The All Progressives Congress (APC) will on Sunday meet to decide a substantive date for the party’s national convention.
This is partly in response to the caution by President Muhammadu Buhari in an interview aired on the Nigerian Television Authority on Thursday.
In the interview, Buhari warned that by dilly-dallying, the APC may be setting itself up for defeat by the opposition, PDP.
The Chairman of the Northern Governors’ Forum and Governor of Plateau State, Simon Lalong, who met with the President at the Aso Rock Villa, Abuja, on Friday, said Buhari’s caution is a wake-up call for the party to have a seamless convention to avoid disintegrating.
Lalong who spoke with State House Correspondents said Sunday’s meeting will harp on the proposed date for the convention.
He said the APC governors have now assured the President that the convention will hold in February.
According to him, the party will redouble its effort and do the right thing.
While noting that the APC is a hodgepodge, the Plateau State Governor said what matters is that the party elects its representatives at the end of the day.
When asked about the ongoing efforts by APC leaders to avert losses in 2023, Lalong said;
“Thank you for that question. Yes, I agree that all the times there are meetings, especially taking final decisions on the party, I’m always part of it and part of it was also why I visited the President and the President still stands committed that there must be an immediate convention.
“You know, when a convention is coming, there are fears here and there, some people will tell you it will work, it will not work. I don’t want to jump to conclusions, but the visit to the President has already assured us and you know that there is already a notice that all the governors are meeting on Sunday. By Sunday, we will tell you when we are doing the convention.
“We’ve taken a date already. Before Christmas, we said we’re going to do the convention in February and we are still working towards that, as far as I’m concerned. Except things change from another angle. But as far as I’m concerned, we’re working for our convention in February.”
The Governor explained that despite the concerns the President raised, the governor’s are determined that nothing will stop them from holding a peaceful election.
“Some parties have done their own, the PDP did its own, nothing will stop APC from doing its own.
“So, all the fears that we’re talking about, which the President also re-echoed, are also telling the governors to please do more and keep the party alive. So, by God’s grace, we’re going to put our party alive,” he said.
The Forum’s Chairman added that steps will be taken to address all the issues affecting the conduct of the convention.
“Well, these are things we’re going to discuss, but I’m not concluding. But I always tell you that a political party is a cumulation of interests. The interests may be the same, they may not be the same, but at the end of the day, what we’ll do is that we are going to elect people who are going to represent you.
“People will come with different interests and so when you are preparing like this, you have different interests and those different interests will be aired in different ways.
“But I just want to assure you that when we meet, we’ll harmonise all interests and come out as one APC. That’s what we’re hoping for.
“Whatever will be the interests that we’re going to discuss, I have great hope that at the end of the day, our goal is to elect people who will take care of our party, because that will be the beginning of the process towards electing those who will take over from this present government.”
On whether the APC can influence the withdrawal of ongoing court cases against the convention, Lalong affirmed that the legal tussle may be nothing of consequence.
According to him, there are procedures for holding court processes.
"Many of the court processes were there when we set up the caretaker committee, but up to this moment, if you go to take a census of some of the court proceedings, you will realise that a lot of them have been resolved out of court. So, it is still the duty and function of the party to resolve such issues.
“But we must not wait to resolve all court cases before going for the convention. I don’t think so because there are also ways to resolve court processes, even after the convention.
“I had a court process in my state, that did not stop me from going on and at the end of the day, we resolved the court process and we’re still going on, preparing and waiting for the convention," he said.
On whether the APC can meet the speculated February 5 date for the convention given the need for a mandatory 21-day notice to the Independent National Electoral Commission, Lalong stated; “Well, I’m not the chairman of the convention committee, but I want to assure you that we’ve called a meeting for Sunday and if there is a meeting on Sunday, and you’re thinking about next Friday. Just wait and see what will happen before next Friday. I don’t want to conclude now.
“You’re already talking of litigation, you conclude, somebody will go and file a case tomorrow. So, I don’t want us to conclude that. But I want to assure you that we are meeting. We already sampled the minds of many of the governors.
“We’re meeting and we’re very hopeful that we’re going to consider the admonition given by the President, it’s a warning signal to all of us to sit up and ensure that we have a seamless, very clean, fair and transparent convention so that our party will not get disintegrated.”
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