Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State on Wednesday said the governors of the All Progressives Congress (APC) discovered a grand conspiracy between the lawyers of the ousted Chairman of the APC Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee, Mai Mala Buni; and some fifth columnists to postpone the national convention of the party through a court injunction.
El-Rufai further revealed that after the governors discovered this plan, they informed the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), on Sunday who ordered the immediate removal of Buni and the installment of Governor Abubakar Bello of Niger State as the acting chairman.
The Kaduna State governor said these on Channels Television’s ‘Politics Today’ programme, adding that the plan was to postpone the convention till May which coincides with the deadline set by the Independent National Electoral Commission for all political parties to conduct their presidential primaries.
He said the court injunction which was obtained in November last year, was never challenged by Buni. Rather, Buni’s lawyers agreed with the position of those who instituted the suit.
El-Rufai stated, “We got to know of a court order last year. It was obtained in November. A member of the party went to court to say there must not be a convention until his case against the party is disposed of which can take months or years and the lawyers of Buni went to court and agreed with the person and nobody knew about this order.
“It was a hidden nuclear weapon to destroy the convention which further made us believe that there are fifth columnists in the party that want to bring this party down because if we don’t have (convention) and we go ahead with the primaries we might likely have our candidates lose all their seats as the case in Zamfara.
“We reported to the President that no action had been taken on the order. He said the Niger state governor must take over on Monday and we should use whatever legal means necessary to make sure that the convention is delivered.”
El-Rufai further stated that at least 19 out of the 22 APC governors as well as the President were firmly behind Bello as the new caretaker chairman of the party.
He said there were about two governors who were still backing Buni, adding that they were the ones sponsoring fake news.
“Bello has the President’s full backing and the backing of at least 19 of the 23 progressive governors and deputy governors. There are some governors not fully on board and are the ones planting fake stories. Since Monday he took over, we have substantial progress,” said the governor.
El-Rufai said the President had signed off on some recommendations including the issue of zoning but the Secretary of the caretaker committee, Senator John Akpanudoedehe, refused to take instructions from Governor Bello who is acting chairman.
The Kaduna governor said Akpanudoedehe, who has continued to issue statements insisting that Buni remained chairman, would be dealt with when the time is right.
He added that the National Executive Council meeting, which is the highest decision-making body of the party, would be meeting next week along with the 22 APC governors, Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo and Buhari who would be joining the meeting virtually.
El-Rufai stated, “I can assure you that even when he (Buni) returns to the country, he will handle no position. The National Secretary, I believe, the CECPC has taken action against him already. The CECPC has taken a decision on him. The CECPC will explain this decision in due time.”
The governor said all the APC governors had relocated to Abuja and would continue to work round the clock to ensure that the convention holds on March 26.
In a swift reaction, however, Akpanudoedehe denied the allegations levelled against the Buni-led committee.
The secretary described the action of the APC governors as treacherous, accusing them of stabbing Buni in the back because he was out of the country on medical treatment and was not in a position to defend himself.
Akpanudoedehe also dismissed El-Rufai’s threat to remove him, adding that no man should elevate himself above God.
He said it was unfortunate that the likes of El-Rufai were badmouthing Buni before the President despite the many achievements he had attained in the APC since he took over in 2020.
The secretary argued that all the decisions taken by Buni were backed by the governors. He therefore wondered why they were throwing him under the bus.
Akpanudoedehe stated, “The only advantage they have is that they can smooth-talk. Buni does not talk much. Why didn’t they refuse when the party handed the structures to the governors? Why did they not come to the national secretariat then to complain?
“Now almost all the states the governors are controlling are in court seeking that the convention should be stopped because they need to settle their cases, that is not my concern but I want you to close your eyes and see a brother of yours lying on a sick bed being operated upon and you see your follow governors holding knife and stabbed you on your bed you would understand this kind of person these people are.
“It is like the case of Caesar and Brutus. After working so hard for the party, they stuck their knives in him. If you have love, why did you take the issue to the President? Their aim was to paint him black before the President. They know this President loves Buni. This is the only person that is loyal to the President. None of them loves the President like Buni. They are agents of destruction, Nigerians should disregard these people. They are playing to the gallery.”
In a related development, the acting APC caretaker chairman on Wednesday in Abuja assured party members that all corners of the country would be represented in the plans ahead of the March 26 national convention.
He also explained that the number of some sub-committees for the convention had been slashed but the March 26 convention date remains sacrosanct.
Bello spoke shortly before inaugurating chairpersons, secretaries and members of the convention planning committee.
“If you didn’t see your name on the list please don’t be offended. I’m sure other opportunities will come in future. I want to remind you that you have to work hard to ensure that the National convention will go on March 26, 2022. That day is sacrosanct Insha Allah.”
Also at the party secretariat was former Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State who is also a Presidential aspirant. The former governor, who expressed solidarity with the new APC caretaker chair, argued that it will be wrong to leave Bola Tinubu out of the affairs of the party as plans are underway for the convention.
In attendance were: Governors Mohammed Abubakar of Jigawa State, Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State, Bello Matawalle of Zamfara, former Senate President Ken Nnamani, APC Youth Leader, Ibrahim Jalo-Waziri, former minister of interior, General Abdulrahman Dambazzau (retd.), among others. Akpanudoedehe was absent.
The APC convention planning sub-committee, which consisted of about 1,700 people, had been cut down to less than 500.
Some of those dropped include: a former Minister of Aviation, Femi Fani-Kayode; Akpanudoedehe and Buni.
The 20 sub-committees include: the Central Planning Committee led by Bello; screening sub-committee led by Governor Bello Masari of Katsina State; the Screening Appeals Committee chaired by Senate President Ahmad Lawan; the Election Committee headed by Governor Mohammed Abubakar of Jigawa State and the Election Appeal chaired by Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State.
Other sub-committees are: The Legal Committee chaired by the Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami; the Accommodation Committee led by Governor Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano State; the Venues/Decoration/Site Services Committee to be headed by Governor Simon Lalong of Pleteau State; the Transport and Logistics Committee led by Ogun State Governor, Dapo Abiodun; the Media Committee is to be chaired by Governor Dave Umahi.
The party had earlier on Wednesday zoned its chairmanship position to the North-Central and the Secretary to the South-West.
The APC on Wednesday released the zoning arrangements for its March 26 national convention.
In a statement by its Director (Publicity) Salihu Dambatta, titled, ‘APC CECPC approves zoning formula for national convention,’ the party zoned the posts of the National Chairman and the National Secretary to the North-Central and South-West respectively.
According to the statement, the South-East will produce the Deputy National Chairman South while the South-South will produce the Deputy National Publicity Secretary, among others.
It said “During its regular meeting on March 8, 2022, the Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee of the All Progressives Congress approved the recommendations of the Committee on zoning.”
The North-Central, which includes Benue, Kogi, Kwara, Nasarawa, Niger and Plateau states, has the following posts: National Chairman; National Vice- Chairman (North Central); Deputy National Secretary; Deputy National Legal Adviser; Deputy National Publicity Secretary, Zonal Secretary, Zonal Youth Leader; Zonal Organising Secretary, Zonal Women Leader, Zonal Special Leader (Persons with Disabilities – PWD) and National Ex – Officio Member
The South-South consisting of Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, Edo and Rivers states will produce National Vice Chairman (South South), National Publicity Secretary, National Women Leader, Deputy National Treasurer, Deputy National Welfare Secretary, Zonal Secretary, Zonal Youth Leader, Zonal Organising Secretary, Zonal Women Leader, Zonal Special Leader (Persons with Disabilities – PWD) and National Ex – Officio Member.
The South-West comprising Ekiti, Lagos, Ogun, Ondo, Osun and Oyo states, will produce National Secretary, National Vice Chairman (South West), National Youth Leader, National Physically Challenged Leader, Deputy National Auditor, Zonal Secretary, Zonal Youth Leader, Zonal Organising Secretary, Zonal Women Leader, Zonal Special Leader (Persons with Disabilities – PWD) and National Ex – Officio Member.
The South-East comprising Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu and Imo states will produce the Deputy National Chairman (South), National Vice Chairman (South East), National Treasurer, National Welfare Secretary, Deputy National Organising Secretary, Zonal Secretary, Zonal Youth Leader, Zonal Organising Secretary, Zonal Women Leader, Zonal Special Leader (Persons with Disabilities – PWD) and National Ex – Officio Member
The North-East consisting of Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, Taraba and Yobe states has the following posts Deputy National Chairman (North), National Auditor, National Vice Chairman (North East), Deputy National Financial Secretary, Deputy National Women Leader, Zonal Secretary, Zonal Youth Leader, Zonal Organising Secretary, Zonal Women Leader, Zonal Special Leader (Persons with Disabilities – PWD) and National Ex – Officio Member
The North-West comprising Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Sokoto and Zamfara states will produce National Vice Chairman (North West) National Legal Adviser, National Organising Secretary, National Financial Secretary, Deputy National Youth Leader, Zonal Secretary, Zonal Youth Leader, Zonal Organising Secretary, Zonal Women Leader, Zonal Special Leader (Persons with Disabilities – PWD) and National Ex-Officio Member. – Punch.