APC National Convention: The Candidates; Their Chances

APC leaders
From left: Senate President Bukola Saraki; Vice President Yemi Osinbajo; President Muhammdu Buhari and APC National Chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun during APC Caucus Meeting at the Presidential Villa in Abuja on Monday (26/3/18) 01777/26/3/2018/Callistus/Ewelike/NAN

Today, some 6,800 delegates of the governing APC will elect the party’s national officers at its convention in Abuja.

About 42 positions are up for grab. About 20 of the aspirants will however be elected unopposed. Adams Oshiomhole is already set to become the national chairman of the ruling party, as he is contesting unopposed. Here are some of the candidates for the other positions and how they may perform at the election.

Deputy National Chairman (North)

Lawali Shuaibu:

Mr Shuaibu is seeking to return as the deputy national chairman of the party.

Before his ascension to the position of deputy national chairman in 2014, Mr Shuaibu had served as the national secretary of the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), one of the opposition parties that fused

He had been elected a senator in 1999 to represent Zamfara State on the platform of the defunct All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP). In the Senate, he became the deputy minority leader when his colleague from Yobe State, late Usman Albishir was removed. Mr Shuiabu became the governorship candidate of the Democratic Peoples Party (DPP) in Zamfara in 2007.

Alhtough the 63 years old is coming with huge experience in party administration, victory for him at today’s convention will not come easy. He is being challenged by strong forces linked to President Muhammadu Buhari, who hails from the region.

Indeed, one of this main challengers, Farouk Aliyu, is believed to be favoured by the president.

But Mr Shuaibu, believed to be an ally of influential party leader, Bola Tinubu, says he is sure of victory. “I am not only sure of victory, I am going to win,” he told PREMIUM TIMES on Friday in a telephone interview.

“I’m more experienced in politics, more experience in party administration and so when I return, I will, with my colleagues move the APC forward.”

What may however work against the former senator is his link with the outgoing executives. Not a few party faithful believe the executive have performed poorly. For them, APC is more divided than the executives met it and should be administered by fresh hands.

Besides, other states in the zone particularly Jigawa and Kaduna are rooting to produce the occupant of the office.

Farouk Adamu Aliyu: Interestingly, Mr Aliyu was Mr Shuaibu’s main challenger in 2014.

At the time, the politician from Jigawa State, was persuaded by party leaders, including Mr Buhari (then ordinary member of the party) to step down for Mr Shuaibu at the eve of the convention.

But he is set to return to claim what he believed should have been his. He is from the CPC bloc of the APC while Mr Shuiabu is from the ACN bloc.

No doubt, Mr Aliyu, like Mr Shuaibu, is also coming with enormous political experience. He was a member of the House of Representatives where he was very vocal. The Birnin Kudu-born politician would be remembered for being subjected to a referendum in his constituency for rigidly opposing third term allegedly sought by former President Olusegun Obasanjo.

Although elected into the lower legislative chamber where he served as the minority leader, on the ticket of the defunct ANPP in 2003, Mr Aliyu defected to the defunct Congress for Progressive Congress (CPC) founded by Mr Buhari and his associates.

Since then, he has been a close political associate of the president. Indeed it was widely reported that Mr Buhari was one of those who prevailed on Mr Aliyu to step down for Mr Shuaibu.

At present, reports indicate that Mr Buhari is backing Mr Aliyu’s candidacy. Many see the support as payback time as the former lawmaker coordinated the president’s campaign in Jigawa in 2015. The former lawmaker is also believed to be enjoying the support of his state governor, Abubakar Badaru, who is also the chairman of the National Convention Committee.

Nevertheless, Mr Aliyu may not find victory easy. Although intelligent, the former lawmaker is perceived by some as a hardliner and controversial.

For instance, not many will forget his call for the arrest of former President Goodluck Jonathan for alleged genocide against the north and threatening war if a northern president did not emerge in 2015.

He was reported to have said Nigeria would cease to exist as a nation if the region did not produce the president.

Deputy National Chairman (South)

Adeniyi Adebayo: The emergence of Mr Adebayo appears certain. Only recently, he was endorsed by the South-west Caucus of the APC for the position. Hence there appears not to be serious threat to his ambition.

He was endorsed to replace a former occupant of the position, Segun Oni, who recently vacated the position to contest the APC governorship primary election in Ekiti but lost to another former governor, Kayode Fayemi.

The 60 years old lawyer and politician is the son of the first military governor of the defunct Western Region, Adeyinka Adebayo.

He was governor of Ekiti State between 1999 and 2003 on the platform of the Alliance for Democracy (AD). He was defeated by Ayo Fayose then of the PDP in 2003 when he sought a second term.

Mr Adebayo later left the AD for the Action Congress (AC) which later became Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN). The ACN and other opposition parties merged into APC making the former governor a pioneer member of the new party.

He is currently the chairman of the board of the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN).

The former governor is believed to be enjoying the backing of an APC national leader, Bola Tinubu, to whom he has remained close.

Source say Mr Adebayo’s choice by the South-west Caucus of the party for the position was influenced by the former Lagos governor.

National Secretary (Zoned to North East)

Mai Mala Buni: If recent reports are anything to go by, Mr Buni may just be waiting to be crowned again as the national secretary of the ruling party.

According to presidential aides, Mr Buhari asked party leaders and governors to support his candidacy. The president reportedly asked that he be allowed to produce the occupants of the position of the national secretary, national chairman and national organising secretary.

Mr Buni is also enjoying the support of his state governor, Ibrahim Geidam, who has reportedly prevailed on him to forget his governorship ambition. He is also enjoying the support of other governors.

Mr Buni, from Yobe State, was first elected into the position in June 2014.

However, other states in the northeast zone, particularly Borno, are itching to produce the occupant of the office. Already, there are two aspirants from Borno challenging Mr Buni despite the acclaimed presidential support.

One other thing that may count against Mr Buni is his conservative posture. Some watchers of the nation’s political development and democracy have often described him as too reserved for the exalted office of national secretary, whose occupant should head the secretariat. They are quick to point to the cerebral nature of some former scribes of the PDP, notably Ojo Maduekwe, who brought colour to the office.

Kashim Imam: Mr Imam is from Borno State. He was originally a member of the PDP on whose ticket he twice sought unsuccessfully to be the state governor.

He served as presidential liaison officer to the senate during the first term of former President Olusegun Obasanjo.

Mr Imam is believed to have the support of Mr Tinubu in his quest to become the national secretary; but some northern governors are more disposed to securing the position for Mr Buni in deference to Mr Buhari’s demand.

There are also claims that Mr Imam is receiving support from a former governor of Borno State, Ali Modu Sheriff, who recently returned to the party after the court ousted him as the national chairman of the PDP.

Mr Sheriff had backed Mr Imam for the position in 2014. Indeed, sources within APC said one of the reasons the former governor left the APC was because of his failed efforts to make Mr Imam the scribe of the APC.

A Borno politician, Gambo Lawan, confirmed this in a recent media interview. He (Sheriff) left the APC in 2015 when he was unfairly treated during the sharing of leadership positions when his candidate for the national secretary, Matawalli Kashim Imam was shortchanged.”

Sources say that because of the president’s preference for the incumbent, Mr Imam has been under pressure to forgo his ambition.

One other thing that may work against Mr Imam is the feeling that Borno State, more than any other state in the North-east, has got many juicy appointment at the federal level. Some of the appointments those holding this view make reference to are Chief of Army Staff and National Security Adviser.

Waziri Bulama: He is an architect by profession. He belongs to the CPC bloc of the ruling party and therefore will get the support of the members of the defunct party.

Some members of the defunct CPC under the aegis of Southern Mandate of Nigeria (SMN) had at a press briefing recently in Abuja canvassed support for Mr Bulama. The group, which described Mr Bulama as a political strategist, said he played a role in the merger process and therefore he is needed at this critical time to reposition the APC.

Despite this support, it is however not clear if he will get the support of the president who has reportedly endorsed Mr Buni of the ANPP bloc for the position.

Even so, Mr Bulama is allegedly the candidate being pushed by Borno Governor, Kashim Shettima, for the position of secretary.

Abdulrahman Terab: He represented the Bama/Ngala/Kala federal constituency of Borno in the House of Representatives.

Mr Terab is a major contender for the race. He recently declared that he would be not be threatened by the endorsement of Mr Buni.

“It (endorsement) does not in any way exclude the fact that a convention will hold. Election will be held. Delegates will vote. Votes will be cast. Even where there is only one candidate. The issue of anointing to me is a matter of semantics,” he said.

Mr Terab says if elected, he would use the office to repair the relationship between the executive and the legislature and ensure the fulfilment of campaign promises.

National Publicity Secretary (Zoned to North Central)

Bolaji Abdullahi: Mr Abdullahi, a journalist from Kwara State, is the incumbent national publicity secretary of the APC. He assumed office in December 2016 following the appointment of Lai Mohammed, the former occupant of the office. He is the only member of the NWC that was not inaugurated in June 2014.

Mr Abdullahi, a former minister of youth development, is seeking reelection. Although he is believed to have performed creditably well, what may work against him is the bloc of APC to which he belongs.

The APC spokesperson belongs to the PDP bloc, which is currently protesting its alleged marginalisation by the mainstream. He is however enjoying the support of his home government and in fact may contest the governorship election next year. His closeness to Senate President Bukola Saraki, who has a cat and mouse relationship with President Buhari and some other APC leaders, may also work against Mr Abdullahi’s interest.

Duro Meseko: Mr Meseko, also a journalist, is from Kogi State.

While declaring his intention to vie for the position recently, Mr Meseko, a former member of the House of Representatives, said he was motivated by the desire to portray the party in the best possible light.

He also enunciated a seven-point agenda he would pursue if elected.

However, Mr Meseko does not have the support of his state government, Kogi. He belongs to the Audu/James faction of the party which is fighting the governor.

Abubakar Sidiq Umar: Like Mr Meseko, this aspirant hails from Kogi State.

He is believed to be the candidate of Governor Yahaya Bello and some aides of Mr Buhari.

The famous blogger says, if elected, he will create synergy in the management of communications flow between the party organs and arms of government at various levels.

Lanre Issa-Onilu: The young Lanre is an audience analyst, a policy and political communication strategist. He hails from Kwara State and belongs to the political camp of former senator, Gbemi Saraki.

He has promised to take the party to greater height if elected.

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