Barely few hours to the National Convention of the All Progressives Congress (APC), governors were locked in horse-trading on seven key positions, including the choice of the National Secretary of the party.
The seven offices are those of National Secretary, Deputy National Chairman (North); Deputy National Chairman (South); National Organising Secretary; National Publicity Secretary; National Women Leader and National Youth Leader.
It was however learnt that the governors were mounting pressure on party leaders to concede the choice of the new National Secretary and National Publicity Secretary to them in order to create some balance and heal wounds in the party.
The governors were pushing for the retention of Mai Mala Buni (the incumbent National Secretary) and Bolaji Abdullahi (the party’s National Publicity Secretary) who is of the aggrieved New Peoples Democratic Party (nPDP) caucus of the party.
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Some party leaders want Kashim Imam or Arc. Waziri Bulama as the new secretary and Lanre Issa Onilu as a replacement for Abdullahi.
The governors, who control 80 per cent of the delegates, were said to be adamant on their demand for the two posts, leading to marathon meetings across divides in the party yesterday.
About 26 candidates had, however, emerged unopposed as at last night, including ex-Governor Adams Oshiomhole who will now lead the party.
Also, as part of steps to douse tension ahead of the convention, the National Leader of the party, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, yesterday met with the APC Caucus in the House of Representatives.
Intrigues over the seven offices were threatening to overshadowed preparations for the convention yesterday.
It was learnt that the governors had remained unyielding in their demands.
A governor who spoke in confidence said: “We have engaged in horse-trading in the last 48 hours and we are carrying our issues to the delegates.
“We were initially interested in three positions. These are National Secretary, National Publicity Secretary and National Organising Secretary. We have shifted our position on National Organising Secretary due to some security reports on two of the four candidates.
“We opted for the retention of Mai Mala Buni because he is on the quiet side and he is a candidate of the North-East. We cannot cry more than the bereaved.
“On the National Publicity Secretary, the two candidates are good, but most of our colleagues argued that we should accommodate the nPDP Caucus which had listed grievances against the party in the past few weeks.
“Most governors are strong on Bolaji Abdullahi, an ally of Senate President Bukola Saraki, in order not to create gaps for nPDP leaders to capitalise on and defect from APC.
Some notable leaders however believe that Abdullahi, from Kwara State, has governorship ambition and may not be fully committed to his job. They are therefore rooting for Lanre Issa Onilu, also from Kwara State.
“The options are however open because we will discuss with delegates and negotiate overnight,” a governor said yesterday.
Another contentious position is that of National Organising Secretary being contested for by the incumbent, Senator Osita Izunaso, Emmanuel Ibediro, Hon. Chidi Nwogu and Lontinius Anyanwu.
While a sudden security report has reportedly blurred the chances of Izunaso, another contestant, Nwogu was said to be “too close to the Deputy President of the Senate, Chief Ike Ekweremadu, for APC’s comfort” and Ibediro was rated as the candidate of Governor Rochas Okorocha whose leadership South-East leaders are resisting.
A South-East leader said: “Izunaso took time on Friday (yesterday) to defend his integrity on some financial transactions. He said he was not a fraudulent person and that any transaction traced to him was purely in respect of the party and not personal.
“Nwogu admitted that he has a good relationship with Ekweremadu but denied being sponsored by the main opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to spy on APC.
“As part of the ongoing lobbying, the South-East leaders have been trying to build consensus around Lontinus Anyanwu. It will now be a win-win situation. Neither Okorocha nor Izunaso might have their way. We are presenting our option to the governors.”
About 26 candidates had however emerged as unopposed last night.
They are Adams Oshiomhole –National Chairman; ex-Governor Niyi Adebayo (Deputy National Chairman, South); Hon. Babatunde Ogala (National Legal Adviser); and George Moghalu (National Auditor).
- North Central: Nelson Alapa (Ex-Officio); Hassana Abdullahi (National Women Leader); Zakari Mohammed (Zonal Secretary); Ibrahim Abdul (Zonal Organising Secretary); Makop Masoic Danladi (Zonal Special Leader).
- North East: Mohammed Abba Isa (Zonal Special Leader); Abubakar Sadiq Ajiya (Zonal Secretary); Mamman Isa Azare (Ex-Officio).
- North West: Nasiru Dano (Ex-Officio); Misbahu Lainan Didi (National Special Leader); Abdulmunaf Mohammed (Zonal Organising Secretary); Tukur Abdulkadir Gusau (Zonal Secretary).
- South-South: Rachael Akpabio (Zonal Women Leader); Koteten Ibadan (Ex-Officio); Johnson Maafo (Zonal Special Leader).
- South -West: Olu Kemi Titilola Nelson (Zonal Women Leader); Olusegun Tomorin (Zonal Youth Leader); Tajudeen Lamboye (Zonal Organising Secretary); Tajudeen Bello (National Financial Secretary); Omolaoye Oluremi Akintola (Ex-Officio); Adelabu Paul Ayolade (Zonal Special Leader).
- South-East: Uzoma Bright Ikechukwu (Zonal Special Leader).
As for the Deputy National Chairman (North), the race is between the incumbent, Shuaibu and his challenger in 2014, Farouk Adamu Aliyu.
Ahead of the convention, the National Leader of the party, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, yesterday met with the APC Caucus in the House of Representatives on the lawmakers’ grievances, including the side-lining of Speaker Yakubu Dogara in the scheme of things.
At the closed door session in BON Hotel, Asokoro, the lawmakers made it clear that they were unhappy with the APC leadership.
A source at the session said: “The meeting was attended by the Speaker, Rt. Hon. Yakubu Dogara, some principal officers and members.
“When Asiwaju came, Representatives protested against abandonment by the party. They were angry that in the last three years, APC leadership met with the House Caucus only once.
“They said they could not understand why they were alienated by the party.
“Asiwaju assured the lawmakers of a new era once Oshiomhole and his team take over. He said once the new leadership is in place, there will be a ‘strong reconciliation in APC.’ We were all happy by his soothing words.”
At press time, the Deputy National Chairman of APC (North), Senator Lawal Shuaibu, yesterday assured party leaders and members of a hitch-free convention.
He said: “The Party has put in place every machinery towards the successful realization of the objective of the Convention. We did it before and will do it again even better.
“Yes I am very much in the race and there are many factors that speak for me.
“Of all those aspiring for the same office with me, I’m the most experienced in politics and political party administration.
“Apart from my two-term Senate tenure, where I was Senate Minority Leader, I was also the National Secretary of a leading opposition party, ACN. I was a member of the merger committee that gave rise to APC. I was the Chairman of my party’s national convention that resolved to dissolve the ACN and later served as a member of interim management of the APC when a solid foundation was laid for this formidable party.
“I have since 2014 been the Deputy National Chairman (North) and the records of my performance are clearly known both at the Party National Secretariat as well as with Party’s State Chapters in the North.
“Majority of the leaders in the North and even beyond, to the best of my understanding, have expressed satisfaction with my performance in office.
“I am not averse to anybody contesting against me. I believe in democracy and it is the norms.
“Inclusiveness must be encouraged in politics, and that is what, in my opinion, democracy should embrace.”
He said there was no communication yet from the New Peoples Democratic Party (nPDP) leadership on resumption of talks.
He added: “The issue of nPDP is still work in progress going by the last discussion the party had with their leaders with the Vice President presiding.
“We resolved to meet on Monday 4th June to discuss their specific grievances, but they later called to say they were not ready for the meeting that day. Since then, there has been no communication from them.