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Experience, credibility take centre stage as APC, PDP shop for chairmen 

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Secondus

As the two dominant political parties, the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), begin the process for the election of their national officers, issues of credibility, integrity and experience of candidates for the offices of national chairman are giving leaders of both parties and stakeholders in the polity concerns.

Many stakeholders, who shared their views, have however, insisted that only candidates with sufficient experience, credibility, integrity and political influence should be elected for the benefit of the parties and democracy.

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They expressed the belief that with credible, experienced and exposed persons at the helm of affairs in both parties, the practice and promotion of democracy in the country would be enhanced.

A chieftain of the APC in Borno State, Mustapha Gambo, who was political adviser to immediate past governor, Kashim Shettima, said: “APC requires a man of vision, foresight, vast experiences, credibility and courage to take charge of party affairs at this critical time of our national life.

“What awaits us in 2023 is huge and with President Muhammadu Buhari out of the ballot for the first time in eight years, the party can’t afford to experiment with its national leadership,” he added.

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo had made case severally for more vibrant and credible political party leadership as a way of achieving good leadership for Nigeria.

In one of his remarks on need for credible leadership for political parties, Obasanjo urged youths to be involved.

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“The type of change I am talking about, that I believe we can all embark on is to subscribe to the constitution of political parties in favour of youth. Or if you like it, you call it affirmative action in favour of youths. For instance, if you say, in the constitution of a political party, not less than 50 per cent of those who hold executive office within the party will be less than 40 years of age, you’re just making sure that people that are 40 years of age will hold 50 percent of executive offices within the political party. You can even go beyond that and say that people who will be put up for election, not less than 50 percent of them will be less than 40 years of age. That’s affirmative action. That’s positive discrimination in favour of youths,” he stressed.

As the two parties began the processes for the eventual election of their national chairmen some weeks ago, the political atmosphere has become charged with the usual intrigues, horse trading, display of wits as well as some measures of machinations.

The Peoples Democratic Party has scheduled its national convention for October 30 to elect the next national officers. The APC has equally begun processes that would culminate in a national conference to elect its national chairman even though no date has been fixed. Accordingly, aspirants have emerged in both parties and are already campaigning.

In the APC, no fewer than five persons have signified intention to occupy the party’s number one position. At the moment, all those who have indicated interests are from the North, a development, which many believe is an indication of the party’s rotation or zoning, both of the chairmanship and the presidency.

Former Nasarawa State Governor, Tanko Almakura who is yet to make his ambition official, was a member of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) and is still a fan of President Muhammadu Buhari. Groups of politicians loyal to Almakura have been drumming support for him as campaigns hot up.

One of the groups in Bauchi, led by Ukkasha Hamza Rahama, said that the group had consulted widely within the party, women and youth groups and came to the conclusion that Almakura would make a good chairman that could lead it to victory in 2023 elections.

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Ukkasha said Almakura was the only person who won governorship election under a new political party, the defunct Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) in 2011, pointing out that as a founding member, he knows how to implement good political strategies for the party.

Former Borno State Governor, Modu Sheriff served as a senator before becoming governor in 2003. He served for two terms. He defected from the APC to PDP, and presided over the affairs of the opposition party as its national chairman.

Sheriff had been consulting with leaders in the APC, including governors, in a bid to boost his support base for the realisation of his APC chairmanship ambition.

In one of such consultative interactions, he met with the Jigawa State governor, Muhammad Badaru Abubakar, in Dutse, Jigawa State for four hours behind closed doors.

He spoke to journalists on his mission to Jigawa State: “I have told you (journalists) that I will be consulting and the consultation will be a continuous process; it will not finish unless decisions are taken. For now, the party has not taken a position on where the leadership of the party will be zoned to.

“When the party takes a decision on where the chairmanship of the party will go to – once it is zoned to my zone, I will run for the national chairmanship of the party,” he said.

Sheriff’s ambition has been eliciting varied reactions even within Borno State. Mustapha Gambo, a former senior political adviser to Kashim Shettima, a former governor of Borno state, says Ali Modu Sheriff is a “stabilising force” the APC needs as national chairman.

“To the best of our knowledge, he (Sheriff) is the only one going round the country, interfacing with members and leaders of the party at the grassroots. APC requires a man of vision, foresight and courage to take charge of party affairs at this critical time of our national life. What awaits us in 2023 is huge and with President Muhammadu Buhari out of the ballot for the first time in eight years, the party can’t afford to experiment with its national leadership.”

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Fifty six-year-old Senator Sani Musa, who hails from Paikoro in Niger State, has embarked on extensive consultation and mobilisation. A loyal party man, Musa has been described as a man of integrity. He is a one-time governorship contender in Niger State, a delegate to the National Convention, and a member of the APC Presidential Election Campaign Committee for 2019.

The senator had canvassed the revolution of the electoral system through the use of the card reader and Permanent Voter’s Card. Many have described him as a bridge builder ,who possess high inter-personal skills.

In the Senate, he had served on some committees, including Appropriation, Petroleum Resources, Foreign and Local Debts and Water Resources. In the APC, he had served as member of NEC, Contact and Strategic Committee, and Constitution Review Panel.

In 2015, he was arrested, but refused to divulge any confidential information on the card reader. The Business Administration graduate from Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, served as Special Adviser on Investment and Infrastructure in Niger State; director of Niger State Development Company Limited, Chairman, Task Force on Environmental Management and Managing Director, First Pacific Nigeria Limited. He also obtained a Certificate in Conflict Analysis from the United States Institute of Peace.

Former Nasarawa State Governor Abdullahi Adamu is a party elder endowed with experience. He is a no-nonsense politician. He knows his onions. After serving as governor for eight years, he was elected senator. In 2007, he was a presidential aspirant on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

In the PDP, the race began fully when it’s national caucus rose from a meeting five weeks ago and directed that the convention be conducted to elect its national officers before the end of October, 2021.

Despite the initial foot-dragging, the party’s National Executive Committee (NEC) last month stressed the need for early convention and fixed October 30 for the event.

Olagunsoye Oyinlola

And ahead of the October national elective convention, incumbent national chairman, Prince Uche Secondus and a former national secretary of the party, Brig. Gen. Olagunsoye Oyinlola (retd) are believed to be nursing ambition to vie for the plum office.

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Oyinloya’s ambition is said to be enjoying the support of anti-Secondus forces, who are bent on having a new man at the helms at the expiration of the life of current National Working Committee, NWC.

Although neither Secondus nor Oyinlola have made a public statement on their reported bids, forces within the party loyal to them are working behind the scene with barely two months to the convention.

Secondus is enjoying the support of prominent party leaders including six governors elected on the platform of the party, as well as party chieftains, made up of former governors and ex-ministers.

A former governor of Niger State and member of the party’s National Executive Committee (NEC), Babangida Aliyu is said to be the arrowhead of the pro-Secondus camp, which believes in the school of thought that the ordeals of the Rivers State-born politician are not unconnected with his insistence that things should be done the right away.

Al-Makura

A member of the PDP NEC who spoke on Secondus’ ambition said: “The number of NEC members supporting Secondus is on the increase. To be fair to him, the man is yet to make a pronouncement but it is difficult to see him backing out.

“Do not forget that a good number of serving and former federal lawmakers are with him and are happy with his stewardship. The chairman has done nothing wrong other than promoting the interest of the party at all times.

“Party chieftains are urging him to test his popularity on the ballot. Yes, he was supported and sponsored four years ago. This time, he will simply ask the party to take a good look at his records and make their decision. It is that simple.”

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Meanwhile, Oyinlola’s aspiration is off to a good start, given the likelihood of the South-west getting the nod of the party to produce the chairman this time. With a declaration by former deputy chairman, Bode George, that he is not interested in vying for chairmanship this time, chances of the former military administrator clinching the top job are very bright.

Visibility, financial wherewithal and vast political network are some of the attributes that may sway the tide in his favour.

Also, support by incumbent Oyo State governor, Seyi Makinde is a major boost for Oyinlola. Earlier this year, Makinde had extolled Oyinlola’s virtues when the latter marked his 69th birthday.

Governor Makinde, who was in company of national officers of the PDP as well as some leaders of the party in the South-West geopolitical zone and members of his cabinet, said that though the visit was all about Oyinlola’s 69th birthday celebration, the former Governor remained one person he would like to return to the PDP.

He said that Oyinlola possessed the qualities and credibility of a leader who can pull every member of the PDP together in the Southwest.

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