APC National Convention, National Chairmanship and the North East interest
By Emmanuel Mogbede
In less than two weeks to the forthcoming All Progressives Congress (APC) National Convention, slated for Feb. 26, indications are that the party’s top echelon may have decided that its national chairmanship be left in the North East as it is consistent with the party’s norms and traditions in the past.
New national executives are expected to be elected at the APC national convention to manage its affairs which is currently being managed by its Gov. Mai Mala Buni-led Caretaker and Extra-ordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC), inaugurated on June 25, 2020, following the dissolution of the Adams Oshiomhole-led National Working Committee (NWC).
The committee was to, among other things, conduct a national convention for the party to usher in a new set of NWC members.
It would be recalled that when Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, from the South South, was dropped as the APC national chairman, the party went to the zone to elect Adams Oshiomole, a former governor of Edo, under a concensus arrangement.
It was therefore argued that now that Buni who heads the APC CECPC is from the North East, it might not be by happenstance if the next APC national chairman comes from the zone.
No fewer than 11 aspirants are in the race to contest the APC top position, among which are former governors and Senators.
They include Sen. Ali-Modu Sheriff, a two-term former governor of Borno who had been trailing others in proactive agenda setting, Danjuma Goje, also a former governor of Gombe, and Mr Sylvester Monidafe all from the the North East.
From the North Central, we have a former Deputy National Chairman of the defunct Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), Malam Saliu Mustapha, a former governor of Nasarawa State, Sen. Tanko Al Makura, Sen. Mohammed Sani-Musa and the Minister of Special Duties and Inter-Governmental Affairs, Dr George Akume.
Alhaji Abdulaziz Yari, a former governor of Zamfara and former Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF), is also in the race, among others.
An source close to the party said in reaching the decision to zone the APC national chairmanship to the North East, the party’s top echelon may have looked at developments in the party.
“They also may have looked at happenings within the party’s rank and file and the peculiar challenges that would meet it in 2023 general elections when President Muhammadu Buhari would not be on the ballot.
“It was agreed that for the APC to retain the presidency and maintain its winning streak after 2023, its next national chairman must be a person of character, social and economic standing with experience in party administration and a profound understanding of the process of, and intrigues in contesting and winning elections,” the source said.
it said other factors considered was the fact that the All Nigerian Peoples’ Party (ANPP) block, one of the political parties that merged to form the APC ahead of the 2015 general elections, had not been adequately compensated and had not been really accommodated in the scheme of things in the APC.
It listed other political parties to include the Congress for Progressives Congress (CPC), Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), and part of All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), led by Sen. Rochas Okorocha, the immediate past governor of Imo, and part of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), under the G7.
“The CPC has the president, the ACN has the Vice President and chairman of party. The ANPP went into the pact with the highest number of states but it is yet to be properly recognised with political positions.
“Barring any changes, the zoning of the APC national chairmanship to the North East will take place in the next few days and this will expectedly put to rest earlier rumour that the position had been zoned to the North Central,” the source said.
It further said that the resolution was reached after due consultations and considerations, especially as critical stakeholders of the party from the North Central had kicked against the continuous headship of political parties by its indigenes since 1999 without anything to show for it.
The source recalled that Chief Solomon Lar was the protem National Chairman of the PDP, while Banabas Germade, Ahamad Ali and Audu Ogbe, all from North Central, headed the PDP at a time, without much to show for it in the zone, even as the party had recently zoned its chairmanship to the region.
Most opinion moulders in the North Central are of the belief that those clamouring for the APC national chairmanship to be zoned to the North Central were doing so for selfish reasons and were being nudged on by their collaborators in the South West.
The North Central leaders are of the opinion that this is an affront on them which showed that they were being taken for granted.
To them, what is even more worrisome is the fact that the characters being thrown up for the position from the zone, lacked the capacity, experience and pedigree to negotiate and attract appointments and development to the zone.
They said the North West which had produced two presidents should consider the North Central for the next highest executive position, either the President or Vice President.
“It has become evident that the clamour for the APC national chairmanship to be zoned to the North Central is being planned and orchestrated from the South West, largely because of its control of the media,” the source further said.
He argued that if the North Central could lead political parties to electoral victory since the inception of democracy in the country, why not bring the higher executive position to the zone.
Reacting to the development, Dr Richard Terwase of the Sen. George Akume Campaign Organisation, one of the leading aspirants from the North Central, said he is not aware of the development.
“My only interest is that my principal, Sen. Akume, is in the race, and we hope and pray that the party’s leadership will see him as the most capable person to handle that position. I am not aware of any zoning,” he stressed.
Other aspirants from the zone also denied knowledge of the development.
Gov. Babagana Zulum of Borno, had, however, said that contending interests in the 2023 presidential primaries and other elections will not stop the APC from establishing a consensus.
Zulum, while welcoming members of the Progressive Consolidation Group (PCG) to his office recently, explained that such a consensus would help consolidate the party’s unity and national progress.
He assured that the APC, Borno chapter, would work with the party’s hierarchy, its members in the National Assembly and leaders at Ward and State levels to ensure actualisation of policies of the President Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government.
“I am solidly behind initiatives aimed at enhancing the unity of our party and progress of Nigeria.
“At this crucial time, no one and nothing will prevent the party from moving in unison.
“We have to identify the right individuals to lead the nation, and the task requires governors, party hierarchy and the president to work together in concert.
“Individual aspirations may have to be downplayed, because we all have to concur with the decision of the leaders of our party. Borno, under me, will promote unity,” Zulum said, adding that his major priority is to ensure a better life for the people of Borno within an achievable flourishing economic climate.
Dr Salihu Lukman, the immediate past Director-Genereal of the Progressives Governors Forum (PGF), has however, said that APC leaders must wake up to the reality of preparing for 2023 campaigns.
He noted that without good preparations, APC campaign for 2023 will be reactive and defensive, saying that if the right thing is not done, PDP leaders and their international sympathisers will continue to set the tune for the 2023 campaigns.
This, if allowed, he said, will continue to present APC and its government under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari as a failure.
“We must appeal to APC leaders, especially the leadership of the Gov. Mai Mala Buni-led CECPC, to free the party from the current high level of uncertainty surrounding the February 26, 2022, National Convention.
“It is important that the convention is allowed to produce the needed excitement around all the contestants at the convention.
“Being the national convention, it should be the highest opportunity to celebrate the party and begin to mobilise every party member to recommit themselves ahead of the 2023 electoral contests,” he said.
He advised that APC leaders must recognise challenges and objectively assess initiatives taken by governments.
He reminded the party leaders, ordinary members and by extension Nigerians, that as a democracy that is gradually stabilising with more than 20 years experience, the question of issue-based campaigning should no longer be hypothetical.
He added that even when the opposition PDP comes with its criticism that the APC had failed, its members and patriotic Nigerians should be able to prove, to the contrary, that the party succeeded with empirical evidence. (NAN)
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