A fresh crisis is looming in the ruling All Progressives Congress amid fresh plans by the APC to bar members of the National Assembly – who are not principal officers – from taking part in the Presidential primary.
Currently, all serving and former members of the APC are allowed to participate in the party’s convention but this could change should the amendment scale through.
Section 12.1 of the current APC constitution says members of the national convention shall include: members of the Board of Trustees, national chairman and all members of the national executive committee, serving and past presidents, vice presidents, serving and past governors and deputy governors who are members of the party.
Others include: serving and past members of the National Assembly who are members of the party, serving and past Speakers, Deputy Speakers and other principal officers of the Houses of Assembly and all serving members of the Houses of Assembly who are members of the party, party chairmen in the states and members of the States’ Working Committee.
However, a copy of the proposed amendment of the APC constitution which was obtained by Sunday PUNCH showed that in the proposed amended constitution, only principal officers which include- Speaker, Deputy Speaker, Senate President, Deputy Senate President, Majority Leader, Deputy Minority Leader, Chief Whip, Deputy Chief Whip, Minority Leader and Deputy Minority leader would be allowed to attend party conventions.
For the National Assembly, the amended Section 12 identifies the national convention members as “the President and Deputy President of the Senate, who are members of the party, the Speaker and Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, who are members of the party, Majority or Minority Leader, party whip and their deputies in the Senate and House of Representatives, who are members of the party, two serving senators from each geo-political zone of the country, who are members of the party, to be nominated by senators from such zone, one member of the House of Representatives from each geo-political zone of the country, who is a member of the party, to be nominated by members of the House of Representative from such zone.”
This means the highest possible number of APC federal lawmakers that would be able to attend a party convention and vote at a Presidential primary would not be more than 30
A member of the National Assembly told an online media that the move would be challenged by the over 373 APC members in the legislative arm of government.
The lawmaker said it was obvious that the APC Caretaker Committee led by Mai Mala Buni was out to punish lawmakers for defying the party’s wishes when it amended the Electoral Act.
He further alleged that the Buni committee was seeking to whittle down the influence of the House of Representatives, many of whom had already endorsed the Presidential ambition of APC leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.
“You will recall that many members of the northern caucus as well as the South-West caucus have declared their support for Tinubu. The National Assembly, which constitutes not less than 40 per cent of the total representation of the Presidential primaries, will now be pushed aside because of Buni and his clique? We will never accept this,” he said.
Meanwhile, the APC is also seeking to drop its slogan ‘change’ and adopt ‘progress’ as its new slogan.
When contacted on the telephone, the Secretary of the APC Caretaker Committee, Senator John Akpanudoedehe, said the proposal was just a document and everyone was free to make amendments.
Akpanudoedehe said he would not respond to any further questions when he was asked to explain the rationale behind the decision to bar National Assembly members from future conventions.
“Make your submissions. That’s what this (proposal) is all about. That is a proposal. You write your contributions, we will look into it. It is not for me to answer. It is not my document. It is the document of the party,” he said.