The choice of Senator Abdullahi Adamu as consensus candidate for the national chairmanship position of the All Progressives Congress (APC) has thrown the governing party into disarray, with some of the chairmanship aspirants and party stakeholders kicking against the decision of President Muhammadu Buhari and the progressive governors.
Our sister publication, LEADERSHIP, had exclusively reported yesterday that the choice of Adamu as the next party national chairman had the endorsement of President Buhari who made his position known to the APC governors at their meeting on Tuesday.
The president is said to be disposed to Adamu because he wants a national chairman with better experience in the affairs of political parties who cannot be intimidated by opposition of any kind.
Efforts to get Senator Adamu’s response proved abortive as his mobile phone was switched off.
However, some of the national chairmanship aspirants, party stakeholders and interest groups yesterday registered their displeasure with the development, insisting on a level playing ground for interested persons to contest party offices.
Relying on Article 20 (i) (a) of the APC Constitution which gives room for the emergence of candidates through consensus with a proviso that “a vote of ‘yes’ or ‘no’ should be called, the aspirant warned against a selection process that would amount to imposition, saying it could breed discontent and crisis in the party.
They vowed to insist on the March 26 national convention being elective in the true sense so that delegates can carry out the wishes of party members by electing the national chairman in accordance with the agreed zoning arrangement.
One of the national chairmanship aspirants and former governor of Nasarawa State, Senator Umaru Tanko Al-Makura, rejected the endorsement of his kinsman, Senator Adamu, by President Buhari and the governors, saying he (Al-Makura) remains the national chairmanship candidate to beat.
According to the Al-Makura Campaign Organisation (ACO), the report of endorsement making the rounds is just a speculation.
A statement issued by the director, New Media, of his campaign, Segun Tomo, noted that Al-Makura wouldn’t have ordinarily ignored the widespread rumours if not for the fact that he had been inundated with calls and apprehension by his supporters across the country.
The statement noted: “The reports are just speculations and propaganda making the rounds in some news outlets that President Muhammadu Buhari has endorsed the candidacy of Sen. Abdullahi Adamu as the next Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC). Therefore, we decided to respond, and set the records straight.
“Information at our disposal indicates that what transpired at the meeting of the Governors with the President was the ratification of the new convention date and agreement on the zoning formula. On the issue of who becomes Chairman, the President asked that consultations continue to produce a credible and widely accepted choice as consensus candidate.
“One does not need a soothsayer to know that Al-Makura fits the bill. Across the length and breadth of the country, Sen. Al-Makura is seen as a bridge-builder, a leader imbued with a calm temperament, renowned with an impeccable mobilization skills and political sagacity that ensured he defeated the then entrenched Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Nasarawa State.
“It is no wonder that the “who is who” in Nasarawa political echelon have since thrown their weight behind him and being the political son of the President as the only Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) Governor that aided the consummation of the merger, we can almost deduce where the pendulum of Presidential backing will swing.
“We urge our supporters to remain focused and steadfast, as we are poised to continue engagement with critical stakeholders in the APC to ensure that Al-Makura emerges as National Chairman on March 26.
“Our resolve is strong, our determination is unflinching to “Sustain the Gains and Secure the Future” of APC with Sen. Tanko Al-Makura.”
Also, another national chairmanship aspirant from Niger State, Mohammed Saidu Etsu, rejected the endorsement of Senator Adamu as consensus candidate, calling on other aspirants and party stakeholders to speak out against the move.
Etsu who is the youngest among the chairmanship aspirants said while they are waiting to hear from the party, the “decision remains unacceptable”, just as he urged party “stakeholders to disregard and discontinue this claim.”
He said, “As a solid contender vying for the APC national chairman from the north-central part of the country, I will be utterly surprised to see this claim come to light.
“Nobody has communicated to me to this effect and if such claims are to hold weight, I strongly believe that the party knows the best channel to reach out to us, as fellow aspirants who are equally qualified for this seat.
“Politics is about people, whether directly or indirectly, nominations and the reaching of consensus for this sensitive position should be a game of numbers. We have over 41 million registered APC members across the country, with a number of them being involved in the internal party decision-making process. Most of which I know are not aware of this claim.
“In the situation of partisan politics, elections do begin from the political party’s politics. This implies that our party, the ruling All Progressives Congress must take the responsibility of acting as a good ambassador for a fair-hearing internal party politics as well as promoter/custodian of true democracy. This is what I intend to uphold with my ‘Reset Agenda’ when I emerge as the party chairman.
Imploring party stakeholders to urgently react to the development, Etsu said, “My Co-contestants and I have spent a great deal of resources campaigning and rallying around the 36 of Nigeria for at least a year now. I will categorically state that I am unhesitatingly ready to purchase the party chairmanship form right away, should the sales of forms be rolled out at this point.
“I am therefore calling on the stakeholders to look into the current situation and swiftly react to it because if this is true, we cannot agree to this decision as candidates.”
Another chairmanship aspirant, Saliu Mustapha, from Kwara State dismissed reports of Adamu’s endorsement as consensus candidate by the president and APC governors, describing it as a mere kite being flown by certain interest.
A statement signed by head of Media of Saliu Mustapha Campaign Organisation, Dapo Okubanjo, to this effect noted: “What we learnt is that no one was anointed during President Buhari’s meeting with the governors regardless of the kite being flown by certain interests. So we have to make it clear that the Saliu Mustapha Campaign Organization does not dwell on rumours or innuendos.
“We know that all sorts of kites are being flown in the media and things like that will continue to be dropped in the public space. We are reiterating our belief in party supremacy and we know that decisions as important as what is being suggested are always properly communicated by the leadership.
“We believe our candidate, Mallam Saliu Mustapha, remains the candidate to beat even if you consider what President Muhammadu Buhari said recently on the type of candidates he is willing to back for positions at the forthcoming National Convention. Aside from his youthfulness and background in party administration, he is in pole position as a core party man and a founding APC member who has never deviated from the path of progressivism and has absolutely no political baggage.”
On his part, a national chairmanship aspirant from Niger State, Senator Sani Musa, reminded the party of the provision of the party’s constitution which allows for a vote of ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to ensure that consensus candidacy does not amount to imposition, which he said could breed discontent and crisis.
Accordingly, he urged his supporters and party faithful to dispel the said report of the choice of Adamu as consensus candidate, noting that it could only come “from rumour mongers capable of further heating the already polarised political sphere.
In a statement issued by his campaign organisation yesterday, Musa asked his supporters to only accept news and information coming from the official party sources.
The statement noted: “The Sani Musa campaign organization commends President Muhammadu Buhari for not taking sides with any of the aspirants and his insistence on the use of consensus in the election of national officers in the national convention. By this pronouncement, Mr. President has upheld the foundation of the All Progressives Congress’ constitution of participative democracy, consensus oriented, equity and inclusiveness.
“Furthermore, Article 20 (i) (a) of the APC Constitution also gives room for the emergence of candidates through consensus with a proviso that “a vote of ‘yes’ or ‘no’ should be called to ensure that it was not an imposition which could breed discontent and crisis.”
“The consensus process has since been adopted to elect national officers and members of the executive and national working committee of the APC in 2014 and in 2018 respectively. This procedure has helped the party in aggregating interests; ensuring the input of every participant is carefully considered and there is a good faith effort to address all legitimate concerns.
“This is why the Sani Musa Campaign Organisation commends President Muhammadu Buhari for always considering the party first by adhering to its constitutional provisions in critical decision making.
“Our commitment to the party’s lay down guidelines and procedure for further consultations in ensuring the emergence of a better and widely acceptable candidate and outcome is well pleasing to us.
“The Sani Musa campaign organization will continue to drive its mantra “New voice New direction” to champion coalition building and creation of strong political structures with the required capacity to address the challenges we face as a party and ultimately as a nation.”
Musa however welcomed the new date announced by the party’s Caretaker/ Extra-Ordinary National Convention Planning Committee (CECPC) for the conduct of the zonal congresses and national convention of the party.
On their part, interest groups within the APC urged party members and the general public to disregard Adamu’s endorsement and rumours that the 2023 presidency may have been zoned to the southern region of the country.
A group made up of eminent party members, the All Progressives Congress Mandate Group (APC-MG), claimed that the party never met to tip Senator Adamu as a consensus candidate for national chairmanship ahead of the March 26 national convention.
National chairman of the group, Alhaji Sani Abdullahi, in a statement issued yesterday warned against few individuals arrogating powers to themselves by trying to decide the fate of the ruling party, without recourse to the teeming party members across the country.
Abdullahi stated: “The APC-MG noted with dismay, the purported endorsement of a former governor of Nasarawa State, Abdullahi Adamu, as the national chairman of APC and the reported zoning of the party’s presidential ticket for the 2023 general election to to the south of the country.
“The APC Mandate Group has consequently directed the party members and Nigerians in general to disregard purported endorsement of Adamu as chairman and the zoning of APC presidential ticket”.
APC-MG further claimed that those promoting the twin-stories of the endorsement and zoning in the media are “purveyors of fake news and merchants of lies”.
It stated: “The decision on the APC presidential flag bearer is something beyond Nasiru El- Rufai or Kayode Fayemi or Mohammed Badaru, who are only entitled to one vote each when it is time for elections.
“The party members would not have at any time treated Adamu as a top contender for its national leadership when he woefully failed to unite the party when he had the simple task of the chairman of APC Reconciliation Committee”.
The group said its assertion is based on verifiable facts that the APC did not at any time meet to take these decisions. It clarified that a group of people meeting as a “cabal” do not constitute the APC, which is founded on a recognised constitution with known organs that have responsibility for decisions at various stages.
It stated that the few members of the Progressive Governors Forum (PGF) that have been presenting their desire as mainstream decision of the APC have to awake to the reality that they have no right to decide for the rest of the party, since the PGF is not an organ created by the APC Constitution “and is not also the National Working Committee of the party to arrogate such powers to itself.
“APC-MG is challenging the PGF to publish adopted minutes of any APC meeting where it was agreed that the presidency should be zoned to any region of the country as they are now championing. Illegal agreements reached in covens cannot be allowed to supplant the democratic process that will take place at an elective party convention.
According to the group, the system of endorsement and zoning being championed by the PGF is contrived to deny Nigerians of quality leadership and that it was evident the “cartel of state governors” are working towards personalising Nigeria for their own selfish gains, which well-meaning Nigerians should do well to stand against at this point.
The group warned that no one should take the party and its members for granted since the ultimate power belongs to the people and not a handful of overbearing state governors, while hinting that those attempting to hijack party would have to live with the reality of a deserted APC, should they provoke the larger population of the party to defect to a new platform.
It called on Nigerians to take interest in what is going on in the APC, “since these same governors through their proxies are linked to the process of who becomes the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), which would effectively see them imposing either of two candidates on Nigerians as the next president when the people, through party primaries and general elections, should be the ones to make such calls”.
On its part, Concerned APC North-West Stakeholders cautioned some members of the party, particularly those from the northwest of the country, to thread with caution so as not to destroy the party, saying there would be consequences for any act that causes problems for the party.
In a statement issued yesterday, the group said the warning became necessary following the gloating of some top members of the party from the Northwest after they name-dropped President Buhari in their bid to tap the head of the party’s Reconciliation Committee, Senator Abdullahi Adamu as a consensus national chairman.
National convener of the group, Alhaji Sani Abubakar, who signed the statement, expressed regret that dropping President Buhari’s name to promote one candidate over the other for the chairmanship position of the party is against the popular clamour by well-meaning party members for the next APC chairman to be from the north-west.
The group vowed to insist on the National Convention being elective in the true sense so that delegates can carry out the wishes of party members by electing the national chairman in accordance with the agreed zoning arrangement.
It warned party members to retrace their steps, stop dropping President Buhari’s name, and dare to test the popularity of their preferred candidate through the ballot at the National Convention.
The stakeholders further urged APC members to prepare for the battle to save the party from desperate politicians on the day of the National Convention by impressing on their delegates the need to organically elect its next chairman with limited influence of state governors.
The Concerned APC North West Stakeholders stated: “The stakeholders have become aware that members of the PGF from the north-west who championed this errant position are acting out their own greed and personal agenda, which is that each of them is hopeful of emerging the running mate to an eventual APC presidential candidate from the south”.
“It is most unfortunate that people who currently (individually) hold the mandate for the wellbeing of millions of people as leaders are unable to subjugate their selfish interest for national interest, party loyalty and the long-term stability of Nigeria’s democracy. It is tragic how these individuals overheated the polity simply out of desperation to occupy a position that is not zoned to their areas.
“These persons from the north-west looking for the position of vice president that, going by our history as a nation it is well known that the best the region could get after 2023 is the national chairmanship position of the party.
“All those pushing for a candidate from the north central to be made a consensus chairman of the party, which has earlier been zoned to the north-west, are traitors and seem to only be interested in rubbishing Mr President’s legacies in office by appending his name as mark of approval to their plans.