By SUNDAY ODIBASHI
The campaign for the election of the national chairman of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) into the party’s National Working Committee (NWC) at the February national convention is being dominated by members of the allied legacy parties in the APC merger.
National Daily inquiry revealed that the legacy parties well represented in the jostle for the national chairman of the APC include the Congress for Progressives Change (CPC) led by President Muhammadu Buhari, the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) led by Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, who on Monday, January 10, notified President Buhari of his intention to contest the 2023 presidential election; the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), an adjunct of the CPC; the co opted new Peoples Democratic Party (nPDP). There are also few other neutral party members. The ANPP, represented by former Governor John Odigie-Oyegun, and the ACN, represented by former Governor Bisi Akande and former Governor Adams Oshiomhole, had occupied the APC national chairman office since the party’s alliance in 2014. The CPC is yet to get a slot, though it has the president.
National Daily further inquiry found that certain crucial factors may influence the election of the APC new national chairman. First, the power configuration in the party from the inception. The CPC bargained for the President, while the national chairman was conceded to the ACN, and the President of the Senate was taken up by the nPDP at the formation stage. The two legacy blocs also have established leaders in President Buhari and Asiwaju Tinubu between whom the power sharing was arranged, not undermining their loyalists. The National Assembly leadership brought Dr. Bukola Saraki and Rt. Hon, Yakubu Dogara into the power equation of the APC at the time. Currently, the ANPP, represented by Ahmad Lawan, has taken up the Senate President.
The second factor is the APC presidential ticket for the 2023 election. The CPC, for instance, may want to give up the president in exchange for the APC national chairman. The ACN already has an aspirant for the APC presidential ticket; conceding the national chairman to the ACN could have a spillover effect on the transparency of the APC nomination process of its 2023 presidential candidate, being contested by Tinubu.
Thirdly, the APC Governors under the aegis of the Progressives Governors Forum are widely perceived to wield overwhelming influence in determining the emergence of the next national chairman of the party.
From the formation of the APC, leader of the dissolved ACN legacy bloc, Asiwaju Tinubu, has always nominated the APC national chairman, among whom were the Interim National Chairman, Chief Bisi Akande, who led the APC in the 2015 general elections; John Odigie-Oyegun, substantive APC national chairman who was endorsed by President Buhari; and on the removal of Oyegun, Tinubu, again nominated Adams Oshiomhole, who again, was endorsed by President Buhari. The chaotic leadership of Oshiomhole resulted in his untimely exit and succession by a 13-member National Caretaker/Extra-Ordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC) led by Governor Mai Mala Buni of Yobe State.
At this stage, the Progressives Governors Forum had taken over the influence in determining the APC national chairman, which many believe still persists as the jostle for national chairman intensifies.
The CECPC was inaugurated by the APC National Executive Committee (NEC) on June 25, 2020, for a period of six months, expected to end in December 2020.
APC governors in the Progressives Governors Forum influenced the extension of the tenure of National Caretaker/Extra-Ordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC) on two occasions, making the CECPC remain in office for 19 months and currently coordination the contest for the various offices of the APC National Working Committee (NWC), which members will be elected at the national convention in February 2022.
The candidates for the APC national chairman include former Governor Tanko Al-Makura of Nasarawa State – CPC – currently a Senator in the National Assembly; former Governor George Akume of Benue State – ACN – Minister of Special Duties; former Governor Mohammed Sani Musa Danjuma Goje of Gombe State – nPDP – three times serving Senator in the National Assembly; Mustapha Salihu – CPC – a former CPC deputy chairman, also member of the dissolved ANPP, Kwara State; former Governor Ali Modu Sheriff of Borno State – ANPP; former Governor Abdullahi Adamu – nPDP – he retired into the Senate of the National Assembly since the end of his two tenures of eight years as Governor of Nasarawa State in 2007; former Governor Abdulaziz Yari of Zamfara State – ANPP – former Chairman of the Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF), noticeably involved in extremism and irreconcilable conflict in Zamfara State, where APC currently splits into three factions; Sani Mohammed Musa, Senator representing Niger East Senatorial District of Niger State in the National Assembly, currently Chairman, Senate Services Committee.
Others include former Governor Isa Yuguda of Bauchi State – PDP defector – former Minister of Aviation; Sunny Moniedafe – ACN – former ACN chairman in the FCT, grew up in Adamawa State, his place of birth; Mohammadu Saidu, a human rights activist in Minna, Niger State; former Governor Kashim Shettima of Borno State – ANPP.
Some of the candidates in the jostle for the national chairman of the APC have political burdens that could create more crisis in the party, most of them are still involved in lingering conflicts in their states. There are also a few of the candidates for the national chairman that do not belong to any of the legacy party blocs.
National Daily will present the profile of the various candidates jostling for the national chairman of the ACP in subsequent reports.