Some top shots of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, have faulted reports that an unwritten agreement and understanding among founders of the party in 2013 ceded the 2023 presidential ticket of the party to the South-West geo-political zone.
One of the bigwigs, who played crucial roles in the formation of the APC, and in the victory of President Muhammadu Buhari at the party’s presidential primaries in Lagos in 2014 and the election proper in 2015, said: “Nothing like that happened. There was no meeting whatsoever to talk about ceding power to the South-West.”
Another top shot of the party spoke in like manner, adding that it is difficult to tell if President Buhari would back the South-West to produce his successor, even if such an agreement was ever reached, adding, “we don’t know who will succeed President Buhari, but we know those who will not succeed him.”
Meanwhile, two days to the March 26 national convention, the ruling party is still mired in disagreement over the zoning of positions and which part of the country should produce its presidential candidate for the 2023 poll.
Although the party hierarchy agreed recently that the North and South should swap positions in 2023, which means the South should produce the President while the North produces party national chairman, there are still clamour for the seat to be thrown open.
Zoning formula causes a stir
Also, at a time many party faithful had bought nomination forms, based on the zoning formula party stakeholders agreed, for which the APC had generated N700 million as of press time, there is disquiet in many states over zoning and adoption of some aspirants as consensus candidates.
In the South-East, the Abia State chapter of the APC kicked against the adoption of Henry Ikoh as consensus candidate for National vice chairman, South-East, by some Abia leaders.
Abia APC Publicity Secretary, Mr Okey Ezeala said there is no iota of truth in the adoption of Ikoh as consensus national vice chairman, South-East because “the position of National vice chairman, South-East is not zoned to Abia State. It was zoned to Imo State. What is zoned to Abia is National Welfare Secretary. Abia State APC exco and stakeholders have unanimously nominated F.M. Nwosu as consensus candidate for national welfare secretary. That was why major chieftains of the party in Abia, which include General Ogbonnaya Okoro, General Chinedu Abraham, and Gen Charles Nwogbe accompanied him to the APC national secretariat to collect the nomination form. He is the one the APC in Abia State is supporting.”
3 aspirants challenge Omisore for national scribe
The hope of Senator Iyiola Omisore to become the consensus candidate for the office of National Secretary hung in the balance, yesterday, as three other chieftains of the party joined the race.
Seen as the candidate of National Leader of the party, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, there have been reported attempts by some governors in the zone to get other critical stakeholders to endorse Senator Omisore.
Documents sighted by Vanguard, yesterday, showed that two aspirants have emerged from Oyo State to challenge Omisore. Oyo has been making a case to have the office micro-zoned to her since it currently does not have an APC governor. The two aspirants from Oyo are a former Minister of Communications, Adebayo Shittu; and Professor Olaiya Abideen Olaitan. There is another contender from Ondo State, Engr. Ife Oyedele of the Niger Delta Power Holding Company Limited.
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Bauchi stakeholders kick over Deputy National Chairman, North
Critical stakeholders of the party in Bauchi State have cried out over their outright exclusion in the power-sharing arrangement in the party.
The stakeholders unanimously rejected the decision of a section of party leaders from the North-East geopolitical zone to micro-zone the Deputy National Chairman of the party to Borno State.
The APC chieftains who rose from an emergency meeting held in Abuja said they were not part of the decision to cede the office of the Deputy National Chairman to Borno State.
The stakeholders comprising former governors of the state, former deputy governors of the state, three serving senators, former speaker of the House of Representatives and eight of his colleagues in the Green Chamber as well as 17 House of Assembly members urged a reversal of the decision.
Among the signatories to the resolutions are former governors Mohammed Abubakar and Isa Yuguda, former House Speaker, Yakubu Dogara who is vying for the position in contention, Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu, and Minister of State, Trade and Investments, Hajia Maryam Katagum.
Others are two former Deputy Governors of Bauchi — Abdulmaliki Mahmoud and Alhaji Audu Katagum and Senators Hallitu Dauda Jika, Lawan Yahaya Gumau, Senator Adamu Bulkachuwa among a host of others.
The aggrieved APC stalwarts argued that there was no way Borno State would be placed far ahead of Bauchi State, renowned as the traditional base of the APC in the North-East in both the 2015 and 2019 general elections.
The party chieftains argued that Borno State boasts more than enough of government patronage under the President Buhari administration than Bauchi State that had carved a niche as a traditional base of the APC after Kano State since the 2015 general election.
The Bauchi chieftains cited examples of the National Security Adviser, Gen. Mohammed Monguno, the Group Managing Director, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (GMD), Mele Kyari, the Inspector-General of Police, Usman Baba Alkali and the Managing Director, North-East Development Commission, Mohammed Goni Alkali as cases in point.
They also argued that Borno and Yobe States also produced National Secretary and later APC caretaker chairman over the past two years among others, and enjoined the APC leadership to have a rethink and treat Bauchi State in a fair and just manner.
Don’t hand party over to strangers — Mustapha
One of the frontline aspirants for the National Chairman of the party, Mallam Saliu Mustapha has said he is the only one in the race with enough institutional knowledge of the movement to guide the party in the right direction, urging stakeholders not to saddle strangers with the task of administering the ruling party.
Mustapha, in a statement by his media aide, Dapo Okubanjo, said being an original member of one of the legacy parties which merged to form the APC, he knows what APC stands for and where it hopes to be in the future.
He said: “That is the more reason I am optimistic. That is the more reason I believe I am the right choice for the party at this crucial time. One, nobody has the history of the movement the way I do. Two, I happen to be in the middle age of both demographies whereby the younger ones see me as a resemblance of what they believe in and I have been old enough to hang out with the older ones, who have tutored me in this journey so far.
On what he has to offer as APC Chairman, Mustapha, who is also the Turaki of Ilorin maintained that he is bringing something different to the table. “I have made it a direct campaign policy if given the opportunity, to set up what is to be known as The Progressive Institute (TPI). This will be the first time in Nigeria that a political party is making sure the party operates like an institution.”
Meanwhile, the APC may have raked in over N700 million from its sale of nomination and expression of interest forms for various party positions, Vanguard has learned.
Documents obtained by Vanguard showed that as at Tuesday, the North-Central where the office of the national chairman is zoned, generated about N165 million for the party, with six chairmanship aspirants alone generating N120 million.
The North-East, which has the Deputy National Chairman, North — with five of them coughing out N50m — generated N143 million for the party’s coffers.
While the North-West generated about N116 million, the South-East generated about N98.5 million, South-South, N69.5 million and South-West over N120 million.
The party had earlier pegged the cost of chairmanship nomination form at N20 million, that of National Secretary, Deputy National Chairman (North and South) at N10 million each, and forms for all other National Working Committee NWC positions at N5 million.
Forms for National Executive Committee, NEC, positions that are not in the National Working Committee (non-NWC NEC positions) were pegged at N2.5 million. While women and persons living with disabilities paid 50 per cent of prescribed fees for each position. Forms for other zonal positions were also pegged at N500,000.
Vanguard gathered that some potential aspirants were still picking forms as of Tuesday night.
Yari seeks senators’ support, says zoning’s unconstitutional
Former governor of Zamfara State, Abdulaziz Yari, from North-West, who is also eyeing the national chairmanship zoned to the North-East, said yesterday that zoning is unconstitutional in and should not be adhered to.
The former Chairman of Nigeria Governors’ Forum, NGF, who condemned the zoning process, said that he has already purchased a form to contest for the chairmanship position of the APC.
Speaking yesterday at the National Assembly, Abuja when he met with the Senate Caucus of the APC to solicit for their support, Yari stressed that the party must produce someone who is capable, adding that even though the APC has zoned the chairmanship position to the North-Central, he told the Senators that he would need their support to win.
Yari said: “I am here to seek your support for my ambition to be the national chairman of the APC. You are the stakeholders of this party and the symbol of democracy.
“This is my first place of call since we started this journey in the last year. I will want to work together with you. We need people that are tested and trusted,” Yari said insisting that there is no zoning in the APC constitution.
“We know the constitution of the party. It did not segregate where one comes from and I will work hard to ensure that I emerge chairman. We will deliver based on the constitution of the party.”
APC at crossroads, says Omo-Agege
Responding, Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, who stood in for Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, said that the APC is presently at cross-roads.
Omo-Agege, who noted that Yari came close to occupying the Senate seat, but for the court decision, said that Yari is one of the few contestants that have formally visited them in the Senate, adding that having been in the House of Representatives and supported them, they will also support him.
He said: “APC Is at a crossroads. That is the bad news. The good news is that all the challenges will soon come to pass. You are a major stakeholder. You’ve serve as a governor and you know the problems of the party. In the next few days, continue to tour that part of peace.
“All we seek here at the National Assembly is a strong APC that will win the next election. There are so much conspiracies outside here.
The PDP is praying to win the 2023 General Election, we are also praying and we pray God should not answer their prayers.
“You are a leader that can speak truth to power. You are a leader that fit that bill. We wish you success on the 26 of this month.”
Yahaya Bello’s camp upbeat
In like manner, the camp of Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello are upbeat on his chances of picking the APC presidential ticket.
Bello on his part has been kicking against zoning, clamouring that the country needs the best man to consolidate on Buhari’s achievements.
Fresh hurdles for Abdulahi Adamu as legacy parties kick
Also, one of the front-runners for the party’s national chairmanship, Senator Abdulahi Adamu appears to be facing fresh hurdles ahead of the contest.
While the legacy parties that fused into the APC in 2013 have kicked against the reported endorsement of the former Nassarawa State governor, the Presidency has reportedly withdrawn its support.
The defunct legacy parties are Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, All Nigerian Peoples Party, ANPP, Congress for Progressive Change, CPC, and a faction of All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA.
Buhari has jettisoned consensus candidate, says Abdulaziz
A chieftain of the defunct CPC from Kano State, Alhaji Farouk Abdulaziz said the group is not supportive of the aspiration of Senator Adamu because he was alien to the APC’s foundation.
“We have made our position known to the president and he promised not to support anyone for the position. As it stands, Adamu Abdulahi cannot claim he has full presidential backing.
“We have nothing against him but we need someone who was part of the formation of this party from the beginning. The party has ideals and only those who shared those ideals must lead our party.
“It is now going to be an open contest; that is the beauty of democracy and Mr President insists that all the aspirants cleared for that position must face the delegates”, he said.
A Presidential aide told Vanguard that the President’s decision not to back Adamu or any of the aspirants is to ensure a level playing ground where the best aspirants, who are the choice of the people can emerge.
“Some people who feel they are close to Mr President sold the candidature of Senator Abdullahi Adamu to him. Somehow, others too who have Mr President’s ears have also told him the implication of using Adamu as APC National chairman.
“So, Mr President, having listened to both parties now said he is no longer interested in any consensus. Let there be an open contest where the best person will emerge as the national chairman.
“That is the reason all the aspirants have picked the form. Even those who were initially reluctant to contest after it was reported that the President had endorsed Adamu have collected the forms.
“The President does not need any chairman for any personal ambition. Don’t forget, he is not contesting again and he has said he will retire to his farm after May 29.
“All he wants is to leave a stronger APC behind with a new set of leadership that can deliver the 2023 general elections to the party. He has no anointed candidate at all and he wishes all the aspirants the very best,” he said.