PMB: Advocate, Enabler Of Level Playing Field At All Times

Musa Ilallah

Musa Ilallah

APC, Nigeria’s ruling party’s recent and much talked-about national convention held in Abuja to elect its Presidential candidate for next year’s election has come and gone. Its peaceful conduct may however have disappointed and shamed those who thought of a break up and RIP.

The country’s ruling party and the entire country’s political space had in the last three months, or so, been further put under immense pressure and tension largely due to the number of aspirants that bought forms to contest its primaries, coupled with the party’s increasing nationwide popularity as the ‘politicians delight bride’.

Prior to the conduct of the primaries, a number of strategic decisions were taken to avert what naysayers mischievously predicted would happen at the convention ground.

Disturbed by naysayers’ prediction that the party would disintegrate from the convention venue, the organisers of the APC special convention meticulously dotted the ‘i’s and crossed the ‘t’s in such a way that it would be peaceful, transparent and clean. And also devoid of ethnic, religious and/or sectional sentiments.

Most importantly, President Muhammadu Buhari had consultative meetings with party leaders, 13 Northern APC Governors and the party’s Presidential aspirants where he unequivocally told them that he had not annointed any aspirant as the candidate of the party.

For the uptempth time,  PMB had promised Nigerians and the international community that his interest is to build a legacy of transparency and consistency. Legacy of a level playing ground for all manner of aspirants into elective positions under the umbrella of his party, APC.

This therefore meant that he would be committed to enthroning democratic principles and values at all times.

Undoubtedly,  PMB is keen on leaving a legacy of success stories at the end of his tenure in 2023 for the future generations to see. He has matched words with action or as the saying goes, “he has walked the talk.”

In the words of PMB: “the processes for the 2023 elections have commenced in earnest and I noted that the most successful political parties globally have always relied on their internal cohesion and a strong leadership brand to achieve bigger election fortunes”.

He promised the whole country and the world that he would build a legacy of transparency and consistency. Legacy of a level playing field for all the aspirants. He would be committed to democratic principles and values and he did so in style and strategically, that saw the emergence of Senator Bola Tinubu seamlessly.

President Buhari in further attempts to underscore his preference for dialogue prior to the primaries did not mince words in saying that his meetings with Northern Governors and other stakeholders as part of his approach to coordinating on going consultative processes aimed at ensuring a smooth and strategic emergence of a standard bearer for the party who will lead it to a resounding victory in next year’s Presidential elections.

Given the enormous power of the President under a Presidential system of government, only a true democrat would act the way PMB did in this circumstance, and several others before it.

It will be recalled that President Buhari had at a meeting with the party’s 23 aspirants shortly before the convention to elect its Presidential candidate and urged them to hold consultations among themselves and come up with a formidable candidate prior to the primaries.  It is common knowledge that PMB was by that meeting trying to prevent any aspirant going into the primaries that may likely be rancourous and injurious to the unity of the party.

Meanwhile, Nigerians keep commending President Muhammadu Buhari for displaying character befitting of a leader. As a democratic leader with respect for the choice of the majority, he did not endorse a successor but rather allowed a level playing ground for all the Presidential aspirants to compete fairly, thereby giving equal opportunities to all and not allowing external influence to sway him.

The patriotic efforts of the 11 Northern Governors in ‘nipping in the bud’ the impending crisis that would have befallen the party received encomiums from all directions for their roles which included their well publicised position on power shift to the South after 8 years of PMB, a Northerner.

Advancing reasons for their actions  the Governors stated that for the North to surrender power to the South was a question of honour for the APC

Their singular action saved the party from total disintegration in the much desired task of building a stronger and more united and more progressive country.

Due to its popularity  and from the word go, APC’s potential Presidential aspirants swung into action and at the end of the day out of the 28 of its members that indicated interest to aspire only 23 purchased the ‘2 in 1’ expression of interest and nomination forms at N100m each.

It is on record that after a 2-day screening exercise by the John Oyegun screening Committee, only 14 were found to be eligible to contest the party,’s primaries for the exalted office of the President of the country under the banner of APC.

At the end of the day the 14 aspirants  cleared as reflected in the ballot paper to contest were former Ministers Ogbonnaya Onu, Rotimi Amaechi and Emeka Nwajiuba, Governors Dave Umahi of Ebonyi, Ben Ayade of Cross River and Yahaya Bello of Kogi and  Vice President Yemi Osinbajo . Others were former Governors Sani Yarima, Bola Tinubu and Rochas Okorocha,  and Senate President Ahmed Lawan.

The rest were Tein Jack Rich, Tunde Bakari and Ikeobasi Mokelu.

The convention which witnessed a massive turnout of its members from the 36 states and the FCT, was rounded off with the election of Senator Bola Tinubu with 1,271 votes. Rotimi Amaechi, 316 votes; Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, 235 votes; Senate President Ahmad Lawan, 152 votes; Governor Yahaya Bello, 47 votes; Governor Dave Umahi, 38 votes; Governor Ben Ayade, 37 votes; Former Governor Sani Yarima 4 votes and Former Ministers Ogbonnaya Onu  and John Nwajuiba 1 vote each.

Pastor Tunde Bakare, Former Governor  Rochas Okorocha of Imo ,  Tein Jack Rich and Ikeobasi Mokelu got zero votes each.

Boss Mustapha, Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF while analysing the outcome of APC’s National convention paid glowing tributes to the PMB administration for sustaining the momentum of further entrenching democracy in the country.

It is the view of SGF that PMB has not only sustained democracy but also “Consolidated and improved the country’s electoral process which is fundamental in deepening democracy in making contests fair, transparent and equitable to the people of Nigeria.”

Even President Buhari having been impressed by the conduct of his party’s primary election described it as  ‘one of the most competitive and peaceful in the history of Nigeria’s democracy.’

While commending the support, sacrifice and cooperation displayed by the party’s Governors, it is on record that PMB further appreciated their commitment in pursuit of equity and fairness adding: “as patriotic APC members and stakeholders, I trust that you will come together to work with our candidate to win the 2023 elections. I look forward to working closely with APC Governors to support Senator Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and all our APC candidates to success in 2023”

Buhari Media Organisation, BMO, while also congratulating  Bola Tinubu for a flawless victory, echoed President Buhari’s advise to all the aspirants who lost or conceded at the primaries to maintain the spirit of sportsmanship and to stand by the party’s Presidential candidate in the 2023 general election.

Consistent with the promotion of PMB’s ideals  BMO Chairman, Niyi Akinsiju and Secretary, Cassidy Madueke described APC’s presidential primary as credible, free and fair, devoid of any form of bias. “Everyone who carefully followed the process will agree that it was characterised by an atmosphere of transparency and orderliness.”

It is widely acknowledged that the conduct of its peaceful special convention is largely attribitable to PMB’s counselling to party officials and delegates to follow due process and abide by all extant laws and regulations pertaining to the election of the party’s flag bearer.

Adding his Voice to acknowledging the peaceful conduct of the primaries, a chieftain of the party and Director-General of Voice of Nigeria, VON Osita Okechukwu, said that the just-concluded All Progressives Congress national convention ‘has proved nay sayers wrong and those that thought that the party will implode.’

My conclusion: from all of the above and all through his 7 years in office as Nigeria’s elected President, PMB  has demystified a long held and practiced myth surrounding the idea that a leader must bulldoze his way into annointing his successor into office. For me there is democratisation better than this of allowing party members to have a full say in who their leaders should be.

Indeed PMB  is a true democrat and a true enabler of level playing field for all aspirants.

This is undiluted democracy in action.

 

EMEKA ANYAOKU STREET, ABUJA musahk123@yahoo.com

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