poised to extend her winning streak since 2015 into 2023 and beyond.”
MEANWHILE, reacting to Akpanudoedehe’s sudden return, Ahmed said there was nothing unusual, saying it is in order. Ahmed, however, said he would continue to act in the capacity of the spokesperson of the party in tandem with the directive of the Bello-led caretaker committee.
“He only came to make clarifications on his status as Secretary of the party. He remains the Secretary, while I am the spokesperson of the party. What he did was perfectly in order,” he said.
However, it has been observed that Bello was not on ground as at 2.30 pm yesterday, neither nether did he convene the daily parley of the caretaker committee at the party secretariat as was the practice since last week.
IN a related development, Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, who chairs the protocol committee of the convention, was on hand to inaugurate the committee at the national secretariat of the party at 3:00pm, yesterday.
Ganduje, who assured of a hitch free conduct of the convention, hinted that party stalwarts have not only ironed out their differences, but also have agreed on their consensus candidates for elective seats in the party. However, he did not specify the consensus arrangement already agreed upon.
He said: “I have no fear the convention would not hold. The convention would hold Insha Allah. Don’t worry we are equal to the task.”
The governor stated that no fewer than 10,000 delegates would attend the convention, which is billed to hold at the Eagle Square, Abuja.
The governor, who had an interactive session with 250 protocol officials, expressed optimism that he would leave no stone unturned to ensure the success of the exercise.
This is as the party has already commenced the sale of forms for various elective seats in the NWC ahead of the national convention of the party.
The timetable of activities sighted by The Guardian indicates that the form for the chairmanship seat cost N20 million, while the price for those of the party’s deputy national chairmanship seats was pegged at N10 million.