This is even as governors elected on the party’s platform have yielded to President Muhammadu Buhari’s choice of the next national chairman of the party.
The APC governor yesterday came out from a meeting with Buhari saying they will throw their weight behind whoever the president supports to become national chairman.
Former Borno State governor, Ali Modu Sheriff, had on Sunday announced his decision to step down from the national chairmanship race of the APC, citing a unity list the party had agreed on.
Sheriff added that if the party decides to throw the contest open between Monday and Friday, he would return to the race.
There had been reports suggesting that former Nasarawa State governor, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, is the aspirant Buhari is pushing for to be the national chairman, but the choice of Adamu is facing stiff opposition from the Senate caucus of the party and legacy parties that merged to form the APC.
Following the development, chairman of the party’s caretaker committee and Yobe State governor, Mai Mala Buni, will meet with the APC Senators today.
Contrary to rumours that President Buhari may have changed his mind on backing Senator Adamu following the protest by legacy parties, it became clear that the president and the party are still much interested in the consensus arrangement last night when he met with the party’s national chairmanship aspirants.
Buhari hosted the national chairmanship aspirants of the governing party to a dinner at the presidential villa.
The parley with the aspirants was said to be in furtherance of genuine efforts at ensuring a rancor-free and successful national convention.
All those aspiring for the national chairmanship position attended the meeting.
The chairmen of the APC caretaker committee, Governor Buni; chief of staff to the president, Prof Ibrahim Gambari and secretary to the government of the federation, Boss Mustapha, were also in attendance.
Earlier yesterday, APC governors who were led to the meeting with the president by the chairman of the caretaker committee of the party said they were fully in support of whoever Buhari chooses to be national chairman.
Chairman of the Progressive Governors Forum (PGF) and governor of Kebbi State, Atiku Bagudu, told State House correspondents after the closed door meeting that they would support any process that would lead to a consensus.
According to him, the governors all restated their commitment to working together to ensure that the convention takes place on March 26.
Bagudu said they also agreed to support all the decisions that were taken by the caretaker committee, both acting as a working committee and acting with the donated powers given to it by the National Executive Committee (NEC).
He said “Our party is a democratic party; we will always urge consensus. We’ll urge respect for the decisions of the party because the distribution of political party offices here has been approved by the highest organ of the party, which is the national caretaker committee because they were acting in their capacity as the national executive committee of the party.
“But where people still choose to go against the grain, whatever the party constitution allows them because we wouldn’t do anything undemocratic.
“Mr President has always urged consensus for all positions because consensus is in accordance with the democratic tenets and once you have leaders who are established, who are working towards the same goal; yes, we might have our differences, like was once carefully explained by Governor El-Rufai.
“But on the principle of ensuring that we get leadership that will hit the ground running, we are united, and to that extent, we will support any process that will lead to consensus and the emergence of leaders without the need for an election.”
Asked if we are likely to see surprises at the convention, he said “No, the governors are united. The governors are unanimous in support of Mr President. The governors are unanimous in the support of the caretaker committee.
“Naturally, there will be hiccups one day, but we have overcome them and we are a human organisation, which is bound sometimes to generate emotions and anxiety, but we are united and unanimous and by God’s grace, we’ll have a very successful and peaceful national convention.”
The progressive governor’s forum chairman further said they all briefed the president on the distribution of political party offices to the respective zones.
“Apart from our support for Mr. President’s endorsement of the candidate for the National Chairman of the party, the various geo-political zones took turns to brief Mr President on what they have been doing to generate consensus in their respective zones amongst the National Working Committee and zonal party positions that have been either allocated to the zones or which the zones are entitled to.
“Most of the zones have been allocated National Working Committee positions that are fewer than the number of states, but there are zonal executive committees from which the zones are working to produce a consensus list.
“So, this afternoon, the respective zones, Governor Abubakar Bello on behalf of the North-Central; His Excellency, Governor Babagana Zulum Umara, on behalf of the North East; His Excellency, Governor Badaru Abubakar of Jigawa State on behalf of North West; His Excellency, Governor Dave Umahi, on behalf of South East; Governor Kayode Fayemi on behalf of the South West all briefed the president. I further mention the position of the South-South to Mr. President, as I had on paper.”
Buni Meets Senators Today Over Party Crisis
Meanwhile, the Senate caucus of the APC will today meet with the Mai Mala Buni-led Caretaker Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee.
The meeting which is billed for 4pm, LEADERSHIP gathered is not unconnected with the crisis in the party.
The notice of meeting was conveyed in a letter read by the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, moments before the chamber adjourned sitting on Wednesday.
The letter was signed by the Senate Leader, Yahaya Abdullahi (APC, Kebbi North).
The meeting, which was supposed to be held yesterday (Tuesday) at the National Assembly, is now slated to be held today at the National Secretariat of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Lawan said, “There will be an APC Senate caucus meeting with the CECPC at the National Headquarters on Thursday, March 24, 2022.
“Buses conveying Distinguished Senators will leave by 3:30 pm at the Senate Entrance. Venue is Blantyre Street, Wuse 2, Abuja. Time: 4pm.”
Akume Expresses Satisfaction With Party Screening
Meanwhile, former governor of Benue State and minister of Special Duties and Intergovernmental Affairs, Senator George Akume, has declared that he is satisfied with the screening of aspirants for the national chairmanship position of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
The former lawmaker was among the national chairmanship aspirants screened last night in Abuja.
Other national chairmanship aspirants at the screening include: Senator Sani Musa, Senator Tanko Al-Makura, Saliu Mustapha, Mohammed Etsu, former governor Abdulaziz Yari and Senator Abdullahi Adamu.
The frontline chairmanship candidate, who was accompanied to the screening venue by a powerful delegation of elder statesmen as well as APC leaders across the states of the federation and other stakeholders, expressed confidence that the screening exercise will produce quality leadership for the ruling party.
Akume said, “I don’t know whether it’s an interview or it’s a screening exercise. They asked me questions on the political realities of our time. So these are issues that affect many other political parties, even the big ones like APC which is a flagship political party at the moment.
“It was an interactive session so to speak and I think I learnt much from them and I think they learnt a little from me. By and large, it was okay.”
Meanwhile, a Forum of Christian and Muslim Youths of Nigeria have expressed support for the national chairmanship aspiration of Senator George Akume.
At a media briefing at the end of their meeting in Abuja, the forum said Akume, a former Benue state governor, is the best for the party and by extension the country.
Leaders of the forum, Mallam Yusuf Muhammed and Peter Bassey Asuquo, president and national publicity secretary respectively, said Akume will unite the party and ensure the party wins the 2023 presidential election.
“The Forum of Christians and Muslims Youth of Nigeria recommended Senator George Akume without reservations as the best candidate for the APC National Chairmanship based on his competence, experience, and nationalism.
“We have constituted a lobbying committee among our members who cut across the 36 states and FCT to solicit the support of the APC critical stakeholders for Senator Akume’s victory as the next National Chairman of the APC. This, we have been doing behind the scenes silently and are quite hopeful of our Patron’s victory,” they said.
The forum which said Akume has a worldwide leadership perspective, said that he is what APC needs now to galvanize all the stakeholders to victory ahead of the general elections and also Nigeria.
Earlier in the week, Borno State governor, Prof Babagana Zulum, had pleaded with President Buhari, governors on the platform of Progressive Governors Forum (PGF), their deputies and all other stakeholders to consider the candidature of Akume for the position of the national chairman “for the sake of fairness, equity, and justice.”