Ziona, who was the head of a local Christian sect that permits polygamy, had 39 wives and 94 children.
Dark clouds are gathering over the possibility of an all-inclusive national convention of the All Progressives Congress (APC), expected to hold this year.
There is palpable tension, considering that the reconciliation among party leaders and state chapters is yet to yield total fruition.
Pundits say the party may be heading for a constitutional crisis if the issue of convention is not handled meticulously.
The APC National Executive Committee (NEC) had in June, 2020, dissolved the Adams Oshiomhole-led National Working Committee (NWC) over an alleged abuse of office.
The NEC also constituted a 13-member Caretaker/Extraordinary National Convention Planning Committee headed by Yobe State Governor Mai Mala Buni to administer the party’s affairs and within six months, organise a national convention where a new crop of NWC members would emerge.
Governor Buni told newsmen recently in Abuja that the committee had recorded significant milestones in the areas of membership drive and reconciliation, among others.
The governor also said the committee had within the period resolved life-threatening challenges in the party in 11 states across the country.
But our correspondent reports that four months into the committee’s timeframe, it has not officially communicated its plans for the convention, giving room for speculation of a possible tenure extension.
Sequel to this, there is uproar in the ruling party over an alleged plot to extend the tenure of the caretaker committee and shift the party’s national convention to the first quarter of 2021.
Credible sources told our reporter that some party stalwarts were planning to revolt if the decision to shift the convention later than December 2020 was considered.
Already, a group under the umbrella of Concerned APC Members, led by the spokesman, Abdullahi Dauda, had on October 12, 2020, given the caretaker a 14-day ultimatum to roll out a convention programme for the party.
The group specifically asked the committee to, within 14 days, constitute a convention planning committee to kick off the process that would lead to an elective national convention.
“We are aware that the composition of the committee is illegal and alien to our party’s constitution, and we are aware that some members are in court already as regards that anomaly.
“We are giving the caretaker committee a 14-day ultimatum to roll out a plan of action/timetable for the party’s December elective convention or face mass demonstration of party members nationwide,’’ Dauda said at a press conference in Abuja on Wednesday.
But the party seemed unperturbed as its deputy national publicity secretary, Yekini Nabena, in a swift reaction in a statement noted that the group had no right to issue such an ultimatum.
The party’s image maker said the ultimatum would not help in resolving the issue of convention.
He added that if they had a solution on how to fast-track the processes leading to the convention, they should present it officially to the party’s national secretariat for consideration.
However, the Buni-led caretaker committee has started meeting with some NEC members and other stakeholders ahead of the expiration of its tenure in December.
The caretaker had on Wednesday met with all the APC chairmen in the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja in what analysts said looked like a form of lobby for the extension of its tenure.
The committee also on Thursday met with the non-NWC NEC members at the party’s national secretariat in Abuja to discuss issues concerning the soul of the party.
It is imperative to note that the state chairmen are also members of the NEC, which is the second highest decision-making organ of the party, after the convention, which is the first organ.
Credible sources at the APC headquarters told our correspondent that the committee would meet with other stakeholders on how to reposition the party.
However, the meetings are generating furore as some party stalwarts are alleging that the committee had resorted to lobbying various stakeholders to secure tenure elongation.
An APC stalwart from the North told our reporter in a telephone chat yesterday that, “If care is not taken, fresh crisis would erupt and there will be serious implosion in the APC.
“All these are threats to APC’s chances of retaining power beyond 2023.
“If issues like these are not handled with caution and wisdom, APC will collapse at the expiration of President Buhari’s tenure.’’
But when contacted for a reaction, Nabena told our reporter that there was no discussion on tenure extension for the caretaker committee.
“What does the caretaker committee members stand to gain if their tenure is extended?
“What will the committee benefit by lobbying stakeholders in the party for an extension of their tenure?
“They are doing reconciliation and you know the state chairmen and other stakeholders are also involved.
“So the committee is meeting with different stakeholders as part of the reconciliation process,’’ he said.
On the issue of convention he said, “When we get to that point we will let the public and our teaming supporters know.’’
A member of the caretaker committee who earlier declined comment on the matter but was further pressed by our reporter, said in confidence, “Let me assure all party members that adequate preparations will be made for the convention when the time comes.
“We are never intimidated by the kind of things people are talking about.
“This party needs to be strong, and that is what we are doing now so that it will be in the saddle beyond 2023.
“We must avoid incidents of crisis.
“We must avoid decisions that will further divide our members or bring more problems for our party.
“We must take decisions that will unite us.’’
There are concerns that apart from not having the NWC, the APC also does not have a Board of Trustees (BoT) in place.
Tongues are wagging, especially as some key stakeholders are predicting doom if President Muhammadu Buhari’s tenure elapses in 2023.
Buhari made key decisions that led to the resolution of the intense crisis that characterised the party.
The crescendo was the dissolution of the Adams Oshiomhole-led NWC this year by the NEC.
A former governor of Imo State, Rochas Okorocha, recently said Buhari was the only force keeping the APC alive.
Okorocha, a former chairman of the Progressive Governors Forum (PGF), said at a press conference in Abuja that the crisis rocking the party was part of the consequences of relegating the founding members.
He said, “The APC died the day the leadership abandoned the progressive and democratic ideals on which it was founded.”
Similarly, the director-general of the PGF, Salihu Mohammed Lukman, told newsmen recently in Abuja that the party must advance ways to stay afloat.
If elected at the next convention, the new NWC members would lead the party into the 2023 general elections.
~With Daily Trust report
Ziona, who was the head of a local Christian sect that permits polygamy, had 39 wives and 94 children.
With a total of 167 members, the late Ziona’s family is the world’s largest, according to local media, although this depends on whether the grandchildren, of whom Ziona has 33, are counted.
The Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, has said the South-East producing the next president will help in addressing the feelings of marginalisation in the region.
He, however, lamented that the 1999 Constitution doesn’t support zoning, which would have boosted the chance of the region in the 2023 presidential election.
Ngige who spoke during Channels Television’s Newsnight programme stated that what suits the current situation is the 1995 Constitution by the late General Sani Abacha.
“The people in the area have perceived that they are marginalised, that they are unappreciated, whether it was done by propaganda and brainwashing or not, that is now immaterial.
“So I agree with that proposal, unfortunately, the Nigerian Constitution does not have that. This is where I quarrel with those who authored the 1999 Constitution.
“I still believe today, tomorrow, the Abacha Constitution of 1995 that espouses rotational presidency into the six zones in Nigeria, a single five-year tenure in order to heal all the wounds; the wounds of civil war, and the wound of June 12.
“Now, that constitution would have been the best constitution for Nigerians to use for the next 30 years by which the six zones would have tested the presidency,” the minister stated.
The Community Court of Justice of the Economic Community of West African States has fixed June 22 for a hearing in the suit challenging the Federal Government’s suspension of the operations of the microblogging platform, Twitter, in Nigeria.
The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project and 420 Nigerians, including a former Minister of Education, Oby Ezekwesili and the co-founder of the #BringBackOurGirls movement, Aisha Yesufu, had filed a suit before the court, challenging the unlawful suspension of Twitter in Nigeria, criminalisation of Nigerians and other people using Twitter, and the escalating repression of human rights, particularly the rights to freedom of expression, access to information, and media freedom in the country.
In the suit number ECW/CCJ/APP/23/21, the plaintiff sought an order of interim injunction restraining the Federal Government from implementing its suspension of Twitter in Nigeria and subjecting anyone, including media houses, broadcast stations using Twitter in Nigeria to harassment, intimidation, arrest and criminal prosecution, pending the hearing and determination of the substantive suit.
The plaintiffs stated, “The suspension of Twitter is aimed at intimidating and stopping Nigerians from using Twitter and other social media platforms to assess government policies, expose corruption, and criticise acts of official impunity by the agents of the Federal Government.
“The free communication of information and ideas about public and political issues between citizens and elected representatives is essential. This implies a free press and other media able to comment on public issues without censor or restraints and to inform public opinion. The public also has a corresponding right to receive media output.
“Freedom of expression is a fundamental human right and the full enjoyment of this right is central to achieving individual freedom and to developing democracy. It is not only the cornerstone of democracy but indispensable to a thriving civil society.
“The arbitrary action by the Federal Government and its agents has negatively impacted millions of Nigerians who carry on their daily businesses and operational activities on Twitter. The suspension has also impeded the freedom of expression of millions of Nigerians, who criticize and influence government policies through the microblogging app.
“The suspension of Twitter is arbitrary, and there is no law in Nigeria today permitting the prosecution of people simply for peacefully exercising their human rights through Twitter and other social media platforms.”
However, the court, in a notice to the plaintiffs’ lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN) and the respondent’s counsel Maimuna Lami Shiru, stated that the hearing would be virtual.
“Notice is hereby given that this application has been fixed for hearing of the Application for Interim Measure on the 22nd day of June 2021 at 10 am and will be heard on that day if the business of the court permits or otherwise on some adjourned day of which you may not receive further notice,” the court stated.
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