There is anxiety in the camps of aspirants for the national chairmanship position of the All Progressives Congress (APC), as President Muhammadu Buhari and the 22 governors of the Progressive Governors Forum (PGF), yesterday, agreed to harmonise consensus list for all the national offices of the party.
This emerged, as the coast appears clearer that the National Convention of the party will hold on Saturday, March 26.
Briefing newsmen after the meeting between President Buhari and the APC governors at the State House, Abuja, Chairman of the PGF and Governor of Kebbi State, Atiku Bagudu, however, said those opposed to the consensus option are free to contest for any of the party offices.
Bagudu, who spoke on behalf of his 15 other colleagues, who attended the meeting with the President, disclosed that at the closed-door meeting, the governors took turns to brief President Buhari on steps being taken to ensure that consensus candidates emerge at all levels.
He also said that the PGF was in support of the chairmanship candidate being backed by President Buhari. He however, did not name the candidate.
Bagudu said, “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 individual differences, as was once carefully explained by Governor El-Rufa’i, 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.
“Most of the zones have allocated National Working Committee (NWC) positions that are fewer than the number of states, but however, there are zonal executive committees from which the zones are working to produce a consensus list.
“So, this afternoon, Governor Abubakar Bello briefed on behalf of the North-Central; Governor Babagana Zulum on behalf of the Northeast; Governor Badaru Abubakar of Jigawa State on behalf of Northwest; Governor Dave Umahi, on behalf of Southeast; Governor Kayode Fayemi briefed the President on behalf of the Southwest. I further mentioned the position of the South-South to Mr. President, as I had on paper.
“So, Mr. President appreciated the briefing and restated his gratitude for the work the governors have been doing in support of the party and prepare for the National Convention.”
Bagudu, however, said that aspirants that are against consensus option were free to run at the Saturday convention, saying APC, as a democratic party will not deny anybody from exercising their rights.
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 (NEC) of the party. But where people still choose to go against the grain, whatever the party Constitution allows them is fine, because we wouldn’t do anything undemocratic.”
HOWEVER, one of the leading chairmanship aspirants, Senator Tanko Al-Makura has called for a level playing field at the national convention of the party.
The Director-General of Al-Makura campaign organisation, Comrade Dominic Alancha argued that the call was in line with Article 82, section 3 of the Electoral Act.
Reacting to the decision of the party leadership to adopt the consensus option at the convention, Al-Makura maintained that it would be in the best interest of the party if occupants of APC seats were freely chosen by delegates from across the country during the national convention of the party.
Al-Makura said as far as he is concerned, the issue as to whether President Muhammadu Buhari has a preferred candidate for the chairmanship position of the party still falls within the realm of speculation.
Another chairmanship aspirant, Mallam Saliu Mustapha, said as a core party man, who subscribed to the principles of loyalty, he would abide by any decision taken by the leadership and stakeholders in the interest of everyone in our party.
The Guardian observed heavy presence of security personnel in the campaign office of Al-Makura, who is believed to be favoured by a section of the APC governors that met with President Buhari at the Presidential Villa.
A source said, “The truth is that the race is open. This explains why all the aspirants, excluding Senator Ali Modu Sherrif went ahead to pick the chairmanship form to contest. Though it is too early to say who the President would stick out his neck for, the truth is that the governors have the final say since they control the party structure.”
NOT less than four aspirants have obtained forms to vie for the post of national secretary, five for the position of National Vice-Chairman and five for national youth leader ahead of the Saturday national convention of the ruling APC from the Southwest.
This is an indication that the zone, despite all entreaties may not agree on consensus to determine who gets what position in line with the party’s zoning arrangement.
A glance at the final list of contestants made available to The Guardian, for various positions zoned to the area, particularly national secretary, national vice chairman and national youth leader, shows that the much orchestrated consensus arrangement have been completely jettisoned by Southwest leaders.
For the position of National Secretary, it was said that the five governors in agreement with the National Leader, Bola Tinubu agreed to support former Deputy Governor of Osun State, Senator Iyiola Omisore (Osun) but a former Minister of Communication, Alhaji Adebayo Shittu and Prof Olaiya Abeedi Olaitan both from Oyo, have obtained the nomination form and also have been cleared by the party to contest.
Also, listed by the party to run for the post of national secretary on the list is the Executive Director (Engineering & Technical Services) at Niger Delta Power Holding Company Limited, Engineer Ifeoluwa Oyedele from Ondo State.
It was gathered that Oyelede’s aspiration has the backing of President Muhammadu Buhari, as against the consensus reached by the Southwest governors and Tinubu to back Omisore.
Apparently, the zone will go to the convention on Saturday definitely divided on who to emerge as national secretary.
MEANWHILE, a former member of the House of Representatives in Lagos, Lanre Odubote said the position of the governors and Tinubu would prevail on Saturday.
According to him, “I can tell you that Tinubu and the governors have done a lot of work on the delegates and it is certain that whichever candidate they support would have a block vote.”
IT is still a crisis situation in the Southeast region over the choice of candidates that would occupy the national positions allowed by the party for the zone
The zoning arrangement of the party has approved the Deputy National Chairmanship (South); National Vice Chairman ((southeast) and National Woman leader to the Southeast zone.
The positions were micro-zoned as follows: Enugu state (Deputy National Chairman); Imo State, National Vice-Chairman and National Woman leader threw open.
However, Imo State Governor, Hope Uzodimma is said to have capitalised On the ordeal of Ebonyi State Governor, Dave Umahi to further micro-zone the positions.
The development is unsettling the party in the region, as different lists of delegates have been submitted to the national secretariat of the party.
For the allocated positions, former Senate President, Ken Nnamani is slugging it out with Chief Emma Enukwu over who occupies the office of Deputy National Chairman (South). Enukwu is the immediate past National Vice Chairman (Southeast) of the party.
While Nnamani is said to be enjoying the support of Uzodimma, Enukwu is said to be enjoying the support of members of the party, especially from the North.