June 7, 2022

Consensus candidate: Uproar, alarm in APC; Buhari, govs disown Adamu over Lawan

Adamu Abdullahi

Senator Abdullahi Adamu

•We didn’t endorse Lawan, APC NWC tackles Adamu, says his opinion is personal; aligns with 13 APC Northern govs on power shift

By Clifford Ndujihe, Levinus Nwabughiogu, Johnbosco Agbakwuru, Omeiza Ajayi & Jeremiah Urowayino, ABUJA

Intrigues and tension reigned in the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, as the party and its presidential aspirants put finishing touches to their preparations for today’s presidential primaries.

The campaign offices of some of the presidential aspirants were beehives as supporters streamed in and out with information that would help the cause of their candidates.

Amid jostling among the aspirants in what was panning out as a three-horse race among Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Chief Rotimi Amaechi and Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, the various camps were jolted when news filtered in that Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, had been picked as a consensus candidate.

National Chairman of the party, Senator Abdullah Adamu, told members of the National Working Committee, NWC, mid-day that in consultation with President Muhammadu Buhari, the Senate President had been chosen as a consensus candidate for the exercise.

The announcement ignited a chain reaction, first from the NWC members, who kicked against it and insisted that all other aspirants must take part in the primaries.

Like a wild harmattan fire, the news travelled fast to the camps of the aspirants, and APC northern governors, who have been in Abuja since last week.

The 13 APC governors in support of the power shift to the South, stormed Aso Villa for a meeting with President Buhari, after which they reiterated their stand on the power shift.

The APC denied endorsing Senate President Ahmad Lawan as its consensus candidate ahead of its special convention and presidential primary election which begins tomorrow.

The party said it aligns with the position of 13 of its governors from the North who have insisted on a power shift to the South.

Also, the Tinubu Campaign Organization described Adamu’s unilateral declaration as illegal, saying there are conditions precedent for any consensus arrangement to be legal.

Vanguard also gathered that the northern governors on Monday night had an interface with the NWC to know how Senator Adamu arrived at the choice of Lawan.

“The governors are angry because they had already taken a position and have also restated their position after wide consultations. Adamu took a unilateral decision which of course has been rejected by the NWC. So, the governors are meeting the NWC to formally convey their position to the committee having earlier conveyed same to Mr President,” said a source close to one of the governors.

Buhari disowns Adamu

As tension welled up, President Buhari, yesterday afternoon, cleared all doubts about where he stood on the choice of APC presidential candidate.

He told the party’s Northern governors that he had “no preferred candidate,” and has “anointed no one.”

The president also said that he was determined to ensure that “there shall be no imposition of any candidate on the party.”

This is as the APC governors of northern extraction have maintained their initial position that power should go to the South after President Buhari’s eight years in office.

Speaking at a meeting with the governors at the State House, Abuja, President Buhari said the party is important and its members must be respected and made to feel they are important.

The president said he had a clear mind about what he was doing and asked the APC governors to feel the same way. A statement issued by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu quoted the President as saying: “You were elected as I was. Have a clear mind as I have. God gave us the chance; we have no reason to complain.

“We must be ready to take pain as we take the joy. Allow the delegates to decide. The party must participate; nobody will appoint anybody.”

Earlier in their addresses, the chairman of the Northern Governors Forum, Governor Simon Bako Lalong and Governor Abubakar Atiku Bagudu of the Progressive Governors Forum, said they had come to affirm the position of the Northern Governors that the party’s candidate in the presidential election shall come from the southern part of the country.

They apologised to the President for the leakage of their signed memorandum which was not in support of any particular candidate and gave assurances to the President on their readiness to accept his leadership on the matter.

Briefing State House correspondents at the end of their meeting with the President, Governor Lalong said, “We had a meeting this afternoon with the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, our dear President Buhari and this meeting is also in line with part of the consultations that Mr President had.

“Of course, MMrPresident had a meeting with us governors and series of people, but at the APC Northern Governors’ Forum, we sat down, we reviewed a lot of things in this country and we discussed at length the unity of this country, about the need for progress and the need for inclusiveness, and also the need for accommodation.

“We sat down in the last few days and 13 out of 14 governors agreed. We took a deck decision to advise Mr President. While we were on our way to advise MMrPresident, I think part of the discussions that we had leaked out to the press.

“Well, we still went ahead and we told Mr President. Mr President, being a democrat, said no, he must listen to us, he would listen to us. And so, Mr President granted the opportunity today.”

On the reason they came to the Presidential Villa, Lalong said: “Our mission today is to reaffirm our position on that statement. We also apologized to him that that statement was made by all of us and we reaffirm the position, but we apologized that the probe of the statements leaked out before even our consultations with him.

“However, it is now in the message, not the messenger. So, Mr President was very happy. He took our position and out of that discussion, Mr President, as a believer in the democratic process, believe that any candidate must emerge through a transparent process.

“Mr President told us that for this election, for now, he has no anointed candidate and therefore directed that the Progressive Governors Forum meet with the National Working Committee of the party to agree and proffer further solutions and recommendations for his succession.

“I am sure this will be the last of consultations. So, we are directed that after this, our chairman of Progressive Governors’ Forum has also summoned a meeting for five o’clock today and after that meeting, we’ll make again further suggestions to Mr President.

“For emphasis, those of you who read it, I have a copy of what we wrote, which was already out of the dress, and I said we wrote it and we stand by it; that in the interest of unity, in the interests of peace, we recommended that and also justice, we recommend that the next President should come from the south.

“I told you that the President believes in the democratic c process, but even during the democratic process, that are consultations, that are consensus, is also part of the democratic process. Even our constitution provides for that; it says consensus and then the election, either direct or indirect.

“So, what we’re doing is part of the build-up towards the election. What we’re also saying is a recommendation as we think that will bring out a very peaceful process.”

Kogi gov part of our meeting, says el-Rufai

Fielding question on the statement made by one of their colleagues, who is a presidential aspirant and governor of Kogi State, Yahaya Bello, that he was not part of the decision that power should shift to the south, the Northern APC governors said their decision is binding on all of them.

Kaduna State governor, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai, who spoke on behalf of others said: “We met before coming to meet with Mr President. We met, all of us, including the governor of Kogi State.

“As you can see, he’s not the only aspirant, the governor of Jigawa State is also an aspirant and he’s here with us and we met. But the governor of Kogi State chose to excuse himself from meeting with MMrPresident because he believes that he does not agree with our position.

“There are 14 APC governors out of the 19 Northern states. 13 of us are on one page on this subject and we all came to see the President, but the governor of Kogi State excused himself and it is within his democratic rights to excuse himself.

“But 12 out of 14 is a super majority. 13 out of 14 is an even bigger super majority and the 13 of us met with the President today. What our leader has communicated to you is a summary of the discussions with Mr President.”

Reminded that Governor Bello said that he was not consulted before their meeting, Governor eElRufai said: “He was invited to the meeting, he had a clash, he didn’t make it, we proceeded to make…

“Look, I have said this in this hall over and over. I don’t know why people assume that when you have 100 people, everyone must agree before a decision can be taken. That is the key to analysis paralysis.

“When the majority, or even a super majority, like 12 out of 14, takes a decision, everyone is bound. There is no time that everyone will agree on an issue. It’s part of human nature. But what is the majority view of Northern governors? We represent the majority, indeed a super-majority.”

Governor Lalong said: “Also, in any case, please to the question. His name is not on our list, we didn’t write his name. So even without writing his name, it shows that he was not part of it.”

Why we said power should shift to South — Bagudu

Explaining why APC governors decided to cede power to the South, the Chairman of Progressive Governors Forum and governor of Kebbi State, Atiku Bagudu said: “Well, with 22 governors, APC with a president that has delivered on democratic dividends across the breadth of this country has everything going for it.

What is the political brinksmanship that we need to bring so that every component of Nigeria will feel important? LAsI said, there are northern candidates of Northern extraction and we are not ignoring their capacity or their interest. 

“But we felt that if political expediency can encourage a step that will bring more peace, and resonate with everyone across Nigeria, we are bold enough to see it.

“Remember, the main opposition party PDP, they even have zoning in their constitution. But when it comes to seeing the selection of candidate they ignored sections of Nigeria that are saying it’s our turn.

“Our party, we don’t even have zoning in our Constitution, but because of knowing our president, how magnanimous he is how equitable he is that’s why we felt comfortable to make a recommendation to him that even though we don’t have zoning, Mr President, can we consider this?”

The governors in attendance at the meeting with President Buhari were The chairman of Progressive Governors Forum and governor of KeStatetate, Atiku Bagudu, chairman of Northern governors Forum and governor of Plateau State, Simeon Lalong, Abubakar Baduru (Jigawa), Abdulrahman Abdulrasak (Kwara) and Babagana Zulum (Borno).

Others were Aminu Bello Masari (Katsina), Abdullahi Sule (Nasarawa), Bello Matawale (Zamfara), Mallam Nasir el-Rufai (Kaduna), Abdullahi Ganduje (Kano), Yahaya Inuwa (Gombe), Abubakar Bello (Niger),   and the Yobe State governor, Mai Mala Buni.

Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State was absent.

NWC tackles Adamu

At a news briefing after the meeting of the APC NWC, National Organizing Secretary of the party, Alhaji Sulaiman Argungu, who spoke on behalf of the NWC said whatever views Senator Abdullahi Adamu expressed at the meeting were personal.

To show that he was not alone, Argungu was flanked by the National Vice-Chairman, South-South, Chief Victor Giadom; National Vice-Chairman, North-West, Salihu Moh. Lukman; National Vice Chairman, South-West, Chief Isaac Kekemeke and several other members of the NWC.

APC was on Monday thrown into confusion following reports that Senator Adamu had during the NWC meeting that announced Senate President Ahmad Lawan as its consensus presidential candidate.

The said the announcement which was in sharp contrast with the decision of 13 APC Northern Governors and some of its political leaders who have consistently opted for power-shift in the South.

For several hours, both spokesmen of the party, Felix Morka who is a member of the NWC, and Muhammad Nata’ala Keffi, media aide to the national chairman were not available for comments on the issue.

However, a member of the NWC who pleaded anonymity confirmed that indeed Adamu mentioned the issue in passing but it was never ratified as the position of the NWC.

“The chairman said so but we believe he was just expressing his personal opinion as the matter was not tabled for discussion and no decision was taken on it by the NWC,” said the member.

Adamu entitled to his opinion

Addressing journalists, Argungu said the party’s national chairman only expressed a personal opinion which is neither binding on the NWC nor the party.

He said: “It (Lawan’s endorsement) is just information that he gave us. It is not an issue that has to be deliberated on by NWC. It is information. All of us are entitled to our opinions. We are all democrats. This decision was never taken by the NWC.

“That is just information, not an issue that was discussed by the NWC. Just recently, the northern governors had their meeting. We as members of the NWC are with the governors on what they have said.

“He (Adamu) did brief us that Ahmad Lawan is our consensus candidate. That is just information, not an issue that was discussed by the NWC,” he stated.

Legal impossibility

Meanwhile, the Tinubu Campaign Organization has described the use of consensus for APC’s presidential convention as a legal impossibility.

Former National Legal Adviser of the party, Babatunde Ogala who is the Director, Legal Directorate of the Tinubu Campaign Organization said any declaration of consensus is illegal.

He said: “The media is inundated with reports that the chairman of the All Progressives Congress has unilaterally announced the purported adoption of a certain candidate as the consensus presidential candidate of the APC for the forthcoming presidential election in 2023.

“While the National Chairman is yet to deny or offer any clarification on the alleged declaration, it is necessary to state that such a declaration is a legal impossibility. This is because under the regime of the Electoral Act 2022, consensus, though provided for as one of how a political party may produce its candidate, must specifically occur in a precise form.

Section 84(9) (10) and (11) of the Electoral Act 2022 are the relevant provisions and the state as follows:

‘(9) A political party that adopts a consensus candidate shall secure the written consent of all cleared aspirants for the position, indicating their voluntary withdrawal from the race and their endorsement of the consensus candidate’.

‘(10) Where a political party is unable to secure the written consent of all cleared aspirants for a consensus candidate, it shall revert to the choice of direct or indirect primaries for the nomination of candidates for the aforesaid elective position.

‘(11) A special convention or nomination congress shall be held to ratify the choice of consensus candidates at designated centres at the National, State, Senatorial, Federal and State Constituencies, as the case may be”.

“Instructively, none of the above conditions have occurred in respect of producing the presidential candidate of the APC. Therefore, any declaration of a consensus candidate would be premature and a violation of extant provisions of the law.

“We are confident that as a law-abiding entity, the APC will not be part of such. We are further persuaded to urge our supporters to disregard this report considering that the overwhelming majority of the APC Northern Governors, after meeting with the President, reaffirmed their preference for a president from the Southern part of Nigeria.

“This patriotic decision is widely accepted by all Nigerians as a demonstration of deep understanding of the nuanced fault lines of our nation.

“In the circumstance, a unilateral declaration by the National Chairman of a consensus presidential candidate for the party will not only violate the law but set the party on a collision cause with its Governors who are critical stakeholders in the party”, he added.

South,   Middle-Belt APC leaders demand Adamu’s resignation

Following Senator Adamu’s controversial move, leaders of the APC from the South and Middle Belt have launched an offensive against the National Chairman, demanding his immediate resignation.

Sources report that   Governors of Southern extraction in the APC have aligned with this position and this will top the agenda when the leaders and Governors meet later on Tuesday night. Uppermost on the agenda is to, among other things, call for Adamu’s resignation for being a biased and interested umpire.

“A situation whereby a National Chairman single-handedly chooses a candidate and unilaterally informs the NWC and governors of his choice, masquerading same as “consensus” is unacceptable,” the source stated.

“We have credible intelligence that Adamu is working in cahoots with the PDP to field an unpopular candidate so that the PDP can win the election”, the source stated.

The Southern leaders, it was gathered have started mobilizing against the National Chairman and have also reached out to their Northern colleagues to respect their pact on power shift to the South.

We’re ready to conduct the world-class presidential primary election

Ogun State Governor, Dapo Abiodun has declared that the APC is set to conduct a convention which would be a reference for political parties in the country.

Abiodun who is the Chairman of, the Accreditation and Decoration Committee of the convention, gave this declaration while speaking with newsmen shortly after he inspected the International Conference Centre, Abuja, the venue for accreditation of delegates, said all things have been put in place for the success of the event.

According to him, the committee made up of deputy governors, members of the National Assembly and eminent party faithful are working round the clock to ensure a hitch-free presidential primary election.

“I want to say that we are ready for the exercise. All our tags are ready, we began our work ahead of our inauguration because of the importance attached to the assignment. We are ready and we believe that by the time it is over, it will become a reference point for conventions in the history of political parties in this country”. The governor stated.

Abiodun, however, noted that the convention would be different as everyone attending the convention must wear a tag that would have security features such as codes which could be read by a device.

“Everyone going into the Eagle s Square will be accredited. This will give us the idea of those that will be delegates and those that are just attending the exercise”, he explained.

The governor expressed satisfaction with the level of work done so far at the venue, saying he looked forward to a successful primary election.

Aspirants upbeat on prospects

Meanwhile, some of the aspirants were upbeat about their chances of winning the primaries.

While Governor Yahaya Bello boasted that 50 per cent of the 2,340 delegates were for him, the Osinbajo camp mouthed an opinion poll which gave the vice president victory with over 800 delegates votes; Tinubu was projected to have about 600 votes; Rotimi Amaechi, 329 votes .and Senator Godswill Akpabio, 40 votes.

However, the Tinubu camp countered that they want primaries conducted because they are sure of winning at least 22 states.

The states include Lagos, Ondo, Ogun, Sound, Borno, Kano, Kaduna, Katsina, Niger, Kwara, Nasarawa Zamfara, Gombe, Jigawa, Kebbi, Delta, Edo, Anambra, Cross River, and Oyo.

Citing injustice, Nnamani withdraws from APC Presidential race

Former Senate President and presidential aspirant in the APC, Senator Ken Nnamani has withdrawn from Tuesday’s presidential primary election of the party.

Citing injustice against the South-East where he comes from, Nnamani said the South, having conceded the national chairmanship of the party to the North, there was no need for the Senator Abdullahi Adamu-led National Working Committee NWC of the party to keep dilly-dallying on zoning the presidential ticket to the South.

He said: “You will recall that on March 26, 2022, a new set of members of the National Working Committee of the APC were elected in an elective convention. In that election, there was a unity list which was endorsed by all the Governors of the party and other leaders of the party in was a different region and approved by Mr President.

“The unity list was anchored on the core principles of the party to rotate and zone political offices. The party swapped positions between the north and south. The party offices that were occupied by leaders from the south automatically transferred to the north. This explains why no southern candidate contested for National Chairman at the convention.

Everyone accepted that the position of National Chairman was zoned to the north while the position of the President was reserved for the southern aspirants. The clear understanding of party members is that the Presidential Candidate of the party will come from the south and only aspirants from the zone will vie for the office.

“This is a logical follow-up to the outcome of the National Convention. The statements of party leaders confirmed this general perception. In the initial weeks after the announcement of tithe the timetable for the election and commencement of sale of forms, the belief that APC would zone its presidential ticket to the south continued because only southerners purchased forms, except the notable exception of Gov. Yahaya Bello”.

Nnamani noted that the fact that leading northerners failed to indicate interest in the race convinced many that the APC will thread the path of honour and justice by zoning its presidency to the south after a northern president has completed eight years under its platform.

Expressing his dissatisfaction, Nnamani said; “the events of recent days created the impression that zoning had been jettisoned in the APC. The vacillation of party leaders regarding the zoning of the APC presidential ticket has not created clarity in the party and injures the confidence and faith of many in the south, particularly the southeast, in the party.

It implies suggesting to many in the party, including myself, that the party will allow conveniences of the moment to override foundational issues of justice and fairness. Considering the events of the recent past, all well-meaning Nigerians must reaffirm faith in the constitutional values of justice and fairness.:

NWC ‘ll present Lawan to Buhari for endorsement — Orji Kalu

Meanwhile, Chief Whip of the Senate, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu, last night, said the National Working Committee, NWC of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC will present Senator Ahmed Lawan to President Muhammadu Buhari as the presidential candidate of the party for his endorsement.

Orji, who has since thrown his weight behind the aspiration of Lawan said that APC national chairman, Senator Abdullahi Adamu made the right decision by choosing the Senate President as the consensus candidate of the party.

Recall that Adamu Monday evening announced Lawan as the consensus candidate of the party for the 2023 presidential contest.

The endorsement was however seen as a unilateral decision and against the support of the members of the NWC and APC governors who had asked that the presidential ticket be zoned to the southern part of the country.

But reacting on his Facebook page last night, Kalu said the NWC will present Lawan for Buhari’s endorsement.

“Sen. Abdulahi Adamu has through a rigorous evaluation of all our able and qualified candidates, decided in the interest of our party and the future wellbeing of millions of Nigerians who look to our party for continuous leadership,   decided that Senator Ahmed Lawan is the strongest and most suitable candidate to be the flag bearer of our party in the upcoming Presidential election.

“The National Chairman and NWC of our party will present Senator Ahmed Lawan to the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria for his endorsement,” he said.

Lawan: APC Govs move to Adamu’s house after party chair snub

Late last night, the battle for the presidential ticket of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, took another twist as the national chairman of the party, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, shunned the party’s governors who were at the national secretariat to have a meeting with him.

The governors, who had arrived at the “Buhari House” between 8:30 pm and 8:45 pm, waited till 9:40 pm before leaving the secretariat as the national chairman did not show up.

They, however, had a brief meeting with members of the National Working Committee, NWC, who were led by the Deputy National Chairman, North, Senator Abubakar Kyari.

Vanguard gathered that the governors, however, headed to Adamu’s residence at the Presidential Villa.

Some of the governors who were present at the meeting were Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti),   Babajide Sanwo-Olu (Lagos), Nasir el-Rufai (Kaduna), and Simon Lalong (Plateau), Abubakar Bello (Niger) and Aminu Bello Masari (Katsina).

Others were Dave Umahi (Ebonyi), Abdullahi Sule (Nasarawa), Gboyega Oyetola (Osun), Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq (Kwara), Dapo Abiodun (Ogun) and others.