•Fate of ex-Lagos gov’s ally, Akume, uncertain
•Why I am in race – Saliu Mustapha
Intrigues over political relevance in the post-Muhammadu Buhari era are shaping the contest for the office of National Chairman of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, Sunday Vanguard investigations have revealed.
Unlike the contest for the presidential ticket of the ruling party, which has been defined as a battle of wits between the National Leader of the party, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, and a Villa cabal working in cahoots with the majority of governors, the contest for the party Chairman is being defined by primordial loyalties that led to the formation of the APC.
Sunday Vanguard also reports that the office may have been zoned to the North Central putting to question the aspiration of contenders from outside the zone and the 2023 presidential aspiration of Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State.
It was gathered that the old Congress for Progressive Change, CPC, bloc, which has dominated the polity through the patronage of the defunct party’s founder, President Muhammadu Buhari, is sensitive about remaining relevant after 2023.
That suggestion, it was understood, was what led to the emergence of the CPC’s only former governor, Senator Tanko Al-Makura, as the top contender in the national chairmanship race.
“We cannot fold our hands and allow Tinubu get the presidency and also get the National Chairman,” a source in the old CPC bloc confided at the weekend.
Other party chieftains outside the old CPC also confirmed the dominance of Al-Makura in the contest and positioning as the candidate of the defunct party.
The defunct Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, and All Nigeria Peoples Party, ANPP, it was gathered, were late in positioning themselves for the succession with a flurry of aspirants from across the North from the two defunct parties entering the fray.
Among those who have shown serious interests are former Governors Abdulazaiz Yari, Kashim Shettima (Borno), Isa Yaguda (Bauchi), Mohammed Abubakar (Bauchi), Ali Modu Sheriff (Borno) Danjuma Goje (Gombe) and George Akume (Benue).
However, with the zoning of the office to the North Central, the majority of the contenders have been eliminated leaving Al-Makura, Akume, Senator Sani Mohammed from Niger State and Mallam Saliu Mustapha from Kwara State among the serious candidates left in the race.
A source in the Mohammed Abubakar campaign team confided as much to Sunday Vanguard, saying the campaign had wound down following disclosures of the zoning to the North Central.
However, some of the contenders from outside the zone like Sheriff, a former National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, have refused to give up.
It was gathered at the weekend that while the CPC elements had resolved to make it a matter of pride to sustain their relevance by projecting one of their own for the office, the Tinubu camp, in a masterstroke, decided to spoil their fun by throwing support for Al-Makura.
Tinubu’s new quiet support for Al-Makura is despite the same silent support for longtime ally, Akume. Sunday Vanguard reports that Tinubu and Akume have battled together in the past and most famously in their failed bid to position the former Benue State governor as Senate President in 2015.
However, the decision to show support for Al-Makura was at the weekend being described as a masterstroke on the part of the camp of the former Lagos State governor as it has expectedly upset permutations.
Some in the CPC who have for long been suspicious of Tinubu are now said to be raising questions over identifying with him.
Buhari’s stance on the issue remains unknown despite what some consider as his wife’s support for Al-Makura.
Besides the uncomfortable support from Tinubu, others within and outside the old CPC were said to have also masterminded moves to trouble the former Nasarawa State governor using the arms of the law.
A source said at the weekend that it was part of the plot to jolt Al-Makura that he was last July made to face questioning by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, over unresolved issues arising from when he was governor of Nasarawa State. However, no charges were filed.
Other sources also point to the strong connection between the Al-Makura family and the First Family including the relationship between his wife and Hajia Aisha Buhari.
The governors most of who come from outside the old CPC bloc have not come out to express a position on the issue but it was gathered that they are also working on a dark horse from within the North Central to fight Al-Makura despite the fact that he was their former colleague.
“You can be sure of that, it is not going to be a stroll-in for him and I know the governors have a dark horse,” a source familiar with the development told Sunday Vanguard.
“You can also take it to the bank that the dark horse is coming from Niger State,” the normally reliable source said.
The next National Chairman of the party is scheduled to emerge at the national convention of the party which has now been tentatively fixed for February 2022.
Why I want to be APC Chairman – Mustapha
Meanwhile, one of the contenders for the APC top post, Mallam Saliu Mustapha, has acknowledged the interest of governors, former governors and lawmakers in the party’s national chairmanship but expressed optimism for success.
Mustapha, the Turaki of Ilorin, who spoke during a function in Lagos at the weekend, said APC stakeholders had been urging him on to vie for the top office in the belief that he is the one that can bring the desired change in the system.
He questioned the situation whereby some governors, their predecessors and lawmakers fight to put their candidates in position of authority, not minding the interest of other stakeholders in the party. “Governors and Senators want to fix their men. What about the stakeholders?”, he said.
Speaking on the importance of the younger generation in any election, Mustapha noted that any party that does not factor youths was bound to fail. He explained that records show that 75 to 80 % of votes cast at elections come from the youth. Mustapha noted that a group of youths wanted to show this through #End SARS, which he noted was unfortunately criminalized.
His words: “I want to be Chairman for all because, for success to be recorded, all hands must be on deck”.
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