President Muhammadu Buhari is in a tight corner over whom to endorse as the national chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), eight days to the national convention of the ruling party, Daily Trust reports.
The delay by the president to give direction to governors, national caretaker committee of the party, aspirants and other stakeholders has raised tension in the ruling party.
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Various tendencies in the party, including the bloc of the governors, key presidential aspirants – Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, among others – are working hard to produce the national chairman to give them upper hand ahead of the presidential primaries of the party.
The party’s national convention slated for February 26, this year, is expected to produce a new crop of National Working Committee (NWC) to replace the Mai Mala Buni led-caretaker committee which has been piloting the affairs of the party since June 2020 when the Adams Oshiomhole-led exco was ousted.
A meeting of the president with the governors which was postponed following Buhari’s trip abroad is expected to hold anytime from tomorrow, Saturday, when he is expected back to the country.
Buhari, who was to meet with the governors on Tuesday, departed for Brussels, Germany, for the 6th European Union-African Union Summit.
It was reliably gathered at the presidency and the national headquarters of the APC that the president, on return from the foreign trip, will call a meeting of the Progressives Governors Forum (PGF) ahead of the convention.
There were insinuations that the APC governors were initially divided over who to support; but some sources told the Daily Trust last night that they have finally agreed to present one candidate to Buhari from the North Central as a consensus candidate.
One of the sources said the president, who is in receipt of the list of all the chairmanship aspirants, will inform the governors of his preferred aspirant.
The source, a former governor close to the president, said, “The chairman would emerge through a consensus. The president will announce his preferred aspirant to the governors during the meeting. I was there as a serving governor when he signalled his choice of Adams Oshiomhole in 2018.”
It was gathered that the governors had carefully monitored the body language of the president and the name they would present to him would most likely be the person he has in mind.
Daily Trust had last month exclusively reported that the presidency and governors were looking at the direction of former governor of Nasarawa State, Tanko Al-Makura, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, former Deputy National Chairman of the defunct Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), Saliu Mustapha and former Minister for Mines and Steel Development, Abubakar Bawa Bwari, for the national chairman position.
The four aspirants are from the North Central, where the APC governors are said to have zoned the position.
“It is very unlikely for the president and the governors to take the chairmanship position to any other geopolitical zone,” an insider told the Daily Trust.
“Remember what former Governor Kashim Shettima said on the plan of the APC to get someone strong and influential as the PDP national chairman? This is the real permutation now and we have such a person among the contenders from the North Central,” he said.
Our correspondents report that other contenders for the chairmanship seat include former governor of Zamfara State, Abdulaziz Yari; former governor of Borno State, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff; former governor of Bauchi State, Isa Yuguda and Minister of Special Duties and Inter-Governmental Affairs, Senator George Akume (a former governor of Benue State), Senator Mohammed Sani Musa (APC, Niger East); Sunny Moniedafe and Mohammed Saidu Etsu.
However, it was reliably gathered that the pendulum is swinging towards Senator Abdullahi Adamu in the last few days even though the names of Al-Makura, Malam Saliu Mustapha, Senator Sani Musa, George Akume and Bawa Bwari were on top of the list weeks ago.
It was also gathered from two sources that Kebbi State Governor, Atiku Bagudu, is making a case for his Chief of Staff, Suleiman Argungu.
When contacted last night, Argungu said he was not aware that the governor has nominated him for the position but that he has been told that his name is ringing a bell at the Villa.
The president, multiple sources said, is in a dilemma over who to endorse among the aspirants on the grounds that if an unpopular aspirant is endorsed, it may cause the implosion of the party as aggrieved tendencies may rebel.
“Most importantly, all the contenders have a strong base very dear to the president and might not want to offend any of them for strategic reasons,” a source said.
A ranking senator said the president needs to pick an aspirant that would be acceptable to all tendencies and with the capacity to mend cracks in the fence that would arise following his emergence.
He was the lone governor under the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) founded by President Buhari. His chief promoter is his successor in Nasarawa State, Governor Abdullahi Sule. He has succeeded in selling Al-Makura’s candidature to some of his colleagues in the Progressives Governors’ Forum.
Al-Makura, who was one of the early entrants into the race, is a first-timer at the Senate.
Adamu, a ranking lawmaker and former governor of Nasarawa State, chaired the party’s reconciliation committee constituted by the Buni-led committee to look into the crisis that rocked the ruling party.
The posters of Adamu have flooded Abuja Thursday. It was reliably gathered that his candidature is being promoted by more than half of the APC governors. “After all he could be the dark horse considering how his name is being mentioned in the past few days,” a source said.
During the last Senate, when the parliament was at loggerheads with the presidency, Adamu led pro-Buhari lawmakers to tackle the Saraki-led upper chamber, an act that endeared him to the presidency.
When contacted last night, Senator Adamu confirmed that he has joined the race for the chairmanship of the party but declined to speak on other issues.
“Yes, I have joined the race,” he said.
The Turakin Ilorin is of the CPC bloc in the party.
He is regarded as a thorough party person with less baggage. If given the party, sources around him said he would be able to mobilise the youth and lead the party to victory in 2023.
The name of Abubakar Bawa Bwari, from Niger State, a former minister in Buhari’s tenure is being mentioned. He is yet to formally join the race.
Caretaker c’ttee racing against time
Daily Trust reports that the caretaker committee of the party has been having series of meetings with various stakeholders to resolve grey areas ahead of the convention.
An official of the party told Daily Trust that chieftains of the party have also submitted their Curriculum Vitae (CVs) for consideration of the caretaker committee to play roles during the convention which will ultimately make them more relevant thereafter.
“We have received CVs from people who want to be considered as members of the sub-committees for the convention. You know our committee was constituted to plan and organise the convention, so there is no need for another convention committee.
“We will only have sub-committees,” he said, pleading not to be named.
The source also corroborated that the party chairman would emerge through a consensus.
APC playing into hands of opposition – Okorie
An elder statesman and chieftain of the APC, Chief Chekwas Okorie, however, told our correspondent, yesterday, that the party was playing into the hands of the opposition.
Okorie, a former presidential candidate, said, “One would have expected that by now, the offices would have been zoned and made public so that the aspirants will know whether they have been zoned in or zoned out before going to obtain their forms.
“So, that arrangement is very shoddy. I’m thoroughly disappointed. One doesn’t need to have experience in party administration to be able to know that there is a clear case of confusion at the highest level of party administration,” he said.
Similarly, a chieftain of the party from the South West, Chief Jackson Lekan Ojo, said President Buhari was in a fix over the issues of zoning and convention.
He told Daily Trust in a telephone chat yesterday that the president was finding it difficult to decide on the convention.
“There are too many camps in the APC and he (Buhari) does not know where to dance to. Remember, he said it severally that he is not a good party administrator. He has a military background, he is not a good democrat, and so whatever they tell him, he listens.” Another chieftain of the party from the North, Barrister Abdullahi Jalo, also told Daily Trust that whether forms were sold to aspirants or not, the convention would hold.
“We have said that we are going to hold our convention on February 26, so whether we have printed nomination forms and sold to aspirants or not, our convention still holds on February 26,” he said.
But a member of the National Executive Committee (NEC) confided to Daily Trust that the party was still working on the zoning of offices after which a new schedule of activities for the convention would be released and sale of forms will commence.
By Ismail Mudashir & Saawua Terzungwe