*Allow South-South to complete its 4 years mandate – Ebri
By Ezeocha Nzeh
Baring the emergence of a new national chairman for the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), some South-South stakeholders have warned that any attempt to remove the national chairmanship slot from the zone will cause more crisis ahead of the 2023 presidential election.
The APC-NEC recently sacked the Adams Oshiomhole-led National Working Committee (NWC), after series of crisis and litigation that rocked it.
It also put in place a Caretaker Committee, headed by the Governor of Yobe State, Mai Mala Buni, with a six months mandate to organise an Extra-Ordinary Convention to elect new NWC members.
Sources told The AUTHORITY at the weekend that intense politicking has begun over the successor for Oshiomhole, with various groups lobbying for a fresh four year tenure for the in-coming NWC members to lead them to the party’s primary elections for the 2023 polls.
It was further gathered that while the serving APC governors have begun the search for a candidate who would protect their interests ahead of their 2023 political ambitions, other leaders of the party may have commenced lobbying for a chairman from either the South-East of North-East zone, to pave way for their presidential ambitions in 2023.
The APC constitution mandates the NWC to serve for a period of four years renewable term.
With that provision the South-South, which produced the national chairman for two terms, with the former Edo State Governors, John Odigie–Oyegun and Adams Oshiomhole, yet to complete the second term, the zone is still asking for the seat to complete their eight year cumulative tenure.
The Oshiomhole-led NWC was elected at the party’s National Convention in June 2018.
The AUTHORITY gathered that both the APC governors and party leaders have commenced the lobbying of President Muhammadu Buhari to approve a fresh four year term for the incoming NWC.
But, the former governor of Cross River State, Clement Ebri has rwarned members of the party’s Caretaker/Extraordinary National Convention Planning Committee not to go beyond the scope of their assignments.
Ebri said on telephone that the APC was already in trouble as certain decisions of the Committee might amount to digging the party deep into more crisis.
Ebri, while speaking on the Presidential ambition of some FEC members, said such ambition were distractions to President Buhari and his administration, stressing that it is too early for any cabinet member to be nursing such ambition, while he is a member of the FEC.
He advised any cabinet member so desirous to quit the cabinet, advising President Buhari “to try as much as possible to get members of his cabinet to shun politics of 2023 at least in the interest of the polity”.
He also advised them not to openly get involved, because it is too early in the day.
“They should all join hands to build the nation and get us out of the present situation. The amount of time they would be wasting on politicking on their ambition should be channeled to governance. That should be an admonition to all of them,” he said.
The former governor warned that rezoning the NWC positions or dissolving any of the existing structures was not part of the terms of reference to the committee.
On the committee, he said: “They should leave the current zoning the way it is and allow the zones to complete their tenure. In 2022, we will have a proper convention with the zoning that would take another four years.
“For somebody to come out and say they would look at 2023 from this time around and start fresh four year tenure for NWC members is unacceptable.
“The implication is that all the officers of the party who are not NWC members would be dissolved. They have four-year tenure and they are still there. So, what would be their fate if you say you are going to rezone and turn it into four years.
“We are already in a hole, we should stop digging but reconcile. Reconciliation cannot be 100% but you make some progress, just as they have started by reaching out to some persons.
“They should continue by going to some states and try as much as they can to bring healing to the party. Not to go now and start dissolving structures, because a lot of people are waiting to bring in their people and when this happens, it would be another crisis and it is bound to distract them and it would erode on the objectives in which they were set up.
Meanwhile, spokesperson for the caretaker committee, Yekini Nabena, has described the purported zoning arrangement for the planned convention as fake.
Nabena called on party members and stakeholders to disregard the news, adding that the committee did not discuss any zoning arrangement.
“The inaugural meeting of CEONCPC, which held at the APC national secretariat on Monday, did not discuss or issue the purported zoning arrangement for the national convention.
“The meeting only unanimously adopted a six-point working document aimed at repositioning the party,” he said.