The national leadership of the All Progressives Congress has written a letter to the Independent National Electoral Commission on its plans to hold congresses and convention across the country.
Investigations by one of our correspondents in Abuja on Tuesday showed that the letter was written to the commission on Monday.
A member of the National Working Committee of the party, who spoke with one of our correspondents, said the letter was sent to the electoral body immediately after the party’s National Executive Committee meeting, which was also attended by President Muhammadu Buhari, Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo (SAN), and governors elected on the platform of the party.
The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the party decided to hold the convention before May 16, 2018, because of the Ramadan.
He said, “We have sent a letter to INEC concerning the congresses and the convention we are planning to hold.
“While I will not disclose the proposed dates of the events because we want the commission to acknowledge our letter, but I can confidently tell you that we are determined to hold it before May 16.
“We have checked the Islamic calendar and it showed that the Ramadan might start on that date.
“Due to stress associated with congresses and conventions, we don’t want our members to have difficulties attending or playing their roles in the events.”
Also, the party said only the National Working Committee, led by Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, that was constitutionally empowered to select members of the convention committee of the party.
The National Publicity Secretary of the party, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi, stated this on Tuesday in an exclusive interview with The PUNCH, while responding to insinuations that there was power tussle between Odigie-Oyegun and a national leader of the party, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, over the selection of members of the APC convention committee.
Abdullahi said he was not aware of any power tussle between the two leaders, adding that the party’s constitution was clear on who was empowered to constitute the committee.
He noted that the dates for the APC congresses would be fixed before the end of the week.
Abdullahi said, “The National Working Committee will fix the dates for the congresses as quickly as possible because we now have the mandate of NEC to proceed.
“So we are going to announce the dates as soon as possible. They will be announced probably before the end of this week.
“The party has not selected the members of the convention committee. We are still in the midst of that.”
When asked about the tussle between Odigie-Oyegun and Tinubu, the APC spokesman said, “None that I am aware of. You probably need to ask them. Look, the responsibility to constitute the convention committee is squarely placed in the hands of the National Working Committee, led by Chief John Odigie-Oyegun.
“That is the only organ of the party empowered by the constitution to set up the convention committee.
“But the NWC as a matter of courtesy to our leaders will need to get them involved saying what their input or opinion is. But that does not remove the fact that the primary responsibility to constitute the committee lies with the NWC.”
It was not clear on Tuesday whether Odigie-Oyegun would seek re-election at the proposed convention.
However, a former Governor of Edo State, Mr. Adams Oshiomhole; a former Governor of Cross River State, Chief Clement Ebri; and a former Governor of Bayelsa State, Chief Timipriye Sylva, were said to be interested in leading the party.
The party had on Monday at its NEC meeting, granted waivers to all members of the party’s executive from the ward to national level the opportunity to remain in office and contest any position they want in the party.
Before the waiver was granted, the constitution of the party had stipulated that any member of the executive who wanted to contest any election must resign from his position a month before the election.
The Peoples Democratic Party has appealed to foreign nations to prevent the APC and INEC from rigging the future elections.
The party alleged that there were plans by the ruling party and the electoral body to rig the forthcoming governorship election in Ekiti State.
The National Chairman of the PDP, Uche Secondus, made his party’s position known in Abuja on Tuesday when the German Ambassador to Nigeria, Dr. Bernhard Schlagheck, paid a courtesy visit to the PDP national leadership.
The PDP national chairman said instead of the APC-led administration to fulfil its 2015 campaign promises, it has plunged Nigeria into “series of crises.”
He alleged that, both the APC and INEC were planning to start the rigging from Ekiti State.
Secondus, who urged the international community to prevail on the incumbent administration to ensure free and fair elections, said, “In July, the Ekiti State governorship election will be the first test for this administration. We know that the APC and INEC have perfected plans to rig the election.
“It is your duty and that of other foreign nations to make sure that both the APC and INEC give us free, fair and credible elections. We are not asking to be favoured. All what we ask for is a level playing field and free atmosphere for the electorate to make their choices.”
Secondus, who noted that lack of free and fair elections remained a major cause of crisis in Africa, said, “When citizens are deprived of their right to vote; that will generate crisis that might be difficult to control.
“Nigeria is an important country on the continent of Africa. The best we can give to our people is election that will be transparent; election that will be credible, election that all, both local and international observers, will welcome.
“We urge the governing APC that the best they can give this country is one man, one vote. We did that during the campaign in 2015, but they are not assuring us of this, which means that there is a great fear in the land that the election is not going to be free and fair despite all the promises made by INEC.”
The PDP chairman, however, said that they were using two major platforms, which he listed as generation next and rescue mission, to project the party ahead of 2019 elections.
While he explained that generation next was to ensure mentoring for youths, Secondus said the rescue mission was aimed at salvaging Nigeria from APC’s misrule.
The ambassador said he and members of his team would send their findings to Germany, calling on stakeholders to ensure free and fair elections.