There is rising tension in the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) following an alleged plan by the Chairman of the National Caretaker Committee and Yobe State Governor, Mai Mala Buni, to transmute to the national chairman of the party, THISDAY has learnt.
THISDAY gathered that Buni’s alleged ambition may have stopped the caretaker committee from announcing dates for national and states congresses in the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory to usher in new party leadership.
Sources familiar with the power game in the party told THISDAY that Buni’s game plan is to resign his position as governor and join the race for the party’s national chairman.
He’s billed to end second term tenure in May 2023.
But in a swift response, Buni dismissed the claim, saying he has no intention to resign his position as governor.
The caretaker committee was given up to this month to conduct a national convention and states’ congresses after a reconciliation of the members as well as the revalidation of membership registers.
The sources said a self-succession motive by Buni to become the substantive national chairman is currently stalling moves to hold a national convention.
However, many of the governors elected on the platform of the party are said to be opposed to Buni’s bid to transform into the substantive chairman of the party.
The APC governors opposed to the Buni’s ambition, it was learnt, are those who would be rounding off their second term in office by 2023.
Also, the ministers who have political ambitions by 2023 are opposed to the transmutation plans of Buni and some selected members of the APC caretaker committee.
THISDAY gathered that a National Executive Committee (NEC) of the party would soon be summoned.
A special NEC meeting of the APC in June 2020 had appointed Buni, a former national secretary of the party, as chairman of the caretaker committee following the leadership crisis triggered by the suspension of the then National Chairman of the party, Mr. Adams Oshiomhole.
The caretaker committee was given a six-month mandate to organise a convention that would elect a new National Working Committee (NWC).
But the committee sought and was granted a six-month extension to complete its mandate.
But after 12 months in office, no date has been announced for the election of the executive committee members.
THISDAY also gathered that the Buni-led caretaker committee has begun to plan another meeting of NEC to seek an elongation of its tenure.
A member of the committee that spoke to THISDAY in confidence said there is a plot for the Buni committee to seek an elongation or an outright self-perpetuation of members in office.
The argument, the source said, would be that an election from ward to states and eventually, national convention in the party would further divide the party at a time when it should be consolidating in the states ahead of the 2023 general election.
He added: “It was against this backdrop that some committee members, albeit with the consent of Buni, were considering presenting to the NEC that he should rather resign as governor and continue at the national convention, where he would be affirmed as the substantive national chairman of the party.”
The source stated that since his emergence as caretaker committee chairman, Buni has not spent up to four days a week in Yobe State as he stays in Abuja most of the time.
Before winning the election to become the governor, he was the national secretary of APC when Oshiomhole was the national chairman.
“Although this has not been tabled before the NEC, members of the party, who should know, were already protesting against the idea of members self-perpetuating themselves under any guise,” the source said.
Some of the APC members who did not want to be quoted said they had concluded plans to seek legal action against any plans by the committee members to self-perpetuate themselves in office.
Another member told THISDAY that the Buni committee has already overstayed its welcome.
A member of the committee also confirmed the self-succession bid, saying: “We were appointed to right the wrongs of Adams Oshiomhole, and not this idea of not announcing the dates for the wards, local government, states and national convention.
“Anything outside announcing the dates of the national convention and other dates for the states congresses is outside our mandate. If by the next month, there is no date announced for the elections, I will speak out and also resign. What is happening is not our mandate.
“We were appointed in June 2020 and our mandate was renewed in December to end in June. Any further plan to seek an extension or perpetuate us in office, count me out.”
But in a swift response, Buni dismissed the allegation of self- perpetuation, saying he has no intention to resign his position as the governor of Yobe State to become the substantive chairman of the party.
Buni’s Director of Media, Mr. Mamman Mohammed, said he already has a job, and he is not looking for another one.
He said: “It is a blatant lie; it is just a fabrication. The governor has a job, which he’s doing and he is not looking for any other job. It is not even worth responding because it does not even get an inch close to anything obtainable with the governor.
“The task before him is to build a viable and vibrant political party; organise a very successful congress and convention and handover the party to elected officials.”
When contacted yesterday on the purported plan to convey NEC meeting of the party to seek further extension, the National Secretary of the party, Senator John Akpanudoedehe, said “no comment.”
But a party source, who pleaded anonymity, told THISDAY that conducting party congresses and convention this month was not feasible, as there is no road map.
He stated: “The president has not agreed with what the caretaker committee is trying to do as regards another elongation. The president is still adamant, he has not said anything. He is waiting for them to convince him.
“If we want to conduct the congress, it starts from the ward to the local government to the state. It is those who emerge from these congresses that will form the national delegates to the convention. But we have not done any of this and there is no date scheduled for it at the moment.”
The party source added ward congress will take a week or two, same as local government congresses and state congresses.
He said there would also be an appeal for ward, local and state congresses which would take two weeks each.
The source added: “Now we are in Lagos to authenticate the membership register for it to be used for the primary election, which we are in the process. We have done that of Ogun, we are now in Lagos. We have not authenticated that of other states, how do you now expect a congress to come up.”
Asked if the membership register was authenticated by the party officials before the primary, he replied: “They didn’t use it, they by-passed it. If there is any litigation against them, they will win in court. They didn’t use the approved membership register; they falsified the one they used. Even in Abeokuta, they are falsified.”
The source stated that there is no way the party can conduct congress without authenticating and finalising the registration of new members.
Chuks Okocha and Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja