The All Progressives Congress (APC) has shelved plans to hold its national convention on April 29, THISDAY has learnt.
The national leadership of the ruling party which had been under pressure to hold a national convention since emerging victorious at the 2015 presidential election, shelved the exercise citing financial difficulties.
According to the APC constitution, it is mandatory for the leadership to hold a mid-term national convention at least once in two years and critics of the current leadership have been blaming the National Working Committee (NWC) led by the National Chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, for failing to abide by this provision.
But last month, the party issued a statement assuring that its national convention will now take place not later than April 29.
In the same vein, the NWC went ahead to set up an adhoc committee, to review the party’s constitution and submit recommendations for onward ratification at the mid-term convention.
The party also said that it would hold state congresses before the convention to nominate delegates and to fill vacancies that occurred principally from political appointments, deaths and resignations.
However, signs that the party might not go ahead with the convention as scheduled came when the constitution review committee headed by the National Legal Adviser, Muiz Banire, had to abandon its assignment.
THISDAY gathered from a key leadership source at the weekend that the party could not fund the activities of the constitution review committee which had submitted it budget to Odigie-Oyegun.
It was not just lack of funds that is preventing the leadership from going ahead with the convention, there are other issues ranging from the Executive-Legislative row, unresolved disputes in some state chapters of the party.
It was learnt that the party’s national leadership was conscious of the fact that this crisis might dove-tail to the convention and may likely cause more damage to the fragile peace in the party.
The party source who confided in THISDAY said yesterday that the party had decided to postpone the convention to another date to be decided at the National Executive Committee (NEC).
“Convention is not likely to hold on April 29. Only the NEC can say categorically that there will be no convention as scheduled, the NWC cannot decide unilaterally to postpone the convention. So there will be a NEC meeting to formally postpone the convention and this will be summoned before April 29
“Although the NWC has made up its mind to postpone the convention, it does not want to usurp the powers of the NEC to decide on the dates for the event, hence it plans to first convene NEC meeting which can now take final stance on the matter,” he said.
According to the source, the NWC will table before the NEC meeting issues bordering on inadequacy of funds to run the party as well as other matters needing urgent attention.
The source also disclosed that the work of the constitutional review committee had to be suspended due to lack of funds.
Giving more insights into the outcome of the initiative by the party to source funds through contributions from political office holders, the source said considerable progress had been made with respect to getting assistance from federal lawmakers.
“The National Assembly has responded very well, although not yet hundred per cent but they have been the most responsive, that is both arms of the National Assembly, in terms of remittances,” he said.
According to the party source, the poor financial state of the ruling party is biting hard on the leadership which presently manages to offset monthly wage bills of its staff,” he said.
Another party source said that there had been mounting electricity bills which recently led to the disconnection of electricity supply to the national headquarters of APC in Wuse II, Abuja.
But when contacted, the party’s National Publicity Secretary, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi, said he was not aware of any plan to stop the convention from holding as scheduled.
He told THISDAY on telephone on Monday that the National Working Committee had not yet decided to the contrary and that he believes there was still ample time to get the processes going.
As part of preparations for the convention, the leadership of the APC had said it would embark on wide ranging consultations with leaders and stakeholders on some of the raging contentious issues.
But THISDAY gathered yesterday that the party may not have achieved the measure of success expected from the consultations, hence the delay in going ahead with plans for the national convention.
Attempts made by the leadership of APC to reach out to ministers and government appointees for funding assistance failed to yield fruit, as the ministers rebuffed a scheduled meeting with the NWC last month.
The party is also not getting the desired support from governors elected on its platform.
Speaking recently on the perceived cold relationship between the governors and the leadership of the party, the Kano State Kovernor, Dr. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, said the era of taking money from government coffers to fund political parties had gone.
He said that political party as an institution was supposed to create activities that will make it to be self-reliant.
Ganduje said the national officers of the APC ought to look inward and come up with strategies to raise funds, even as he gave assurance that the party would not crumble.
The party has been facing severe financial crisis to the extent of being unable to ensure regular staff salary and other bills at it national secretariat.
Ganduje also defended other government appointees saying that President Muhammad Buhari had made it clear that it would no longer be business as usual under the present administration, and that the era of dipping hands in public coffers to fund party is gone.
He said that the party leadership should begin to look for ways of generating funds internally to sustain its operations.
“Yes. It is still part of the change mantra. People were used to getting cheap money, some struggle to be part of the officials in order to make money but the Buhari here is not like that; so if the party has programmes on the ground, the government have no problem to see how the party can be funded but let me tell you the issue of taking government money to fund the party does not arise now.
“We have to look inwards, Like in Kano state chapter, we devised a system of funding the party from the allowances from political office holders, some form of activities by the political party that generates money and so on,” he said.