To ensure a rancour-free convention, President Muhammadu Buhari will meet with the seven chairmanship aspirants today.
The ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) will on Saturday, hold its convention at Eagles Square, Abuja.
Contrary to the push for a consensus candidate by the President, seven aspirants are in the race to lead the party.
President Buhari is believed to be rooting for Senator Abdullahi Adamu, a former Nasarawa State governor as party chairman.
However, the APC Senate Caucus’ declined to endorse Adamu.
Besides, it was learnt leaders of the legacy parties that formed APC also refused to back Adamu.
As part of its convention plan, Caretaker Chairman Mai Mala Buni is expected to brief the APC senators today.
A source said last night that the President may use today’s meeting with chairmanship aspirants either to restate his consensus position or allow an open race for the highest office.
There were speculations that the President may have backed out of his support for Adamu because the legacy parties would not support him.
Besides Adamu, who was pioneer chairman of the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF), other aspirants are ex-Governor Umar Tanko Al-Makura (Nasarawa State); Malam Saliu Mustapha; Sen. Sani Mohammed Musa and Mohammed Etsu (Niger State); ex-Governor George Akume (Benue) and a former chairman of the NGF Abdulaziz Yari (Zamfara).
Yari, Mustapha, Al-Makura and Musa met yesterday in Abuja. But details of their discussions were unknown.
A source said: “Worried by the bickering over APC chairmanship, the President has invited aspirants to a meeting on Wednesday at the Presidential Villa.
“I think the session might address how to have a rancour-free convention. The President may also sell his consensus agenda to the aspirants if they will accept.
“The aspirants have refused to step down for each other, leading to cracks among APC governors and leaders.
“In the case of Nasarawa and Niger states, there are four aspirants leading to deep-seated political crises in the two states.”
Also, there is pressure on the President not to anoint any aspirant. The legacy parties, which formed APC, were said to be opposed to the alleged preference for Adamu as the next APC national chairman.
“There are strong feelers that the President may back out of the Adamu project in view of the preponderance of opposition against him.
“Most APC governors are really not keen on Adamu’s choice.”
The source added: “Certainly, the Villa meeting may set the tone for the national convention. The outcome may define the chairmanship race.”
A governor, who spoke in confidence, said: “The situation is still dicey. We have not been able to strike a common position on the choice of the next chairman of our party.
“What I can tell you is that we will get to a bend where we have to be decisive. This may be on or before Friday.”
On the meeting of the four aspirants in Abuja, the source said: “I think the meeting might be connected with presenting a common position when the chips are down.”
A chieftain of defunct CPC from Kano State, Alhaji Farouk Abdulaziz, said the group was not in support of former Nasarawa governor because he was alien to the ideals of APC from its foundation.
He added: “We have made our position known to the President and he promised not to support anyone for the position. As it stands, Adamu Abdullahi cannot claim he has full presidential backing.
“We have nothing against him but we need someone who was part of the formation of our party from the beginning. The party has ideals and only those who shared those ideals must lead our party.
“It is now going to be an open contest; that is the beauty of democracy and Mr President insists that all the aspirants cleared for that position must face the delegates.”
A source said the President’s decision not to back Adamu or any of the aspirants is to ensure a level-playing field, and that the best aspirant, who is the choice of the people, can emerge.
“Some people who feel they are close to Mr. President sold the candidature of Senator Abdullahi Adamu to him. Somehow, others too who have Mr. President’s ears, have also told him the implication of using Adamu as APC national chairman.
“So, Mr President having listened to both parties now said he is no longer interested in any consensus again. Let there be an open contest where the best person will emerge as the national chairman.
“That is the reason all the aspirants have picked forms. Even those who were initially reluctant to contest, after it was reported that the President had endorsed Adamu, have collected the forms.
“The President does not need any chairman for any personal ambition. Don’t forget, he is not contesting again and he has said he will retire to his farm after May 29.
“All he wants is to leave a stronger APC behind, with a new leadership that can deliver the 2023 general elections to the party. He has no anointed candidate at all and he wishes all the aspirants the very best.”
Deputy Senate President Ovie Omo-Agege said Buni would brief APC Senators today on preparation for the convention.
Omo-Agege, who presided over plenary yesterday, conveyed notice of the meeting in a letter addressed to the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, and signed by the Senate Leader, Yahaya Abdullahi.
The Senate leader said Yari would also address the caucus.