The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has held its National Convention, which threw up former Senate President Iyochia Ayu as national chairman. All Progressives Congress APC chairmanship aspirants are intensifying their consultations and mobilisation. The question is: when will the ruling party hold its convention?
There are many permutations. If the presidential ticket is zoned to the South, as it is being expected, then, the next national chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) will come from the North.
Today, it appears the party has settled for the Northcentral, comprising Benue, Plateau, Niger, Nasarawa, Kwara and Kogi. The majority of chairmanship aspirants are from the zone.
It therefore, means that APC is following the path of the PDP, which recently selected an eminent politician, Third Republic Senate President Iyochia Ayu, who hails from Benue, as national chairman.
After the Anambra governorship poll, the most important political event Nigerians look forward to is the APC convention. To observers, the elongation of the term of the National Caretaker Committee, led by Yobe State Governor Mai Mala Buni, is not defensible.
Ahead of the national congress, the ruling party has many hurdles to cross. These include the unfinished business of reconciliation, litigations in court, post-state congress crisis, and direct primary controversy. Unless care is taken, politics of inclusion is promoted and internal democracy is upheld, APC may become a victim of its internal contradictions. The ruling party, according to analysts, should move swiftly to avert the tragedy of collapse, which organisational oppression, systematic intimidation and exclusion can herald.
The choice of the right person as chairman is critical to the future of APC. The next chairman should not be politically inferior to Dr. Ayu. He must be a competent person who can forge unity and cohesion in the divided fold. He should be able to reduce tension among the competing blocs and tendencies. He must be without excessive blemish.
The party had mooted the idea of a consensus candidate, instead of the candidate of the cabal and the Governors’ Forum. Many believe that consensus candidacy is unifying. But, building consensus is hectic, in view of the polarisation and disunity.
Aspirants include former Nasarawa State Governor Tanko Almakura, former Borno State Governor Modi Sheriff, former Benue Governor George Akure, former Nasarawa Governor Abdullahi Adamu, Senator Sani Musa from Niger and Alhaji Mustapha from Kwara.
Almakura has publicly declared his intention. He said he is eminently qualified, adding that if elected as chairman, he will lead the party to victory in 2023 presidential election.
The chieftain of the defunct Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) is believed to be a strong contender. He is close to President Muhammadu Buhari. But, it could not be ascertained whether he will also emerge as the candidate of the APC Governors’ Forum.
In APC, there are complaints about the domination of the party by CPC elements.
Senator Musa parades excellent educational and professional credentials. The senator from Niger East has embarked on extensive and aggressive campaigns within the party. He is trying to prove that his influence goes beyond the endorsement of the cabal. A loyal party chieftain and man of integrity, he once aspired to rule Niger. He was a delegate to the National Convention and a member of the APC Presidential Election Campaign Committee for 2019. His fans describe him as,a bridge builder who possess interpersonal skills.
The senator has been at the forefront of the push for the card reader and Permanent Voter’s Card.
In the Senate, Musa is not a bench warmer. He has served on Appropriation, Petroleum Resources, Foreign and Local Debts and Water Resources committees..In the APC, he had served as member of NEC, Contact and Strategic Committee, and Constitution Review Panel.
In 2015, he was arrested, but refused to divulge any confidential information on the card reader. The Business Administration graduate from Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, where he was the President of Zodiac, served as Special Adviser on Investment and Infrastructure in Niger State; director of Niger State Development Company Limited, Chairman, Task Force on Environmental Sanitation.
The former governor is currently leading a peace effort in the party. He is a party elder endowed with experience and a no-nonsense politician, who knows his onions. He is a former minister. After serving as governor for eight years, he was elected senator. In 2007, he was a presidential aspirant on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Another likely aspirant is Goje, former Minister of State for Steel Development, former governor and now, senator. He is also a former PDP chieftain; bold and fearless.
Goje is currently involved in a running battle with Governor Yahaya Inuwa, who is seeking a second term.
The former governor of Borno served as a senator before becoming governor in 2003. He served for two terms. He defected from the APC to PDP, where he was briefly the national chairman. A smart politician, there were allegations that he wanted to use the position as a stepping stone to the realisation of his presidential bid. When he was shoved aside as chairman, Senator Ahmed Makarfi became the PDP caretaker chairman. Some months ago, Sheriff retraced his steps to the APC.
Mustapha hails from Gambari District in the Ilorin East local government area of Kwara State. He is is the youngest aspirant.
He has distinguished himself in business, politics and humanitarian services. He founded the Saliu Mustapha Foundation to serve as a platform for human empowerment and community development.
Mustapha, a young and vibrant politician, is a former deputy national chairman of CPC. He played a role in the merger of the CPC with other parties that gave birth to the ruling party. He was a signatory to the merger agreement on behalf of the CPC in the coalition. Before he became the deputy chairman of the CPC, he had served as an Ex-Officio and a foundation NEC member of the party.
He was the National Publicity Secretary of the Progressive Liberation Party (PLP) between 2001 and 2002 under the leadership of Dr. Ezekiel Ezeogwu. In 2003, Mustapha and other like-minds formed the Progressive Action Congress (PAC). He was the National Publicity Secretary of the party. He was a member of The Buhari Organisation (TBO) and the Buhari Campaign Organisation (BCO).