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Why NWC opposed Lawan as APC consensus presidential candidate, by Duru

By Guardian Nigeria
14 June 2022   |   2:44 am
Deputy National Organising Secretary of All Progressives Congress (APC) Hon. Nze Chidi Duru spoke to ADAMU ABUH about why members of the National Working Committee (NWC) opposed the plot to foist

Deputy National Organising Secretary of All Progressives Congress (APC) Hon. Nze Chidi Duru spoke to ADAMU ABUH on why members of the National Working Committee (NWC) opposed the plot to foist the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan as the consensus presidential candidate of the party.

Why did members of NWC of the APC oppose the plan to impose Ahmed Lawan as the consensus presidential candidate of the party?
There was no discussion on the consensus candidate. Some of us within the rank and file of the NWC felt we should address the press and let the country know that NWC did not take a decision on that matter.

Our position was a critical turning point in the journey leading to the convention and it created a sense of confidence and a level playing field for the 23 aspirants.


The NWC midwife a free, fair and transparent primary. Our position was not a stand-alone decision. It was in keeping with the decision of the Northern Governors Forum on the issue of zoning. We were bent on ensuring that against all expectations that the Presidency of Nigeria is zoned to the South and not North.

It was a patriotic decision and it also became the decision of the Southern Governors Forum (SGF) and ultimately the position of the Progressive Governors Forum (PGF). The NWC members that addressed the newsmen took note of that and adopted the position.

Is it true that the National Chairman of the party, Senator Abdullahi Adamu singlehandedly came up with the idea of a consensus under the pretext that he was acting on behalf of President Muhammadu Buhari?
I will not know if the President backed him. What is important to us is the fact that the NWC did not take any decision on a consensus candidate and that position amplified what we had always said that if NWC will be credited with any particular decision, it has to be tabled before the meeting of NWC. And in the usual manner of debate and consultation, we can arrive at a decision on consensus.

Yes, there was a view expressed with respect to some understanding that Ahmad Lawan was the preferred choice of the chairman of the party. He is entitled, like every Nigerian to have a view on who should be the Presidential candidate of the party.

And we don’t deny him that and to be fair to him, even in offering that advice, he also said that NWC would create an enabling environment that allows the aspirants to compete and should any of them win, that person would become the candidate of the party.

Is it proper for the National Chairman to have a preferred candidate?
He has a moral responsibility to create an enabling environment which was created at the National Convention of the party. At the end of it, the party remained the same after we organised a free, fair and transparent primary and in such a way that any of the aspirants that emerged as our standard-bearer would have the confidence of their co-aspirants to be able to galvanise them, as we are beginning to see that our candidate, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu has begun to reach out to his co-contestants.

The other contestants had also pledged their loyalty, and support and are ready to offer their resources to campaign for him, work with him and deliver for the party in next year’s election. That is what a transparent process can only guarantee. Had it been that the candidate was foisted on the party, it would have created an atmosphere that would not have allowed for a mutual understanding. And it will be difficult for a bridge to build an understanding of the candidate that will lead us to the election.

In view of the division among the NWC members over the consensus issue, is the party still united ahead of the 2023 poll?
The NWC of which I’m a member is united, and we have always worked together. The point you made with respect to the letter authored by our colleagues, Salihu Lukman and Isaac Kekemeke only informed the party stalwarts of the basic rudiments of party administration, emphasising the need to carry everybody along and submit policy decisions to the scrutiny of the NWC.

By the way, don’t forget that NWC members are barely three months old in office. We resumed office in March this year. Immediately we began to get involved in the process of the electioneering process, the process of nominating candidates and delegates for various elections, and the primaries that ultimately culminated in producing governorship and presidential candidates of the party. I wouldn’t see that as a crack. I see it as part of the discourse that is essential and necessary in party building.

What is your take on the issue of selecting a running mate for Tinubu?
We are working around the clock. We are looking at not just the issue of the running mate for the presidential candidate but we are looking at issues around the candidates that have emerged across Nigeria – from states assemblies to the Senate, gubernatorial and presidential primaries to ensure that our party meet the basic requirements, as stated by INEC guidelines.

Yes, we have between now and Friday to complete the entire process. But it’s important to also make the point that has emerged as the Presidential candidate, by the way, it is his sole responsibility to nominate or his vice after having consultations with various layers of the party and stakeholders.

I believe the process is ongoing. Various consultations are going on as most of them are in the public spaces. Tinubu has met with Mr. President, met with the Vice President, and also met with co-contestants. He has also met with NWC members of the party. And I’m sure that in the final analysis, he will be in a position to nominate a candidate that will complement his strength and also give a face of the kind of government Nigerians should expect come May 2023.

What is your take on the prospect of a Muslim-Muslim joint ticket for the party?
I’ve made the point, that it is the sole prerogative of the candidate to choose and determine who his number two would be. Tinubu’s running mate will be a person that will complement his strength and will also help him in administering the government come 2023. What is important for Nigeria today is good governance, creating a level playing field, securing Nigerians, and their properties and giving hope to them. But one thing that is significant, not laying emphasis on the Muslim-Muslim ticket is also to make the position that APC has taken the moral high ground. It has been understood in the history of this country that when the North completes its tenure, the South will take over and after the South, it will go back to the North again.

And we have an opposition party that is a clear disregard the unwritten governance code on how this country throws up its leadership, went the other way and the APC chose to stick in that tradition of after eight years of power in the north it should rotate to the South. This is something that is commendable. This is what Nigerians should look at and then take the position that APC is a better alternative to any other political party.

How will you assess APC chances against the opposition PDP in the 2023 poll?
I think what qualifies APC to form government in 2023 is the fact that APC has kept faith with Nigeria on power rotation.
Again, look at the quality of people that are currently administering in both parties, in terms of governance across the board and the credential of our candidate, the work that he did when he was governor in Lagos, people he had mentored and, those who have also influenced him. What will become very clear is that our candidate is a private sector-driven person. He understands inputs and outputs. He knows what we need to do to unfold the potential of the average Nigerian. He knows what it takes to create a level playing field. One thing he said that struck me, as part of his acceptance speech is that a friend of his said to him that ‘things are not working in Nigeria, things have gone that bad and to support his statement he said that not many containers are coming to Nigeria’. And I’m sure most of us heard that. And what was his reply? He said it is his responsibility to move the country away from an import-dependent economy to an export-dependent economy so that Nigerians can continue to produce what they need. He also talked about electricity. It is one thing to privatise, by the way, I was chairman House committee on privatisation when I was in the National Assembly. The whole essence of privatising is to bring in more private hands into a critical part of our industry.

What is your take on the inability of South East presidential aspirants to make headway at the convention?
I think basically, it would have been our wish that South East is considered for the Presidential ticket of our party. They are more than entitled to it and no doubt, we have the people, who would have done what would have worked for Nigeria. We would have also crystalised the level of governance that each and every one of us expects. There should be a constructive engagement to reassure the people of the South East that they belong to this entity called Nigeria.

Do you think Nigerians will still trust APC and vote for you again?
The party and government have done well and deserve to be voted for again. Yes, we cannot deny the fact that a lot more progress is needed to have been made. We cannot deny the fact that there’s hardship in the land. We can also not deny the fact that there are missed opportunities. However, what this candidate brings is hope. He will look at some areas where we have done well and will also critically look at the areas we need to improve.

But we shall continue to arrest the days of the locusts and then take Nigeria back to the path of prosperity that is devoid of ethnic and religious leanings. At the end of the day, whether you like it or not, if you are a governor of a state and then there is insecurity in your land, it doesn’t speak the language of APC or PDP. It speaks the language of humanity. So when the development is not there, it speaks to all of us. So what our candidate and what the party will offer to Nigerians are development and hope. Tinubu has seen it all, he is vast and experienced, he was a legislator and governor. He has demonstrated the capacity to harness human and material resources for development. And if elected as president, the whole country will benefit from his knowledge and capacity to create wealth.

Do you see the likes of Rabiu Kwankwaso and Peter Obi as threats to the prospects of APC retaining power?
Peter Obi comes with incredible credentials, as well as Rabiu Kwankwaso. You cannot deny the fact that they have swaths of followership not only from their areas or zones but also across the country. What I do not know is whether this followership will translate to a voting possibility during the election. However, having said that, the point we need to make is that APC is the dominant political party. There are two established parties in Nigeria – APC and PDP. But APC remains the party to beat and I have no doubt that we shall win the next election. We have a candidate with national appeal and an incredible record of performance.