.

…S-East, S-South groups fault ceding of the presidency to South-West

…Leaders in the power-sharing arrangement as Govs bury hatchetlBuni, Akpanudoedehe assume office at the national secretariat

…Screening of aspirants begins today

...Pro-Buhari groups endorse Mustapha

…Abia APC adopts Henry Ikoh for South-East vice-chair

…Senate APC Caucus didn’t endorse Adamu —Spokesman

…Nothing‘ll stop the APC convention on March 26—Uzodimma

By Clifford Ndujihe, Henry  Umoru, Johnbosco Agbakwuru, Omeiza Ajayi & Shina Abubakar

AS the three zones of the South jostle for the presidential ticket of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC for the 2023 poll, top party sources told Vanguard, yesterday, that the South-West zone is favoured to get the slot, a claim that is causing a stir in the party.

According to sources, an unwritten understanding and agreement were reached at the formation of the APC in 2013 that power would move from the North-West to the South-West in 2023. Recently party leaders, especially those from the South insisted that there was an agreement to shift power to the South after President Muhammadu Buhari’s tenure.

However, yesterday, party sources claimed that the South-West was the target of the unwritten agreement, a claim that South-East and South-South tendencies in the APC faulted.

Power-sharing deal

Anyway, there were indications yesterday that the top hierarchy of the APC may have agreed on a power-sharing arrangement ahead of Saturday’s national convention of the party.

This was as the party disclosed that all its governors are now on the same page, having put behind them events of the recent past, which threatened the party to its roots.

As part of the power-sharing arrangement, Vanguard gathered that the Cross River State Governor, Professor Ben Ayade got the nod to produce the National Woman Leader of the party.

The governor is said to be projecting his Commissioner for Health, Dr Beta Edu for the position.

On his part, Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege got the slot to provide the National Publicity Secretary while Transportation Minister, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi is to provide the National Vice Chairman, South-South. Amaechi is, however, being challenged by the Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the party, Mr Yekini Nabena, an ally of the Minister of State for Petroleum, Chief Timipre Sylva.

Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello, the National Chairman of the Caretaker Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee, CECPC, and Yobe State Governor, Mai Mala Buni, will jointly sponsor Buni’s Personal Assistant, Yakubu Murtala, for the office of Deputy National Secretary. Murtala is an indigene of Kogi State.

Part of the agreement is also for one of the national leaders of the party, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu to sponsor a candidate for the office of the National Secretary. He has accordingly nominated Senator Iyiola Omisore from Osun State.

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However, Vanguard learned that there is pressure on party leaders to tinker with the zoning formula and re-zone the office of the national secretary away from the South-West to the South-South.

Some party chieftains, who are close to the National Secretary of the Caretaker Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee, CECPC, Senator John James Akpanudoedehe, are said to be making a case for him to be considered for the position should the office be zoned to the South-South or thrown open.

In the heat of the recent leadership crisis in the party, Akpanudoedehe reportedly met Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu. This is coming as opposition trails the endorsement of Omisore as consensus national secretaryship candidate by South-West APC governors

However, the zoning formula, particularly as it relates to the national secretary is causing ripples among some stakeholders of the party who believe that the South-West cannot be given the presidency and the all-important office of party scribe.

South-West favoured getting a presidential ticket

While APC has not micro-zoned public offices ahead of the 2023 general election, feelers in the party indicate that the South-West may clinch the presidential ticket.

“There is an unwritten agreement in the APC that the Presidency should go to the South-West and so, the thinking among many party chieftains is that the zone cannot have the President and the all-important office of the National Secretary. This is why they are pushing for it (Secretary) to be zoned to South-South”, said a party source.

There are insinuations that the Kaduna State Governor, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai may be sponsoring the immediate-past Director-General of the Progressive Governors’ Forum PGF, Salihu Moh. Lukman for the office of National Vice Chairman, North-West.

Indeed, Lukman, yesterday, declared interest to vie for the National Vice Chairman of APC at the March 26 national convention.

The outspoken former PGF boss, who hails from Kaduna State is said to be the state’s candidate for the office of the APC National Vice Chairman. Lukman is said to possess the competence, dedication and intellectual capacity to emancipate the soul of APC.

A political analyst, Ebenezer Olusegun Ijaodola, who posted the picture of Mallam Lukman on his Facebook page said the ruling APC needs the former PGF DG more “because of his ability to counter fake narratives from the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.

Ijaodola added: “If APC knows what is good for her, the likes of Salihu Moh. Lukman should be considered for the National Working Committee position on merit because this is a man, who has displayed capacity, commitment and ability in the past responsibility given to him.”

Buni, Akpanudoedehe assume office

After days of political horse-trading, Governor Buni and the CECPC National Secretary, Senator John James Akpanudoedehe, yesterday, formally resumed office.

Buni, who arrived at the Secretariat at about 2:50 pm, was given a rousing welcome by a crowd of enthusiastic staff and other supporters.

Since he came back from a medical trip to Dubai, Buni has been operating from his home and the Yobe State Government Lodge.

Govs bury hatchet

Meanwhile, in the wake of speculations that Saturday may no longer be feasible for the national convention, the ruling party has assured of its readiness to go ahead with the exercise as scheduled.

Chairman of the Media Committee of the APC Convention, Governor Abdullahi Sule of Nassarawa State, in a statement signed by Secretary of the committee and Presidential spokesman, Mallam Garba Shehu, said the party’s governors have resolved their differences and have put behind them all the bickering witnessed in the recent weeks.

Governor  Sule who spoke at the formal inauguration of the Media Committee and its various subcommittees said: “The leadership of the party under Governor Mai Mala and the members of the caretaker committee are making every effort to take everyone along and I believe it is the only path for a successful convention and victory at elections. We believe in unity in diversity, and this is the mantra of our convention.”

Governor Sule, said all is well at the party and the plans for the Convention taking place on the 26th March are fully on course.

“The Committee has broken into sub-committees that have speedily moved on in their various assignments aimed at delivering a successful Convention six days from today,” said Shehu.

Screening of aspirants begins today

Three days after it was supposed to have begun screening aspirants for Saturday’s national convention, the APC has now slated the exercise for Tuesday (today).

APC’s National Convention Screening Sub-Committee in an invitation signed by its Secretary, Barr. Emmanuel Chukwuemeka Otagburuagu said the aspirants will be screened in two batches at the Katsina State Governor’s Lodge, Asokoro, Abuja.

According to the letter, the two-day screening was scheduled as follows: “Tuesday 22nd March 2022, Screening of National Chairman and other National Working Committee Aspirants by 10 am; 

“Wednesday, 23rd March 2022, Screening of Aspirants into the Zonal offices also by 10 am.”

Buhari’s groups endorse Mustapha

Meanwhile, the National Coalition of Buhari Support Organizations, BSOs has thrown its weight behind the aspiration of a former Deputy National Chairman of the defunct Congress for Progressive Change CPC, Mallam Saliu Mustapha for the position of the National Chairman of the APC.

The groups made their position known during a courtesy call on the front line aspirant at his campaign headquarters in Abuja.

Led by its Chairman, Reverend Peter Yunana Oganto, the coalition described Mustapha as a loyal supporter of President Muhammadu Buhari, who deserves to be backed for the chairmanship position.

He said: “Saliu Mustapha is a product of Buhari politics who stood solidly behind the President through thick and thin and still remained faithful to the cause in spite of the injustice he has suffered in the party.

“So, having gone round to see other chairmanship aspirants, we have decided to endorse him as the only one that can truly keep the Buhari legacy alive long after the President must have left office.”

Also speaking, Deputy Chairman (South) of the coalition, Chief Jerry Johnson noted that Mustapha should have been a clear consensus choice based on his contribution to the party as a first-generation Buharist.

Responding, Mustapha, who is also the Turaki of Ilorin thanked the group for the show of support and outlined his plans for members of the ruling party.

“Aside from what we are bringing to the table in terms of our 10-point agenda, we are the only one with real experience in party administration. As a founding APC member, I have enough institutional memory of the party to ensure that members are duly rewarded for their efforts in building the party to what it is today,” he said.

Abia APC adopts Henry Ikoh for vice chairman, South-East

Also, the Abia State chapter of the All APC has adopted Ikechukwu Henry Ikoh as its candidate for the post of National Vice Chairman, South-East.

The adoption of Ikoh, founder of Harmony Foam Nigeria Limited and a former commissioner for Industry in Abia State, who hails from Ahuwa Oboro in Ikwuano Local Government Area was conveyed in a letter dated March 17, 2022, to Governor Hope Uzodinma of Imo State.

The letter was signed by 14 eminent members of the party, including Minister of State, Mines and Steel, Dr Uchechukwu Sampson Ogah; Senator Chris Adighije; Senator Nkechi Nwaogu; former Minister of Labour and Productivity, Chief Emeka Wogu; Stanley Ohajuruka; Mr. martins Azubuike; Mr Donatus Nwankpa; Mr Iheanacho Obioma; Dr Chidia Maduekwe; and Mr Henry Ogbulogo; and Mr Nnanna Uzor Kalu among others.

The five-paragraph letter, titled: “Adoption of Chief Ikechukwu Henry Ikoh as Our Candidate for the Post of National Vice Chairman, South East,” read in part: “Your Excellency, if you could recall a delegation of stakeholders of Abia State APC paid you a visit on the 4th March, 2022 after her meeting on 3rd March, 2022 to solicit your support for the position of the National Vice Chairman South-East to be ceded to Abia State, which your response was in the affirmative.

“We wish to convey to you that the Abia State APC stakeholders having deliberated in several meetings over the position of the National Vice Chairman South-East resolved unanimously to adopt and forward the name of Chief Ikechukwu Henry Ikoh as our candidate for the National Vice Chairman South East.”

Following the development, Ikoh has since purchased his nomination/expression of interest forms, and has also submitted the same to the APC National Secretariat.

In a campaign flyer, Ikoh said that a vote for him by the delegates was a “vote for generational change; for capacity, and for humanity.”

North-Central group urges Bello to reconcile aspirants

Governor Sani Bello of Niger State has been called upon to reconcile national chairmanship aspirants from the North-Central zone.

Making the call, the North Central Democracy Watch Group, N-C DWG, noted that with the eminent position Bello occupies, he was expected to provide credible leadership and direction for the party in the zone, which has been ceded the national chairmanship slot.

Chairman of the group, Tijjani Ene Omeiza, in a statement, yesterday, said Governor Bello as the main focal point of the party in the North-Central, should not treat the chairmanship position zoned to the party with levity.

“Governor  Bello is for all intents and purpose the leader of the APC in the North-Central, which places him in the right position to reposition the party and not allow the ambitions of individual aspirants to jeopardize its chances. We candidly call on the governor to as a matter of urgency, convene a meeting of all the aspirants and critical stakeholders in the zone to agree to a smooth process that will be rancour-free. Failure to do so will mean consigning the fate of the party to the vagaries of the personal interests of certain groups at the detriment of the collective interest of the APC and the North-Central.”

Party deserves the best hand to manage its affairs  – GoMBE’s GOV Yahaya

 Also,  Governor Muhammadu Inuwa Yahaya of Gombe State has urged party leaders, stakeholders and members to support a National Chairmanship aspirant that has what it takes to manage its affairs at this time.

Speaking yesterday in Abuja at the Gombe State Governor’s lodge, when he received the Chairman, Senate Services Committee and Front line aspirant for the APC National Chairmanship, Senator Sani Musa, APC, Niger East, Yahaya said that he was convinced that Senator Musa has the right leadership qualities for the job and urged the aspirant to continue his consultations with party leaders.

According to a statement by Nasir Mohammed, the Media Assistant to the APC National Chairmanship aspirant, the Gombe State governor stressed that he will be looking forward to working with him should he emerge as the next national chairman of the APC.

Earlier, Senator Musa while soliciting Governor Yahaya’s support that he was fully prepared to bring about a visionary leadership to the APC and rejig the entire party architecture in line with international best practices, adding that he will unite all aggrieved persons, provide a level playing field for all and enshrine the principles of internal democracy in the running of the party’s affairs.

Aregbesola’s men, Omisore aide differ over former deputy gov’s ambition

Ahead of the convention, loyalists of Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola on the banner of The Osun Progressives, TOP and the Senator’s ally, Mr Yemi Lawal, have disagreed over Senator Omisore’s plan to contest for the national secretaryship.

Among others, the APC zoned national secretary to the South-West region and the zone through the Ondo State Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, nominated Isaac Kekemeke (Ondo State) as its candidate for National Vice Chairman (South-West) and Senator  Omisore (Osun) as National Secretary.

However, Aregbesola’s loyalists led by Lowo Adebiyi in a statement, yesterday, berated Governors Akeredolu and Adegboyega Oyetola for backing Omisore.

It reads: “We have not ceased from sounding a note of warning to the APC leader who has embraced a fair-weather friend, who is carrying the albatross of complicity in the death of our leaders, Chief Bola Ige.

“We condemn and reject in its entirety, the selfish imposition clothed in consensus for Omisore to become the National Secretary of the party. It is crystal clear that the leaders who ratified Omsiore are only interested in protecting their selfish interests at the expense of the well-being and progress of APC.”

Meanwhile, Lawal, a former Deputy Governorship candidate to Omisore under Social Democratic Party, SDP in 2018 said Bola Ige’s death always becomes an issue whenever Omisore is vying for office, describing the move as political.

“The issue of Bola Ige’s death has been tried by the court, up to the highest court in the land and the Senator was discharged of any complicity in the matter. Those crying foul are sadists, they are never happy about the progress of Otunba Omisore. As far as we are concerned Otunba Omisore has been discharged and acquitted of any involvement in the late sage’s death,” he said.

Senate APC Caucus didn’t endorse Adamu —Spokesman

Senate Spokesman, Senator Ajibola Bashiru has denied reports that the  APC Senate Caucus had endorsed Senator Abdullahi Adamu as its candidate for the position of APC national chairman.

Some principal officers of the Senate had last Thursday graced the official commissioning of  Senator Adamu’s campaign secretariat in Abuja, leading to speculations that the caucus may have endorsed the senator.

Responding to enquiries, the Senate spokesman said the senators who attended the ceremony did so in their private capacities, not as representatives of the Senate APC caucus.

“There are three senators vying for the position of APC national chairman. Senator Sani Musa from Niger. The other two- Senators Adamu and Tanko Al-Makura are from Nasarawa. To the best of my knowledge, we haven’t as a caucus decided on who to support.

“As distinguished legislators, it will be to our joy to have one of our own emerge national chairman. This is a democracy, and so people are free to support whomsoever they wish to. But as we speak, there’s no time we took a position on any of the three candidates,” noted Senator Bashiru.

Nothing‘ll stop the APC convention on March 26 —Uzodimma

Governor Hope Uzodimma of Imo State, yesterday said that nothing will stop the national convention of the party this Saturday.

He said that it was the wish of the opposition that the APC is scattered or disunited.

Asked whether the convention would hold as scheduled as some persons have claimed that the machinery was yet to be in place for the exercise, he told State House correspondents, Abuja that everything had been put in place for the convention.

According to him, “On the APC convention, I don’t know what kind of sign you want to see before you know that convention will hold on Saturday.

“As of yesterday (Sunday), all the subcommittees have started meeting The screening committee, the Accreditation Committee, have been meeting. The venue is being prepared.

“I told you people that APC is the party to beat. So, it is the wish of our opponent to see that APC is scattered, or is not united. But that is their wishful thinking. APC cannot afford to lose what they have because what we have is the trust of over 200 million people. And we don’t just have a choice, we must remain united to be able to continue with this programme.”

Vanguard News Nigeria

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