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APC Convention: How Buhari, Governors Shared Party Positions Ahead Of 2023 Election

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APC Convention: How Buhari, Governors Shared Party Positions Ahead Of 2023 Election

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The National Convention of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) has come and gone, but the role played by President Muhammadu Buhari on the emergence of Senator Abdullahi Adamu would remain a subject of discussion among party members in the days ahead.

President Buhari’s decision to handpick former Nasarawa governor ahead of Senators Tanko Al-Makura, George Akume, Abdulaziz Yari, Sani Musa, Saliu Mustapha and Mohammed Etsu sent tongues wagging prior to the national convention of the party, and this has caused fears within the ranks of the party that the Presidential candidate of the party might be handpicked same way Adamu emerged as party chairman.

Adamu, who has garnered over forty years experience in the political terrain is positioned by his backers to whip party stalwarts into line to support the Presidential candidate of the party, in anticipation of the fierce rivalry among aspirants that have so far declared, including Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu, Governor Dave Umahi, Governor Yahaya Bello, Senator Orji Kalu and Senator Rochas Okorocha.

Vice President Prof Yemi Osinbajo, Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi, and Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr Godwin Emefiele are being called upon by their supporters to join the race for the exalted seat.

Although party stalwarts, including members of the Governor Atiku Bagudu-led Progressive Governor’s Forum (PGF), the Senator Ahmad Lawan-led leadership of the National Assembly were left with no option but to buy into President Buhari’s agenda under a consensus arrangement, the development is widely seen as a clear case of imposition of the leadership of the party.

Adamu, who chaired the party reconciliation panel, was dragged into the race after other aspirants from legacy parties, had embarked on intensive and costly campaigns for the plum job.

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Though consensus arrangement remains one of the mode of selecting party officials approved by the APC Constitution, also seen as a veritable crisis management strategy, the manner the party adopted it hook, line and sinker smacks of APC’s inability to live up to its democratic credentials as a truly democratic party.

That it took series of meetings, horse trading and arm-twisting to coerce the Chairmanship aspirants to adhere to the President’s decision to anoint Adamu, as against their preference for an elective convention showed how tainted the process was. It showed how the consensus mode is vulnerable to abuse.

APC governors, who were said to have asked President Buhari to cede the Presidency seat to them in return for their support for Adamu took turns to handpick the candidates of their choices for various positions at the national convention of the party.

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Abdullahi Adamu. Photo by Kola Sulaimon / AFP

For instance, Bauchi State APC stakeholders led by the former governor of the state, Mohammed Abubakar, also questioned the consensus arrangement that threw up Alhaji Abubakar Kyari, as occupant of the seat of the Deputy National Chairmanship (North), on behalf of the North East geopolitical zone.

Kyari is said to have been nominated by Governor Babagana Zulum of Borno state.

Party chieftains, including former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr Yakubu Dogara and other critical stakeholders of the party in Bauchi decried alleged exclusion of the state in the power sharing arrangement by the party in the North East geopolitical zone.

The stakeholders faulted the decision by a section of party stalwarts to micro-zone the seat of the Deputy National Chairman of the party to Borno State.

APC chieftains in a joint statement remarked that it was unfortunate that they were not allowed to make input over the decision in line with laid down regulations.

The aggrieved APC stalwarts expressed surprise that Bauchi State known as the traditional base of the party in the North- East in both the 2015 and 2019 general elections was relegated to the background.

Party chieftains argued that Borno State boasts more than enough of government patronage under the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration than Bauchi State that has carved a niche as a traditional base of APC after Kano State since 2015 general election.

The Bauchi chieftains cited National Security Adviser, Gen Ali Mohammed Mongonu, Group Managing Director, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mele Kyari, Inspector General of Police, Usman Baba Alkali, and Managing Director, North East Development Commission, Mohammed Goni Alkali. Borno and Yobe States also produced National Secretary and later APC caretaker chairman over the past two years, among others to buttress their assertions.

Mr Emma Eneukwu backed by Governor Hope Uzordinma emerged Deputy Chairman South, forcing former Senate President Ken Nnamani to step down for him.

The situation is not different in the case of the choice of Senator Iyiola Omisore as the party’s secretary, as his co-contestants Adebayo Shittu, Olaiya Olaitan and Ifeoluwa Oyedele put up stiff resistance till the last minute at the venue of the party convention.

Shittu alleged that there was no consultation before Omisore’s name was announced without election and blamed the leadership of the party in the Southwest for the imposition. He, however, stepped down because of the intervention of Aremo Olusegun Osoba and his “love and respect” for President Buhari.

Governor Adegboyega Oyetola, who was a member of the Governor Mai Mala Buni-led caretaker committee, backed Omisore’s quest to emerge as the National Secretary zoned to the Southwest.

Head of the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD), Idayat Hassan, who monitored proceedings at the national convention, expressed dissatisfaction with the process of selecting the party officials.

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She noted: “It’s undemocratic, it belied the new Electoral Act amendment” provision on how consensus candidates should emerge. It’s sad seeing contestants speaking with emotions or teary on stage.

“People were practically forced to concede and it also belies reasoning why people had to be trucked in from all parts of the country just to affirm candidates. The cost, the time, and risks were completely underrated by the APC. Nigeria can’t experience democracy until parties themselves are democratic.”

However, the Director General of the National Orientation Agency (NOA), Dr Garba Abari threw his weight behind the consensus arrangement, adding that the measure was in tandem with the tenets of democracy and rule of law.

The Borno State born chieftain of the party, who spoke during the Pre-Convention summit of the party said: “It is in order, it is in the party’s Constitution, which is the grund norm and which governs the party affairs. It is also not against the laws of the Constitution of the country.

“It is also culturally correct. It is African and Nigerian. It is also politically correct and agreeable and therefore it is within the context of legalism, which is part of the democratic process. Of course, where it does not happen, then we go for free and competitive elections, which the APC is not opposed to.”

Senator Iyiola Omisore

Senator Iyiola Omisore

Ironically, Buhari in his address at the occasion frowned on imposition of candidates, adding it behooves the Adamu-led NWC members to promote internal democracy in the party.

The President, who stressed the need for the party to remain strong and united, warned against the conduct of party primaries influenced by moneybags in the party.

The President explained that his resolve to wade into the leadership crisis of the party should not be misconstrued that he was bent on muzzling dissenting voices.
He said, “Recently, l had cause to intervene in the leadership crisis, which was about to cause confusion in the party. Such internal disputes are common in young democracies such as ours, but we must avoid overheating the polity and not allow our differences to tear and frustrate the party.

“Like I said earlier, it does not do anybody or the party any good, when we, as leaders, go down so low and resort to backstabbing and name-calling in the media.

“We should learn how to resolve our differences without jeopardising our personal relationships and the fate of the party. I want to thank the Progressives Governors’ Forum for heeding to my advice and suggestions in settling the leadership dispute.”

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Adamu, who was administered the oath of office alongside other members of the National Working Committee (NWC) promised to entrench internal democracy in the party.

Promising to run an open door policy to accommodate all members of the party, he admonished party faithful to resist the temptation to blow every minor personal disagreement into a major party crisis that could be exploited by the opposition political parties in the country.

He noted: “My dear compatriots, the eyes of the nation are on us; the eyes of Africa are on us; the eyes of the world are on us. This is a historic moment.

There is no room for false steps. Our first step is to make our party the bastion of internal democracy. If a party is not internally democratic, it cannot offer the country true democracy.

“Together, let us rise and march towards the sunrise in our party and in our country. The time has come for us to show statesmanship to arrive at the new dawn. The time has come for us to be patriotic in words and deeds. The time has come for us to affirm our being the party of the people, for the people and by the people.”

Continuing, he said: “It is time for us to do things differently. When we quarrel, we open our flanks to our rival political parties that are only too eager to exploit them for their own benefit.

“I promise you here and now that we shall heal any wounds in our party; we shall effect lasting reconciliation among our members, and we shall go into the next general elections as a strong and united party.

“I offer my hands of friendship to all our members. I want to assure you that my colleagues and myself will run an open door policy to all members of the party.”

The former Governor of Nasarawa State enjoined media practitioners to revive and uphold the patriotic spirit of the founding fathers of their profession such as Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Malam Abubakar Imam, Alhaji Alade Odunewu, and other media pioneers.

The occasion provided party stalwarts in the mould of Osinbajo, Lawan, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr Femi Gbajabiamila, and Bagudu ample opportunity to call for concerted effort by supporters to ensure the victory of the party in the 2023 poll.

Culled From Nigerian Guardian

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