*Lies, we left N6bn – Oshiomhole’s camp fires back
*Conduct convention in December or quit, Sen. Marafar faction hits Buni
Amidst allegations that the Gov. Mai Mala Buni-led National Caretaker and Extra Ordinary Convention Committee of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) deliberately derailed in its mandate but rather pursuing tenure elongation, Buni’s leadership at the weekend dismissed the allegations as mere distraction.
The committee instead slammed damning allegations against the sacked Comrade Adams Oshiomhole-led National Working Committee (NWC) claiming it squandered a whopping N19b raised from the sale of Expression of Interests and Nomination Forms during the 2019 general elections.
Making the allegation was a key Caretaker Committee member, who preferred to remain anonymous.
There were also allegations that the sacked APC-NWC paid their salaries from the said fund, adding that they even collected Sitting Allowances and sorted personal expenditures that were unapproved.
Insisting that members of the present committee only collect sitting allowances, the ranking caretaker committee member was emphatic that they met a party in disarray and are currently working hard to rebuild it ahead of the 2023 general elections.
He claimed that the party was “mere carcass” but they had set in motion concrete action plans to address the most urgent need which was to halt the slide and confusion that was occasioned by the intractable crisis in the party.
He said: “There was practically no party, strictly speaking, when we came in; the party was in chaos.
“APC is now getting back to shape and we have to consolidate on the successes so far achieved. Convention is not the only thing.
“For those who thought we did not talk about the convention at our meeting, we cannot talk about the convention in the newspaper without briefing Mr. President who is our boss.
“Besides, we cannot be talking about convention with EmdSARS and aftermath of EndSARS. We are not that insensitive”.
He further argued that there were several immediate pressing and tasking problems facing the APC which requires urgent attention, adding that it was inconceivable that the committee would venture into a convention when there was no single membership register in any ward across the country.
According to him what was touted as membership register were register compelled by one-man that was held hostage by a chieftain of the party, which featured only at 2014 National Convention.
While acknowledging that conducting a credible convention was a key assignment of the Caretaker committees, he reasoned that both the President and APC NEC did not know the depth of the rot in the APC when they tasked them to reposition the party through restoring peace and reconciliation among warring members.
“If they were aware of the situation we met, they would not have given this committee just six months.
“The minimum we need to fix things here and leave behind a viable party is additional four months.
“People must understand that one of the reasons that the past NWC was dissolved was because of its financial recklessness and our coming to work for the party has helped in uniting the party and its members.”
He dismissed insinuating remarks suggesting that members of the committee want to sit tight, pointing out that none of the APC Caretaker Committee member is hungry.
*They lied, we left N6b for the Caretaker committee – Oshiomhole’s camp fires back
But, in a swift reaction, a member of the past NWC alleged that Gov. Buni and his committee inherited the sum of N6b in the party’s treasury.
Puncturing allegations of profligacy levelled against them, a former NWC member who also preferred anonymity reacted that apart from the N6billion, governors of the party’s extraction were owing N10 billion as at time they left, which he believed the Caretaker Committee must have collected.
The past party leader dismissed allegations of fraud, and accused the Caretaker Committee of awarding fictitious contracts and renovating the party’s secretariat under suspicious circumstances.
He accused the Caretaker of abandoning their primary mandate of conducting a National Convention and dabbling into the registration of party members to the extent of printing membership registration materials at a claimed cost of N1.5 billion.
“You see, as at the time we left office in June, we had N6 billion in the APC account and the governors were owing the party N10 billion.
“The Caretaker Committee took over and started spending the money anyhow against the mandate given to them. We are sure they would leave the party worse than they met it.”
*We are more interested in party unity, reconciliation, says Caretaker Committee
Meanwhile, the Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC) has maintained that it is focused on achieving and sustaining true and lasting unity, peace and reconciliation across party ranks than planning a national convention.
The party in a statement Sunday by the Deputy National Publicity Secretary, Yekini Nabena, noted that while a section of the media has been awash with reports of a tenure extension for the CECPC, theor focus remains achieving and sustaining peace and reconciliation which is their core mandate.
“Commendably, the Gov. Buni-led CECPC has deployed a combination of true reconciliation, consultation and inclusiveness in achieving unity and cohesion in the party.
“To reposition the party to ensure good governance, Buni proposed the recently-inaugurated tripartite Executive/Legislative/APC Consultative Committee which is ensuring synergy, good governance and accelerated implementation of the Next Level agenda”.
Manana said that even with calls for elective congress, the caretaker committee had continued to receiove endorsements and vote of confidence from stakeholders.
“To further carry along dedicated party members, the CECPC is already working with the President Muhammadu Buhari-led APC administration to urgently address the reward system for dedicated and loyal party members, particularly on appointment of deserving party members into several boards, agencies and parastatals of government.
“It is commendable that the consultative Party leadership style instituted by Governor Buni as Chairman of the APC CECPC has brought back many prominent Party members and leaders including, former national chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Senator Barnabas Gemade; former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Yakubu Dogara, Dr. Alex Otti among others.
“The planned nationwide registration, update, revalidation of the Party’s membership register will undoubtedly cement the APCs political and numerical status as Nigeria’s largest political party.
“Also, the CECPC has resuscitated the party’s internal dispute resolution mechanisms and has set up reconciliation committees for Oyo, Edo, Ondo, Imo, Ogun, Ekiti among other States chapters with reported disputes. The Committees are already meeting with the key stakeholders in the various states and has achieved substantial reconciliation in many states.
“The success stories of the ongoing reconciliation efforts abound. Case points are Cross River State where the CECPC reconciled the two factions and appointed a State Caretaker Committee led by Sen. Matthew Mbu (Jnr.) as acting State Chairman. In Ondo State, all the Governorship aspirants were brought together, campaigned and worked for the successful re-election of the APC Candidate, Governor Rotimi Akeredolu (SAN).
“In Akwa Ibom State, the CECPC brought together all the contending interests under one roof and achieved true reconciliation. Today, in Akwa Ibom, leaders such as Sen. Godswill Akpabio, Obong Nsima Ekere, Mr. Umana O. Umana, Sen. Ita Enang, Barr. Bassey Dan Abia (Snr) among others are working together and in collective pursuit of Party interests.
At the national level and on the auspices of the CECPC, the Minister of Transportation, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi and Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva have resolved in party interest to work together and strengthen the Party, particularly in the South South geo-political zone.
*Conduct Convention in December or quit, Marafa faction warns
In another development, the Sen. Kabiru Garba Marafa faction of APC in Zamfara has called on Gov. Buni, to either organise the party’s national convention in December, in line with the mandate given to them or quit.
Marafa’s threat come amidst rejection of the committee’s silence on timetable for the party’s national convention.
Several APC stalwarts and groups have continued to mount pressure on the Buni’s committee to organise elective national convention where a new National Working Committee (NWC) members will emerge.
Marafa, who is leading a faction of the APC in Zamfara State, advised Buni: “Don’t overstretch your luck, we are not afraid of you.
“Many of us are aware that your appointment is unconstitutional, [section 17(iv) of our party’s constitution is very clear].
“We only kept quiet because of the respect we have for the. President, and the belief that the party needs to open a new page.”
“Be informed that any action you take outside your primary mandate of organising a convention that will usher in a new set of executives will be null, void and of no effect whatsoever. You have up to December to do the needful or we chase you out,” he said.