By Adebayo Folorunsho-Francis
***Datti Muhammad takes over Lukman’s office
The ruling All Progressives Congress has officially unveiled new officers to occupy the positions of the outgoing members of the National Working Committee and other vacant zonal offices in the party.
Addressing newsmen at the national secretariat of the APC on Wednesday evening, the National Secretary of the party, Senator Ajibola Basiru, said the election of the new officers was in line with the mandate given to them by the National Executive Committee at the last meeting held at Transcorp Hilton in Abuja on August 3.
The move saw outgoing National Deputy Chairman for North, Senator Abubakar Kyari, being replaced by Borno party chairman, Ali Dalori, while founder of Sister-To-Sister Empowerment Worldwide, Dr Mary Alile Idele, from Edo State occupied the office of the National Women Leader previously held by Dr Betta Edu.
Both Kyari and Edu were among the 45 ministers of President Bola Tinubu who were officially sworn in at the Presidential Villa on Monday.
Other elected officers included Garba Datti Muhammad, who replaced Mallam Salihu Lukman from the same Kaduna State as National Vice Chairman for North West; National Legal Adviser, Prof. AbdulKarim Abubakar Kana from Nasarawa State; National Welfare Secretary, Donatus Nwankpa from Abia State; Deputy National Publicity Secretary, Duro Meseko from Kogi State and Zonal Organising Secretary, Ikani Shuaibu Okolo from also Kogi State.
He said, “Today, we are here to brief you on behalf of our party. We have had our NWC meeting and deliberated on issues, particularly as it relates to our off-season elections in Imo, Bayelsa and Kogi States. Work is at an advanced stage on the composition of the campaign council of the party. Hopefully by next week, the list of the campaign councils for those three governorship election will be unveiled.
“We also discussed matters having to do with expanding membership of our party and putting our party in a lot of activities. More importantly, during the last NEC meeting, the NEC of the party empowered the NWC in consultation with the leadership of the party to fill the existing vacancies in the membership of the NWC occasioned by resignations and, unfortunately too, the death of the national welfare officer of the party.”
When asked to clarify if the unveiling of new officers were ratified by the NEC, Basiru claimed they were products of an election that was conducted in line with the NEC directive.
He also disclosed that the date and venue for their inauguration have not yet been finalised.
“This is not a case of ratification. Don’t make an assumption. It is an election already done. You see, this is the constitution of our party Article 13 gave NEC the power to act in between and the convention. The same NEC at the meeting of August 3 empowered the NWC to act and exercise its power to fill the vacancies. What we have done is in accordance with the delegation of power from the NEC to acts as a convention to elect these people. Of course, if we are thinking to have a mid-term convention, it is not for the purpose of the election of officials because this has been done in a way stipulated by our constitution
“Of course, they will be inaugurated and sworn-in because there is a provision for swearing-in in the constitution. But the time and venue is what I don’t know yet.
“On the other question you asked concerning the strategy put in place to win our off-season elections, I am sorry to say I am not in a position to answer that. I cannot as a politician in good faith discuss the strategy of how we are going to win elections in public. But we believe that we’re working very hard to ensure that the three off-season elections.
“The elections are on November 11. Today is August 23. There is no postulation that says the campaign councils must be announced within a particular period. If you are not dynamic, you cannot be a good organisation. The APC is a dynamic organisation. It’s even good that we are becoming unpredictable so that you can go back to the drawing board to be able to predict how we will do it. We don’t want to get easily predictable. But I can assure you that we are working and at the appropriate time, we will unveil oir campaign councils,” he said.
Meanwhile, there were reports of disappointments in some quarters, especially among top party chieftains who felt the lists of nominees they submitted were dropped.
Few members also raised eyebrows and wanted to know why Kogi State alone has two representatives in the NWC.
One of such recommended officers that were sacrificed from the list included former Cross River State Commissioner for Local Government, Dr. Stella Odey-Ekpo (Women Leader) who is believed to an ally and anointed candidate of Edu; former Abia State House of Assembly Speaker Martins Azubuike (for office of Welfare Officer) and ex-Special Adviser on Water Resources to Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Ismail (Deputy National Publicity Secretary).
“The replacement we also heard was submitted for Lukman was the Kaduna APC Chairman, Commodore Emmanual Jekada (retd), whp heard was a preferred choice to emerge as the next National Vice Chairman for North-West.
Shortly after the parley with journalists, Betta Edu was spotted breezing into the secretariat at about 6.15 pm and left shortly after then deliberately avoiding contact with some of the waiting journalists.
Although her mission at the secretariat was still sketchy as of the time of filing this report, many believed it has to be in connection with the election of the new National Women Leader, who was different from the earlier name submitted.