Ahead of the February 26 convention of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), top shots of the party including governors and those at the presidency have narrowed down on four of the contenders out of the many vying for the chairmanship seat, Daily Trust reports.
Credible sources told Daily Trust that President Muhammadu Buhari and the governors are looking at the direction of two former governors of Nasarawa State, Tanko Al-Makura and 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 to pick the national chairman of the party.
Senator Abdullahi Adamu chairs the party’s reconciliation committee and Bwari, who was a minister in Buhari’s first tenure, have not formally indicated their interest in the race.
Sources said a section of the presidency was considering them as likely successors to the Yobe State governor and caretaker chairman of the party, Mai Mala Buni.
Though the party has dispelled the report that it has zoned positions, the four aspirants who are being considered for the party’s plum position are from the North Central geopolitical zone.
One of the sources close to the presidency said the body language of the president favours the former Governor of Nasarawa State, Al-Makura.
“Though it is very difficult to read the president’s mind on this, his body language showed that he has preference for Al-Makura, who was the lone governor produced by the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC),” the source said.
It was further gathered that Al-Makura’s successor in Nasarawa State, Abdullahi Sule, has reached out to many of his colleagues to support his predecessor to pick the chairmanship seat.
“Governor Sule has reached out to many of his colleagues (governors) to support his candidate. You will recall that he started the campaign for him long before other aspirants indicated their interest,” a ranking lawmaker said.
But those who are against him have drawn the attention of his promoters to the issue of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). He was a guest of the EFCC alongside his wife, Mairo, on July 29, last year.
One of our correspondents gathered that some of the governors are pushing for the candidature of Senator Abdullahi Adamu.
The former Nasarawa governor, who chairs the APC’s reconciliation committee, has not indicated interest in the race.
Those promoting him said the ranking lawmaker if given the opportunity, will conclude the reconciliation moves he has started. They said he has the capacity to lead the party to victory in 2023.
But another section in the party was priming Saliu Mustapha, who hails from Kwara State as the consensus chairmanship candidate. Mustapha, according to those promoting him has ‘’no baggage like the former governors.’’
However, the name of Abubakar Bawa Bwari, from Niger State, a former minister during Buhari’s first tenure propped up last night. He is yet to formally join the race.
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.
Meanwhile, the latest national chairmanship aspirant, Dr Sani Shinkafi, has said he would maintain the supremacy of the party at all levels if given the mandate at the convention.
He stated this Wednesday while speaking to newsmen at the party’s national secretariat in Abuja. He equally promised to promote and strengthen internal democracy within the party.
President has final say
Two sources last night told Daily Trust that despite the horse-trading, President Buhari will play a key role in the selection of the next chairman of the party.
One of the sources said, “The issue of consensus has been settled. What we are waiting for is who the candidate will be. Like in 2018, it is Mr President that will give the final approval. The governors may recommend but it is the president that will approve it.”
The second source said people around the president are pushing for the selection of one of the aspirants who are of the defunct CPC, founded by the president.
A chieftain of the APC from the North, Barrister Abdullahi Jalo said, “What is happening in the APC now, you can’t conclude but you can draw a line.
“The issue of who becomes the next national chairman will be decided by the governors. So, any aspirant that the governor’s support will certainly emerge,” he said. Another chieftain of the party from the South, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Al-Makura will be favoured.
The party yesterday released a schedule of activities for its national convention.
The timetable was released shortly after the meeting of the Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee, held at the party’s national secretariat in Abuja.
According to the schedule, the party would first receive the Interim Report of the National Reconciliation Committee headed by Abdullahi Adamu, on January 31.
It also indicated that consideration and adoption of reports of state congresses, the inauguration of state executives, sales of forms to all aspirants vying for national offices would take place on February 2, 3 and 14, 2022, among others.
The schedule was signed by the Secretary of the caretaker committee, Senator John James Akpanudoedehe.
Addressing newsmen earlier, Senator Akpanudoedehe, dismissed reports that the party has zoned its offices.
“I’m here to debunk the fake news going round on the social media that we have zoned offices. We are yet to meet on the issue of zoning,” he said.
Observers told Daily Trust the time frame earmarked by the party leadership for various activities was too short.
Court adjourns Marafa’s case to Feb 17
A Zamfara State High Court has adjourned the case filed by Senator Kabiru Garba Marafa challenging the congress conducted by Governor Bello Matawalle’s APC faction to February 17.
The Presiding Judge of the court, Justice Bello Kucheri, said the case was adjourned to February 17 following some processes filed by the counsels to the defendants.
Speaking to journalists, one of the counsels to Senator Marafa, Barrister Misbahu Salawuddeen, said they were in the court to pray for the annulment of the congresses conducted by the Matawalle APC faction.
Aggrieved Abia chieftains storm Abuja; faction goes to court in Benue
Protesters under the aegis of Abia APC Women on Wednesday stormed the premises of the APC headquarters in Abuja, alleging imposition of candidates in Abia State.
The protesters specifically accused the Governor Mai Mala Buni-led Caretaker Committee of imposing Chief Ikechi Emenike as state chairman of the party.
The women, armed with placards and banners with different inscriptions such as ‘stop imposing candidates’, barricaded the entrance gate to the secretariat building for hours, leading to heavy traffic in the area.
Speaking with newsmen, Abia APC Women leader-elect, Mrs Ezinne Ude-Uduma, said, “We are here because we were reliably informed that the national leadership of this party wants to inaugurate the newly-elected leadership of the party in our state.
“Our demand first is for the National Chairman, Buni to do the right thing. They should not impose anybody or impose any candidate.”
Addressing the protesters on behalf of Buni, the ruling party’s Director of Administration, Abubakar Suleiman, said, “We want to inform you that we will reconcile all the aggrieved party members before even talking about inauguration”, and asked them to submit a written petition to the party.
In Benue, the crisis rocking the party on Wednesday appeared to have taken another dimension as a faction of the party has headed to court.
Our correspondent reports that the move was to stop the inauguration of newly elected officials as February 26, had been fixed as the date for the inauguration of the state’s party executives elected in October, last year.
A copy of an originating summons filed by J.S Okutepa (SAN) and J.J Usman (SAN) at the High Court in Makurdi, on behalf of the faction against APC and three others, urged the party’s hierarchy not to swears-in to the office the trio of the state Chairman, Treasurer and Assistant Secretary.
Earlier, the faction led by Barrister Omale Omale, had argued that he is the consensus chairmanship candidate of the APC by the zonal leadership while Mathias Agbo Omikpa got the position of assistant state secretary and Moses Agaba for the position of treasurer.
But, the trio of Augustine Agada, Hassan Mohammed and Musa Alechenu had emerged as chairman, treasurer and assistant secretary of the APC respectively during the October state congress held at the Aper Aku Stadium, Makurdi.
Meanwhile, Agada, who is presently the party chairman in the state, said he had not received any court summons to such effect.
By Ismail Mudashir, Saawua Terzungwe (Abuja) & Hope A. Emmanuel (Makurdi)