The jostle for national chairmanship of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) will be an interesting watch as stakeholders intensify the lobby for candidates, MUYIWA OYINLOLA writes.
A common feature of Nigerian politics is a push for acceptance. Gladiators for the position of the national chairmanship of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) are leaving no stone unturned to market themselves both directly and by proxy.
In recent times major contenders for the seat have engaged in rigorous but subtle campaigns for the office, especially by making their supporters clear the way for them.
There is no doubt that the party is at a critical point in its search for a new leadership. This is so because the party will, for the first time, enter a phase of its evolution where President Muhammadu Buhari would not be its presidential candidate leaving his estimated over nine votes up for grabs.
As such, pundits aver that the task before the party intelligentsia is ensuring that whomever emerges national chairman must have not just the capacity to retain those votes but galvanise the party into uncharted territories.
Only recently, a group operating under the aegis of Youth Progressives Forum (APCYPF) endorsed a former governor of Nasarawa state and senator representing Nasarawa north zone, Umar Tanko Almakura, for the position of national chairman.
The forum led by its national chairman, Hon Ukkasha Rahama, announced the endorsement while addressing journalists in Bauchi.
He said Almakura as an experienced politician and peace builder can lead the party to victory in the next 2023 elections.
Buttressing his points, Rahama said, “As the 2023 election is fast approaching, the ruling APC must take holistic decisions in the overall interest of its members and Nigerians as a whole by supporting the emergence of Umaru Almakura as the next APC national chairman to stop the party from collapsing after the exit of president Buhari.
“The fundamental task before the ruling party is to reconcile its aggrieved members, win elections and sustain President Buhari’s policies and programmes after 2023,” he said.
During the week, a group under the aegis of South South APC Youth Network endorsed former Governor of Zamfara State, Abdulaziz Yari, for the chairmanship position of the party.
One of the leaders of the South South APC youth network, Mr. Ambrosini Sambo while addressing journalists in Abuja said Yari should be made a consensus candidate for the party’s chairmanship position.
Sambo said: “APC needs Yari now more than he needs the party, the party has reached a level where an experienced administrator is needed to steer its affairs.
“There is no need to have many contestants for the post of the chairman of our great party. Yari should be made the consensus candidate for the good of the party and also to avoid rancour after the election”, he said.
“Yari as the APC National chairman, we in the South South can be rest assured that come 2023 all the states in the South South will become APC states.”
In the same vein, a pro-democracy group, APC Ambassadors of Nigeria, endorsed former governor of Benue, Sen. George Akume, for the position of national chairman of the ruling party.
A statement issued recently in Abuja by the group’s national coordinator, Dr Aliyu Ibrahim, described Akume as a politician with the pedigree to reposition the party. He said the unfolding development is coming ahead of the 2023 Presidential and general elections whose roadmaps are being laid by party members who understand the dynamics of power-game, power-play and balance of power.
“For the APC, sustaining her hold on the political leadership power of government at the three-tiers of governance is the uppermost concern, facing all thought-processes or considerations in the present power equation moves.
“One political leadership figure who understands and applies the principles and laws of political power and deploys the same to good advantage under national group and social dynamics across population sizes, patterns and distributions, is Senator George Akume. “Ibrahim said that having a strong political personality as Sen. Akume would be a positive gain for the party, given his robust intellectual and administrative experiences. “His competence, discipline, rich capacity for tolerance and humility in relating with people irrespective of class, race or religion places Akume as the best candidate to lead the APC,’’ Ibrahim said.
Akume, a two-time civilian governor of Benue is currently Nigeria’s Minister of Special Duties & Inter-Governmental Relations.
Similarly, a former national publicity secretary of the defunct Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) and the senator representing Niger East Senatorial District at the National Assembly, Sani Musa, has also received endorsement from some quarters.
While there is no doubt that the trio of Al-Makura, Yari and Akume are serious contenders for the APC national chairmanship, Senator Musa appears to stand tall in the contest.
Apart from having the backing of his state chapter of the party, the lawmaker’s bid has also been endorsed by most APC senators, who are rooting for one of their own to assume the leadership of the party.
Equally working for Musa is the clamour for the chairmanship of the APC to be zoned to the North Central.
Those rooting for the senator are of the view that the party should avoid handing its leadership to another former governor given what it went through in the hands of the immediate past chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole.
According to them, what the ruling party needs going into a general election is a team player as the “Buhari factor” is not going to be there again.
They also insisted that Buni’s successor must be a party man and not what they described as “fair weather politicians,” who are good at jumping ship at will. For them, besides being a founding member of the APC, the senator is a highly organised, dedicated, passionate and hardworking person with proven integrity in all the places he has served in both public and private sectors from 1986 to date.
The lawmaker is also described as a mobiliser, bridge-builder and a master strategist, who is not only passionate about the wholesome development of the nation but has the capacity required to manage diverse people and interests irrespective of tribe, religion. These, according to them, are what APC needs going into the 2023 general election.
The belief that Musa, who chairs the Senate Services Committee, is the right for the APC top job, perhaps, explains the various endorsements for his bid.
Just recently, a group under the aegis of APC Stakeholders for 2023 Elections Victory, in declaring support for the senator, said he has experience in business and legislative levels which positions him to lead the APC.
Coordinators of the group, Yemi Adeleye and Sabiu Ali, said, “With the current state of the APC, the party needs to leadership qualities of Senator Musa to continue the reconciliation and peaceful rehabilitation approach that has been entrenched in the party by the Governor Buni-led caretaker committee.”
The group said this is the time for the APC to have someone in the capacity of Senator Musa as APC national chairman to pilot the affairs of the party to victory in 2023 and beyond.
“He has proven skill in developing consensus at party, committee and legislative levels and has also exhibited qualities that could stand him out as a solid party man that can deliver the APC in all future elections,” the group said.
A first-term senator, Musa, in 2014, was an aspirant for the Niger East Senate candidacy and a gubernatorial aspirant in 2007. He was also an ex-officio of the defunct All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP).
He developed and promoted electronic voting for the first time in Nigeria. This manifested in the introduction of Card Reader and Permanent Voters Card (PVC), the revolutionary steps that were instrumental to the transformation of election in the country by INEC in 2015 and 2019.
Whereas the dice of who becomes the party’s national chairman is still rolling, stakeholders are concerned about sustaining the recent gains the party has made.
The party in recent times has maintained relative internal peace and benefited from the recent defections of top politicians including three governors from the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
As the 2023 general elections draw near, stakeholders are looking for a character that can deliver the polls for the party and as well make inroads into some areas where the party is perceived weak.