The choice of the next national chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) appears to have been narrowed by the Presidency to Mallam Saliu Mustapha (MSM), the Turaki of Ilorin, serving Senator Sani Musa, from Niger State, and former governor, Tanko Al-Makura.
As learnt from party sources, the choices were reached by the combination of an agreement within the APC on power sharing and a security report believed to have been submitted to President Muhammadu Buhari.
“The report, as we have heard, has a profiling of each of the candidates’ associates, politically and in business; it enquired if the person had pending cases with ICPC, EFCC, or the Code of Conduct Bureau.
“The presidency is worried that a candidate susceptible to blackmail could derail the party ahead of the decisive 2023 general elections,” the source said.
There were also matters, according to the newspaper’s findings, of issues bordering on national security.
“The president doesn’t want anybody that could be linked to the current insecurity in the country,” the source added.
Another source, this time, from the presidency but also close to party hierarchy, said that the president and key stakeholders took seriously matters concerning arrangement on power sharing in the party.
He said: “At the inception, it was agreed among the legacy party that berthed APC that CPC bloc would produce the president after which the ACN bloc would do same.
“But for the national party chairman, it goes to CPC bloc, from where President Buhari emerged.
“Under this instance, MSM, Sen. Musa, and Al-Makura appear to be best favoured.
“Akume came from the nPDP bloc and that leaves him out, while Modu Sheriff had a colourful background after moving from the APP to PDP and then to the APC from where he jumped back into the PDP only to return to APC.”
As already revealed, President Muhammadu Buhari and governors from the party may have reached a consensus on who would emerge as the next national chairman of the party.
Top sources in the ruling party disclosed that the decision by the president and the governors was not unconnected with the division between the governors and other party leaders who are said to be sharply divided on the mode of primary to adopt to elect the third substantive national chairman of the party and other executive members.
While some insist on direct primary, some powerful forces within the party are bent on the mode, arguing that if the party could adopt direct primary to elect Buhari for second term election in 2019, the party should adopt the same in February.
Though there are other sources who claimed that top shots of the party, including governors and those at the presidency, have narrowed down three of the contenders out of the many vying for the chairmanship seat, but a decision would be made in the coming days.
It was learnt that President Buhari and some APC governors close to the Villa have narrowed their search to the former governor of Nasarawa State, Tanko Al-Makura.
One of the sources told our correspondent that, “The president and the concerned governors have reached a conclusion on some key positions, such as the Chairman, Secretary, Publicity Secretary, Legal Adviser, because these positions are very key to the success of the party.
“Other positions may be agreed upon through direct or indirect primaries, but for these key positions, especially that of the national chairman, the president is really interested in who occupies that position, and so are the governors.
“I can tell you for a fact that they have concluded on who will become the chairman of the party.
“For the positions of the Secretary, Publicity Secretary, and Legal Adviser, the decision will be made in a matter of days.”
Another source said, “Though it is very difficult to read the president’s mind on this, his body language showed that he has preference for Al-Makura, who was the lone governor produced by the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC).
“And knowing President Muhammadu Buhari very well, he will always reward those who are loyal and dear to him.
“So, I don’t think there is any candidate eyeing the chairmanship position who is more likely to get the position than Al-Makura.”
But mid last year, the EFCC invited Al-Makura and his wife, Mairo, for questioning over allegations of breach of trust and misappropriation of funds, allegedly perpetrated during his eight-year tenure as governor. This might be a reference point.
At this point, however, the APC Caretaker Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC) is facing what appears a difficult hurdle to rescue the interest of the party from some personal and bloc interests now putting party cohesion and unity at risk as the clock ticks to the February 26 date of the party’s National Convention.
Individuals within the CECPC, we gathered, have unwittingly and intricately tied their personal interests on key decisions ahead of the Convention making it very difficult to proceed with open arrangement that guarantees party cohesion.
For instance, the scheming to keep hold of party structures in some states ahead of the Convention, partly the reason why the Caretaker Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee failed all along to delay the Convention, we hear, has continued to pose some difficulty.
It is now an open secret that the CECPC was not planning for any Convention in the month of February prior to the presidential directive that led to the prompt convening of the meeting of the Progressive Governors Forum (PGF) last week Sunday.
Prior to the late night decision by the Progressive Governors’ Forum on January 16 to come out with a specific date for the party’s National Convention, the CECPC had in imitation of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), worked hard to avoid open contest during the convention of the party.
One reason is to avoid obvious implosion that may ensue because of the many parallel Congresses that were conducted in the majority of APC states and maintain a semblance of unity and cohesion in the run to 2023, which is key.
The CECPC, we gathered, had worked on a template to settle interests of the various legacy parties that came together in the merger that led to the formation of the APC.
In practice though, according to some sources, the CECPC is under the grip of three governors believed to be running different agenda.
In consideration of the issues that have burdened the party ahead of the convention, Bishop Funso Awe, the 2019 governorship candidate of the National Conscience Party (NCP), maintained that the APC would not be going into the convention as a united party and, as such, it would be difficult, if not impossible for it to come out of it united.
Bishop Awe, the Bishop of the Orthodox Anglican Church, Lagos Mainland Diocese as well as the General Secretary, Civil Consciousness Initiative (CCI), noted that the party had been having crises and factions in almost 20 states, wondering how a divided house could produce acceptable national executive for the party overnight.
Awe, who had earlier predicted the party’s implosion due to the Buni-led committee’s inability to resolve all crises in the party since the panel was put in place, stated: “The APC is not going into the convention as a united party. I don’t think they will come out of it united. Some people’s ambition is so much that if their candidates do not get what they want, they will think otherwise, or make trouble.
“The APC is not united. Everything about the convention is in the hands of the executive and the legislature. The Core North and the Middle Belt are no united.
“The APC will definitely come out of the convention more divided. Its future existence will depend on the person who emerges as the new national chairman and his ability to bring together all the warring or contending forces together.”
Also speaking, Comrade Aluh Moses Odeh is National Leader, All Middle Belt Youth Forum (AMBYF), noted that the APC was “an arrangement” put together to take over power at all cost from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), hence immediately the election result of 2015 was announced in its favour, the bubble burst with the party leaders in stiff resistance of the emergence of certain individuals as the National Assembly leadership.
Odeh, a political activist, stated: “You see, you don’t approbate and reprobate at the same time. Our politicians do not know the difference between governance and party politics. Why should an elected governor act as chairman of the party? Was it that there was no individual in Yobe State to do the work; that is if the leader must come from Yobe State?
“I wish they resolve their matter. But, politicians are terrible. They can never give up on their greed. The internal crises in APC pose a threat to our democracy.”
Barrister Alaowei E. Cleric, Chairman, Board of Trustees (BoT), Centre for Human Rights and Anti-Corruption Crusade (CHURAC), stated: “I am sure the convention will hold despite the seeming challenges at the moment. The challenges threatening the convention are typical of our political developments and they are surmountable.
“What I am concerned about is the party’s fortune after President Muhammadu Buhari’s tenure. For me, I do not want APC to succeed APC, or the party producing Buhari’s successor because the party has no good intention for the country.”
However, Dr. Tunde Moses Elebute, a human rights promoter and public affairs analyst said there was no doubt that APC would conduct its national convention.
Elebute, the Deputy Director, Crime Victims Foundation of Nigeria (CRIVIFON), Lagos State chapter, however stressed, “They will hold their convention once the money ‘flows plenty plenty’ before the day.
“But, seriously speaking, if they are not careful, it could be the beginning of their end.”