In light of the “Not-too- young-to- run law which encourages more youth participation in politics, the focus seems to have shifted to the All Progressives Congress (APC) ahead of their selection of a national chairman.
The party is set to produce a National Working Committee (NWC) to take over from the Governor Mai Mala Buni-led Caretaker Extraordinary convention committee, after the Adams Oshiomhole-led leadership was dissolved in 2020.
Even though aspirants have shown interest in the office of APC national chairman, new revelations have emerged that the party can’t hold its national convention in February.
LEADERSHIP reports that at least, over nine people have indicated interest to contest for the national chairman of the APC, with majority from the North Central region.
Among those who want to be APC chairman are: Mr Sunny Moniedafe;
Minister of Special Duties, Senator George Akume; Senator Tanko Al-Makura; former Minister of Aviation, Mallam Isa Yuguda; former governors of Zamfara and Borno states, Abdulaziz Yari and Ali Modu Sheriff respectively.
Others are: former Deputy National Chairman of the defunct Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), Saliu Mustapha, Senator Mohammed Sani Musa (APC, Niger East) and Mohammed Saidu Etsu, an aide to the Niger State governor.
Recall that chairman of the Progressive Governors Forum (PGF) and Kebbi State Governor Abubakar Atiku Bagudu had after a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari, announced the APC’s national convention will be held in February.
But one month and two weeks after Bagudu announced February for the convention, the Buni-led caretaker committee is yet to announce a datefor the exercise.
LEADERSHIP reports that forms have not been printed for aspirants to purchase and notify their supporters. It was gathered that there are still no plans to convey delegates from the 36 states and Abuja to the venue of the convention.
Also, based on the provision in the Electoral Act 2014 as amended, all political parties are expected to notify the Independent National
Electoral Commission (INEC) 30 days before the conduct of a convention to enable them to monitor the exercise but the APC has not done that.
But the pioneer deputy national chairman of the APC North East, Dr Umar Duhu believes the caretaker the committee will deliver.
“I am of the opinion that Nigerians should be a little patient, APC members should be patient and give Mai Mala Buni the confidence he deserves so that he can now carry out the two conventions at the same time.
“This will help us to cut cost because the IMF projected that Nigeria is going to have double digit inflation in 2022. That means Nigeria has to be very meticulous, very calculative in terms of spending its resources.
“So, we should not allow resources to waste by bringing about 4,000 delegates to Abuja and in June, we will also bring delegates for convention for the election of the presidential candidate. More money will be spent to bring delegates. It really did not make sense,” Duhu said. But beyond the concern of whether the convention will hold in February, the clamour for generational shift in party leadership has been rife. Recall that young persons within the party, last year, held a summit where they campaigned for more political offices to be handed to them going forward.
The caretaker chairman of the party, Governor Mai Mala Buni, had earlier said that the future of the APC lies in the hands of youths.
According to Buni, the APC is undergoing a complete rebirth, recovery, rehabilitation, rejuvenation, and repositioning adding that only a vibrant youth can make the future bride.
“It is a fact that the future of our great party, the APC and indeed, the country, lies in our youth, so, we cannot afford to discard the youth in the affairs of the party,” Buni said.
However, the agitation for youthful leadership of the party had been met with the counter argument that a position like that of national chairman should go to a more experienced person and that age shouldn’t be the issue.
Nevertheless, of all the aspirants in the race, the two young aspirants who are in the youth demographic are Saliu Mustapha, and Mohammed Saidu Etsu.
While Estu will be 37 years old this year, Mustapha is 49-year-old. On the average other aspirants are in their mid to late 60s.
However while some would consider Estu not overtly experienced as other aspirants, his energy and passion for the job is immense.
On the other hand, Mustapha, a national deputy chairman of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) one of the defunct political parties that merged to form APC, seems to have the maturity and strength to hold sway as APC national chairman either by consensus or by election, his supporters would argue.
According to them, Mustapha will bridge the gap between the young and the old generation in the party.
“As one of the figures in the defunct CPC, the Buhari’s party that pulled through the merger with the ACN, ANPP and part of APGA to form the APC that ended PDP 16 years hold on power at the centre, Mustapha, I think is what the party needs,” a political analyst Bala Musa said.
But Mustapha who is also running a robust campaign for the chairmanship position, said his objective is to lead the party to a new era of sustained victories, progressive policies, dignified politics and national development.
“I am well placed as a bridge between the two,” Mustapha said adding, “I am one of the older generations. I am one of the younger generations. I am a bridge for the future with the consciousness and values of the past. So there is indeed no cause for any concern,” he added.
He believes no member of the ruling party can deny that they have had some challenging periods, one of which birthed the current Caretaker Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC) led by Governor Mai Mala Buni.“I recognise and sincerely appreciate the valiant efforts of each member of that committee and promise to build on the gains achieved and mitigate the lows. The core of my message today is that the time has come for our great party to embrace the future and optimise its mandate and potentials. We have succeeded in righting the course of the nation through the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari,” Mustapha said adding that he will consolidate on the grains of the party.
“As the aspiring next national chairman of the ruling party, I believe APC needs to consolidate its message and find the best way to build on the success stories of this administration, which I know are numerous in spite of the challenges.
“As one who has grown within the political system, a bridge between the past and the future, I have the distinct advantage of unbiased perspective. I have seen the issues. I have identified the winning formula. I will fortify our wins and reduce opportunities for corrosive developments. I will lead from the front by providing firm, inclusive, proactive, disciplined, fair and transparent leadership as APC chairman,” he said.