The jostle for APC national chairmanship will be an interesting watch. Chuks Okocha writes
With the near completion of the registration of new members and the revalidation of old members, the All Progressives Congress (APC) will soon enter the next stage of her survival struggle and that stage is who becomes the new national chairman of the party?
Though the party has not come out to officially zone the various offices to each of the six geopolitical zones of the country, stakeholders from the northern part of the country, in anticipation that the presidential candidate of the party might be zoned to the south, are already jostling to support the aspirations of several chairmanship aspirants from the north.
So far, the three zones of the north: Northeast, Northwest and North central have been jostling to have one of their own emerge the new national chairman of the APC.
Many political juggernauts such as Ali Modu Sherriff, Clement Ebri, Abdulaziz Yari, Senator Kashim Shettima, Alhaji Salihu Mustapha and the immediate past governor of Nasarawa State, Senator Tanko Al-makura, among others, have indicated interest to lead the party.
But most political analysts believe that what the party needs is a strong and visionary leadership with the needed political capacity to heal all wounds and refocus the party.
Of these, the North Central seems to be most vocal, and perhaps, favoured. But everything will depend on the individual the APC governors will throw their support behind. The governors, generally, are the most important stakeholders in the present political dispensation. Be it in the PDP or the APC. From whichever prism anyone views the governors, they remain a strong interest group that would be very difficult to dislodge.
It has been said time and time, that the governors, due to their support base in terms of funds and control of the emergence of delegates in any party election, will at all times be the decisive factor. It has been said at several fora that, whomever they support will eventually carry the day.
From that standpoint, therefore, the emergence of the next national chairman of APC will depend on where the governors swing their support especially, now that President Muhammadu Buhari is perceived as weak. A quick reminder that the eventual ouster of the former National Chairman of APC, Adams Oshiomhole was when the party governors pulled their last joker through the Court of Appeal.
A quick background checks of the aspirants, which could show who might likely become the national chairman if and when the dice is cast.
In the aspiration of a former governor of Zamfara State, Abdulaziz Yari, good as he might be, has no incumbent governor in his state, who will sit among the APC governors to speak for him in their meeting whenever the need arises.
His records that eventually led to the APC kissing all elected offices in the 2019 elections will also certainly speak again him. It was due to the jostle for power and control of the party structures in Zamfara State that led to the emergence of PDP’s Bello Matawalle.
The APC power structure is yet to forgive him and therefore might not trust him with the office of the national chairman. He has sworn political enemies in the likes of Adams Oshiomhole and Bola Ahmed Tinubu. Both are the same camp, as Yari as the national chairman might not be in the presidential aspiration of Bola Tinubu.
Then come Senator Al Makura. He is from Nasarawa State and a serving senator. The odds are largely in his favour, being a trusted ally of President Buhari, who has the support of his governor in the state.
Stakeholders and groups within the APC have continued to throw their weights behind Al-Makura’s aspiration to lead the party with Governor Sule in the forefront of his campaign, contrary to practices, where sitting governors were always opposed to having the national chairman from their own state.
Flagging off the APC membership revalidation exercise in the state in Gudi, Sule said, “If Nigeria would be kind to Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), Nasarawa State is the only place to look at. Today is history for us …and I think for this, I will always identify with distinguished Senator Umaru Tanko Al-Makura, the architect of modern Nasarawa State from the time he brought CPC, the only state as part and parcel of the alliance that formed APC today.”
As at 2011,when the CPC was birthed, Nasarawa State is the only CPC in the country and eventually had a foothold to the formation of the legacy party, APC.
To his supporters in his quest to become the national chairman, if records of service are anything to go by as reward quotient, the immediate past governor of Nasarawa State is the person the cap fits for the job.
A die-hard supporter of Senator Tanko Al Makura, Professor Mohammed Mainoma once said, “The contributions of Tanko Al-Makura at the national sphere are commendable. It was in Nasarawa State that the real Buhari agenda was implemented. It was what made the nation to become more convinced to accept Buhari as a leader.
“The actual implementation of CPC agenda in Nasarawa has cleared the minds of skeptics as to the capacity of the new party to do magic. It was therefore easy after the merger for people to have confidence in APC. Indeed, Nasarawa became the laboratory for APC.”
His support base is swelling by the day, as a group known as APC Young Stakeholder’s Forum in the North-central recently endorsed Al-Makura’s bid to lead the party as its national chairman.
In a press statement signed by its publicity secretary, Abdulrahman Andoma Ahmed, the group stated: “Senator Al-Makura has the capacity and needed experience to stabilise the wobbling ship of our great party and steer it to the expected destination.”
His political career and experiences represent a symbol of hope and emancipation in Nigerian politics, whose determination to the cause of democracy, humanity, good governance and love for the common man, anchored on fairness, equity and justice, preceded his emergence as governor in 2011.
From the North East, a former chairman of the PDP, Senator Ali Sheriff, has also declared his readiness to run for the chairmanship of the APC if the position is zoned to the North East.
Sheriff, from Borno State, intimated the Yobe State Governor, Alhaji Mai-Mala Buni, of his intention at Buni Gari during the Yobe State local government election of his national championship aspiration.
He said, “In the APC, we have respect for the constitution of our great party, and if the position of the National Chairman is zoned to the North East, where I come from, I will contest, God willing.”
Sheriff, who was the governor of Borno State between 2003 and 2011, had after losing out as Chairman of the PDP returned to the APC, of which he was a pioneer member.
Sheriff’s presence at Buni’s polling unit to lend moral support might be an indication that he was looking for the support of the Yobe State governor, who is also the Chairman of the APC Extraordinary/Convention Planning Committee.
Also in the race for the office of the National Chairman of APC is Alhaji Salisu Mustapha. He’s a young man from Kwara, North Central, who is said to boast huge experience in party administration and fanatical supporter of President Buhari.
Mustapha, a liberal mind, was not just a member of the defunct CPC, he was said to be the one, who signed the final agreement that culminated in the formation of the APC on behalf of the CPC.
Apart from being open to ideas, those in support of Mustapha further contended that, the former governorship aspirant in Kwara State has a clean record – no controversies, no scandal and no corruption cases – all of which put him in a better stead for the job. He is believed to be the candidate of the younger folks in APC, who are considering a paradigm shift in party administration and control. Mustapha is in his 50s.