There are indications that the three National Working Committee (NWC) members from the Southeast who were recently endorsed at a meeting of party leaders in Abuja may lose out in the ongoing realignment of forces, as majority of party members from the region are said to be unhappy with the manner of their adoption. TONY AKOWE reports that contestants are intensifying their lobby for their inclusion in the so-called Unity List.
Barring any last-minute change of plans, many members of the National Working Committee of the All Progressives Congress (APC) may not find their way back to the party leadership. Various interest groups within the fold are lobbying for their candidates to be included in the ?unity list? being worked on by party leaders.
A highly-placed source, who was privy to what transpired at last week?s meeting between the APC governors and President Muhammadu Buhari, said the meeting agreed that steps be taken to ensure a rancour free convention and the governors were mandated to go back home and meet with stakeholders from their zones with a view to coming up with a ?unity list? that will be adopted at the convention.
It was reliably gathered that the three NWC members from the Southeast who were recently endorsed at a meeting of party leaders in Abuja may lose out in the ongoing realignment of forces, as majority of party members from the area are said to be unhappy with the manner of adoption.
At a meeting at the Ladi Kwai Hall in Abuja recently, former Abia State Governor, Orji Uzor Kalu announced that they have decided to return Senator Osita Izunaso, Chief George Moghalu and Chief Emma Eneukwu as National Organising Secretary, National Auditor and National Vice Chairman (Southeast) respectively.
The three outgoing NWC members are currently in the race to return to their various positions, which The Nation gathered is being hotly contested by equally strong candidates from their states.
But a highly dependable source close to the party said some of the leaders who attended the meeting are not happy that they were tricked into coming for the meeting to endorse some candidate.
He said the lobby for inclusion in the unity list is more intense in the Southeast, where some party stakeholders have already adopted the three members of the NWC from the zone for re-election.
But, the source who attended the meeting of the Southeast APC leaders in Abuja however dismissed the endorsement, saying the information given to the world about what transpired during the meeting which he said was poorly attended was different from what the former Abia governor told the world.
He said: ?The meeting was very stormy. Many people believe that such an important meeting of the zone should have taken place at the zonal headquarters, which is Enugu. The meeting was hurriedly put together and this informed the poor attendance of stakeholders from the Southeast.
?Former Senate President, Ken Nnamani, who attended the meeting, left midway into the proceedings. He did not know the agenda of the meeting before coming and when he knew what they were up to; he left the meeting. He is not in support of the decision to adopt anybody, because he has his own preferences.
?Rochas is the only APC governor in the Southeast for now. Whether you like him or not, there is no way you can hold such an important meeting without his knowledge and you expect the decision from that meeting to be binding. You are journalist; go and find out the details of what happened at the meeting where the three NWC members from the Southeast were supposedly endorsed.
?There was a reason why that meeting was called at a very short notice, so that reason was to force through the supposed endorsement of those officers. One interesting thing about that meeting was that several people indicated their interest to vie for the offices.
?They discovered that if the states were allowed to decide the fate of these NWC members, none of them will come back. That is why they rushed that endorsement on the argument that the NWC positions were not state, but national, positions.?
The source said power brokers from the south east opposed to the return of the three members are already pushing for other candidates from their states to step into their shoes.
The source said: ?We are pushing for people like Hon. Chukwuemeka Nwogbo and Oyebuchi Nnamani to take over from George Moghalu and Emma Eneukwu as National Auditor and National Vice Chairman, South East respectively.?
Another group which called itself the Chuba Okadigbo Rainbow Organization is asking President Buhari to honour the memory of his late running mate, Chuba Okadigbo, by including one of his strong supporters, Hon. Chidi Nwogu, in the unity list for the office of the National Organising Secretary.
The source said one of the things working against Senator Izunaso?s return as National Organising Secretary is his running battle with Governor Okorocha and the fact that President Buhari has shown interest in Hon. Chidi Nwogu from Imo State, another candidate who was a former member of the House of Representatives for the office of the National Organising Secretary.
For Moghalu, his dilemma is believed to stem from his previous decision to run for the governorship of Anambra State, by resigning from office to achieve that. But, he returned to NWC when he failed to secure the party ticket.
The source said: ?We are not happy that after resigning, he returned to the same office, because he did not secure the party ticket. The party constitution did not provide for that and we believe that having resigned, that position is vacant. So, the question of returning him does not arise, because as far as we are concerned, he is not a member of the NWC any longer.
?We also expect him to follow the part of honour just like Engr. Segun Oni did. You remember that Oni resigned as Deputy National Chairman (South) to contest the governorship of Ekiti State. When he failed to secure the ticket, he did not return to that office and he is not contesting any position in the NWC.?
He believes that Hon. Nwogbo who also hails from Anambra State stands a chance of succeeding Moghalu as the National Auditor of the party, given his requisite experience as a former member of the 7th House of Representatives amongst other credentials.
He said most leaders of the party from the Southeast have also thrown their weight behind Nwogbo.
The source said that although majority of party stakeholders from the Southeast believe that Governor Okorocha has not done much to help the fortunes of the party in the region and that they are not confident in the ability of the three current NWC members from the zone to represent them anymore.
He added: ?We have decided that we don?t want any of them. We are not taking away their right to contest. But they should not be forced on us. We have decided on those we want to represent us and are working to get them into the unity list.?
Other NWC members who may not make it back to the Leadership include the National Youth Leader, Ibrahim Waziri Jalo, who is not recontesting, because he is gunning for the governorship ticket of the party in Gombe State; and National Legal Adviser who is believed to have also decided not to recontest.
Others are National Woman Leader, Hajia Ramatu Aliyu and National Treasurer, Mohammad Gwagwawa, who are believed not to have received the backing of their state governors.
While Gwagwawa is a staunch supporter of former Kano State governor, Senator Rabiu Musa Kwakwanso who has been having a running battle with his former deputy and now governor, Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, Hajia Ramatu is said to have lost the confidence of Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello, because she was nominated for the job by the late Prince Abubakar Audu.