• Party to fix new convention date
• Stakeholder urge election of youths into party posts
As the All Progressives Congress (APC) Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC) prepares to officially reschedule the party’s national convention earlier fixed for February 26, party bigwigs are said to have narrowed search for the next national chairman to two former Nasarawa State governors, Senators Abdullahi Adamu and Tanko Al-Makura.
However, findings by The Guardian showed that following APC’s decision to locate the party’s chairmanship in North Central geopolitical zone, bigwigs of the party from the north, including some state governors and federal lawmakers resolved to choose “a strong character.”
An informed source in the Presidency told The Guardian that the moment it became clear that the rotation arrangement between north and south was going to be implemented, the question on the lips of every stakeholder became how to hold the party structure as a balance.
He stated: “I can tell you for free that search for APC’s national chairman has been a subject of intense debate and discussion among eminent stakeholders in the party. The last lesser hajj provided some of our leaders in politics and business opportunity to x-ray the post-Buhari years as it pertains to balancing political power between the north and South.
“It was generally accepted that since the next President after President Muhammadu Buhari would come from the South, we need to select a strong politician from the North that could stand up the President to protect the interest of the north.”
He stated that although the initial considerations favoured the immediate past Nasarawa governor, Tanko Al Makura, who now represents Nasarawa South in the Senate, recent developments dictated the urge to have Senator Adamu join the race.
While stressing that the strongest political actor in the South in the current dispensation is former Lagos State governor, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, the source queried, “do you think that a national chairman like Al Makura can stand before Tinubu and argue against a specific policy?”
The source stated: “Apart from being a second term Senator, Senator Adamu is a contemporary of Tinubu and he has a more national clout. The former governor has so far shown himself as staunch fighter for the protection and preservation of North’s interest.
“During debates at the Senate, Senator Adamu was forceful in projecting the interest of the North and the fact that he is a lawyer by profession all combined to make him a credible alternative to others. That explains his late entry into the race.”
The source further explained that the proposed postponement of the convention by at least two weeks is to allow the Adamu Reconciliation Committee complete its assignment, noting the former governor demonstrated immense capacity and insight in handling the committee.
“The Adamu Reconciliation Committee pleaded for one-week extension of its timeframe. So, the Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC) led by Yobe State governor, Mai Mala Buni, has looked into the application and graciously considered its merits,” the source noted.
While ruling out insinuations that the planned postponement of the convention date was to enable Senator Adamu to campaign, the source, a former governor, said it was rather because of President Buhari’s itinerary, as well as the need to reconcile some contentious issues in the party.
However, the decision to draft Senator Adamu into the national chairmanship race has been attracting reactions from APC stakeholders, who expressed worries over the string of controversies surrounding earlier aspirants.
For instance, Senator Al-Makura was accused of presenting himself as a regional candidate and encouraging ethnic cleavages.
It would be recalled that the former Nasarawa governor had told North Central stakeholders in Peoples Forum in Abuja that his major objective of joining the chairmanship race was to promote party cohesion and foster unity among Nigerians.
There had been insinuations that CECPC and the Progressive Governors’ Forum (PGF) were working out an arrangement to transition the Senator Abdullahi Adamu Reconciliation Committee to the National Working Committee (NWC) of the APC.
However, the plan, which gave rise to the idea of consensus method of selecting the party leaders during the national convention was said to have led to disagreements between state governors and lawmakers.
It was gathered that one of the APC governors that kicked against “the wholesale transition” of the committee members into the NWC was a governor in the South East, who was said to have objected at the plan to have a former governor take the national Secretaryship slot of the Southeast.
He was said to have argued at a meeting with the APC stakeholders that being the foremost APC state in Southeast, Imo State should reserve the right to produce the National Secretary to cancel out PDP’s choice of Senator Samuel Anyanwu as its national scribe.
Former National Organising Secretary of the party, Senator Osita Izunaso, indicated his intention to vie for the position of national secretary and have been lobbying his colleagues in the National Assembly to ensure that he clinches the position.
Osita also argues that the former Enugu governor is a recent entrant to the party, and therefore, should be the best candidate to occupy that sensitive party position.
The Guardian recalls that the Zikist-Buhari-Movement (ZBM) Enugu State chapter, commended the Governor Mai Mala Buni-led CECPC for uniting the major opposing factions of APC in the state.
The group also noted that the resolution of the wrangling between the two APC factions put paid to attempts by Governor Hope Uzodimma to impose Chief Ugochukwu Agballah on the Enugu State chapter.
In a statement by its Publicity Secretary, Hon. Victor Nwankwo, ZBM said the Buni-led CECPC deserves commendation for withholding the Certificate of Return for the state and saving the party from further turmoil.
“The Buni-led CECPC earnestly reached a milestone in uniting APC Enugu State, especially by stopping Governor Hope Uzodinma’s attempts to impose Chief Ugo Agballah on the state.
“We, therefore appeal to His Excellency Buni and the CECPC not to succumb to intense lobby being mounted by Governor Uzodinma to sustain the imposition of Chief Agballah.
“Whereas, the ZBM has tremendous respect for His Excellency, Hope Uzodinma Governor of Imo State; we are at a loss why he wants to impose Chief Ugo Agballah, who is not a valid member of our great party,” the statement declared.
Part of the statement read: “ZBM accordingly appeals that the handover Certificate of Enugu State be kept in abeyance as distinguished Senators Ken Nnamani, Ayogu Eze, His Excellencies Sulivan Chime, Fidel Ayogu, Emperor Baywood Chris Ibe, Okechukwu Ezea, Mr. Osita Okechukwu and other eminent stakeholders had concluded the harmonisation of the state structure.”
However, despite the pressures on CECPC to withhold the Certificate of Return from Agballah, the CECPC last Monday handed the certificate to the new Enugu State APC chairman, Agballah, noting that the clerical error in the certificate predicated the pause.
MEANWHILE, participants at a one-day Roundtable and Media parley, in Abuja challenged APC to emulate its main opposition counterpart, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), by electing a young person aged between 18 and 35 as its youth leader.
The participants drawn from the 774 local government councils of the country noted that President Muhammadu Buhari’s directives to Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) of government to appoint more youths into the public sector is a challenge to political parties to elect young people for the 2023 general elections.
Guest speaker at the event, who is also the Director General of Institute for Governance and Leadership Studies in Africa (IGLSA), Dr. Lanre Adebayo, urged Nigerian youths to take advantage of the new impetus for youth inclusivity in politics to join political parties both at the local and national levels.
The one-day Roundtable and Media Parley was for the endorsement of credible youth political aspirants, was organised by National Grassroots Youth Coalition for Good Governance (NGYCGG).
Adebayo noted that most of the challenges confronting Nigeria arose mainly because youths have been left out and abandoned, even as he cited the examples of former President, Barack Obama and United Kingdom (UK) Prime Minister, Tony Blair, as well as Emmanuel Macron of France.
He said the leaders used their youthful energy and skills to pull their countries out of recession, adding that for Nigerian youths and women to be relevant in political processes, “they should join political parties as a matter of civic responsibility.”
“If you want to change the paradigm, join political parties. Mobilize and join to form a critical mass. Support yourselves; you should not continue to agonise that our system is bad. Whose fault is it, when you have the demographic power to change things.
“Organise, educate and sensitise yourselves. Leadership is a serious business, not a tea party. Serious leaders cannot go to parties. Invest in building capacity and leadership skills. Bring your 21st century knowledge to lead us,” he added.
Earlier, chairman of the occasion, Dr. Kabiru Hamisu Kura, recalled that the history of Nigeria’s development is rooted in the energy of youth, stressing that the country’s nationalists, including Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Aminu Kano, Tony Enahoro among others were all in their 20s and 30s when they fought for Nigeria’s independence.
Kura, who is the Executive Director, Initiative for Community Development, Kano; said the essence of the gathering is to galvanise youth involvement in politics, noting that Nigeria has arrived at the tomorrow that youths were always said to be its leaders.
In a communiqué after the event, the participants observed that the current unstable political situation in the country demands urgent attention from all stakeholders, particularly the youths.
“That contemporary reality shows that increasing the number of youth participating in politics is highly desired and indeed, urgent especially because they are the change agent that will transform the country.
“That political parties should be wary of promoting political leaders, who had anti-people track record as party functionaries, noting that a member of the House of Representatives who sponsored an Anti-NGO and Anti-human right bill, should not be allowed to lead any political party in any democracy,” they noted.
Consequently, the participants resolved among other strategies that “political leadership with the involvement of youths in governance is critical to political stability and the survival of our democracy especially at party levels.”
While noting that party leadership requires integrity and credible individuals, with modern technology to pilot their affairs in modern day democracy, participants unanimously endorsed the aspiration of Mal. Saliu Mustapha as National Chairman of the APC and Mr. Peter Omaranyiole Oputu as National Youth Leader to emulate the gesture of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) that elected Muhammadu Suleiman Kadade as PDP National Youth Leader few months ago.
Executive Director of NGYCGG, Mohammed Attah, in his remarks noted that Nigeria was waiting for young people to take over, stressing that the need for such parleys could not be overemphasized to put them in the right frame of mind.
Also, speaking on the side-lines of the parley, Secretary General of Arewa Youth Consultative Forum (AYCF), Hon. Nuhu Sani Lere, said only parties that elect young people as functionaries should get the votes of the youths.
Lere, who is also the Magajin Gari Pinga, said the time has come to move away from rhetoric and embrace reality by including youths in decision making, adding: “The message from the youths is a strong signal to all political parties across Nigeria to elect youths into political offices or lose the votes coming from the northern part of the country.
“We are in consultations and resolved unanimously to vote only parties that elect youths into offices. The youths are tired of the old politicians that have brought us to this ugly past.
“The youths are shocked to see parties still fielding old aspirants as party chairmen, when we have vibrant youths in the party. How do you vote people of 70 years and above? Or is it those with EFCC (Economic and Financial Crimes Commission) cases, Boko Haram sponsors or anti-social media campaigner?”
While maintaining that Nigeria cannot move forward with the same old recycled leaders, the AYCF scribe declared: “We need change, and the change begins now. Any party that failed to elect youths into leadership positions in the party faces the risk of losing our votes.”