Stakeholders of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the North Central geopolitical zone have adopted Mallam Saliu Mustapha as the zone’s unity candidate for National Chairman ahead of the party’s convention in February.
Mustapha, 49, is the former deputy national chairman of the defunct Congress for Progressives Change (CPC) and also the youngest of the aspirants vying for the position of APC national chairmanship.
He is a long-standing ally of President Muhammadu Buhari right from the latter’s days in the defunct All Nigerian Peoples Party (ANPP) through to the CPC.
The stakeholders of the party in the North Central met on Sunday in Ilorin under the auspices of the North Central APC Central Advisory Council, where they endorsed the candidature of Mustapha as the next national chairman of the ruling party.
They premised their decision as an outcome of a painstaking search for a unifying figure with zero political and corruption baggage that may affect the chances of the zone in its race for the APC plumb job.
Led by Amb. Christopher Ameh, a former diplomat from Benue State, the group said of all the candidates contesting for the position of the national chairman of the APC, only Mustapha had the requisite party administration experience and a clean slate to challenge other big shots from other regions.
A former Speaker of the Kwara State House of Assembly, Pastor Benjamin Yisa, who is the convener of the meeting, described Mustapha as a unifying figure in the party in view of his vantage age and geopolitical demography.
Yisa urged President Muhammad Buhari to ensure that only a candidate with no political baggage leads the party into the next cycle of elections.
On his part, a former gubernatorial aspirant under the defunct CPC from Nasarawa State, Malam Ahmed Goringo, lauded Mustapha’s loyalty and his ability to rally support among all party members.
He said, “Anyone in doubt of Saliu Mustapha’s loyalty to any cause he believes in is free to take a look at his antecedent. Here is a man that has been with President Buhari through thick and thin right from the days of The Buhari Organisation (TBO).
“We were together in the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) and as he did back then, we see him as the most likely to inspire confidence in a larger majority of APC members as a result of his good relations with all strata of the party.”
The North Central APC central advisory council comprises former members of the National Assembly, former speakers and members of the state houses of assembly, serving and former commissioners and other top stakeholders of the party from the zone.