Chairmen of the state chapters of the All Progressives Congress have thrown their weight behind a former governor of Nasarawa State, Adamu Abdullahi, to become the national chairman of the party.
Sunday PUNCH learnt that their decision followed the insistence of the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.) that Abdullahi should lead the APC.
Buhari, it was learnt, had at a meeting attended by the Progressives Governors Forum in Aso Rock, Abuja rejected a zoning arrangement proposed by some of the governors and did not hide his preference for the former governor.
This was despite strong resistance from some stakeholders of the APC who warned against an attempt to impose Abdullahi and a former President of the Senate, Ken Nnamani, as the party’s national chairman and deputy national chairman, respectively.
Those opposed to the idea described the duo as former staunch members of the Peoples Democratic Party who should not be chosen ahead of loyal and consistent APC members who were qualified to occupy the coveted offices.
Others eyeing the chairmanship seat of the APC at the party’s national convention expected to hold on March 26 are a former governor of Zamafara State, Abdulaziz Yari; a former governor of Nassarwa State, Tanko Al-Makura; a two-term governor of Benue State, Senator George Akume; and a former governor of Borno State, Senator Ali Modu Sherif.
Findings by our correspondents showed the state chapters would work towards the emergence of Abdullahi as the next national chairman of the party.
In Zamfara State, the party said the state would support whoever was nominated by the President as the consensus candidate for the chairmanship position.
The APC Publicity Secretary in the state, Alhaji Yusuf Idris, said, “We will support anybody who is nominated by President Muhammadu Buhari or our great party, the APC, as a consensus candidate. We and our governor, Bello Matawalle, are law-abiding members of the party. As such, we are ready to go with whatever decision or directive given to us by the national headquarters of our party or President Buhari.”
Also, the Rivers State chapter of the party said it would stand behind the Buhari’s choice.
Publicity Secretary of the party in the state, Chris Fynebone, who stated this during an interview with one of our correspondents on Friday, said the President had the interest of the majority of the party members at heart.
“Indeed, we have also heard that the president had endorsed Adamu Abdullahi for the position of national chairman. For us in APC Rivers State, we are open to whatever decision the President takes.
“So, if it happens to be true, we have no choice but to go with him. We believe that we can refer to him (the President) as the leader of the party who has the best interest of the party at heart,” Fynebone added.
Similarly, the Ekiti State chapter of the APC said it would also follow the decision of the party at the national level.
Its spokesperson, Segun Dipe, said, “We have the National Caretaker Committee led by Governor Mai Mala Buni, which will work with the leaders at the national level to decide on what is appropriate for the party for the convention.”
Asked whether the party in the state would support Abdullahi as the consensus candidate, Dipe said, “We will subscribe to the superior authority of those at the helm of affairs. It is not whether we subscribe to anything right now; we will rather say we believe in the party and where the party is going. We believe in the wisdom of the leaders to come out with the best for the party.”
In Edo State, the party said it would respect the decision of the national caretaker committee on the format the convention would take.
Deputy Publicity Secretary of the party in the state, Victor Osehobo, said, “For us in APC, we will abide by the decision of the caretaker committee. Whatever template that is presented is what we will follow across the country including the Edo Chapter of the APC. Whether it is consensus or election, the picture will become clearer when we get to convention ground. We will have to wait till the day of the convention to know the next line of action.”
Similarly, the party in Osun State said it would not go against the choice of the leader of the party.
APC state chairman, Prince Gboyega Famoodun, who spoke through his media aide, Kola Olabisi, said, “APC has a hierarchy. Whatever people saddled with the responsibility to determine the person that will paddle the canoe of the party decide, there is no way state chapters, Osun State inclusive, can go against it. The bidding of the party at the federal level is what we will abide by on this issue.”
His Ondo State counterpart, Mr Ade Adetimehin, said his state would align with the position of the President on the matter.
Adetimehin said, “I, as a chairman of the APC in Ondo State, go with the position of the national leadership of the party. In the constitution of our party, there is room for consensus, a direct or indirect way of electing our leaders. Out of the three options, anyone the national leadership chooses, I’ll concur.”
However, the Chairman of the party in Kwara State, Prince Sunday Fagbemi, said the choice of Senator Abdullahi as the consensus candidate for the national chairmanship of the party was still a rumour.
“The purported choice of Senator Adamu Abdullahi by President Buhari as the next national chairman of APC is still a rumour. The President has not told anyone about his choice. This is the time for politics. If a candidate could not emerge as a consensus candidate and if the leaders could not agree on a single candidate, the best option is that the party will go for election.”
In Nasarawa State, which is the home state of Abdullahi, the party said it would support any of the aspirants chosen by the President.
The Chairman of the APC in the state, John Mamman, said, “There is a hierarchy of leadership in the party. The leadership of the party in Nasarawa State endorsed Umaru Tanko Al-makura for the national chairmanship position but the endorsement is one exercise while getting it through at Abuja is another exercise.
“Apart from Nasarawa State, we still have 35 others states and the Federal Capital Territory to decide on the issue. So, if President Buhari gives a direction on the matter, we would have to follow him because he is our leader.”
However, the party in Delta State said it had yet to take a position on the issue.
APC chairman in the state, Omeni Sobotie, said, “I have not been told that Mr President has adopted somebody. When we get to the bridge, we will cross it. No statement has been issued that the President has adopted any candidate. We are in a democracy. When the aspirants come to see us, based on our assessment of them, we will take a position.”
The state Publicity Secretary of the APC in Akwa Ibom, Mr Nkerwuem Eyongekere, said, “What we know is that there will be a convention and people will be elected. On Thursday, we got a letter to that effect from the national secretariat of the APC signed by the national secretary. If people have chosen anybody then there would have been no reason for the convention.”
In Bayelsa, the party said it was awaiting the zoning committee’s report.
The state Chairman, Dennis Otiotio-Odoni, said, “I am not aware Adamu has been adopted (by the President). I have not been informed as chairman of APC, Bayelsa State. I am aware that the national secretariat (of the party) just appointed a zoning committee and it is expected to submit its report by next week. So, I think it will be premature to talk about who (becomes national chairman), when we don’t know where the chairmanship is zoned to.”
I’m faithful to APC, let me lead it, Al-Makura tells Akeredolu
One of the major contenders for the position of the national chairmanship of the party, Senator Tanko Al-Makura, on Saturday, visited the Governor of Ondo State, Rotimi Akeredolu, seeking his support.
Al-Makura, who paid the visit to the Ondo governor alongside members of his campaign organisation, at the government house, Alagbaka, Akure, the state capital, said he decided to visit the Sunshine State to inform Akeredolu of his aspiration because he (Akeredolu) “is one of the leaders of the party in the country and the conscience of the APC due to his sincerity and courage.”
He said, “We are here with members of my campaign council to see you as one of the leaders of this country. As one of those who believe in a true democracy. As one of those who have championed the inner mind of the people when it comes to justice, fairness and just cause.
“We think you have a role to play in determining and shaping how this party (APC) is put together, especially in this critical time of transition. We must ensure the continuity of the gains we have had under President Muhammadu Buhari.
“This is the motivating factor that has made me throw my hat in the ring to consider contesting the office of the national chairman. We must give this party a principle, a good policy and raise the hope of our people.
“There is something that gives me comfort when I think about APC. It’s a party I am faithful to, to a fault. Never in the history of this country have different political parties come together and worked together and agreed to drive the process of unity in the country.
“President Buhari has held that tenaciously and made that the resolve and the sanctity of his administration. It has added value and we will just sustain it. We are here to solicit your support and cooperation.”
In his response, Akeredolu thanked Al-Makura for the visit, describing him as a competent and committed party man.
Akeredolu said the APC must establish a core value that the party must be known for, adding that there must be a general understanding among leaders and stakeholders of the party.
“You have said many things and one thing that came out is APC’s value. We must be able to establish our value; else we are wasting our time. What are our core values? Do we have democratic values? Even if we will have to present a consensus candidate, it is consensus and not ‘onecensus’,” Akeredolu noted.
North-Central stakeholders contribute N10m for Abdullahi’s nomination form
In order to boost the chances of the former governor of Nasarawa State for the chairmanship race, no fewer than 200,000 stakeholders and youths from his state and other states in the North-Central zone have contributed N10m for the purchase of nomination and expression of interest forms.
The Chairman, Council of APC Stakeholders in Nasarawa state, Kassim Muhammed-Kassim, made the disclosure while speaking with journalists in Lafia on Saturday.
Muhammed-Kassim, a former member of the Nasarawa State House of Assembly, explained that the stakeholders and youths from the six states and the Federal Capital Territory in the North-Central zone, who believed in Abdullahi’s capability to lead the party to victory in the 2023 elections, collectively opened a bank account for the purchase of his forms where the sum of N10m had been realised.
He said the reason behind the donation was to show solidarity to Senator Abdullahi.
He said, “A few days ago, stakeholders from the North-Central zone requested that an account be opened because we decided to task ourselves to make money available for the purchase of APC national chairmanship nomination and expression of interest forms for Senator Abdullahi.
“Initially, it was like a joke, until when money started coming in and as of today, the said account has received deposits of N10m and more funds would still come in.
“The gesture is a way of showing appreciation to Senator Adamu for his inspiring leadership over the years and to make him know that we are happy with him for his efforts in making Nigeria a better nation.”
While expressing confidence in Abdullahi’s leadership qualities, Muhammed-Kassim appealed to APC members to work towards ensuring that the former governor emerges the national chairman of the party in order for the party to emerge victorious in the 2023 elections.
Abdullahi failed to reconcile warring members, can’t lead – APC Rebirth
Meanwhile, the spokesperson for the APC Rebirth, a pressure group within the ruling party, Aliyu Audu, has asked members of the party to ignore the purported endorsement of Abdullahi by President Buhari.
Audu said the Buhari promised to handover the ruling party to younger persons, wondered how a 75-year-old would be the expected young man to lead the party.
He also said there was no one among the spokespersons of the president who had corroborated the purported endorsement of the former governor.
He said, “President Buhari is a democrat and he has repeatedly stated his position that power must be returned to the people. And I am confident that he will not say one thing and do the other.
“President Buhari has spokespersons. We will believe the alleged endorsement when his spokesperson speaks on it. As of now it remains a rumour. Namedropping is not strange to us as politicians.
“Buhari has stated time and time again, that he would like to see young people take critical positions within the party.
“Senator Abdullahi in his recent assignment as chairman of our party’s national reconciliation committee is evident. He failed. I mean, there is no state that has been resolved by his committee. Is that the kind of person you want to give the party to, to handle when he couldn’t even handle a small task? I don’t think so.”
Postponing APC convention dangerous – Stakeholders
Meanwhile, some stakeholders of the party have warned against the further postponement of the party’s convention.
In separate press statements on Saturday, the APC Convention Mandate Group and APC Young Legislators Forum asked that members of the party should support the zoning formula already put in place by its national leadership.
In the separate statements signed by Mustapha Usman, the Chairman/ Convener of APC Convention Mandate Group and Kasimu Maigari, Chairman, Forum of the Young Legislators, said President Buhari’s decision to zone the Chairmanship position of the party to the North-Central ahead of the party’s national convention was in good taste that should be supported by all.
Usman said, “The consensus reached during a meeting with APC governors at the State House to zone the chairmanship position of the party to the North-Central and the consequent endorsement of Senator Adamu Abdullahi is, no doubt, a right step that would guarantee the success of the APC.
“His endorsement by the President was carefully done with the idea of reinforcing the party to clinch victory in the forthcoming general elections.
“It is against this background that we, under the APC National Convention Mandate Group, unanimously gave approval to the endorsement of Abdullahi as the APC national chairman.”
Maigari, on his part, said, “Following the endorsement of Senator Abdullahi by President Buhari at a meeting with APC governors held at the State House, we wish to sincerely express our support to the zoning of the APC chairmanship position to the North-Central and we are backing the nomination of Abdullahi as the national chairman of our party ahead of the national convention.
“This arrangement, in all honesty, is in the best interest of the party as we need a competent chairman with the requisite experience to lead the party. Adamu Abdullahi, a two-term governor and seasoned legislator with a pool of experience is the man that can effectively wear the mantle of the party’s national leadership.