At last, the All Progressives Congress (APC) has formally adopted a zoning formula, thus ending weeks of apprehension by stakeholders on the possibility of a successful national convention.
With the resolution of the zoning structure, preparations for the successful hosting of the party’s maiden national convention has been intensified as the members of the planning committee swung into action yesterday, putting finishing touches to arrangements.
The resolution of the protracted zoning arrangement came after Tuesday night’s meeting of the national leadership caucus of the party made of 50 prominent leaders, including retired Major-General Muhammadu Buhari, Senator Bola Tinubu, Atiku Abubakar, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu and the 16 governors.
Under the approved zoning structure made available to journalists in Abuja in the early hours of yesterday, the positions of the National Chairman, Deputy National Secretary and Deputy National Legal Adviser were zoned to the South-south, while National Legal Adviser, Deputy National Chairman, and National Financial Secretary went to the South-west.
The South-east is to produce the National Organising Secretary, National Auditor, Deputy Finance Secretary and Deputy Women Leader, while the North-central has four offices zoned to it – the National Publicity Secretary
National Women Leader, Deputy Treasurer and Deputy Welfare Secretary.
The office of the National Secretary, National Youth Leader and Deputy National Auditor went to the North-east, whereas the North-west is expected to fill the offices of Welfare Secretary, Deputy National Chairman, National Treasurer and Deputy National Organising Secretary
The party explained that under the zoning arrangement, each of the six geo-political zones would in addition produce, a Zonal National Vice-Chairman, Zonal Women Leader, Zonal Youth Leader and an Ex-Officio member.
Meanwhile, members and elders of the party who opened up on the outcome of the meeting, commended the APC National Convention Committee headed by the Sokoto State Governor, Aliyu Wamakko, for brokering an end to the deadlock on zoning.
They said but for the consultations carried out by the committee with other stakeholders and elders of the party, the issue would have remained stalemate.
Speaking with journalists after the meeting held on the matter yesterday, a stalwart of the party, Mr. Abubakar Audu, said the party had achieved a significant progress by creating understanding and arriving at a favourable conclusion.
The former Kogi State governor praised the committee headed by Wamakko for living up to expectations.
Another party chieftain, Alhaji Kawu Baraje, expressed happiness on the progress being made by the party which is drawing more people to join its fold in their desire to have a change for the better.
Baraje, who led the defected PDP governors and other members to the APC, said he would be the happiest man for any achievement attained by the party, adding that their decision to join the party would not be in vain. On his part, Wamakko thanked the elders and all other members of the party for the cooperation given to his committee to make an impact by carrying out its responsibilities.
Wamakko promised that the forthcoming convention of the party would be one that would reposition the party for success in the 2015 elections.
As a fall-out of further negotiations for those that will retain their positions, the interim National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Muhammed from Kwara State (North-central), the interim National Organizing Secretary, Senator Osita Izunaso from Imo State (South-east), THISDAY gathered yesterday that party leaders also resolved adoption of affirmation rather than actual voting process in approving candidates for all the party positions during the convention.
The use of affirmation is provided in Article 20 of the party’s constitution of the party.
It was learnt that in order to give effect to the agreed consensus arrangement, the leadership of the party had instructed the convention committee to discourage persons not in the consensus list from paying to obtain nomination forms. According to the source, the idea was to avoid unnecessary bickering that might come up from allowing whole scale tussle among the aspirants.
Also yesterday, one of the aspirants for the chairmanship position and current interim National Vice Chairman for south south, Chief Tom Ikimi stormed the national headquarters of the APC to pick nomination form.
Accompanied by a crowd of supporters, Ikimi defied permutations that had confirmed his fellow compatriot from Edo State, Chief John Odigie Oyegun as favourite to clinch the job.
In another development, the APC raised concern over the desperation of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)-led federal government to capture Ekiti State at all cost.
The party also described the ongoing clampdown on the national media as part of a grand strategy to silence Nigerians ahead of the satanic plan to thwart the will of the people of Ekiti and indeed that of all Nigerians.
In a statement issued yesterday by its Interim National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the party said the multi-pronged approach started with the harassment and intimidation of the people of Ekiti to prevent them from coming out to vote on June 21.
‘’The pre-meditated violence inflicted on innocent and harmless Ekiti people last Sunday by the police, which has now turned itself to PDP enforcers, is aimed clearly at signalling to the people of the state what they should expect before, during and after the forthcoming election,’’ it said.
The APC said that was followed up with a clampdown on all those who can challenge the federal government’s planned impunity in Ekiti, starting with the nation’s fiercely independent media.
‘’The clampdown on the media has nothing to do with Boko Haram or any ‘’intelligence’’ report. That is a ruse. Journalists do not carry weapons. They only fight with words. In fact, this terror band called Boko Haram has had occasions to threaten the media with attack over their reports exposing the terrorists for what they are.”
Therefore, the unprecedented and utterly indefensible clampdown on the media is part of a sinister plot that is not unconnected with the elections scheduled for this and next year.
‘’The PDP-led federal government’s strategy is simple: We must capture Ekiti at all cost, even when we may not have the votes to win the state. After that, we can then dare anyone who alleges rigging or election manipulation to head to court. In the meantime, we must tamper with the freedom of expression and the right to information, of which the media is at the vanguard,’’ APC said.
The party said anyone that believes this strategy is far fetched only needs to look at the groundwork that has been laid for it by the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan, who picked both the Minister of Police Affairs and the Minister of State for Defence from the South-west.
‘’This federal government sees the South-west as very critical to the president’s chances of getting re-elected next year, and has thus turned it to a battleground. They are desperate to capture Ekiti and Osun States, which they see as the road to the heart of the South-west next year. That explains their desperation about the elections in the two states,’’ it said.
APC however said that the federal governmaent has shot itself in the foot, first with the deadly attack on defenceless citizens in Ekiti, including the governor of the state, and then the senseless and irresponsible clamp down on the national media, the same media that no dictator in the history of Nigeria has succeeded in silencing.
The party urged the PDP-led federal government to desist from its plot and allow the people of Ekiti and indeed the people of Nigeria to choose their leaders in free, fair and transparent elections, warning that while a standing army or a tyrannical government can indeed suppress a people, no where in the world have they succeeded in defeating the people, the ultimate reservoir of power.