The race for who becomes national chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) is on course even though the registration and revalidation exercise embarked upon by the party seems to be taking the spotlight.
This much was evident in the recent comment by the Governor of Nasarawa State, Abdullahi Sule, who began the campaign for the legacy parties that formed Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) to get the seat as well as the need to zone the seat to the North Central.
While other aspirants like former governor of Borno State, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff, are also making a case for the position, the reasoning of the Nasawara governor seems rooted in the political history of the party’s formation.
Interestingly, in the build up to 2015 elections, Nigeria’s strong opposition parties, the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) and a faction of All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) made a decisive decision, merged and formed the APC.
The then chairman of ACN merger committee, Chief Tom Ikimi on February 6, 2013 at a conference in Abuja told the world that the merger talks were successful. Other chairmen of the merger committee were former governor of Kano state, Mallam Ibrahim Shekarau of the ANPP, Garba Shehu led the CPC and Senator Annie Okwonkwo represented APGA’s faction.
Ikimi said the progressives came together for a more formidable democratic force to wrestle power from the then ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). According to him, the merger parties promised to uphold the principles of internal democracy.
The APC’s journey to wrestle power from the ruling PDP was not a smooth one. There were political persecutions and sacrifices. Indeed it was a journey on the road of thorns and bumps with deep valleys and stony hills with uncertainties. For instance after the merger prominent pillars in the exercise, like Chief Ikimi, Shekarau among others defected to the ruling PDP’
Some PDP chieftains described the merger as a marriage that would end in divorce for no reason. Rumours spread quickly that Buhari and Tinubu’s presidential ambition would collapse the merger. But this was not to be as the force of Tinubu the king maker and Buhari’s strength of character made APC wax stronger. However, internal crisis within the PDP boosted APC’s chance at emerging a formidable political force. When the PDP crisis remained unresolved, big wigs in the party defected to APC. Travelling the rough way notwithstanding, the APC made history during the 2015 general elections as it wrestled and took over power from PDP which had ruled the country for 16 years.
In 2011, CPC started the hard journey of wrestling power from the incumbent. When his political ambition to govern Nasarawa State on the platform of PDP became bleak, Alhaji Umaro Tanko Al-makura took the rough road. After the Nasarawa North Senatorial District of the PDP rally held in Akwanga on Saturday, March 13, 2010, the handwriting on the wall was clear that free and fair internal democracy will not come Al-makura’s way and he immediately defected and rooted CPC in the state.
Unlike the case of APC where forces of the opposition came together and fought a fierce battle, CPC had no marriage of convenience with any other political party in the state but the masses supported the wind of change. Al-makura fought the Goliath/David battle in 2011 general elections and defeated PDP in the gubernatorial election in the state.
As the only CPC controlled state in the country, Al-Makura faced a lot of challenges making some to suggest that he decamp to the ruling PDP at the center. The situation was a very challenging one with his only four CPC legislators out of the 24 state lawmakers.
Reference was made to how the second Republic Governor of former Kaduna State of the Peoples Redemption Party (PRP) Alhaji Balarabe Musa was impeached by National Party of Nigeria (NPN) dominated lawmakers on June 23, 1981.
But Al-makura gave no listening ears to leaving CPC to his former party, the PDP, rather he said his CPC administration would not compromise on its resolve to continue to intervene on discrepancies that has bedeviled the state since its creation in 1996. His rigid stand on issues that have direct bearing on the electorate caused him political persecution, yet he provided purposeful leadership.
Today, because of this meaningful leadership he provided for the state in eight years, he has the appendage of ‘’ Architect of modern Nasarawa State attached to his personality.
Political analysts, like Abdullahi Bala, are of the view that now that the agitation to produce the next national chairman has begun and all the six geo political zones are interested, the APC should caution itself, members should go to the drawing board and remind themselves of the gentleman’s agreement that brought them together as one big family to honor the arrangement of internal party democracy to carry along its members.
When the party came into power in 2015 its first national chairman and former governor of Edo State, John Odigie Oyegun was of the ANPP bloc. The second national chairman also former Governor of Edo State Adams Oshiomhole was of the ACN. The present national interim chairman/national convention committee and Governor of Yobe, Mai Mala Buni was in the tent of ANPP before the birth of APC.
To ensure justice and fairness, CPC that has not enjoyed the slot of the national chairmanship should be given the opportunity as the national convention of the APC approaches. To balance the political equation of the gentleman’s agreement, it (CPC) should be given the chance to produce the next national chairman of the party.
Governor Sule’s appeal to APC to consider North Central geopolitical zone, particularly Nasarawa State for the national chairmanship of the party ahead of its national convention was insightful.
He made the call at Keffi when recently members of other political parties in western senatorial zone in droves defected to APC. Pundits believe that Governor Sule’s argument is valid. The thinking is that it is not about sentiment or personality, but north central and Nasarawa.
Nasarawa State APC caretaker committee chairman, John D.W Mamman also shares the view that the slot of the national chairman be given to Nasarawa. Mamman who spoke to journalists in Lafia said among the parties that gave birth to APC, it is only CPC that has not enjoyed the position. He said for justice and fairness what comes round should go round.
Al-Makura lifted the flag of the CPC by being the only democratically elected governor on the party’s platform. Perhaps it must be stated that one of the conditions for a party to be allowed into the merger talks was that it must have a democratically elected governor. Of course Al-Makura’s emergence as Nasarawa State governor inspire of all odds, made it possible for the CPC. It follows naturally that Al-Makura who lifted the flag of CPC high deserves the position. Therefore, in the words of late Bob Marley, “who the cap fits, let him wear it”
As it stands, keen observers believe that Nasarawa is the only political collateral the CPC had that qualified it for roundtable talks with other strong opposition parties and Al-makura who lifted the flag of the party high was the political commodity for the bargain.