Buhari: “Don’t give tickets to the highest bidders”.
Abdullahi Adamu, a senator and former governor of Nasarawa State, emerged the new national chairman of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, at its national convention held Saturday, March 26, at the Eagle Square, Abuja. It was victory for President Muhammadu Buhari, who insisted on him, and had his way despite stiff opposition by some stakeholders.
The other contestants who stepped down for Adamu on the request of the President are: a former governor of Nasarawa State, Tanko Al-Makura; former Benue governor and current minister of Special Duties, George Akume; a former governor of Borno State, Ali Modu Sheriff; senator for Niger East, Muhammed Sani Musa; former Deputy Chairman of the defunct Congress for Progress Change, CPC, former Zamfara governor, Abdulaziz Yari, and Saliu Mustapha.
It was gathered that Adamu, who will be 76 years old July 23, was preferred to other candidates because of his closeness to Buhari and his perceived integrity, which it is believed, would guarantee fairness to all aspirants to the party’s presidential ticket.
Akume conveyed the withdrawal of his colleagues to the APC election sub-committee Friday. “May I kindly refer to the appeal by Mr. President for the chairmanship aspirants of our great party to agree to a consensus arrangement wherein our colleague, Sen. Abdullahi Adamu, is made our consensus candidate for the chairmanship position and forward letters of withdrawal from the under listed aspirants,” Akume said.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, commenced the trial of Adamu on March 10, 2010, on 149 count-charge for alleged looting of N15 billion while he was governor of Nasarawa State from 1999 to 2007. He defected from PDP to APC as senator. His case is not making progress in court.
At a press conference on Friday, March 21, at the party secretariat, Governor Abdullahi Sule of Nasarawa State, and co-chairman of the media sub-committee, said the party was working on a consensus of ‘Unity List,’ that would be proposed and endorsed at the convention. He later announced that Adamu had been endorsed as the consensus candidate.
“Consensus is one of the requirements,” he argued. It is provided in our constitution, and it is not against the Electoral Act.”
The consensus list finally arrived the Eagle Square Saturday night, signed by the APC governors in red ink. Adamu’s name was listed number one as party chairman. Others were: Senator Abubakar Kyari, (Borno) deputy national chairman North; Chief Emma Eneukwu (Enugu), deputy national chairman South); Otunba Iyiola Omisore, (Osun) National Secretary; Barrister Festus Fuanter, (Plateau) Deputy National Secretary; Muhazu Bawa, National Vice Chairman, North Central; and Mustapha Salihu, (Adamawa) National Vice Chairman, (Northeast).
Mai Mala Buni, governor of Yobe State, and chairman of the Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee, who was ousted in a palace coup and later reinstated ahead of the convention to avoid a backlash from the court, in his valedictory speech, said he was leaving the party stronger than he met it.
“I am more confident than ever, that with a population of over 41 million registered members and still counting, APC has the potential and capacity to remain Nigeria’s ruling party, and indeed, Africa’s largest political party. I am delighted with your esteemed presence at this epoch-making occasion in the life of our party, the All Progressives Congress, APC, as we assemble here for the National Convention, climaxing the transition process which started with the conduct of ward, local, and state congresses.”
He reminded the party members that the Caretaker Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee “which l am opportune to chair, is a child of circumstance constituted by the National Executive Committee (NEC), to restructure and reposition the party.”
He listed his achievements to include: “a genuine and all-inclusive reconciliation process to give everyone a true sense of belonging, confidence, and reassurance in the collective ownership of the party”, and membership registration and revalidation exercise.
“I am glad to state with all sense of fulfillment that the membership registration and revalidation exercise recorded over 41 million members who registered with the details of their permanent voter cards, (PVC) and passport-size photographs. This unprecedented increase in membership from the previous 11 million registered members, to over 41 million registered members, provides the party with an added advantage of winning elections in Nigeria with landslide victories.”
In addition, the Caretaker Committee inspired high-profile defections from the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP. “The Caretaker Committee made history with an unparalleled record of high-powered defections into the party. Three serving governors of Ebonyi State, His Excellency, Engr. Dave Umahi; Cross River State, His Excellency Dr. Ben Ayade, and Zamfara State, Alhaji Bello Mutawalle, defected along with millions of their supporters from PDP into the APC.
“I am glad to add that the fortunes of the party were further enriched with the defection of former speakers of the House of Representatives, former PDP national chairman, member, PDP Board of Trustees, several distinguished Senators and Honourable members of the House of Representatives and state assemblies, and several other heavyweights cutting across all the geo-political zones of the country.”
Ahead of the convention, there were lots of intrigues and uncertainties as presidential aspirants in the party schemed to foist their candidates on the party as chairman to give them an advantage during the party primary. But insiders said Buhari stuck to his gun to make sure the party was not hi-jacked by selfish aspirants. It is believed that the President won the deft manoeuvres through the power of incumbency. This puts him in a vantage position to nominate his successor in line with his dream for Nigeria.
In his speech, he admonished: “Therefore, the need to remain strong and united for the party to exploit the rich and abundant potentials at its disposal cannot be overemphasized. We appreciate the right to hold different opinions and aspirations. However, such differences must not be to the detriment of the party”.
He warned the party not to give tickets to ‘highest bidders’ but should rather strive “to promote the process of election, enhance transparency, fill in existing gaps, and add value to Nigeria’s democracy for our democracy to thrive.”
He explained his intervention. “Recently, l had cause to intervene in the leadership crisis which was about to cause confusion in the party. Such internal disputes are common in young democracies such as ours, but we must avoid overheating the polity and not allow our differences to tear and frustrate the party. Like I said earlier, it does not do anybody or the party any good when we, as leaders, go down so low, and resort to backstabbing and name-calling in the media.
“We should learn how to resolve our differences without jeopardising our personal relationships and the fate of the party. I want to thank the Progressives Governors’ Forum for heeding to my advice and suggestions in settling the leadership dispute.”
In the aftermath of the consensus, the challenge will be the pacification of the big egos that have been bruised in the process. It is not certain which of the presidential aspirants is favoured by the choice of Adamu. Some insiders feel that Adamu has no candidate; that his choice will be the choice of the President. This means that Buhari may well again exercise his veto in the choice of the party’s presidential flag bearer when the time comes.