9 February 2022
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There are strong indications that the All Progressives Congress governors are waiting for the stand of the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), on the party’s chairmanship race.
It was reliably gathered on Tuesday that many APC governors had been left in the dark in the search for the next national chairman of the party.
It was learnt that a cabal comprising the trusted allies of the President would determine the consensus candidate for the national chairman of the party.
This has not stopped aspirants from intensifying campaigns across the country.
Multiple sources in the party, however, told The PUNCH that the President would be relying on the advice of his trusted allies.
“The President relies on these people for key decisions like the electoral bill, chairmanship of the party and other issues. These people are now working to ensure that the President picks a chairman that the governors will not be able to control, a chairman who will be from their clique,” he said.
When asked why the governors were not being allowed to pick the next chairman of the party, the source said, “Buhari did not interfere in the states when the governors were imposing their lackeys. None of them should dictate to the President who will be the chairman. They can only lobby which some of them are doing.”
Another top official of the APC, who wished to remain anonymous, also confirmed that most of the governors were awaiting the President’s signal.
He said once they know the President’s direction, they will adopt him as the consensus candidate.
“The same way the governors determined the APC chairmen in their respective states is how Buhari will also determine the next national chairman. Everyone is waiting for the signal from the President. He was the one who sacked the Oshiomhole leadership and he will be the one to determine the next chairman,” an APC chieftain said.
Attempts to get a response from Buhari’s spokesman, Mr. Garba Shehu, proved abortive as he neither responded to calls nor a text message on Tuesday.
But at least 12 persons have publicly declared their interest in the national chairmanship of the APC some of whom include: Senator Tanko Al-Makura, the Minister of Special Duties, George Akume; Salihu Mustapha, former Governor Isa Yuguda of Bauchi State, Senator Sani Musa, former Governor Ali Modu Sheriff of Borno State and a former Governor of Zamfara State, Abdul’Aziz Yari.
While Al-Makura has publicly been endorsed by his successor, Governor Abdullahi Sule of Nasarawa State; Musa has been tipped as the next chairman by Governor Sani Bello of Niger State. Apart from these two governors, others have refused to publicly endorse anyone.
The PUNCH gathered that Al-Makura and Musa were leading the race for the chairmanship of the ruling party.
A top member of the APC, who confided in one of our correspondents, said, “For now, going by the level of support they are getting, senators Al-Makura and Musa are leading the race, but things may change.”
Meanwhile, supporters of Al-Makura and Musa have intensified campaigns in states with their posters strategically pasted at the state secretariats of the party.
In Osun State, reliable sources within APC told one of our correspondents that although the governor, Adegboyega Oyetola, had not formally told the state chapter to back any aspirants, the candidature of Al-Makura was gradually gaining support among the members of the party.
A party leader, who confided in The PUNCH, stated, “Going by what we have observed in the last few days, ex Nassarawa governor, Almakura may get Osun’s support.”
However, when contacted, the Media Aide to Osun APC Chairman, Kola Olabisi, pleaded for more time before reacting.
We are awaiting Buhari’s body language – Katsina party officials
Feelers from Katsina State chapter of the APC on Monday revealed that party chieftains were still waiting for the “body language” of the President on who the state chapter should vote for as new national chairman.
In Katsina State, members of the party, who spoke to one of our correspondents, said although they were awaiting Buhari’s “body language,” for now members of the state chapter were rooting for Al-Makura.
The posters of Al-Makura have, however, flooded several parts of the state capital, Katsina including the party’s state headquarters located along Katsina/Kano road.
But party officials said since the President was the overall party leader, his decision on the issue would determine the next line of action.
One of them stated, “This is a national issue and we are talking of the party national chairman. Buhari is the overall party leader in the state and whatever he says, we must abide. We are still waiting for his body language on the issue. Our party leaders in the state would convey his decision to us once they get signals from him.”
The APC chairman in the state, Sani Ahmed, and other party officials were not in office on Monday while attempts to reach them on phones proved unsuccessful.
In Ondo State, it was learnt that the party leadership was waiting for the directive from Governor Rotimi Akeredolu and other leaders of the party in the state.
A source said, “We don’t know where to go because we have yet to have the governor’s directive. We don’t know whom he is supporting and we don’t want to go against his interest. That is where we are now.”
Another member of the party, on condition of anonymity, said some of the party leaders in the state might not attend the convention because of the by-election holding on February 26, 2022 which coincides with the national convention.
“Some party leaders in the state may be absent on that day because we have a by-election on the day of the convention and we can’t leave the House of Representatives by-election, which is crucial to us for a convention,” he said.
When contacted, the state chairman of the APC, Mr. Ade Adetimehin, said the state chapter had yet to decide on whom to support between the two candidates.
He simply said, “We are still watching and when it is time we will decide where to go.”
On Monday, a group, the National Committees of APC Support Groups for Senator Umaru Tanko Al-Makura, described the former governor as a unifier in the party who would deliver the mandate of APC at the general election.
Speaking in Akure, the Ondo State capital, the Coordinator of the group in the South-West, Bukky Oluderu, said Al-Makura had over the years exemplified remarkable leadership roles needed to lead the party. She added that the senator was best option to lead the party.
But the Benue State Chairman of APC, Austin Agada, on Monday expressed confidence that Senator George Akume would emerge as the national chairman of the party in the coming national convention.
Speaking to one of our correspondents on the phone, the chairman said that experience and detribalised nature of Akume would give him an edge over other candidates.
Agada said that since the opposition Peoples Democratic Party had its natural chairman in the state it would be appropriate for the ruling party to also produce its chairman in same state, ‘so as to stand shoulder to shoulder.
“There is no other candidate that we in Benue State will support if not our leader, Senator George Akume and we are appealing to all the states and the leader of the party, President Buhari, to support the minister.”
On its part, the Borno State APC Publicity Secretary, Zarami Makinta, said, “When the NWC gives us a guideline, we will then sit down and look at the candidates and arrive at a candidate that will be best for party and lead the party to victory in the next elections.”
Plateau APC explains conditions for backing aspirants
The Plateau State Chairman of the party, Rufus Bature, said the state chapter of the party had not endorsed any aspirant.
He said only Akume had visited the state to informed the state Governor, Simon Lalong that he would contest the chairmanship.
The state Chairman said “We are still monitoring the situation and that is why we have not decided on who to support among the aspirants. We will make the decision at the appropriate time but what we want is somebody who will take the party to greater height when elected irrespective of which part of the country he comes from.”
Eniola Akinkuotu, Stephen Angbulu, Olaide Oyelude, Dogara Bitrus, Bola Bamigbola, Peter Dada, James Abraham and John Charles