How Buni convention delay cost APC three governors

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The All Progressives Congress (APC) lost an opportunity to add three opposition governors to its ranks last year following the commencement of the ward to state congresses, party sources say.

Governor Mai Mala Buni-led Caretaker/Extra-ordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC), according to sources, had gone far in its talks with the governors to switch camps when pressure began to mount on the committee to flag off the congresses.

The committee bowed to the pressure, the congresses took place and thus ended the negotiations with the opposition governors who feared that moving into the ruling party without them having some influence in its state structure would render them powerless in party affairs.

One governor each from the Southeast, Southwest and the Northwest geo-political zones was to defect to the APC, it was gathered.

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A source said discussions broke down soon after the congresses took off in July with the three governors feeling vulnerable in the power sharing formula that emerged from the congresses.

Despite assurances from the CECPC, it was gathered that the three governors, two of whom are first-time governors and the third a second timer, withdrew from further talks and decided to remain in their parties.

“The delay in the conduct of Zamfara State congresses greatly helped secure the defection of Governor Matawalle Bello, but when the pressure and call for the national convention divided the party into two, the caretaker committee had to commence congresses before the national convention,” a source told The Nation.

“The Caretaker Committee tried to buy time to conclude the negotiation but the pressure mounted on the committee forced it to succumb to conducting the congresses.

“When it became clear that the negotiation could not be concluded as the governors were yet to extract enough assurance from the party on the structure, they had to back out.”

Governor Dave Umahi (Ebonyi), Governor Ben Ayade (Cross River) and Governor Bello Matawalle (Zamfara) had earlier dumped the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to join the APC.

One of the sources said the high wire negotiation which required some level of confidentiality led some people to think that the Buni committee was dragging its feet to have its tenure elongated.

Confirming the development, the Secretary to the Caretaker Committee, Senator John James Akpanudoedehe, said that for the conduct of the congresses, three more governors of the opposition would have swelled the rank of APC governors.

Akpanudoedehe however declined to name the governors but confirmed that the party lost them due to the congresses.

His words: “We would have gotten three more governors, but when we started the congresses, we lost them because there is no governor that will come to a party without having a structure. Remember we had brought in three other governors earlier.

“We lost some governors, some lawmakers and others but we got more in return.”

The immediate past Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the party, Hon. Yekini Nabena, in a telephone interview in Abuja said the window of negotiation has not been closed.

“The space is still open. The window for negotiation is not closed,” he said.

“It’s not about having the structure. You remember we lost the governor of Adamawa State. He had the structure but the people rejected him and the party lost the state.”

He however said that the prospect of attracting more members from the opposition is getting brighter even with the conclusion of all the congresses. But he cautioned that the party needs to get both the national convention and the party primary right ahead of the 2023 elections.

“Once we fail to get the primary right, it will affect us at the general elections. We have to get it right to attract more members from the opposition,” Nabena said.
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