Governors from the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), yesterday did not turn up for a meeting called by the National Working Committee (NWC) to discuss important national issues.
The meeting was planned to discuss the rancorous relationship between some APC governors over security issues which was said to have caused serious embarrassment to the party and the Federal Government.
Governors Samuel Ortom of Benue State and Simon Lalong of Plateau State were recently locked in media war over the anti-grazing law in Benue.
The law had reportedly sparked crisis between herders and farmers occasioned by loss of lives and property.
The Benue governor had also engaged his Nasarawa counterpart, Umaru Tanko Al-Makura.
“The Benue governor is in serious disagreement with many governors, most of whom have refused to key into the media war in order to save the face of the party but the situation is going out of hand,” the source said.
Another source said that was the primary reason for calling the meeting “so that all the contentious issues could be resolved.”
He said party chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, wanted to bring all the governors together to fashion out ways of resolving their differences.
“Tension is really, really high because many of the APC governors believe that some of their colleagues are simply whipping up ethnic and religious sentiments ahead of 2019,” he said.
The meeting was expected to involve the NWC members, the 24 governors and party caucus in the National Assembly.
Most of the governors had arrived in Abuja for the meeting but it was abruptly called off over fears that the outcome would likely leave the party more divided.
“When it became evident that the APC leadership would not be able to make concrete decision to resolve the problem, some governors backed out of the meeting,” a source close to one of the governors said.
“Some of the governors instead suggested that President Muhammadu Buhari should be more assertive as leader of the party and the Commander-in- Chief; he should have been the one to call all the APC governors and have a discussion as a family,” he said.
The deputy governor of Osun State, Mrs. Grace Titi Laoye-Tomori, who arrived at the APC secretariat at 4: 25pm, yesterday, expressed surprise that the meeting was postponed without proper communication to them.
“We came all the way from Osun and we were not told that the meeting has been postponed,” Titi Laoye-Tomori told the party staff who also seemed to be confused about the development.
But when contacted last night on the issue, the APC National Publicity Secretary, Malam Bolaji Abdullahi, said that it was “unfortunate” that the “routine meeting” could not hold.
Abdullahi, who hinted that there was no reason to worry about the postponement, promised to provide information on the new date, if necessary, after the NWC meeting next Monday.
He said, “It’s a routine meeting now. It’s unfortunate the meeting did not hold. There is no serious issue.”
Asked to give information on the likely new date, he said, “We have NWC meeting on Monday. So, if we come out of that meeting, if we have anything, I will let you know.”
Other sources said the governors shunned the meeting when they realized that besides security issues, there were moves by the current leadership to ensure that the tenure of the NWC is extended beyond June, this year when their four-year term expires.
Daily Trust learnt that the meeting was expected to discuss the possible dates for the various congresses and national convention.
But the latest lobbying for the elongation of the tenure of the NWC was said to have made the majority of the governors stay away from the meeting.
The governors, it was gathered, did not want to entertain any tenure elongation for NWC members.
Over the weekend, there was a report which suggested Chief John Odigie-Oyegun-led NWC elected for four-year tenure on June 13, 2014 should be allowed to stay in office and organise the presidential primaries that would endorse President Muhammadu Buhari later in the year as the APC candidate in presidential election next year.
The statement of the APC National Chairman Odigie-Oyegun On January 6, 2018 on the convention was said to have further buttressed the notion in some quarters that he might be willing to continue in the leadership position beyond June 13 this year when his tenure ends.
Odigie-Oyegun had said during an interactive session with journalists that “we are going to have our convention. This month, we are going to kick-start with the caucus and the National Executive Committee (NEC) meetings. And the NEC is the body authorized to approve the programmes leading up to the convention. That will be done at the end of this month.
“Thereafter, we will go through the process of congresses from the bottom of the ladder, the ward to the local government onto the state and finally a national convention.
“The whole purpose of this is to look at the leadership of the party and let the members of the party decide who their next leaders will be or if they want to re-establish or confirm those who are in position by what proportion.
“So, this is going to be a very active year for the party…. That is what is likely to happen between January and June of this year, beginning with the caucus, the NEC, the congresses at all levels of the party and finally the national convention.”