Ahead of the national convention of the All Progressives Congress (APC) slated for February 2023, nine out of 11 national chairmanship aspirants locked horns in Abuja to unveil their manifestos and also make people see reasons for making each of them their preferred candidate for the party’s number one position.
The aspirants were brought together by the APC Press Corps at its Second Annual Summit with the theme: “APC Beyond 2023, The Task Ahead”. The event was used as an avenue for the aspirants for the position of the chairmanship of the party to unveil their plans and programmes.
The aspirants that graced the occasion included; former Governor of Nasarawa, Senator Tanko Al-Makura, Senator Mohammed Musa, former Zamfara state governor Abdulaziz Yari, former Governor of Borno state Senator Ali Modu Sheriff, who was represented by Mr. Cairo Ojougboh, former Governor of Bauchi state, Isa Yuguda, Malam Mustapha Saliu, Mr. Sunny Monidafe, Mohammed Etsu and Senator George Akume, who was represented by former Minister of State, Niger Delta, Sam Odeh.
There was no doubt all the aspirants gave a good account of themselves as they explained their plans to move the party forward especially as they prepare for post Muhammadu Buhari era who most of them described as the unifier of the party.
It is important to note that most of the aspirants vying for the chairmanship position are either from the defunct Congress of Progressives Change (CPC) bloc or the defunct All Nigerian Peoples Party (ANPP) bloc and a few form the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) bloc.
For instance, Mustapha, Al-Makura are from the CPC bloc, Sheriff, Yari and Musa are from the ANPP bloc, while Monidafe, Akume are from the ACN bloc.
THISDAY investigation, however, revealed that the CPC bloc is more favoured to produce the next national chairman of the party and also considering the fact that all the party’s ex chairmen including Chief Bisi Akande, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun and Adams Oshiomhole are all from the ACN bloc.
Speaking at the event, Mustapha provided some insight into how his ‘doing it differently’ catchphrase will work in party administration.
He was of the opinion that the culture of imposition of candidates on the people will be a thing of the past with him at the helm of affairs. He said there is no way an unpopular candidate will be imposed on people and the party will be expected to win the election.
Mustapha stated: “What I will bring differently are some of the experiences I have garnered and also looking at the future, try to relate with what is obtainable today. Like I said, with my experience in the past, one of our major problems has been this godfatherism of a thing; not giving people the opportunity to choose their leaders.
“Every political party, the end goal is how you win a general election. And if you impose an unpopular candidate, you are bound to suffer, anti-party first within your own party, before you even suffer from the outside forces of the general election. So, for me, if I can bring a leadership that will first guarantee justice and fairness in the party, also be able to uphold our party’s manifesto- because that is what we sell to the electorate-then I would have achieved part of my agenda.”
Mustapha added that the party’s national secretariat will be the clearing house for policies and manifestos. He said he would promote policy uniformity in all APC states.
He said, “People get into the office, they abandon the party manifesto. The same party, you find this governor is going right, the other one is going left. It shouldn’t be so. There should be some uniformity. If you are able to have that, then your party would be able to record a better success story than when the states under one party are going different ways.”
Mustapha assured that he would instill party supremacy and discipline. He said if party supremacy and discipline are in place, it would be easy to hold elected members accountable to the party’s manifesto or ensure that what they promised the people during their campaign.
In his submission, Akume said the theme of the summit couldn’t have been better, saying the reason was that the party should be thinking about the future of the party beyond 2023.
He said while it was his desire to be elected as the chairman of APC, added that he was not desperate and ready to work with whoever emerges.
Speaking at the event, Al-Makura said the ruling party was in a transition period and there was need for thinking about APC beyond 2023. He expressed worry that Buhari who he described as the unifier of the party and has held the party together in the past six years and a half would be on his way out.
Al-Makura wondered if party members were prepared to carry the mantle and at least try to do what Buhari has been doing for yeh last six years. He said that sum up that what needs to be done in sustaining the gains and securing the future.
“I am here as one of the aspirants. It may interest you to know what is my motivation? What is my motive? What is my objective of wanting to be the national chairman of this great party? It is not about myself. It is not about the ego or what goes with that. It is about sustaining the gains as one that was opportuned by providence to be part of those that participated in the merger exercise. It will be a total disservice to the party, if I sit back at this very critical period, not to partake in ensuring value, addition to the party. That is my objective. That is my reason for wanting to contest for the office of chairman.”
Al-Makura stressed that the best way to reposition the ruling party and prepare for a post-Buhari era is by electing him as the next Chairman of the party.
According to him, The challenge is the sacrifices people have been able to make over this period of time. I think there couldn’t be a better way to get this party properly positioned than someone that has been with the party right from the beginning and has gone across the board to know what needs to be done and what not. By the special grace of God, if I become the National Chairman, I would ensure justice, I wish to ensure fairness and I will ensure a level playing field for everybody and ensure also internal party democracy and a reward system.”
On his part, the Senator representing Niger East, Sani Musa lamented that all political structures in the country have been reduced to only platforms where leaders usually use to attain leadership.
He stressed that the trajectory was not good for the country because it has not given the populace what is desired. He pointed out that there was a need to make APC an institution whereby it would be governed by the book and leaders, as well as members must abide by the constitution of the party.
Musa added that his vision is to bring technology to the running of the administration of APC. He noted that the internal structure needs to be re-engineered, saying the party needs a leadership that is participatory.
He said, “When I said I would be adaptive to participatory and affirmative work style, that will usher visionary and perfect leadership of this party. What I mean by that is an APC must be an institution, which is the only antidote to the reckless disabuse of office and ethics which brings about disharmony and wrangling.”
Also, Yari said the theme was at the heart of any APC member, especially those that initiated the merger of the party in 2013.
“I’m one of the co-founders of this great party and my colleague, Al-Makura and he mentioned one other who is not here (Kayode Fayemi). I can tell the gathering that the three of us started this progressive. A little history about it is that at any point in time we went for a meeting in Amaechi’s House, after the meeting of the Governors Forum, they would say PDP governors wait, the President wants to see all of you and we were being a kind of intimidated with what PDP was doing.
“So, we too said we’re going to do something and Al-Makura was part of the initiative, Fayemii as well as the immediate past Chairman, that’s Adams Oshiomhole. We arranged that after a meeting, we should also announce that we have opposition governors meeting in Fashola’s House. That’s how the APC I can tell you come to birth.”
Yari added that governors would continue to dominate the affairs of the party because they are the alpha and Omega and financiers of the party.
He added: “The issue of domination, of course, governors must dominate the party. Why? Because they’re the Alpha and the Omega and they are the financiers but we have to change the narrative. If we change the narrative and with members of the party, at least a certain direction on the issue of critical importance, then that narration can be changed.”
Speaking, Mr. Sunny Monidafe said he would generate N4.2 billion monthly and ensure that the party can easily function without money bags.
He said: “We have about 42 million members in the APC. If we can convince them to pay N100 per month, we will raise N4.2 billion. Multiply that by 12 months, you will get N50.4 billion,’ he said.
“The governors will then use the money allocated to them monthly and generated to provide services for citizens. I am a youth pastor, but two of my brothers are Muslims. Under my watch, we will hold annual party conferences, at both national and state levels. We will push for the party to screen candidates for ministerial and commissionship positions.”
As the aspirants continue with their campaign, it is still unclear if the national convention of the party will hold in February as planned.