Ahead of the All Progressives Congress (APC) special convention, the party and its major organ, the National Working Committee (NWC), were on Monday divided over the declaration of Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, as the consensus candidate of the party.
It all started Monday afternoon as a whiff of sawdust before it was confirmed by the APC National Chairman, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, that Ahmad Lawan has been named consensus candidate contrary to the position canvassed by APC governors.
Alhaji Suleiman Mohammed Argungu, APC National Organising Secretary, who briefed journalists, disclosed that the party’s National Chairman, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, informed the NWC of the choice of Senator Lawan, noting, however, that the decision was not deliberated at the level of the NWC.
As information, he said that there was no need for it to be deliberated on since it was not brought up for the input of members of the NWC.
On the choice of Senator Lawan, Argungu said: “As you can see all of us are coming from the NWC meeting. We were fully briefed by our national chairman, distinguished Senator Abdullahi Adamu, and he did brief us that the Senate President, Senator Ahmad Lawan, is the consensus candidate for the APC national convention and that’s just the information he gave us.
“But it’s not an issue that has been discussed on the floor of the NWC and we have just, and just recently, about two days ago, the Northern governors had a meeting, and said the presidency should go to the South in 2023.
“And equally, the Southern governors also affirmed that.”
Alhaji Argungu, however, maintained that as an organ, the NWC is in agreement with the resolution of APC northern governors on power shift to the South, which he said also has the approval of President Muhammadu Buhari.
“So we as members of the NWC, we are also with the governors on what they have said.
“And some minutes ago, the Northern governors went to the president and have just briefed the president that they are still (sticking) on what they said with regards to power shift to the South”.
Asked if the NWC is out rightly rejecting the position of the APC national chairman, the organising secretary said it is not a matter of rejecting or not rejecting the information, and almost fell short of saying that it was the personal opinion of the national chairman.
According to him, all members of the APC NWC have their opinion on the matter.
“You see, it’s just an information he gave us, and it’s not an issue that has to be deliberated on the floor of the NWC. It is an information and all of us are entitled to our opinion, we are all democrats and we can exercise whatever opinion.
“This decision was never taken by the NWC, but an information given to the NWC. It has never been deliberated on”.
On the convention proper, activities were up in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, as delegates, stakeholders and leaders of the party arrived Abuja in their numbers for the special convention.
Expectedly, traffic gridlock was seen all over the city as major link roads leading to the Eagles Square axis was cordoned off by heavy presence of security operatives.
The party is expected to name its presidential flagbearer today after weeks of prevarication.
Buhari Stays Neutral As Northern Govs Settle For Southern Candidate
Governors elected on the platform of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) will take full charge of the voting pattern today as 2,340 delegates file out to elect the party’s presidential candidate for the 2023 general elections.
The move by the governors, our correspondent gathered, is to rescue the party from a major crisis following plans by the party’s national leadership to impose a consensus candidate on the delegates.
It is also a revolt against President Buhari whose delay in announcing his preferred candidate has cause a serious division in the party and has plunged the party into further chaos.
Whoever picks the APC’s flag will slug it with former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, who has emerged the candidate of the major opposition party Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), former Anambra Sstate governor, Peter Obi, who has picked the ticket of the Labour Party (PDP) and others.
Credible sources in the party informed the Truth on Monday that the governors, especially those from the Northern part of the country, were angry that their wish on power rotation to the South was not respected by the national leadership of APC and the president.
Meanwhile, APC governors from the Northern region have successfully convinced President Buhari to zone the party’s presidential ticket to the South.
About 13 Northern governors, namely, chairman of Progressive Governors’ Forum and governor of Kebbi State, Atiku Bagudu; chairman of Northern Governors’ Forum and governor of Plateau State, Simon Lalong; Governors Abubakar Baduru (Jigawa), Babagana Zulum (Borno), Aminu Bello Masari (Katsina), Abdullahi Sule (Nasarawa), Bello Matawale (Zamfara), Mallam Nasir el-Rufai (Kaduna), Abdullahi Ganduje (Kano), Yahaya Inuwa (Gombe), Abubakar Bello (Niger), and their Yobe State governor, Mai Mala Buni, successfully pulled the trick when they met with the president at the State House, Abuja on Monday.
They later emerged from the meeting to state that President Buhari has no preferred candidate in the party primary election.
Plateau State governor, Simon Lalong, told State House correspondents that their earlier position on the flagbearer of the party leaked but that they still maintained the same position that power shifts to the South for the sake of equity.
Their position came ahead of a National Working Committee (NWC) meeting of the party later at 5p.m.
But while the controversies were still rife, President Buhari corroborated the governors position, declaring that he has “no preferred candidate,” and has “anointed no one,” and is determined to ensure that “there shall be no imposition of any candidate on the party.”
Speaking through his media aide, Garba Shehu, Buhari said the party is important and its members must be respected, and made to feel they are important.
The president also said he had a clear mind about what he was doing and asked the APC governors to feel the same way.
“You were elected as I was. Have a clear mind as I have. God gave us the chance; we have no reason to complain. We must be ready to take pain as we take the joy. Allow the delegates to decide. The party must participate, nobody will appoint anybody”, he said.
Earlier in their addresses, the chairman of the Northern Governors’ Forum, Governor Simon Lalong, and Governor Abubakar Atiku Bagudu of the Progressive Governors’ Forum, said they had come to affirm the position of the Northern governors that the party’s candidate in the presidential election shall come from the Southern part of the country.
They apologised to the president for the leakage of their signed memorandum which was not in support of any particular candidate and gave assurances to the president on their readiness to accept his leadership on the matter.
During the brief interaction with reporters, Lalong gave an insight into what transpired at the meeting, saying, “We had a meeting this afternoon with the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, our dear President Muhammadu Buhari and this meeting is also in line with part of the consultations that Mr. President had.
“Of course, Mr. President had a meeting with us governors and series of people, but at the APC Northern Governors’ Forum, we sat down, we reviewed a lot of things in this country and we discussed at length about the unity of this country, about the need for progress and the need for inclusiveness, and also the need for accommodation.
“We sat down in the last few days and 13 out of 14 governors agreed. We took a decision to go and advise Mr. President. While we were on our way to advise Mr. President, I think part of the discussions that we had leaked out to the press. Well, we still went ahead and we told Mr. President. Mr. President, being a democrat, said no, he must listen to us, he would listen to us. And so, Mr. President granted the opportunity today.
“Our mission today is to reaffirm our position on that statement. We also apologised to him that that statement was made by all of us and we reaffirm the position, but we apologised that the statement leaked out before even our consultations with him.
“However, it is now in the message, not the messenger. So, Mr. President was very happy. He took our position and out of that discussion, Mr. President, as a believer in democratic process, believes that any candidate must emerge through a transparent process and the emphasis that Mr. President told us that for this election, for now, he has no anointed candidate and therefore directed that the Progressive Governors’ Forum meets with the National Working Committee of the party to agree and proffer further solutions and recommendations for his own succession.
“I am sure this may be the last of consultations. So, we are directed that after this, our chairman of Progressive Governors’ Forum has also summoned a meeting for five o’clock today and after that meeting, we’ll make again further suggestions to Mr. President.
“For emphasis, those of you who read it, I have a copy of what we wrote, which was already out of press, and I said we wrote it and we stand by it; that in the interest of unity, in the interest of peace, we recommended that and also justice, our recommendation is that the next president should come from the South.
“I told you that the president believes in democratic process, but even during democratic process, that are consultations, that are consensus, is also part of democratic process. Even our constitution provides for that; it says consensus and then election, either direct or indirect.
“So, what we’re doing is part of the build up towards the election. What we’re also saying is recommendation as we think that will bring out a very peaceful process”.
Fielding Northerner May Have Devastating Consequences On APC — Sagay
Also speaking, Prof. Itse Sagay (SAN), Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC), warned the leadership of the ruling APC to resist the urge of fielding a northern presidential candidate as this may affect the party’s chances in the 2023 general elections.
While reacting to reports that the APC national chairman, Abdullahi Adamu, has announced Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, as the APC’s consensus candidate, Sagay urged Lawan to be careful so as not to fall into Adamu’s trap.
Sagay, who said no Northerner should participate in the primary exercise of the APC, said that the primary should be thrown open to all Southern aspirants and the winner should fly the party’s flag.
“My view is that let the contest be thrown open. Let there be a free, fair election and whoever wins will be the candidate. No candidate of Northern origin should participate in the primary.
‘Clearly, the APC without putting it in writing took the decision that a Northerner, particularly our current president, should be the first person to be sponsored by the party and it is therefore not just logical but natural and fair that on this occasion after eight years, a Southerner should be fielded.
“For another Northerner to come out again may have very devastating consequences on the future of APC,” he said.