AS the February 26 date for the National Convention of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, draws near, the 12 men who want to become the next national chairman of the party have embarked on a flurry of activities to realise their quest. They are criss-crossing the 36 states of the country wooing leaders of the party and potential delegates for support. Some of them are also building alliances with presidential aspirants.
Already, campaign posters of some of them have flooded some states. Faced with the issues of mode (direct, indirect and consensus), zoning of the chairmanship and other National Executive Committee, NEC, positions and grievances in some states, Vanguard gathered, yesterday, that the APC hierarchy is hammering out measures to make the convention rancor-free.
To prune down the number of chairmanship candidates “to manageable number and perhaps arrive at a consensus” Vanguard gathered that state chapters of the party would be asked to nominate two chairmanship aspirants from the crowd of 12.
Based on that the figure would be subjected to further scrutiny and streamlining before the convention proper.
The 12 aspirants
The 12 chairmanship aspirants include a former Deputy National Chairman of the defunct Congress for Progressive Change, CPC, Saliu Mustapha; Senator representing Niger East, Mohammed Sani Musa; former Governor of Borno State, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff; former Governor of Nasarawa State, Senator Tanko Al-Makura; former Governor of Zamfara State, Alhaji Abdulaziz Yari; and former Governor of Bauchi State, Malam Isa Yuguda.
Others are the Minister of Special Duties and Intergovernmental Affairs, Senator George Akume; Mr. Sunny Sylvester Moniedafe; former Borno Governor, Senator Kashim Shettima; former Gombe State governor, Senator Danjuma Goje; Mohammed Saidu Etsu; and a former National Secretary of the All Progressives Grand Alliance APGA, Sani Shinkafi.
Meanwhile, posters of Senator Musa posters have flooded Imo as Moniedafe said he did not step down for Al-Makura as six aspirants emerge as front-runners. The six leading aspirants are Saliu Mustapha, Al-Makura, Sani Musa, Danjuma Goje, Abdulaziz Yari, and George Akume.
Al-Makura is said to be one of two aspirants some APC governors have screened to emerge as the national chairman of the party. Al Makura is of the defunct CPC legacy bloc of APC.
George Akume, a two-term former governor of Benue State, is said to be on the radar of some APC governors.
Sani Musa, a 54-year old lawmaker representing the Niger East senatorial district in the upper chamber of the National Assembly is believed to have the support of some strong forces in the party, especially a presidential aspirant that is already making waves across the country.
Saliu Mustapha, 50, a former national deputy chairman of Congress for Progressive Change, CPC, is the youngest among APC chieftains jostling for the office of the national chairman of the party.
The Ilorin, Kwara State-born politician is favoured by some critical stakeholders of APC to lead the party to 2023 general elections.
Senator Danjuma Goje, who has been working silently to actualize his quest, is also being rooted for by some APC governors, and stakeholders.
Factors that’ll shape convention
To emerge as national chairman, the aspirants must pass through the crucible of a national convention. And to have a successful convention the party hierarchy led by the Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee, CECPC chaired by Yobe State Governor, Mai Mala Buni, has a tough task on its hands.
A member of the committee told Vanguard that the CECPC is determined to conduct a rancour-free convention
Indeed, a leader of the party said: ‘’As a ruling party and a political party with responsible structures with built-in integrity to preserve the kernel of our democratic institution, we must not entertain the flagrant display of impunity going into the party convention on the back of flagrant abuse of set constitutional and procedural steps.
“We must therefore remain guided that having judiciously observed all prerequisite political processes to the convention, and must equally set the party structures right to ensure compliance with all sacrosanct rules and regulations of the party and the electoral law as regard to the conduct of the National Convention of the party.
“The party, under the CECPC administration has done a commendable job of meeting up with the prerequisites of party convention preparation, having conducted relatively very successful Ward, LGAs congresses, and States congresses, across the wards, LGAs, the 36 states and FCT.
It is appropriate and in the interest of the party that we build on the successes of the CECPC handling of the party over the last months and the achievements that have ably redefined the operational pedestal of the party.”
Recalling the achievements of the party under CECPC leadership, another chieftain said the “APC is a stronger party now than it was years back with a much more stronger membership base and lesser internal rancour and litigations as associated with other contemporary political parties, and even a ruling party; a peaceful and transparent convention would just be the icing on the cake and a final impression of the readiness of the party to maintain its hold on the reign of power in the country and across an increased number of states.
“This much the handlers of the party and all interest units within the party must take to heart the overall interest of the party.”
Tasks before CECPC
To guarantee a successful, rancour-free convention the CECPC and other stakeholders must take measures aimed at ensuring a speedy and successful conclusion of all ongoing reconciliation actions, and bring the party into the convention on a united front.
Currently, there are pockets of disagreements and as such the party cannot afford to downplay the reconciliation process and its outcome.
The party is expected to identify and collate the list of its appropriate delegates to the national Convention. The list should contain both the elected delegates from the ward, LGAs and state congresses, and the party regular statutory delegates.
All past presidents on the platform of the party, all state governors, and all former and current members of the National Assembly who were and are still members of the party constitute the party statutory delegates.
The leaders have to also resolve the issue of consensus candidate and zoning to carry all parts of the country along in its quest to retain power in 2023
Said a leader of the party: “The constitution of the party as well as the Electoral Act prescribed the option of consensus candidate for a political party in electing or selecting its National Officers to the National Executive Committee. It is suggested that the party, having presented a united front, considered this pathway as a measure to strengthen the agreement among units and groups and as well reduce the possible stress and litigation that may arise from direct and indirect elections.
Zoning is only appropriate in the interest of justice and recognition of fairness in inter-dealings with regional units within the party to adopt zoning as a measure to create the expected fairness. Party leaders and groups are therefore advised to tow the path of agreement as zoning is activated in the interest of the party to distribute the elective position in the party NWC Winning and retaining our control of political power in Nigeria beyond 2023 would to a large extent depend on how well we are able to manage the coming national convention. And the most needed variable remains unity.
On a united front, we will surmount all adversaries and challenges and come out of the convention stronger than ever, building on the successes of CECPC over the last years, and be better prepared and with confidence to deal another blow to the major opposition party come 2023.”
Senator Musa posters flood Imo
Meanwhile, ahead of the national convention, posters of Senator Mohammed Sani Musa, have flooded Imo state.
Vanguard captured the posters at different locations in Owerri, the state capital as well as in front of the Imo State Government House, yesterday.
Other areas included Owerri/Okigwe road and Assumpta Avenue, along Orlu road all in Owerri.
The posters of Senator Musa are the first to be seen in Imo State.
I didn’t step down for Almakura, says Moniedafe
Also, a national chairmanship aspirant, Chief Sunny Sylvester Moniedafe, has denounced reports in a section of the media that he has withdrawn from the race.
A section of the online media had at the weekend reported that the Jagaban Jimeta had stepped down for Senator Tanko Al-Makura.
Moniedafe had a few days ago paid a courtesy call on Al-Makura and some of the national chairmanship aspirants as part of consultations to ensure a rancor-free contest.
“I recently met Senator Al-Makura and Senator Sani Musa. I also met Mallam Saliu Mustapha and Mallam Mohammed Etsu too. I am trying to meet Senator Akume and others.
“I want to build that bridge, to form a synergy among all the aspirants. I am here to debunk that story that I stepped down for Al-Makura. He is a wonderful man but I did not step down for him. I went to consult with him. He is from the North-Central and I am from the North-East. I have not stepped down from the race to become the national chairman of our party, the APC”, he stated.
Moniedafe also dismissed concerns that zoning the national chairmanship ticket away from the North-East would spell doom for his ambition, saying if that should happen, he would not withdraw from the race but rather go for the ticket of the National Vice Chairman, North-East.
“If it (zoning) happens, I will go for the highest post which could be the National Vice Chairman North East.
“I started my campaign in 2020 from my Ward in Jimeta, Yola because like the president said, all politics is local. I am Delta by origin, Adamawa by birth and Abuja by residency.
“I am a party man. If my party says direct, indirect or consensus, I will abide by it. But everything must be done transparently. You cannot reach a consensus without consulting all the aspirants. We have contributed a lot to the party and we deserve to be consulted on any decision that will be taken with regards to consensus.”