Ahead of the national convention of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) which is likely to hold later this month or early July, there is a jostle by intending presidential aspirants for the control of the party’s structure at the national level in view of the 2023 general elections.
To achieve this, some powerbrokers in the party who are interested in occupying the highest office in the land in 2023, are already making moves to ensure that their loyalists emerge as the next national chairman and also occupy other key positions in the National Working Committee (NWC).
Although no official statement has been made by the APC National Caretaker Committee, led by Governor Mai Mala Buni of Yobe State, on which zone will produce the national chairman, there are strong indications that they may have zoned the position to the North.
Given the fact that President Muhammadu Buhari is from Katsina (North- West), our correspondent also gathered that the party may also micro-zone the national chairmanship position to the North East and North Central.
Since the formation of the party, it has produced four national chairmen which are Bisi Akande, the pioneer interim national chairman, from the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) bloc; Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, formerly in the All Nigerian People’s Party (ANPP) bloc before joining the ACN; Adams Oshiomhole, from the ACN bloc, and the incumbent, Mai Mala Buni, who was also formerly in the ANPP.
A credible source in the party, who is from the defunct Congress for Progressives Change (CPC), one of the parties that merged to form the APC, said there was intense lobbying by ‘many forces in the party to ensure that only those who will favour them emerge in the next set of leadership of the party’.
He said while President Muhammadu Buhari might not show keen interest in the occupant of the position, given the fact that he would not be contesting for presidency again, the cabals loyal to him are working assiduously to ensure one of his loyalists emerges the next national chairman of the party.
According to him, these cabals have already pencilled down Alhaji Tanko Al-Makura, former governor of Nasarawa state, a staunch loyalist of the president, who was with him in the CPC before the formation of the APC.
Recently, Nasarawa State governor, Abdullahi Sule, who is leading the campaign for Al-Almakura’s emergence as APC national chairman, appealed to party members to give the CPC bloc in the APC a chance to lead the party.
He recently said that it would be in the interest of justice and equity for Al-Makura, who is originally from the CPC bloc, to be given a chance to provide leadership for the APC.
In one of his campaign stops in Nasarawa, Sule said: “Two of the legacy parties, the ACN and ANPP, each have produced two national chairmen of the APC.
“The only legacy party that is yet to produce the national chairman is the CPC. Once the CPC is allowed to produce the next chairman of the APC during its forthcoming national convention, it’s only fair to consider Nasarawa State.”
Another frontline aspirant for the national chairmanship position is Salihu Mustaph, a former Deputy National Chairman of the CPC from 2010 to year 2014, who is said to enjoy the support of younger elements in the party led by Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State.
Our source, however, said aside the cabals, there is also the influence of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, former governor of Lagos state and national leader of the party, who is also nursing the ambition to succeed President Buhari in 2023.
He added that it was not clear who Tinubu was rooting for as the next national chairman, adding that the South West bloc of the party was yet to determine who to support for the prime position.
Even though Tinubu controls the South West bloc of the APC, it is unclear if he has Ondo and Ekiti under his grip as Governor Kayode Fayemi and Rotimi Akeredolu appear not to be on the same page with him.
Also, Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi state, who recently said many Nigerians were appealing to him to contest for president in 2023, is also working to ensure that he decides the fate of who becomes the next national chairman.
Others, who are rumoured to be nursing presidential ambition in the APC and who are making moves to install the next national chairman, are Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti state, Rotimi Amaechi, Minister of Transport, and Mai Mala Buni, the APC Caretaker chairman.
“The real politics is about to start. You will see lots of intrigues from this month (June) going forward. So many contending forces, especially those interested in the presidency in 2023, are making subtle moves to ensure their man becomes the next national chairman. Many of them are already reaching out and perfecting their moves.
“Yes, the security challenge is making it appear as if political activities are not ongoing but it is a lie. A lot of things are going on in the APC as regards the national convention which we believe will take place this month or in July,” he said.