There is a growing concern within All Progressives Congress (APC) that the Mala Buni-led Caretaker and Extra-ordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC)has failed to keep to the schedule of activities for the National Convention of Nigeria’s ruling party.
Worried party chieftains say the Buni team was expected to have commenced sales of forms to aspirants on February 14 which failed to happen.
This is coming into the open as the party is presently suspected to be focusing on the North-East zone to produce the next National Chairman of the party. The decision is creating discontent amongst some stakeholders from other zones in Northern Nigeria.
Already, some interest groups are claiming that APC has agreed to shift the Convention to the second week in May to enable the party to conclude consultation on the North-East producing its chairman, as well as all the other processes for the exercise.
Previously, the party fixed February 26, to elect its new national executives to manage its affairs. But, the inability of the Buni-led caretaker committee to achieve a consensus is making the date unrealistic. Mala Buni is also Yobe State’s governor.
Party sources are even claiming that the Presidency has requested for the names of four aspirants in the race from the North-East zone just as governors from the North Central states are kicking against the zoning arrangement.
A source says opinion builders in the zone are differing with the governors’ position, arguing that the North-West which has produced two presidents, should consider the North Central for the next highest executive position, either the President or Vice-President.
To them, the zone deserved better positions than the party’s national chairmanship, having led political parties to electoral victory since the inception of democracy in the country.
They are also arguing that those in the race for the APC national chairmanship position from the zone, lacked the required experience and pedigree to attract appointments and meaningful development to the region.
A source says among the 11 aspirants in the race for the APC national chairmanship position, the party’s leadership had submitted the names of four of them to the presidency following a request to that effect. “Unfortunaly, the names of frontline aspirants from the North Central were not on the list of aspirants submitted to the presidency.
“Of all the high profile aspirants, only Ali-Modu Sheriff and Senator Sani Musa made the list. Governors Buni and Zulum of Borno State are insisting that the party’s national chairmanship be left in the North East as had been the party’s tradition.’’
It is, however, on record that when Chief John Odigie-Oyegun from the South-South was dropped as the APC national chairman, the party went to the zone to elect Adams Oshiomole, a former governor of Edo under a consensus arrangement.
Some party sources are arguing that since Governor Buni who heads the APC CECPC is from the North-East, it will not be out of place if the party’s next national chairman comes from the zone. But, what is however not clear, is whether Buni wants to contest the position or he wants the party’s national convention to hold the same day as its presidential primaries.
“Consultations are continuing among the party’s top echelon to ensure the buying in of all its stakeholders, but from all indications, the North East will retain the position’’, one party source says, pointing out that at the moment, it is only Governor Nasir El’Rufai of Kaduna State that is opposing zoning the party’s national chairmanship to the North-East because he is allegedly promoting a 2023 presidential aspirant.
In the meantime, concerned party chieftains are suggesting that their national convention be postponed by two weeks.
Aspirants in the race to contest the APC top position, including former governors and Senators, among whom are Ali-Modu Sheriff, a two-term former governor of Borno who had been trailing others in proactive agenda-setting, Danjuma Goje also a former governor of Gombe and Mr Sylvester Monidafe all from the North-East.
While former governor of Zamfara and a former Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF), Abdulaziz Yari, is also in the race, from the North Central, there are former Deputy National Chairman of the defunct Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), Saliu Mustapha, former Nasarawa State governor, Senator Tanko Al Makura, Senator Mohammed Sani-Musa, and Minister of Special Duties and Inter-Governmental Affairs, Dr George Akume, among others.