After months of dillydallying, all is now set for the All Progressives Congress (APC) National Convention scheduled to hold in a few days time. Towards allaying lingering apprehension of the conduct of the Convention, Governor Abdullahi Sule of Nassarawa state who is the Chairman, Media Committee for the March 26 APC National Convention recently stated that APC governors have resolved their differences ahead of the National Convention of the party where it will elect a new national chairman and other members of its National Working Committee (NWC).
Setting a date for the party’s Convention has been fraught with challenges and rumblings within the party. Issues bordering on zoning, consensus candidacy, management of party affairs and litigations among others have constituted major stumbling blocks the party is facing and dealing with ahead of the Convention. These are not new challenges though that political parties in Nigeria face. In fact, many parties big or small face such challenges. Even in developed or Western democracies, such challenges are also poignant particularly heading into a Convention.
Recall that the Caretaker Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC) has been running the affairs of the APC since June 25, 2020, following the removal of the last elected national chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, on June 16, 2020. The CECPC was expected to organize a national convention in December 2020 but failed to do so. The Buni-led CECPC has remained in office since and had its tenure extended three times.
In a letter dated February 2, 2022, the CECPC notified the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) of its decision to hold its National Convention on February 26. However the date was further postponed. This wasn’t unconnected to the reports of problems in different state chapters of the party. Many stalwarts, party members as well as groups within the party such as aspirants, under the aegis of Forum of Aspirants for 2022 National Convention noted that it would indeed spell doom if the party goes ahead with the Convention under such circumstances.
The Mai Mala Buni-led CECPC consequently announced that the date for the convention – February 26 – was no longer feasible and the party would conduct the Convention on March 26, 2022. Understandably, the APC Convention has become one of the most anticipated political events of the year. As the ruling party in Nigeria currently, there is pressure on the APC to put its best foot forward all the time. Most Nigerians undoubtedly look to the party and it needs to be seen and ensure that it continues to uphold and seen to uphold democratic tenets in its processes.
Many Nigerians have been criticizing the APC over the challenges it has been facing in the build-up to the elections. However, a political party as large as the APC is bound to face these challenges with its conglomerate of individuals spread across the country. A large entity like the APC is bound to have over-lapping interest that will aggrieve many members of the union. The way and manner the party manages these grievances and pacifies disgruntled parties speaks to how much the party has come so far. Thus far, the APC has conducted its affairs in a fitting manner.
Records show that the party under the CECPC administration has done a fairly commendable job of meeting up with the prerequisites of party convention preparation, having conducted relatively very successful Ward, Local Government Areas (LGAs) congresses, and States congresses, across the wards, LGAs, the 36 states and FCT. So far, the APC when compared to other parties has a stronger membership base as well as less litigation. Achievement of the party under CECPC leadership has thus endeared the party more to the electorates.
Accordingly a peaceful and transparent convention is what many Nigerians will be looking forward to from the APC. Achieving this will certainly cement the party in the heart and minds of the electorates. It will be the final impression of the party’s readiness to maintain and consolidate its power in the country and across an increased number of states. This much the echelons of the party must take to heart in the overall interest of the party going into the Convention.
The party must further ensure that the Convention is credible and devoid of any form of imposition. It must also ensure a speedy and successful conclusion of all ongoing reconciliation actions, and make sure the party is on a united front going into the Convention. The unity of the party is vital to the success of the Convention, and the fact that there are pockets of disagreements means there are aggrieved members, groups and concerns. The party cannot afford to downplay these groups and must work towards alleviating their concerns.
No doubt the APC is a stronger party than it was years back. It has grown in statute and structure alluring many Nigerians regardless of creed, ethnicity, tribe, gender and age to its fold. To maintain its dominance, it must show the world its democratic tradition and unity as it heads to the Convention. It must set the party on the right stead and structures aright towards ensuring compliance with all sacrosanct rules and regulations of the party and the electoral law as regard to the conduct of National Convention of the party.
In President Muhammdu Buhari’s words while dismissing assertions that the governing APC lacks the capacity to conduct its National Convention on March 26,”Well, they (critics) should wait and see. How did we come as a party to take power from the ruling party who had been there before us for so many years? So, we have the capacity, everything will be alright.” Indeed all eyes will be on the APC as it conducts its Convention and it is expected that the conduct will surprise and silence its critics.
Hannatu Musawa Esq.