APC membership revalidation: We won’t join issues with Tinubu, Akande, Oshiomhole —Udoedehe

As complaints continue to trail the ongoing All Progressives Congress (APC) membership registration and revalidation exercise across the country, there are strong indications that the APC Caretaker and Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee led by Yobe State governor, Mai Mala Buni, is rattled by the condemnation of the initiative by some of the party’s chieftains. 

Former Osun state governor and erstwhile interim chairman of the party Chief Bisi Akande, penultimate week, dismissed the exercise as a waste of lean resources. He also warned the Caretaker Committee against plotting to push for tenure elongation. 

While participating in the process last weekend, former Lagos State governor, Senator Bola Tinubu spoke in a similar vein, as he maintained that the party could always fall back on the membership register generated in 2014. 

Immediate past national chairman of the party, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, while speaking during the week, after revalidating his membership of the party at his local government in Edo State, dismissed the ongoing process as a breach of the party’s constitution. 

Party sources revealed that the caretaker leadership was disappointed that its top chieftains decided to go public to express strong reservations about a programme that was unanimously endorsed by a statutory organ of the party, the National Executive Committee (NEC), at its meeting held at the Presidential Villa last December. Speaking on the position expressed separately by the trio of Tinubu, Chief Akande and Oshiomhole, National Secretary of the caretaker committee, Senator John Akpan Udoedehe, told Sunday Tribune that their disaffection with the exercise would not in any way detract from its integrity. 

He maintained that the committee derived its authority from the NEC which endorsed the exercise. “We are guided by the vision of NEC and the caretaker. We take it as their personal opinion or as an advice. They must have passed their comments, based on information available to them, but they should have reached out to us,” he said. 

Asked if the leadership of the party was rattled that its top chieftains went public with their observations, Senator Udoedehe said the likes of Chief Akande and Tinubu are respected leaders the caretaker committee would not join issues with. 

“Whether we are comfortable or not, the party is focused and we don’t want to join issues with Chief Akande and Senator Tinubu. They only gave us advice. So, we won’t trade punches with them. But few opinions won’t distract us. We are very focused. 

“If you go around, you will be impressed with the turnout and the advice we are getting. Don’t forget that those leaders have also registered. So, it won’t distract us from our mandate. We are guided by the constitution,” he added. 

The deputy national publicity secretary of the party, Yekeen Nabena equally noted that despite the comments, the leaders concerned still participated in the process. 

“That should be expected in a large political family like the APC. There is no cause for alarm. Did Senator Bola Tinubu not participate? Did he not revalidate his membership? If it wasn’t worth it, why did he participate?” he asked. 

Speaking on the pockets of crisis trailing the exercise, Nabena blamed those he accused of lacking adequate knowledge about what it was meant to achieve of trying to exclude others from registration. 

“Some people want to monopolise it, forgetting that it isn’t the same thing as state congresses. They want to prevent others from being registered. The reason is to capture a large number of people and in the South-East, people are joining the party in numbers,” he said. 

Spokesman of a group, Concerned APC Stakeholders, Abdullahi Dauda, in his critique of the exercise, asked the committee to create an appeal panel to allow aggrieved members who could be disenfranchised in the ongoing process seek redress. He also called for an extension of the deadline for the exercise. 

He said: “In some states, the exercise is going on well; in some other states people are complaining. “I think there must be an appeal committee to look at the exercise and listen to grievances. There are lots of complaints coming from different states. Some people have raised their voices that they are being excluded. 

“So, what we are expecting the Governor Buni team to do is to extend the exercise. One week isn’t enough. From Jigawa, Rivers, everywhere people are complaining. I think they should be sincere enough to look at the complaints.” 

But the party’s national secretary, however, ruled out an extension of the exercise. 

“There won’t be an extension. We have a time table and we want to stick to it. Those states where you have protests like Delta, they are driven by ego. It has nothing to do with our preparations. In terms of logistics, we have adequate materials. So, it has nothing to do with us.” 

Former national chairman of the defunct United Progressives Party, UPP, and chieftain of the APC, Chekwas Okorie, described the exercise as successful in the South-East, but for the rejection coming from the camp of the immediate past governor of Imo State and Senator representing Imo West, Rochas Okorocha. 

“The people of the SouthEast are embracing it, because they see it as a big opportunity to join a party that has remembered to do for them what a party they fraternised with for 16 years did not do for them. 

“They are taking advantage of it going by the fact that the waiver given in APC enables you to enjoy the right to vote and be voted for, once you join the party. 

“So, this is an attraction and in spite of the challenges of the time, insecurity and COVID-19, the people of the South-East are embracing the APC. 

“Everything is going on well in the South-East. It is only in Imo State that you have the Rochas Okorocha group putting up some resistance. But the ordinary people are the real newsmakers and they aren’t making noise about it,” he said.

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