The race for the position of the national chair of the governing All Progressives Congress (APC) has been understandably intriguing: whoever steps in the saddle looks good to produce the winner of the forthcoming presidential election. This, of course, is assuming the APC gets its act together and presents a sellable and winning candidate from the southern part of the country.
Remarkably, since the party’s leadership guard ceded the position to the northern part of the country, there had been no let up in the jostle by political gladiators from the three geo-political zones for the significant position, until recently when the party defused regional tension by micro-zoning the position to the north central zone, thus causing ballyhoo in the zone.
Nasarawa and Niger States have the majority of the aspirants. Both states have two aspirants apiece. Benue and Kwara States have one aspirant each. Interestingly, it is in Nasarawa that the contest for the position has become more intense, more rambunctious as two former governors of the State who are both incumbent senators, to wit: Abdullahi Adamu and Tanko Al-Makura have either directly or through proxies taken on each other over the position. These are clearly two formidable forces that have their respective spheres of control in the state
The state governor, Abdullahi Sule, controls the machinery of governance with which he can weigh in some substantial influence in the politics of the state. He can somewhat determine where the pendulum swings between Adamu and Al-Makura. And, although, he had openly said that the state had endorsed Al-Makura, yet there were suggestions in some circles that the purported endorsement was not neither here nor there. Although, Governor Sule is believed to be closer to Al-Makura than he is to Adamu, the question is whether or not this closeness counts for something in the consummation of the chairmanship race. Remarkably, the purported endorsement of Adamu by President Buhari had caused serious disquiets in Nasarawa until Adamu reportedly declared that the President had not endorsed him.
For instance, both camps had resorted to circulating purported lists wherein Buhari “endorsed” both Adamu and Al-Makura for the same position of national chairman. It was quite apparent that some shenanigans bordering on desperation had crept in to embarrass the presidency. The process was turned into a comic tragedy, almost devoid of the characteristic solemnity that would have ultimately benefitted from the halo of presidential approbation.
This (approbation), of course, would have come after some layers of critical party stakeholders, for instance, the APC governors from the zone would have sat together to shortlist maybe two or three aspirants for the president to make a pick. That is one way of doing it. The other way would have been to arrive on a consensus candidate agreeable to the governors and the aspirants themselves who would then be presented to the president for his acceptance and or endorsement.
But, as it is, APC will be working straight into the eye of the storm if some forces insist on arm-twisting the president into adopting anyone in Nasarawa for the position of national chairman. Two power centres would have been created if that happens: the governor and the national chairman. The protection of their respective political interests will create avoidable tension. The tension and subsequent crisis can, indeed, be avoided by taking the position of national chairman to a state without an APC governor. Niger State does not qualify for consideration because an APC governor is in the saddle there. Although Kwara has an aspirant-Salisu Mustapha- yet an APC governor is in the saddle there. The only state in the north central zone that qualifies for such consideration is Benue where incidentally a former two-term governor of the state, three-term senator and current Minister of Special Duties and Inter-Governmental Affairs, George Akume, is the only aspirant.
Analysts, in fact, contend that the APC will be pushing its luck too far if it decides to settle for the national chairman from either Niger or Nasarawa State. Add Kwara State to the list. Their argument is that the party has enough problems that are already confronting it to now add the mischief of picking and pitching a national chairman against a sitting governor, especially in Nasarawa and Kwara States where the governors are serving the first term of office. Even in Niger, where the governor is serving out his second term, there may be conflict of interest in the choice of a successor.
None of the scenarios supra can happen between now and 2023 general elections in Benue State. This should be factored into the overall consideration by the owners of the party in determining the consensus candidate for the position of national chairman, whose choice will be validated on March 26 at the national convention scheduled to hold at the Eagle Square.
As I had proposed in some previous articles on the same subject matter, I hereby restate my proposition to the party apparatchiks that they would be doing the party a world of good if they steer it away from the eye of the storm by going to a state without the potentialities for leadership conflict or conflict of political interests by sundry power centres to pick the party’s consensus candidate. The only state and aspirant that are not problematic in this instance are Benue and Akume. Benue has a Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governor in place and Akume is the only aspirant from Benue State jostling for APC’s national chair.
Significantly, Akume is expected to bring his political sagacity to bear on the running of the party. He can be trusted to provide a just leadership. He would bring to the table the gravitas of political accommodation anchored on the imperativeness of conciliation. Akume’s leadership will run on the philosophy of mutual respect for the leaders and members of the party alike. He would know how to relate with governors because he was once a governor; he would do the same with legislators because he was once a senator; he would understand leaders in the executive arm of the federal government, including ministers, because he wears the minister’s shoe presently.
Akume can disarm the most rambunctious forces or political elements with the magnitude of his calmness. His charismatic persona and penetrative intelligence will always be deployed in bolstering the image of the party at the level of national and international conversations around the manifestoes of the APC and the philosophies of the federal government that the party is advantageously set to produce in 2023.
A Christian Tiv, time and socio-political interactions have shown that Akume’s religious and ethnic pedigrees resonate well with the people of the entire northern region. He is not known to discriminate on the basis of religion and ethnicity. He has seamlessly, through his eleemosynary acts, cemented the bond of brotherhood and camaraderie with political associates and traditional institution across the country. A man who has been so selfless, and quiet about it (selflessness) cannot suddenly become overbearing, dictatorial and acting askance once he becomes national chairman. Without a doubt, he will continue to sustain his antecedents of solid socio-cultural and political goodwill on the platform of APC’s national chairmanship. Since this may be my last intervention before the emergence of a consensus candidate and the national convention, I restate my proposition that the APC should try out Akume for size in terms of quality, transparent, just and accommodating leadership.
▪︎ Mr Ojeifo contributed this piece from Abuja via email@example.com