ABUJA – It is no longer news who is in control at the All Progressives Congress (APC) national secretariat as the party intensifies preparation for the National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting scheduled for March 17.
Already the party has started distributing letters of invitation to individuals and other notices to caucus members for the usual late night caucus meeting of the party’s exclusive club where the major decisions are made.
And as if to reinforce the fact that the party should begin to adjust to a post-Oshiomhole era, the invitations, which were being distributed by the administrative staff of the party, were conspicuously signed by Chief Victor Giadom, Acting National Secretary of the party.
The invitation was titled, ‘Letter of Invitation to an Emergency National Executive Committee (NEC) Meeting’.
On the invitation, Giadom wrote: “I am pleased to invite you, on behalf of the National Working Committee, to an emergency meeting of the National Executive Committee of our great party scheduled for March 17.
“While looking forward to your esteemed presence at the meeting, please accept the renewed assurances of my highest regards.”
Cleaning of the premises and other aspects of preparation were also in top gear as new air-conditioning systems where brought in to replace the malfunctioning ones inside the congress hall.
Recall that some members of the NWC loyal to the embattled suspended national chairman had objected to the NEC meeting, stating that there was no appropriate authorisation – an issue which Chief Giadom has equally addressed.
Only on Monday, Lanre Issa-Onilu, the national publicity secretary and one of the disputing voices, sounded a conciliatory tone when he declared in a statement that the NWC was not factionalised.
And true to the assertion, a number of NWC members turned up for a meeting chaired by the party’s acting national secretary before driving out together for another meeting at an undisclosed location.
Those in attendance at the meeting included Giadom, the national vice chairman (North East), Comrade Salihu Mustapha; national vice chairman (South West), Pastor Bankole Oluwajana, and the national organising secretary, Emma Ibediro.
Also present were national youth leader, Abubakar Sadiq; national woman leader, Hajiya Salamatu Bawai, and others.
Also present was the Edo State APC chairman, Anslem Ojezua, and three others.
Even with the turnout and seeming conciliatory tone from the opposition camp, it was feared that the NEC meeting might be truncated by a court action.
The rumours notwithstanding, the party, as at Tuesday, was unrelenting in its preparations and revalidation of the identity of staff ahead of the NEC meeting.
Although the security situation around the secretariat seemed a bit more relaxed than it was last week, all those entering the premises were properly identified.
The staff and journalists had been issued new identity cards, which would admit them into the premises of the party.
The new identification process came into force following the suspension of Oshiomhole by an FCT High Court.
Nobody, except the security men, was allowed to enter the secretariat on Friday, last week.
Meanwhile, state chairmen of the party, under the aegis of the All Progressives Congress (APC) State Chairmen Forum, will meet to harmonise their position ahead of the March 17 NEC meeting, according to Lawal Liman, publicity secretary of the forum.
The forum also disclaimed the report that the forum passed a vote of confidence in the suspended national chairman, describing it as fraudulent.
Chairman of the forum, Ali Bukar Dalori, and the secretary, Dr. Ben Nwoye, had on Monday issued a statement to the effect that the state chairmen passed a vote of confidence in the suspended national chairman.
However, in what points to a deep fracture in the entire structure of the party, the forum’s publicity secretary said there was no such decision reached by the forum.
According to him, the forum has not met but would meet before the NEC meeting scheduled for next week, Tuesday, March 17.
He said he was compelled to refute the report because of the number of calls from state chairmen seeking clarification on the matter.
“I have told them that no such thing happened and that they should disregard the statement,” said Hon. Liman.
He added: “We had agreed, in the past, that nobody should issue a statement, in the name of the forum, if the chairmen had not met and accepted the release of such statements.”
Speaking on the court orders that triggered the latest crisis in the party, Liman enjoined party members to patiently wait for the outcome of the court cases.
“I want to confirm to my colleagues that there was no meeting held and there was no statement issued to pass a vote of confidence in the national chairman.
“All issues would be resolved at the next NEC meeting and, hopefully, we will hold a meeting of the forum before the said NEC meeting.
“We will not, in any way, bring the name of the forum to disrepute by doing what will take away our credibility,” Liman said.