APC to release zoning formula, suspends zonal congress amid confusion

The ruling All Progressives Congress has shelved its zonal congress, which was scheduled for Saturday, The PUNCH has learnt.

This came to the fore on Tuesday as the party said it would soon release the zoning formula.

Impeccable sources told The PUNCH that the decision on the zonal congress was part of fresh moves to reverse some of the decisions made by the embattled Chairman of the Caretaker Committee, Governor Mai Mala Buni, whose role has now been taken over by Governor Abubakar Bello of Niger State.

Although the APC has continued to evade questions on the zonal congress, a top source at the party said, “We have decided within the party not to talk about the zonal congress. It will not hold on Saturday and we have no plans to hold it. The truth is that it is unknown to the APC’s constitution.

“It was all part of Buni’s strategy to continue to delay the national convention just like how he has continued to release different zoning lists and different lists of committees for the convention. Now the new acting chairman will reverse some of these questionable acts.”

Confirming this to The PUNCH, the Chairman of Kwara state branch of the APC, Prince Sunday Fagbemi, said the zonal congress of the party would no longer hold.

He said, “I don’t think that the zonal congress will hold any longer as they said that it is not in the constitution of the party. So, probably, the party will make other arrangements. I’m not saying that the party will not have zonal officers.”

Meanwhile, the acting Chairman of the APC Caretaker Committee, Governor Bello, says the party’s leadership on Tuesday adopted the zoning report it received from the Zoning Committee led by the Kwara State Governor, Abdulrahman Abdulrazak.

He further revealed that the National Executive Council meeting which includes the governors, the state chairmen and other organs of the party, will meet next week to put in place modalities ahead of the March 26 national convention.

Bello further revealed that he would continue to hold meetings at the party’s national headquarters every day until the convention.

Speaking to journalists, he said, “The report of the zoning formula has been submitted and adopted and it will be released any moment from now. I mean the zoning formula.

“Hopefully, by next week, the NEC meeting will hold. It is a continuation of Monday’s meeting. And just so you know, so you won’t be asking me the same thing tomorrow, we are going to be meeting every day until the convention so that we can put things together.

“Basically, today we looked at the convention sub-committee and we collected some of the reports from the committee hoping that tomorrow we will decide on the next step to take.”

On whether the CECPC National Secretary, John Akpanudoedehe, is part of the new leadership of the APC, Bello replied, “ask him”.

However, the national secretariat was thrown into disarray over purported resignation of Akpanudoedehe.

While confusion reigned in some quarters, The PUNCH observed jubilation amongst certain groups.

Minutes prior, reports filtered through the Secretariat stating that Akpanudoedehe had angrily resigned his position amid internal controversies.

But Akpanudoedehe returned to the secretariat to address journalists that he had not resigned and will only do so when mandated by the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.).

Speaking on Tuesday evening, Akpanudoedehe said “I have read on social media that I have resigned as Secretary of the APC. I want to state that it is not true that I didn’t resign. If I had resigned, you would have seen my letter of resignation written by me. Someone cannot just say somebody is dead when he is alive.

“I am not bigger than the party, or bigger than the President who is the leader of the Party. I am waiting for the national chairman to come back.

“If we have a directive from the president that we should resign, we are not bigger than the president, we will do so, if we hear from him. I am stating here that the breaking news is not from me. I don’t know who announced it.”

Asked about his relationship status with the acting chairman, Akpanudoedehe said “Our relationship is very cordial.”

On reports that he had moved his victuals out of the party premises, he said “I don’t have any load. I come here and I leave. I have never changed my furniture. The photograph is official. I have not packed anything. I have not received any letter.

“Someone cannot say, ‘the President said.’ I have not received any letter from anywhere. As I said, nobody is bigger than the party. The issue is that, have I resigned, the answer is no. I am the national secretary of the party”.

In its reaction to the recent leadership shakeups in the APC, the opposition Peoples Democratic Party warned political aspirants vying for various offices on the platform of the APC against “wasting their resources, time and energy” saying the caretaker has no statutory authority under the law and any state congress or national convention it conducts remains invalid.

The PDP National Publicity Secretary, Debo Ologunagba, disclosed this in a statement he signed on Tuesday titled ‘Leadership crisis: APC is defunct, not eligible to contest elections-PDP’.

According to Ologunagba, the PDP “draws the attention of intending aspirants on the platform of the APC to the fact that the CECPC has no statutory authority under the law and that any state congress or national convention conducted by it to produce any party leadership at any level remains invalid and unrecognised by law.

“Consequently, any governorship, state assembly, National Assembly as well as Presidential primary election conducted by any leadership produced by the illegal CECPC can only produce invalid candidates just like in the case of Zamfara and Rivers States in the 2019 general elections where the APC had invalid votes.”

Punch

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