At last, the two top most positions in the All Progressives Congress (APC), which became vacant after the two former occupants, were forced to quit, on the allegations of corruption, have now been filled.
The position of the Chairman and Secretary of the party, which were last held by Senator Abdullahi Adamu, and Senator Oyiola Omisore, are now being occupied by the Immediate past goveournor of Kano State, Alhaji Abdullahi Ganduje, and Senator Basiru Ajibola.
Their emergence, during the hurriedly convened National caucus and the the National Executive Council meetings, defied all odds, intrigues and power play, put up to prevent, especially the new chairman of the party, Ganduje from the position.
Although, intense opposition were mounted against Ganduje, based on the claim by some chieftains of the party, that his chairmanship portends great danger and consequences for the party, President Tinubu, who eventually forced him on the party, did not look at it that way but was more concerned about installing his loyalist in various positions in government and the pparty, to consolidate his firm grips on both sides.
The meetings, which produced Ganduje and Ajibola were not to have been held that day, it was supposed to have been well planned to hold on the 10th of August but because of the game plan of President Tinubu, who felt waiting for that date could be dangerous for his plan, had to use the presidential fiat, to hurriedly convince some of his loyalists particularly the Progressives Fovernors’ Forum, headed by the Imo State Governor Hope Uzodima to hold the caucus and the National Executive Council meetings.
The emergency nature of the meetings, to conform with the President’s agenda, did not allow even the former President, Muhammadu Buhari and his vice, Professor Osinbajo and other stake-holders, who could have vehemently rejected the emergence of Ganduje to attend.
Although, both former President Buhari and Vice, Osinbajo gave their reasons for not attending because they already got committed before change in the date, it was learnt that they deliberately shunned the meetings because of their belief that they were not in conformity with the laid down rules and constitution of the party, especially in respect of the zoning arrangements.
What has further heightened the bottled animosity against President Tinubu on the choice of Ganduje, was the absolute backing of the governors Forum, which has always insisted that an Ex-governor should lead the party, right from it’s inception.
Looking back, into the formation of APC in particular, the first interim, chairman was an ex-governor of Osun State, Chief Bisi Akande, followed by Chief Odigie Oyegun, ex Edo state, governor, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, also former governor of Edo and the immediate past chairman, Adamu Abdullahi, former governor of Nasarawa State.
Ironically, all of them were shown the way out in similar controversial manners.
Although the anger over Ganduje’s chairmanship, is yet to be blown open, it is evident that as time goes on, bubble would burst in the party, as a lot of party stalwarts and stakeholders, who are now quiet, would soon come out in the open, to vent their anger against Tinubu, who they felt has been carrying out the affairs of government and that of the party, without consulting widely.
It was believed that Tinubu has been carrying on without being sensitive to the feelings of other stakeholders and some of the party leaders felt this attitude, would be inimical to the party, later on.
What is also worrisome is the fact that despite the party’s arrangement, of zoning, Tinubu has neglected this, to favour his intention of total control of the party.
Ordinarily, if the constitution of the party and the zoning arrangements should be followed, the chairmanship is not expected to go to the North West but the North Central, where the last Chairman, who was forced to resign comes from.
Those, who felt that due process ought to have been followed in picking the party’s chairman argued that when Oyegun left the Chairmanship, Oshiomhole from the same zone and state, was given the position, as a result of equity and fair play.
It was also argued that the North West, which now has the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the Deputy Senate President, could no longer occupy the chairmanship of the party and as such, the position should be retained in North Central.
Although President Tinunu already had his way to compensate Ganduje for his roles in standing by him, those opposed to him, warned on the danger and consequences, that would follow and they are just ready for the right time to fight back.
They argued that President Tinubu should be careful not to use the issue of appointments to destabilise the party at the early stage of his tenure.
Those, who were disillusioned in the North Central, for not even allowed to contest the chairmanship,
include, Senator representing, Niger East Senatorial zone, Sani Musa, former Nasarawa State governor,Tanko Almakura, former governor of Niger State, Abu Lolo, former Deputy governor of Nasarawa State, Silas Ali Agara and Simon Lalong from Plateau state, who has now been pacified with a ministerial appointment.
Almakura was said to have initially been the choice of President Tinubu with the hope that Ganduje would sail through in the ministerial appointment but when this arrangement failed, Tinubu had to sacrifice Almakura for his friend to be in a strategic position, that would favour him in the party.
Other argument put forth by those opposed to Tinubu’s strings of policies, that have been turning the table, was that the measure, applied to the Secretaryship position, which Omisore left and was given back to Ajibola from the South West and even Osun State, should have been applicable to the North Central, Adamu’s geopolitical zone.
It was further pointed out that, if not for sinister motives, President Tinubu should have waited till October this year 2023, slated for the National convention of the party, when other vacant positions would have been fixed all together.
Apart from the two positions of National chairman and that of the Secretary, there are other posts in the party, to be filled when the convention eventually holds. They are the Deputy National Publicity Secretary, occupied by Murtala Ajaka, who left to contest the Kogi state governorship election coming up soon, on the platform of Social Democratic party (SDP) and that of the National Welfare officer, last occupied by late Friday Nwosu.
Also, the anger against Tinubu concerning the imposition of Ganduje and Ajibola, (both Muslims) was that he has successfully brought in religious sentiments, which characterised his Presidency, with the Muslim Muslim ticket, which now produced him and his Vice, (both Muslims.)
These points raised, also affirmed the positions of those against Tinubu, that, his Presidency would encourage the dominance of the entrenched political elites who he has chosen to favour.
Although the actions of Tinubu so far, according to some political analysts, pointed to the fact that he was subtly, venting his anger and vengeance, on former President Buhari’s loyalists, opposed to his presidency, he has denied this, saying that all his actions have been geared towards strengthening democracy and unity of the country, for good governance.
Opposition against Ganduje has spread to all parts of the country, among the APC members, who said making him the National chairman of the party, with Governors Uzodima of Imo State, Dapo Abiodum of Ogun State and Babajide Sanwolu of Lagos State strongly behind, him would eventually, further damage the already polarized party.
One of the stalwarts of the party, who led the campaign against the exit of Adamu and Omisore, Salihu Lukman is still strongly opposed to the usual style of the party, whereby the chairman and the Secretary of the party are always subject of impositions.
Lukman, who was the Vice Chairman North West of the APC and who just resigned his National position in the party, expressed concern against how Ganduje was eventually, imposed.
Lukman, who apparently was the Director General of the Progressives Governors Forum, argued that the governors arrogate to themselves the “Almighty powers” and “it is high time they should be prevented in their usual manner of usurping or arrogate to themselves, the functions of statutory organs of the party, which are the NEC and the National caucus.”
He warned on the danger the party and the Presidency would face with the chairman of the party from the North West, which already had its good share in the positions, both at the presidency and the National Assembly, adding that, both the presidency and the party would be in serious trouble, because that position has long been slated for the North central.
He said that the constitution of the party should be followed on the selection or the election of officers, “otherwise, any other steps taken would be illegal. He pointed out that the composition of the National Working Committee of the party should not be subjected to the whims and caprices of any power block, especially, the Progressives Governors Forum.
He went on, “with the scheming to now have Dr. Ganduje as the new national chairman of APC, with all the legal and moral questions, as a party, we would have set the stage for the destruction of our party and God forbids, we would have laid the foundation that will make President Asiwaju Tinubu and all our elected representatives unpopular.”
“This, according to him, “is because such choice, will completely distort the zoning arrangement that informed the present configuration of the leadership of the National Assembly.
“Moving the party’s national chairman to the North West, from North Central will be unjust and almost a political suicide. We must caution ourselves” He further argued.
“Part of the challenge of managing the current transition within the party is getting the NWC to properly take the driving seat in managing and facilitating negotiations to produce and engage leaders of the party. The NWC must sit up and guide the unfolding negotiations. No single power bloc should be allowed to appropriate the process,” he warned.
Angry Lukman, who felt sorry about the gory picture of a party heading for destruction while tendering his resignation, wrote:
“Ordinarily, it is expected that the departure of Adamu and Iyiola Omisore should provide a window of opportunity to return the APC to constitutional order. Sadly, the turn of events since their resignation suggests the contrary.
“Members of the NWC were left in suspense. A meeting of NWC with PGF was canceled without any explanation. Suddenly, Uzodinma, in his capacity as chairman of PGF converted himself into a receiver manager for the party and began to act almost as the party’s NWC.
“Speculation about the nomination of Ganduje as nominee of governors and President Tinubu then started and became stronger each day. Efforts to highlight legal and moral issues which should require a rethink were simply ignored. “The dominant view among leaders is that once President Tinubu has decided on an issue, we should just simply work for its success even with all the legal and moral questions.”
Pointing out why Ganduje lacks the morals for the position, Lukman wrote: “The related moral question is the choice of Ganduje. Sincerely, it simply means that we don’t attach any importance to the party if with all the corruption allegations against Ganduje, we find him to be the only one in the North West to be recommended.”
“Perhaps, it needs to be stated without fear of any contradiction that if leaders of the North West are asked to nominate five people for consideration to serve in that capacity, I am confident, Ganduje will not be one of the five nominees.
Sad enough, Lukman’s warnings, and standpoint of others, have proved abortive because some people alleged to be sponsored in the North central, have thrown their supports for Ganduje. This move, it was said, was aimed at discrediting Lukman and others, on the same page with him.
The alleged sponsored North Central APC youths and elders have boldly and courageously endorsed Ganduje, claiming that the zone has conceded the position to the North West, because they found him competent, tested and trusted.
The youths and elders described Ganduje as the best man for the job, arguing that his competence and capacity have necessitated relegating the zoning convention in favour of the North Central to the inconsequential background.
According to the convener of the Coalitions of North Central APC Youth Leaders and Support Groups, Okpokwu Ogenyi; “we the people of North Central have occupied the national chairmanship position of all ruling parties in the country and have done well in terms of party administration.”
“We, the North Central people are far above tribalism, greed, and selfishness when it comes to national interest. We firmly believe that Ganduje is the best man for the job at this moment. We are optimistic that APC under Ganduje shall complement the implementation of President Tinubu-led administration’s blueprint for the benefit of Nigerians.”
Also, North Central elders said they endorsed Ganduje, based on their effort and genuine desire to sustain the initiatives for good governance.
Gen. Lawrence Anebi Onoja (rtd), who represented the North Central Elders, at a press conference, said: “As you are aware, the successes and achievements of our great party like any other organisation is a function of good leadership. That has been our secret all these years.
“There is a vacuum in the leadership of our great party. In the effort and genuine desire to sustain these initiatives for good governance, PGF under the chairmanship of Governor Uzodinma decided to act swiftly in endorsing a candidate to avoid any leadership gap.”
He went on, “they did that in their wisdom, and with the approval of President Tinubu. That candidate is Ganduje. They weighed his leadership capacity, commitment, and experience to lead the party well before taking that decision. It is not surprising therefore that since the governor’s forum endorsed and announced Ganduje’s candidature, many political interest groups have similarly endorsed him to lead the party in an acting capacity.
“We, as representatives of elders of the party from the zone, in continuation of the series of endorsements, also support Ganduje. Ours is one of the most significant because we are from the same geopolitical zone as the former National Chairman. We are concerned about merit, quality, and continuity in leadership for our party. We are in no doubt that Ganduje will play that chairmanship role very effectively,” General Onoja pointed out.
Meanwhile Ganduje has pledged to promote unity in the party towards increasing the number of executive and legislative seats currently held by the party.
He said as chairman, under him the party would assist the government to achieve its objectives, of providing, employment, alleviate poverty, insecurity, social cohesion and rising cost of living. According to him, the policies of Tinubu would later turn around things for better.
He also promised that he would encourage and promote level playing ground for all in the party.