Five of the aspirants for the national chairmanship of the All Progressives Congress (APC) may have dropped out of the race, leaving the field for a tight contest by seven top members of the party.
Only the seven met yesterday’s deadline for submission of their nomination forms.
Former Deputy Governor of Osun State, Otunba Iyiola Omisore yesterday submitted his nomination form to contest for national secretary of the party.
Preparations for next weekend’s convention from which a new national executive committee of the party will emerge moved into a higher gear yesterday after a high court in Abuja vacated an order stopping the national convention.
Justice Bello Kawu ruled that a political party could not be sued by a member.
But the bad blood generated by the recent moves against the Chairman of the party’s Caretaker Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC), Mai Mala Buni, and the Secretary, John Akpanudoedehe, appears not to be over yet.
Akpanudoedehe declared that he remained CECPC Secretary regardless of the vote of no confidence said to have been passed on him on Thursday by a majority of the committee members.
Chairmanship aspirants who beat the deadline for the submission of nomination forms yesterday were the pioneer Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, Senator Abdullahi Adamu; ex-Governor Umar Tanko Al-Makura; Mallam Saliu Mustapha (Turaki Ilorin); Senator Sani Mohammed Musa; ex-Governor George Akume; another former Chairman of the Nigeria Governors Forum, Abdulaziz Yari; and the youngest, Mohammed Etsu.
Only Yari is from the North-West. The rest are mostly from the North-Central.
Those that are out of the race include a former Chief Whip of the House of Representatives, Hon. Bawa Bwari; ex-Governor Ali Modu Sheriff; ex-Governor Isa Yuguda; Dr. Sani Abdullahi Shinkafi and Sunny Sylvester Monidafe.
While some of the aspirants jettisoned their ambition in deference to the APC zoning formula in favour of the North-Central for chairmanship, others appeared to have lost steam midway.
A reliable party source said: “All the aspirants are jostling to earn the confidence and endorsement of President Muhammadu Buhari. What has buoyed their confidence is the discordant tunes from London.
“They believe it is still an open race based on the extent of influence they have wielded through their godfathers, allies and associates. One of the aspirants was even in London for almost a week but he could not see the President.
“In spite of the speculations on Buhari’s alleged mindset on Adamu, it is still difficult to predict the direction he is heading to.
“He has met with his strategists in London and a clear direction he is disposed to is consensus. But we are unclear about who is the consensus aspirant.
“The Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) Caucus of APC is adamant on producing the National Chairman of the party from among its two nominees, Saliu Mustapha and ex-Governor Umar Tanko Al-Makura.”
Responding to a question, the source added: “Most of the governors have lost steam on the choice of a new national chairman for APC.
“The crisis in their ranks on the fate of the Chairman of the Caretaker Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee, Governor Mai Mala Buni, has made them to tread softly in advising the President.
“A governor, who was in London to have an audience with Buhari was devastated to read the President’s letter to the Chairman of the Progressive Governors’ Forum, Senator Atiku Bagudu.
“He could not understand the dynamics of presidential power play.”
APC under my leadership won’t beg anyone for money – Musa
One of the chairmanship aspirants left in the race, Senator Mohammed Sani Musa, said yesterday that if he won the election, the party, under him, would not beg anyone for money to run its affairs.
He said that the APC with a membership strength of 43 million should have no problem raising funds.
He spoke at the party’s national secretariat in Abuja after submitting his nomination and expression of interest forms.
Musa, who currently represents Niger East in the Senate, said he was looking forward to the convention which he said would usher in a new beginning and transitional change in the APC.
He said the party required a leadership that would “bring direction and build consensus between all dividing organs.”
He said: “The executive governors are there to support the party and the party is there to work with the governors.
“We want to see a party that will become an institution in Africa.
“APC is the largest party and all we need to do is to put the structure in place. That is, the political parties need to be very strong.
“We have a democracy in this country that has a very strong foundation, but what we are lacking is the leadership that will be able to transform our party structure to what it should be: a platform to groom leaders. That is what I’m bringing new to APC.
“And APC will not be dependent on anybody to fund it. With 43 million members, we have no business going cap in hand to beg anybody for money. That is what I’m bringing to APC.”
On the purported endorsement of Senator Abdullahi Adamu by President Muhammadu Buhari, Musa wondered why the party sold forms to other people if it had someone already lined up for the job.
“You sold forms to us. And as far as I’m concerned, there’s never been anybody that officially contacted me or any other aspirants. Nobody! And the spokesperson to Mr. President, Femi Adesina, had said that there was no endorsement,” he said.
“The endorsement I want is your endorsement. I want the endorsement of 43 million APC members. That is what I need.
I’ll ensure party supremacy — Mustapha
Another aspirant, Malam Saliu Mustapha, vowed to ensure party supremacy, inclusiveness and discipline if elected as chairman of the APC.
He promised to promote a policy of mentorship where youth and women would be given deputy leader positions at the various committee levels of the party to give them the much-needed training that will prepare them for leadership positions in the country.
On his plan to fund the party, Mustapha said his leadership would leverage on the over 40 million membership strength of the party by introducing a membership levy on every card-carrying member.
Al-Makura has better credentials to lead APC than five other contestants -Group
Arewa Youths in the South South and South East said former Nasarawa State Governor, Senator Umar Tanko Al-Makura, is better positioned than anyone else to lead the APC.
Spokesman for the group, Arewa Youths South South and South East, Alhaji Anas Yero, described Al-Makura as the best candidate that can unite the party and lead it to victory in 2023.
“We must know that the emergence of a weak leader might affect the party in 2023,” he said.
He added: “In terms of competence, Al-Makura is unquantifiable due to his political track records.
“His candidature has no match. Hence he is widely accepted across all the six geo-political regions in the country.”
The group maintained that since the formation of the APC, all the legacy political parties that came together had produced the national chairman, noting that this is the time for CPC to also enjoy the seat, and the most suitable person is Senator Al-Makura.
remain APC National Secretary
The APC Caretaker Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC) National Secretary, Dr. John Akpanudoedehe, said yesterday that he remained in office despite the Thursday move by a majority members of the committee to remove him.
Akpanudoedehe, emerging from a meeting with the CECPC chairman Mai Mala Buni in Abuja, said: “Our Chairman (Buni) cannot go against the instruction of the President.
“In his last letter, the President has given the directive that the status quo ante should remain. The Chairman is a very brilliant man. He respects the President and will not go against that.
“I am the National Secretary of APC and the constitution is very clear on that. The INEC has said for you to sack any of us, you need 21-day notice.
“I should be celebrated for standing with the Chairman. We should celebrate loyalty, integrity. Why would I be punished for standing with the chairman? It is a virtue.
“So, nothing has changed in APC. I remain the National Secretary and reconciliation efforts are ongoing. It is one party.”
APC youths protest ‘sack’ of Akpanudoedehe as CECPC scribe
A youth group in the APC known as Progressives Youth Movement (PYM) yesterday kicked over the Thursday vote of no confidence passed on Akpanudoedehe by a majority of the members of the CECPC.
The group, at a press briefing in Abuja, cautioned party leaders not to bring up issues that are capable of causing confusion again before the national convention of the party.
National Coordinator of the group, Prince Mustapha Audu, described the purported sack of the APC scribe as void and a nullity, explaining that the party currently needs unity.
He added: “We have a legal way of removing anybody from a committee, and I think only the NEC has the authority to do that.
“I don’t believe a committee that was set up has the authority to sack a member of that committee that was set up by NEC, especially a member who is superior in position.
“I think that is absolutely impossible but we would leave that for the legal team to look into that.”
Omisore jostles for secretary
A former deputy governor of Osun State, Senator Iyiola Omisore, yesterday emerged a surprise candidate for the position of the party’s national secretary.
He submitted his nomination form for the office at the APC National Secretariat.
Omisore, in a statement, said he looked forward to an “efficient and effective management of the national secretariat for next level prosperity, democracy deliverables for Nigeria and Nigerians in utmost of peace, happiness, safety and plenty.”
He promised to “institutionalise civility by leveraging on technology for efficient party administration and create a people-driven political party that will deepen democratic norms across the board in administration and in capacity building not only to win election but to be bonded as an institution whereby everyone will be recognised and respected for their many roles in aiding growth and development of the party from the grassroots.”
Omisore appealed to APC members in Nigeria to support his ambition for the party by voting for him.
Court vacates order stopping APC convention
An Abuja high court yesterday gave the APC the green light to proceed with its national convention scheduled for March 26, 2022 in Abuja.
Justice Bello Kawu vacated the November 18, 2021 order he granted, suspending the convention indefinitely.
An APC member, Salisu Umoru, had in suit marked FHC/HC/CV/2958/2021, challenged the planned convention.
The now vacated order had threatened the holding of the convention.
Kawu said yesterday that the plaintiff lacked the locus to sustain the restraining order.
According to him, the November interim injunction had been overtaken by a recent ruling of the Supreme Court on a similar matter.
He adjourned hearing in the substantive suit to March 30.
Kaduna State Governor Nasir El-Rufai had accused Buni and Akpanudoedehe of knowing about the interim injunction but did nothing to get it vacated.
Ex-PGF boss warns against implosion, uncovers alleged imposition plot by CPC bloc
The immediate-past Director-General of the Progressive Governors Forum (PGF) Salihu Lukman, yesterday alleged a plot to impose leaders from the defunct Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) on APC at the March 26 National Convention of the party.
Lukman in a statement titled “Consensus Vs Open Contest in APC” in Abuja yesterday said political associates in the defunct CPC should refrain from acts capable of undermining the authority of the President as the leader of the party.
“It was the liberal disposition of the President that allows him to respect positions of party leaders, based on which he subscribes to decisions and delegate implementation to competent structures of the party.
“If the President can respect other party leaders, why should other associates of the President exude any form of disrespect or contempt for other party leaders in whatever way?
“One of the mistakes of the so-called old CPC members, including the ‘CPC London lobbyists’, is to elevate the respect of party leaders for the President to the level of compelling obedience without recognising that it is mutually reciprocal respect.
“Unlike what obtained under the CPC, whereby President Buhari was largely the singular electoral asset of the party, in the case of the APC, President Buhari, although the dominant electoral asset, other party leaders are also electoral assets in varying degrees, which was the added factor responsible for the electoral victory of 2015 and 2019.
“These are old opportunistic arguments, which were self-serving, used by some few vested interests around the President to impose themselves as party leaders and candidates.
“Many instances were leading to the imposition of candidates during elections, which undermined the electoral viabilities of parties associated with the President. From the ANPP in 2003 and 2007 to CPC in 2011, this has been the reality.
“Often, individual politicians with these self-serving agendas have used it to impose themselves on party members as candidates for elections.
“Although there are many instances whereby imposed candidates win elections, there are also many instances when acts of imposition destroyed the electoral advantages of the parties leading to the loss of elections.
“This was partly the reason for the large-scale defeat of the CPC in the 2011 election in Kano, Kaduna, Bauchi, Katsina and many states.