From Romanus Ugwu, Abuja
The All Progressives Congress (APC) Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee has insisted that the proposed ward Congress of the ruling party will hold on Saturday following the endorsement by the office of the Attorney-General despite the crisis trailing the exercise.
Briefing newsmen at the party’s National Secretariat in Abuja on Friday, the member, Representing North East in the Caretaker Committee, Prof. Mamman Tahir, insisted that the party’s resolution has the backing of the Attorney General of the Federation.
The ruling party in its earlier statement had threatened to come hard against anybody involved in parallel Congresses, stressing; “all activities or processes leading up to the congresses and thereafter which do not have the approval of the CECPC are exercises in futility. This is to say that any purported parallel congress, parallel party organ and or parallel party office, is to say the least a nullity.”
Explaining the motive behind the decision of the party to go ahead with the Congresses during the press briefing, Prof Tahir said: “I am here this afternoon to reconfirm that our Congresses are on course to hold on Saturday and this Committee is working closely with the Attorney-General of the Federation and he has offered advice that we are on good ground and we are comfortable with that position.
“So, our programmes will continue to roll on in the normal course of things. We want to assure teeming members of the APC across the country to come out and elect officers at the ward level. This party believes so much in grassroots politics, grassroots democracy; that is the strength of the party.
“We encourage all members to come out Saturday and elect leaders of their choice at that level before we move to the next stage of our democratisation process and constitution of the leadership of the party. This is in a nutshell the message from the party and the Secretariat,” he assured.
Asked as a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) what he feels about the situation on ground, he said: Well, I said we are comfortable with our status; That the court has not made any pronouncement or any judgement that undermines our position. And you don’t go into speculating what the courts will do in the future so we are comfortable with our position.”
Reiterating the party’s decision on parallel Congresses, he said: “Well, we are not aware of any parallel congresses going on. It is when the Congresses are held that is when we know there is any issue. Some of the states are having problems in them and the Caretaker Committee has been working very hard to ensure all the parties work together and remember the decision of the party is for consensus if possible.
“If there is no consensus, members will be free to go into election. This party is not about imposing leaderships on its members. So there is no reason for any parallel congresses at all because it is plural system. If 10 people come out to contest for a particular position so be it. The voters; card carrying members of the party will decide eventually who the members are,” he noted.
On the issue raised by some members that the Caretaker Committee gave more than one person congress nomination forms in the state, he replied: “I am not sure if I want to open up on some of this things. But I can explain along the line that I made in respect of Kwara. It is a very open process. We have sent our officials from the national secretariat to various state headquarters with forms for people to purchase.
“And as many people as there are willing to purchase forms, they are free to buy them. So there is no limitation. If there is any one who decide to buy form for some people, it is not against our rules. The most important thing is the electorate and the party members electing their leaders. So even in a ward, if 100 people buy form, there is no problem with that.
“At the end of the day, if they are unable to agree on a consensus which is our preferred choice, genuine consensus where all the stakeholders coming together to agree on who gets what position. If they are not able to agree they will now go to Congress and then elect whoever they wish to elect for any particular position. It is very simple,” he said.
The Caretaker Committee member equally spoke on the call by the party’s youth for the dissolution of the Committee, stressing: “The business of the law is not about speculating what a court will decide in a particular dispute. We deal with what the court have presently decided on. That is the way the law operates. People can have fear on anything.
“And whatever decision anybody takes, it will always be subject to litigations. People are free to test the propriety of any decision. You cannot stop anybody, no matter what it is. But we deal with the present at the moment. As I said, we are going on with the decision of the court. That is what we are working with,” he said.
On the fate of Zamfara and Anambra on the fear that Congress might not hold there, he said: “Another date is fixed for those states. Because we have election coming up in Anambra. We don’t want to jeopardize our position there. Though in Zamfara, only recently, they are still doing their validation and continuation of membership registration.”
While threatening to unleash sanctions on any disobedient party member, the party in a statement signed by the National Secretary APC Caretaker Committee, Sen John James Akpanudoedehe, warned: “For the avoidance of doubt, the party shall deploy the full weight of the law as stipulated in section 21 (D) of our party’s Constitution on any one who perpetrates such unlawful Act (s) and also on their sponsors.
“All persons who are affected by Article 31 of our Constitution should apply for waivers as stipulated under sub. Section 3 of the said Article 31, this is also clearly spelt out in the “Special provisions” of our guidelines,” the statement read.