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APC Chairmanship: Aspirants swell hostility against Adamu’s adoption

By Leo Sobechi, Abuja
05 March 2022   |   4:15 am
The purported adoption of Senator representing Nasarawa West in the ninth Senate, Dr. Abdullahi Adamu, has continued to receive verbal darts of opposition from other five aspirants, including his brother Senator, Tanko Al-Makura.

• Group Slams Amaechi, El-Rufai’s Consensus Claim

The purported adoption of Senator representing Nasarawa West in the ninth Senate, Dr. Abdullahi Adamu, has continued to receive verbal darts of opposition from other five aspirants, including his brother Senator, Tanko Al-Makura.

Prior to Adamu’s late hour adoption by the leadership of the party, Al-Makura was tipped as the possible next national chairman of the party, even as those who propped him up declared that it was time one of the legacy parties for CPC (Congress for Progressive Change) to throw up the party’s head.

At the merger of some former opposition parties in 2013, the Action Congress of Nigeria (AC.N) and CPC, were seen as the two major driving forces behind the party, just as the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), Democratic Peoples Party (DPP) and All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), were other founding partners.

However, following some irreconcilable political differences in the then governing Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), a splinter, known as new PDP also moved in to strengthen the APC structure.

So far, in the about eight years’ lifetime of the party, the ANPP and ACN flanks had produced the APC national chairman, including the first substantive chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, and the last occupant, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, who was removed two years into his four-year tenure.

One constant feature of the past APC national chairmen, whether the interim unelected chairman, Chief Bisi Akande or his two successors, Oyegun and Oshiomhole, is that they were all former state governors. But for the crisis of confidence that erupted between Oshiomhole and his former state governor, Godwin Obaseki, it would be interesting what other reason could have explained his sudden and controversial removal alongside the APC national Working Committee (NWC) on June 25, 2020.

Having sacked the elected NWC, the Nation Executive Committee (NEC) of the party went ahead to set up and inaugurate a nine-member Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC) headed by Yobe State governor, Mai Mala Buni.

Prior to his appointment and election as governor in 2019, Buni was elected alongside the Oshiomhole-led NWC in the 2018 national convention of the party. After the initial six-month grace period, the CECPC has enjoyed four subsequent cycles of six-month timeframe extensions to conduct the national convention.

After much back and forth postponement for diverse reasons, including membership registration and revalidation, the CECPC in conjunction with governors elected on the APC platform, has fixed March 26, for the much-awaited national convention.

On the way to agreeing for the March 26 date, the APC convention had stoked various implications on the nation’s polity, even as the party leadership grappled with life and cohesion threatening developments within its structure, particularly at the state chapters.

The CECPC at one point blamed the crisis at some state chapters trailing the nationwide ward, local government and state congresses, for delay in setting a realistic date for the national convention.

It was in the bid to resolve those crises among others that the CECPC set up the Senator Abdullahi Adamu’s nine-man committee, just as governing party worked behind the scene to upturn the National Assembly lawmakers’ decision to introduce the mandatory direct primary methodology for selecting party candidates.

Last Friday but one, President Muhammadu Buhari gave his assent to the revised Electoral Act amendment bill, which he earlier rejected last November for not aligning with the constitutional provisions that granted political parties to choose among direct, indirect and consensus as modality of candidate selection for elections.

From Victory To Trouble
AS things turned out, no sooner had the leaders of APC, especially the state governors under the aegis of Progressive Governors’ Forum (PGF) exulted in the victory over the National Assembly lawmakers’ ambush than the party came face to face with another big trouble on its hands.

Few hours after the Electoral Act 2022 became law by virtue of President Buhari’s signature, words started making the rounds in Abuja that former Nasarawa State governor and representative of Nasarawa West in the Senate, Dr. Abdullahi Adamu, has been picked as the consensus choice of APC leaders.

It could be recalled that Adamu’s name started flying about after the PGF scheduled a meeting with President Buhari to ratify the March 26 convention date. As the governors arrived Abuja for the meeting, campaign posters of the chairman of APC Reconciliation Committee Senator Adamu’s posters adorned some major streets in the federal capital.

Those who were in the know of the various behind the scene discussions about the impending national convention, where new NWC members would be elected, disclosed that all roads lead to Nasarawa, specifically between Al-Makura and Adamu, in search of the next APC national chairman.

Checks by The Guardian revealed that Senator Adamu was being preferred to Al Makura based on certain criteria, including resolve of party leaders to zone the Presidency to the South, which necessitated that a strong and experienced politician be supported to hold the APC structure.

It was also gathered that being a third term Senator, particularly his training as a lawyer, Adamu ranks above Al Makura, who although a governor, is just serving his first term in the Red Chamber. Further, Al-Makura, who comes from the CPC legacy party flank, was said to have some hearing challenges, even as he was characterised as a soft character to manage the governing party under a Southern President.

However, as what began as rumour gained credence, virtually all the five national chairmanship aspirants who indicated their interest earlier cried foul, saying that Adamu should not enjoy the consensus blessing of the party without their consent and consideration.

But, apart from Senator Al-Makura, none of the four other early risers was a former governor, which has been noted as a major drawback for their aspiration, even when Senator Sani Musa, an aspirant from Niger State argues that it is time to elect a lawmaker as national chairman.

Although it was obvious that only Al Makura was qualified on the score of being a former governor to step into the shoes of Oshiomhole as APC national chairman, the fact of his closeness to the former Lagos State governor, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, reduces his chances. In his place, Senator Adamu was ‘chosen,’ because he was not affiliated to any of those angling for the APC Presidential ticket for the 2023 election.

Opponents Of Consensus
IRKED by the attempt to broker consensus behind closes doors, many groups have risen to pick holes in the choice of Senator Adamu. Prominent among the groups is the APC Integrity Group (APCIG).

The group disclosed that its members are drawn from the legacy parties that formed the governing party, including Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), All Nigerian Peoples Party (ANPP), Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) and All Peoples Grand Alliance (APGA).

They accused the Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Amaechi and the Kaduna State governor, Mallam Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai of flying the kite of Senator Adamu’s adoption, stressing that nothing of such existed.

The group expressed dismay that the two APC stalwarts have continued to create the impression that Senator Abdullahi Adamu has been adopted as the consensus national chairman of the party.

According to the Coordinator of the group, Mallam Dawu Mohammed, and Secretary, Comrade Chinsom Nwakanma, “The issue of endorsement of a candidate by President Muhammadu Buhari is a fluke and should be disregarded.”

While denying that President Muhammadu Buhari has endorsed the former Nasarawa State governor as the consensus choice for the post of national chairman of APC, APCIG declared that President Buhari is close to all the candidates and would not have adopted any of them without consulting the others.

In a joint statement by the group’s conveners drawn from the legacy parties; Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), All Nigerian Peoples Party (ANPP), Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) and All Peoples Grand Alliance (APGA), APCIG accused Amaechi and El Rufai of spewing the false narrative of Senator Adamu’s endorsement by the President.

According to the Coordinator of the group, Mallam Dawu Mohammed and Secretary, Comrade Chinsom Nwakanma, “the issue of endorsement of a candidate by President Muhammadu Buhari is a fluke and should be disregarded.”

APCIG therefore urged all the national chairmanship candidates, North Central governors and possibly national leadership of the party to reach a consensus among candidates or prepare for election at the convention if the consensus approach fails.

The group alleged that Amaechi and El-Rufai’s desire to corner the Presidential and Vice Presidential tickets of the party was behind the attempt to push their preferred candidate as APC national chairman.

While calling on leaders of the legacy parties to step in “and save the party before it goes into oblivion,” the integrity group recalled how the Senator Sani Musa campaign organisation had on Wednesday rejected the purported endorsement of Senator Adamu by President Buhari.

APCIG noted that Alhaji Saliu Mustapha, another chairmanship aspirant, had also dismissed the endorsement of Senator Adamu, stressing that once a decision of a consensus candidate is taken, it will be passed on by the party leadership through official channels.

Meanwhile a state governor from the North Central had confided in some journalists that “nothing about consensus has been resolved, or is it possible for presidential spokesman to say his boss has no preferred candidate on Monday, and then we the governors will be begging Mr. President on Tuesday to drop a non-existent candidate?

“Mr. President is not a dictator, and he is also not a puppet. If he were interested in any particular candidate, he would tell the governor of such candidate. He wouldn’t just foist the candidate as such for the position of national chairman, not of the President’s ward.”

The APCIG expressed dismay that some persons were planning to destroy the APC by trying to foist a national chairman on the party, remarking, “This would not be the first time that a Minister and a governor would be accused of obtaining a false signature from the President through his Personal Assistant (PA)

“We are calling on the governors and leaders of the party to speak out on the issue before such falsehood would destroy the party. As an integrity group, we are not against any candidate, but deem it logical that a member of the legacy parties emerges as national chairman, as had been suggested by the former governor of Imo State, Senator Rochas Okorocha.

“If we allow co-joiners of APC to hijack the party, it will spell doom of our democracy. We also call on the handlers of Mr. President and Personal Assistants to be circumspect in what they do with some persons, as their actions can be injurious to the country and the party that the President leads.”

Consensus Challenges, Implications
GOING by the Electoral Act 2022, any party that adopts consensus option to select its candidates must ensure the consent in writing of all other contestants.

In the event that none of the aspirants agrees to withdraw and insists on open contest, the party might use its machinery to ensure his/her defeat and thereafter pursue of a silent policy of isolation against the dissenters.

Therefore, until the APC begins the sale of forms, it could not be ascertained to what extent some of the aspirants mouthing their disagreement through proxies are prepared to go in the race.

That may explain why a former Nigeria’s Ambassador to Poland, Dr. Samuel Jimba, had challenged aspirants sponsoring faceless groups to ensure that their activities do not destabilise the party or cause confusion during the March 26 national convention.

Jimba, had in a statement, said he was appalled by threats by a group calling itself APC Stakeholders that it would not accept certain calibre of persons as leaders of the party.

“Apparently, they (APC stakeholders) are fronting for somebody, but they do not have sufficient confidence in the person they are fronting for to even bring out his name to the public space. If you say you don’t want somebody, then give us the alternative.

“They have not provided any alternative, they have not named anybody, they themselves didn’t put their name in the paper I saw; how do you now expect us to take them serious.”

Jimba urged political jobbers to ensure that “if they are playing the tune of their paymaster, they should be bold enough to name their paymaster and let the paymaster come and compete with those they are accusing.”