SEVEN former governors are among bigwigs jostling for the position of the national chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), the date of the ruling party’s convention, where a new set of national officers will be elected, having been fixed for February 2022.
The contenders for the APC chairmanship had revved up their campaigns following the announcement of the February date for the conduct of the national convention.
Kebbi State governor and chairman of the Progressives Governors Forum, Atiku Abubakar Bagudu, after of a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday, told newsmen that the president had agreed with the forum’s choice of the convention date.
The pronouncement has since generated heightened activities in the camps of the chairmanship aspirants, some of whom had earlier reduced the tempo of their campaigns owing to official prevarication on the convention date by the party’s Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC) led by Yobe State governor, Mai Mala Buni.
During the week, foot soldiers of some of the aspirants resumed pasting of posters on the walls at the Buhari House, the party’s national secretariat in Wuse, Abuja.
The list of contenders includes seven former governors from the North Central, North West and North East geo-political zones, giving credence to speculation that despite the official silence on the zoning arrangement, power brokers in the ruling party may have taken a position on zoning of party positions ahead of the next general elections.
Aspirants from the North East, incidentally the geopolitical zone of the incumbent chairman of the APC CECPC, Buni, are Senators Ali Modu Sheriff, Kashim Shettima and Danjuma Goje, former governors of Borno and Gombe states, respectively.
From the North Central are former governor of Nasarawa State and Senator representing Nasarawa Central, Tanko Al-Makura; former governor of Benue State and current Minister of Special Duties, George Akume.
The latest entrant into the race from North East is former governor of Bauchi State, Malam Isa Yuguda.
It was learnt that the only candidate from the North West, the geo political zone of President Buhari, is former Zamfara State governor, Abdul Aziz Yari.
A former governorship aspirant in Kwara State, who is the Turaki of Ilorin, Alhaji Saliu Mustapha, also declared interest in the chairmanship race at a media event in Lagos on Friday, pledging to unite the party for electoral success.
Saturday Tribune investigation revealed that the Presidency and the PGF are the two power blocs that may decide who gets what at the forthcoming convention. A party source told Saturday Tribune that since it is settled that the new National Working Committee that will emerge will conduct the party’s presidential primaries, the presidency and the governors are leaving nothing to chance in securing trusted allies to run the party’s national secretariat. The source, who further revealed that the aspirants are being “screened” on the basis of the camps they belonged in the defunct political parties that formed the APC, noted that chieftains of the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (CAN) led by former Lagos State governor, Senator Bola Tinubu, might be at the receiving end of a power game to surrender the party’s national secretariat to a certain chieftain of the defunct Congress for Progressives Change (CPC), the political party that produced the APC presidential candidate in 2014, Muhammadu Buhari, in the party’s uncertain days as the main opposition party. The source further argued that the defunct ACN had produced two former national chairmen for the APC in person of its pioneer chairman, Bisi Akande and former Edo State governor and former president of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Adams Oshiomhole. The latter’s leadership was dissolved at an emergency National Executive Committee meeting held at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, in June 2020.
The source, who confirmed that Senator Al-Makura’s ambition enjoys the support of a sizeable number of incumbent governors and the defunct CPC tendency, noted that the former Nasarawa State governor also has a warm relationship with what is left of the heavily fractured ACN power bloc led by Senator Tinubu.
“Bola Tinubu’s rosy relationship with Nasarawa State governor, Abdullahi Sule, is a cause for concern to the Villa power brokers and could count against Senator AlMakura,” the source noted.
There is no unanimity of voice in what the North Central is planning to settle for ahead of the next general elections.
Investigation revealed that while the Nasarawa State governor, Sule, and his Niger State counterpart, Abubakar Sani Bello, are interested in ensuring that the zone picks the slot of the national chairman, it has since created a crack in their rank as their colleague in Kogi State, Yahaya Bello, who has since declared his interest in the APC presidential ticket, has told his confidants that his colleagues were scheming to undermine his presidential dream.
In the North East, the ambition of Kashim Shettima and his long-estranged godfather, Ali Modu Sheriff, appear dead on arrival as the APC governors are scheming to ensure that one of them emerges as the vice presidential candidate of the party.
“They are looking at a sitting governor from North East as the vice presidential candidate and that will certainly jeopardise the ambition of any aspirant from the North East for national chairman,” a source told Saturday Tribune.
It could not be confirmed if the Borno State governor, Professor Babagana Zulum, is in league with his colleagues smarting to produce the vice presidential candidate in 2023.
Zulum is already marked among his colleagues as Tinubu’s man in the North East.
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