By Omeiza Ajayi, ABUJA
The battle for the national chairmanship of the ruling All Progressives Congress APC has begun with several stakeholders making behind-the-scenes consultations on their prospects of taking over from the Caretaker National Chairman, Gov. Mai Mala Buni.
The moves followed the conclusion of APC’s membership registration and revalidation exercise as well as the commencement of its Congresses which states from the Ward level ahead of its National Convention.
Also, in the wake of the controversy generated by the Supreme Court judgment on the Ondo Governorship election vis a vis the implications of the dissenting judgment for the APC, there have been increased political horse trading among aspirants for party positions.
A 4-3 split decision of the court had dismissed the petition filed by the Peoples Democratic Party PDP aspirant in the 2020 Ondo State Governorship Election, Eyitayo Jegede SAN against the incumbent Governor of Ondo State, Rotimi Akeredolu SAN and the ruling APC.
Some of those who wanted to get Gov. Mai Mala Buni out of the Caretaker Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee have continued to espouse the provision of Section 183 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended).
The section provides that; “The Governor shall not, during the period when he holds office, hold any other executive office or paid employment in any capacity whatsoever”.
Also, Article 17(iv) of the APC constitution states that; “No officer in any organ of the Party shall hold executive position office in government concurrently”.
The minority judgment of the apex court which touched on these provisions have heightened activities among partisans, especially those angling to chair the party at the national level.
Saturday Vanguard takes a look at some of the frontrunners in the contest. They include the Senator, representing Niger East Senatorial District at the National Assembly, Mohammed Sani Musa, former Governors Tanko Al-Makura of Nasarawa state; Ali Modu Sheriff of Borno and Abdulaziz Yari of Zamfara.
Others are a former National Publicity Secretary of the defunct Congress for Progressive Change CPC Saliu Mustapha and the Hakimin Jimeta, Mr Sunny Sylvester Moniedafe.
Senator Mohammed Sani Musa
A progressive Senator from Niger state, with strong history of leading high-performance teams to meet or exceed objectives.
With arguments against having ex-governors as national chairman of the party, there are strong indications that the Chairman, Senate Services Committee is being considered for the plum job.
Since inception in 2013, the APC has been chaired by only former State governors beginning from Chief Bisi Akande (Osun), Chief John Odigie-Oyegun (Edo), Comrade Adams Oshiomhole (Edo) to the incumbent National Chairman of its Caretaker Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee CECPC, Gov. Mai Mala Buni of Yobe state.
While he is said to have extracted the commitment of his state governor, Abubakar Sani Bello, the senator also has the support of his colleagues including most members of the House of Representatives.
Although, no one can easily predict where the pendulum would swing, there is a strong clamour and argument to have the national Chairmanship of the party zoned to the North Central.
There are also arguments that no one outside of the Action Congress of Nigeria ACN tendency has ever led the party.
Senator Musa who came from one of the legacy parties, the defunct All Nigerian Peoples Party is therefore being touted for the position as the Presidential ticket is likely to be ceded to another person outside of the defunct ACN and the defunct Congress for Progressive CPC tendency, President Muhammadu Buhari having being a member of that political tendency.
What is also going for him is that he is a founding member of the APC, and is reputed to be highly organized, dedicated, passionate and hardworking person with a proven integrity in all the places he has served in both public and private sector from 1986 to date.
His promoters said he possesses proven skills in developing consensus at party, committee and legislative levels.
“Talented relationship-builder, problem-solver and leader with accomplished career both in and outside government. Enthusiastic about applying expertise toward helping people of diverse classes in Nigeria”, they said.
The immediate past governor of Nasarawa State is currently Nasarawa South Senatorial District at the National Assembly, has not been talking so much about his ambition as he usually shys away from media inquiries.
He was elected governor of Nasarawa State in 2011 on the platform of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), a party formed by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Although, Al-Makura is said to have the support of his state governor, Abdullahi Sule, what could count against him is that he belongs to the CPC political tendency in the party.
But his governor thinks otherwise as he had during the APC registration/revalidation exercise, advised the party to look in the direction of the defunct CPC and Nasarawa State for the position of its national chairman.
The argument against such proposition is that the president also comes from the defunct CPC while past APC Chairmen have come from the ACN tendency.
Ali Modu Sheriff
The former Borno state Governor is reputed to not just have a big war-chest, but also regarded as a heavy spender. He is one politician who is not afraid of spending raw cash.
Also from the ANPP tendency, he is a founding member of the APC but immediately ditched it and left for the PDP ahead of the 2015 general election.
What would however count against him is his defection antecedents as well as his less than desirable handling of the PDP when he was its acting National Chairman.
The immediate past governor of Zamfara State has never hidden his ambition to lead the party at the national level.
Being a former chairman of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum NGF, it is believed that he must have forged useful political friendships across board.
Also of the ANPP political tendency, he does not yet have the support of his state governor, Bello Matawalle who recently defected to the APC.
Matawalle’s detection unsettled the political climate in the state APC as he naturally became the leader of the party by virtue of his office as Governor.
However, Yari is said to be uncomfortable with governor becoming leader of the party. Will the governor support him, seeing the experience in Edo where Comrade Adams Oshiomhole who was supported by his successor, Governor Godwin Obaseki to become party chairman troubled the Governor and nearly have him a bloodied political nose?
There is also a reported gang up by some party elements in the North West to truncate Yari’s aspiration for the party chairmanship position because, like am analyst puts it, “if he gets it, it will spoil their calculations for the 2023 Vice Presidential slot”.
When taken up on this, Yari had told Saturday Vanguard that; “I hear that also. Somebody told me that some of my colleagues and former colleagues are interested in the number one and number two slots so, if the (National Chairmanship) seat goes to the North West, nothing will get to them, so they ganged up to neutralize Yari.
“If God decides that it should be, it is going to be. People can maneuver and do all sorts of calculations but they will not prevail. All I know is this: I have the capacity to lead this party and they know what I can do”, he stated.
Sunny Sylvester Moniedafe
Originally from Delta state, Mr Moniedafe has spent almost all his life in Adamawa state to the effect that he was recently named “Hakimin Jimeta”.
Although, both Delta and Adamawa states are current under the grip of the PDP, Moniedafe has been crisscrossing the country, conferring with stakeholders and selling his candidacy to them.
He considers himself a neutral element who can effectively heal all broken political fractures in the party.
Mustapha was once the Deputy National Secretary of the CPC.
The Turaki of Ilorin in a recent interview dismissed fears that he does not have the support of his state governor, Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq.
According to him, the governor is not only in support of his bid, but that his aspiration has now assumed a life of its own and become a “pan-Kwara agenda”.