By ADEBAYO OBAJEMU
The much anticipated convention of the All Progressive Congress, APC, has finally held and the expected implosion predicted by many failed to happen as the party showed its resilience and adaptability.
However, the doubts still persist about its future with the emergence of Senator Adamu Abdullahi, a former governor of Nasarawa state as chairman.
Many observers believe that this has reopened the age-long battle for the control of the party machinery ahead of 2023, which will determine who gets the ticket.
Since inception of the party in 2014, the two major legacy parties, the Congress for Progressive Change, CPC, and Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, have maintained a delicate balance of power with each controlling the party and the government.
With President Buhari heading the government, ACN was expected to have the party. The first chairman in an interim capacity was Pa Bisi Akande, a former governor of Osun state. Chief John Odigie Oyegun, also a former governor of Edo state, emerged chairman at its first national convention after the 2015 polls.
But he soon fell out with Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, over his support for the Presidency in the 2018 Ekiti governorship election, and was subsequently replaced with Adams Oshiomhole, also former governor of Edo state.
But his bungling of the 2019 elections in some states such as Rivers and Zamfara, set the stage for his ouster, which had the CPC take total control of the party with the Governor Mai Mala Buni’s led Caretaker Committee. But the actions of the committee became a pointer to undercurrents in the party as it extended its tenure from six months to two years on sundry excuses.
Matters seemed to have come to a head penultimate week when a group of governors seized control of the party and temporarily removed Buni, who was abroad on medical tourism, but for the intervention of INEC which rejected its letter on legal basis. It took the intervention of President Buhari, who rallied support for Buni’s exco and eventually cut short his medical vacation by a week to take charge of the situation in the party.
With the convention over, all eyes are now on the new chairman, a rabid Buhari supporter, and the prospect of a Tinubu presidency. Observers say that the Tinubu ambition is all but dead with the government and party firmly in control of CPC. An indication to this fact came just at the conclusion of the convention when President Buhari warned Adamu not to sell the party’s ticket to the highest bidder.
In the same vein the EFCC, the anti graft agency also reportedly said that the outcome of its investigation into the Tinubu’s bullion van controversy will soon be released. Informed opinions say that the game may be over for the Asiwaju’s much touted life long ambition.
Abdullahi Adamu, former Nasarawa State governor and ranking, is no stranger to power, his greatest talent being his understanding and application of Machiavellian tactics. Through his robust application of laws of power, he always manages to endear himself into the inner loops of power. An old war horse in politics who former chairman of National Party of Nigeria in old Plateau state during the second republic, Adamu is a real power broker, who like President Buhari, will be a father figure to the young boisterous party members after the exit of Buhari in 2023.
Professor Adeagbo Moritiwon, a political scientist said of Abdullahi Adamu: “Adamu is a wily old political warhorse, his greatest asset is that others underrate him, while he manoeuvres in the currents of power to achieve his ends.”
He was one of the closet confidants of former President Olusegun Obasanjo while he was in power, and he has since managed to remain relevant ever since, and as senator of the federal republic, he became one of the senators that have the ears of President Muhammadu Buhari. It is no surprise that Buhari picked him among the pack for the position of consensus chairman.
Speaking on his choice, Adamu, who spoke in Hausa in an interview with the Voice of America (VOA), said he owed his consensus choice to God.
He, however, said he would stand by the truth when party leaders, including governors or members, go wrong. He said leading APC requires more wisdom than strength. The former Nasarawa State governor pledged to be courteous to all.
Those that say that they are afraid of me cannot be because they are humans like me. I have blood running through my veins. I use the toilet like anyone else. I know joy and pains like anyone, so that idea of being scared because I want to stand for the truth is out of it.
He said his parents trained him to stand for the truth and he will not waiver.
My name is Abdullahi Adamu and I was well brought up by parents who loved their children. God brought me where I am today after I have gone through a lot in life.
So, on the aspect of being truthful, it is good one holds on to the truth because it does not just come to a person but it is bred. My parents taught me to stand for the truth in all that I do and you will always get the result of being truthful.
If I see anyone doing wrong, I will tell him what he is doing is wrong. Even if he is bigger than I am, I will tell him the same way that I would tell an Abdullahi, a Michael or a Cecilia. This is what you find in anyone that is well brought up and reasonable. I can hear people talking but all I know is that I will stand by the truth in all that I do.
So, it is better that I am accused of doing something that is in line with the truth than otherwise saying that I cheat on people, or steal public funds, or that. God forbid.
When it comes to telling people the truth when they do wrong, I will say it from now till eternity because I am aware. With my reasoning intact, what will stop me from saying the truth?
But the way I could tell him might be different from the way someone else will tell it, it all depends on the manner of approach. God gave us the reasoning and the way to speak in anger or in a gentle way and you can decide to choose whatever way you want to act.
He added: When it comes to speaking the truth I will say the truth to a governor or a leader the same way I tell a poor man but the fact is that a governor is a governor so I just have to know how to speak to him.
So, how you deal with a person is important to God because God made him who he is and not you. Whoever he is, a Local Government Area chairman, a governor or a President or if he is none of that, you just have to know how to behave in this life.
He gave insights into what might have led to his choice by President Muhammadu Buhari and the governors.
He said: Whether day or night, I also have blood running through my veins but there might be some things you might be told to do and you do better than me because of your strength and vitality.
But no one is talking about wrestling or cutting something like a thief. That is not what they are looking for. They are looking for someone who is wise and with reasoning; that knows what he is doing that can handle the problem troubling the people.
It is all about wisdom and not strength. Strength is good but that is not what they are looking out for in the leadership of the APC.
Adamu thanked God for lifting him up in life.
He said: As I am, even if I leave the world today, Alhamdulillah. What is happening right now is like the tale of co-wives that wont let their husband sleep. That is what we are dealing with at the moment.
There is nothing that anyone can do when God does not permit it and the person that they are all saying he did this or that has not even done anything of that nature but I thank God.
I am not concerned with what people hear or do not hear, everyone has the right to hear whatever he wants to hear or see what he wants to see but as for us, we thank God.
Adamu would be leading a party that is seriously fractured and mutually suspicious of each other by the different legacy parties that merged into the APC. The road to the convention that threw him up was tortuous and uncertain and required the constant interventions of President Buhari to keep the party on the path to legal and constitutional rectitude.
A major hurdle before him and the party will be the nomination for the presidential ticket in 2023, which has the capacity to torpedo the unity of the party. It may have informed his choice by President Buhari to a level playing field and manage the pressures that may be put on the office holder by the candidates, and well as ensure that his preferred choice emerges.
Observers believe that the choice of presidential candidate is going to the litmus test for the survival of the party.
Abdullahi Adamu was born at Keffi, Nasarawa State, on 23 July 1946. He attended the Government Secondary School, Makurdi (1960—1962), the Government Technical College, Bukuru (1962—1965) and Kaduna Polytechnic (1965—1968). He returned to Kaduna Polytechnic for a Higher National Diploma in June 1971.
Adamu started work in 1967 with the Electricity Corporation of Nigeria. In 1971, he joined the Northern Nigeria Development Corporation (NNDC) Kaduna. In 1973, he joined AEK, a consultancy firm, where he was Project Manager for construction of Durbar Hotel and Murtala Mohammed Square, Kaduna.
In October 1975, he was appointed the Executive Secretary of the Benue/Plateau Construction Company by the Benue/Plateau State government. From February 1980 — September 1983 he was Chairman of the Benue Cement Company, Gboko.
In 1987, he enrolled in the part-time degree programme of the University of Jos, obtaining an LLB (Hons) in 1992. He enrolled in the Nigerian Law School, Lagos where he obtained his BL and was called to the Bar as a solicitor and Advocate of Supreme Court of Nigeria in December 1993.
Adamu entered politics in 1977, and was elected to the Constituent Assembly, which drafted the constitution for Nigeria’s short-lived Second Republic (1979—1983). He was a pioneer member of the National Party of Nigeria (NPN), the first Secretary-General of the NPN in Plateau State from December 1978, and chairman of the NPN in the Plateau from 1982 to 1983, when military rule began again.
In 1994, he was appointed to the National Constitutional Conference by General Sani Abacha’s administration. In March 1995, Adamu was appointed a minister of state of the Works and Housing ministry, holding this position until November 1997. When the ban on political activity was lifted in 1997, he joined the United Nigeria Congress Party (UNCP). In 1998, Adamu became a founding member of People’s Democratic Party (PDP).
During the 1999 Nasarawa State gubernatorial election, Abdullahi Adamu ran successfully for position of governor on the PDP platform. He was re-elected during the 2003 Nasarawa State gubernatorial election.
In December 2003, Adamu welcomed Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom on a visit to Karu, where she was entertained by cultural troupes. Adamu promised to make Nasarawa famous with the State’s solid mineral natural resources and tourist attractions such as the Farin Ruwa Waterfalls and the flowing Eggon hills.
He backed construction of the Farin Ruwa Falls Hydro-Electric plant, visiting South Korea in 2004 and later awarding the engineering contract to the South Korean firm Yooshing Engineering. In September 2005, he launched the School Feeding Programme in the State of Nasarawa, which aims to provide a fortified nutritional supplement to primary school children.
After the end of his two-term governorship, Adamu became Secretary, Board of Trustees (BOT) of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). In November 2009, a group of prominent PDP members stated that they would support his candidacy in the 2011 elections for the Nasarawa West Senate constituency.
In February 2010, Adamu was arrested by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for allegedly embezzling $100 million of government money meant for public projects. Adamu was the PDP candidate for the Nasarawa West Senatorial seat in the April 2011 elections. In an interview in February 2011, he dismissed the EFCC case, saying it was based on “mere allegations”, and said it would not affect his candidature.
In the event, he was elected with 121,414 votes, while his closest rival, retired General Ahmed Abdullahi Aboki of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), polled 93,050 votes.