After a protracted delay of its National Convention, which had led to a leadership crisis, the All Progressives Congress (APC) yesterday successfully held the exercise where it affirmed a former Governor of Nasarawa State, Senator Abdullahi Adamu as its National Chairman.
Using the voice vote system, the APC delegates at the convention elected Adamu and other consensus candidates on its ‘Unity List’ as its national and zonal officers.
President Muhammadu Buhari used the occasion to call on members of the ruling party to remain strong and united just as the President of the Senate, Dr. Ahmad Lawan, said the president would remain the compass of APC even after leaving office by May 2023.
This is also coming as the outgoing chairman of the Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC) of the ruling APC and Yobe State Governor, Mr. Mai Mala Buni, said with a 41 million membership base, the party would remain in power beyond 2023.
For Adamu to emerge as consensus national chairman, six aspirants vying for the position stepped down from the race and backed the candidate of President Buhari.
This was contained in a letter sent to the Chairman of the APC Election Sub-Committee on Friday, signed by the Minister of Special Duties and Intergovernmental Affairs, Senator George Akume, who was also among those vying for the position.
The candidates who stepped down are Senator Tanko Al-Makura, Akume, Abdulaziz Yari, Saliu Mustapha, Senator Sani Musa Mohammed, Etsu Mohammed.
Adamu emerged as the National Chairman of the ruling party alongside Senator Abubakar Kyari from Borno State, who emerged as Deputy National Chairman (North); Mr. Emma Eneukwu from Enugu State, who was affirmed as Deputy National Chairman (South); a former Deputy Governor of Osun State, Senator Iyiola Omisore, who was elected National Secretary; and Mr. Festus Fuanter from Plateau State, who is now Deputy National Secretary. Other national officers include Mr. Muhazu Bawa Rijau from Niger State, who is the National Vice Chairman (North-central); Mr. Mustapha Salihu from Adamawa State, who is the National Vice Chairman (North-east); Mr. Salihu Lukman from Kaduna who emerged as the National Vice Chairman (North-east); Dr. Ijeoma Arodiogwu from Imo State, who emerged as the National Vice Chairman (South-east); Mr. Victor Giadom from Rivers State, who is the National Vice Chairman (South-south); and Mr. Isaacs Kekemeke from Ondo State, who is the National Vice Chairman (South-west).
The rest include Mr. Ahmed El-Marzuk from Katsina State, who is the new National Legal Adviser; Mr. Uguru Matthew Ofoke from Ebonyi State, who emerged as National Treasurer; Mr. Bashir Usman Gumel from Jigawa State, who is the National Financial Secretary; Mr. Suleiman M Argungun from Kebbi State who is the National Organising Secretary; and Mr. Felix Morka from Delta State, who is the new National Publicity Secretary, among others (see table).
Speaking during the convention, President Buhari called on members of the ruling party to remain united and strong and also support the incoming leadership of the party ahead of the forthcoming 2023 general election in the country.
Speaking at the Eagle Square, Abuja, venue of the exercise, the president said the convention was coming at a crucial time when there is a need to prepare for another round of a general election.
He said: “Therefore, the need to remain strong and united for the Party to exploit the rich and abundant potentials at its disposal cannot be overemphasised. We appreciate the right to hold different opinions and aspirations; however, such differences must not be to the detriment of the party.
“I passionately appeal to you all to support the incoming National Working Committee (NWC) to promote unity and avoid sentiments that are capable of causing disaffection and disunity. For those aspiring for party and public offices, your failure to realise such aspirations for party offices or to fly the party’s flag, should not be a basis for a campaign of calumny against the party. We should have the spirit of sportsmanship and always support the party to succeed.”
President Buhari enjoined the new NWC members to promote internal democracy and equal opportunities and ensure that party primaries are not influenced by “highest bidders” going into the 2023 elections.
He commended the Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee for steering the ship of the party this far including; reconciling aggrieved party members, purchasing a new party secretariat, and launching an aggressive membership drive that saw three governors defecting into the APC, among others.
“It is gratifying that the party recorded massive and unprecedented defections under the caretaker committee administration. APC received three sitting governors, a deputy governor, senators, members of the House of Representatives and state assemblies, and other key officials from opposition parties who defected along with millions of their supporters.
“I am impressed to learn that the membership registration and revalidation exercise undertaken by the caretaker committee, has recorded over 41 million members. This has proved that we are indeed Nigeria’s leading and largest political party. It also exhibits our numerical strength and the potential to win elections at all given times fairly and squarely.”
The president, who adduced reasons for his recent intervention in the affairs of the party, assured that it was not intended to muzzle dissenting voices.
According to him: “Recently, l had cause to intervene in the leadership crisis which was about to confuse 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.
“As 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.”
President Buhari called on all politicians and the electorate to abide by the new Electoral Act “to promote the process of election, enhance transparency, fill in existing gaps and add value to Nigeria’s democracy for our democracy to thrive.”
Earlier in his remarks at the convention, President of the Senate, Lawan, declared that Buhari would continue to provide leadership to the APC beyond 2023 after his exit from office.
According to him, Buhari’s ability to sustain unity within the party against all odds positioned him favorably as the “compass” needed to give direction to the party at all times.
Lawan said: “Your Excellency, Mr. President, we can compare favorably well with any other party across the world. This is because you have provided the leadership that we need.
“Let me be explicit, you will not be on the ballot in 2023, but you will remain the leading light and moral compass of APC even after your tenure finishes.
“And, therefore, Mr. President, I’m sorry, you will have little rest because we will never allow you to go away.”
Lawan described the National Convention as a strong statement by the APC attesting to its ability to provide leadership for the country and strengthen unity amongst members within its fold.
Also speaking at the event, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila expressed the optimism that the best days of the ruling APC are still in the future.
He said that the success of the convention has triumphed over all cynicism and apathy.
He urged party members to set aside personal interests and ambitions to work together.
On his part, the outgoing Chairman of the CECPC of the ruling APC and Yobe State Governor, Buni, has said that with a 41 million membership base, APC will remain in power beyond 2023.
Buni stated this while giving his speech as the interim chairman of the party at the Eagle Square venue of yesterday’s national convention of the party in Abuja.
According to him, his leadership helped in rescuing the party from collapse and improved its fortune.
“We have collectively rescued the party and improved its fortune. President Buhari’s leadership style helped in building the party.
“We are also grateful for the support of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, National Executive Committee (NEC), the governors, and the National Assembly caucus. We enjoyed tremendous support from other party men,” Buni said.
According to the Yobe State governor, some of his achievements included visits to critical stakeholders that were in crisis, adding that it helped in resolving the crisis without some media publicity.
He added that for every extension of time for the committee, they brought new things to the party, including registration and revalidation of party membership, which helped members to register as legitimate members.
“I am glad to state with all sense of fulfillment that we registered new members and raised the membership from 11 million members to over 41 million members in the country.
“APC under the caretaker committee made history with the defection of three governors of Cross River, Ben Ayade; David Umahi of Ebonyi and Bello Matawalle of Zamfara State.
Buni declared that all the defected governors will not lose their cases in court, stressing that their defections did not contravene any law.
“The fortune was enriched with the joining of the former speaker, Yakubu Dogara, and members of the National Assembly. You have nothing to fear. Your defection did not violate any law,” Buni said.
“I am now more confident like never before that with 41 million members, APC can remain in power and continue to be Africa’s biggest political party,” Buni said while calling for the dissolution of the caretaker committee, which was seconded by Governor Abubakar Sani Bello of Niger State.
Meanwhile, various groups of youths from across the country in their hundreds stormed the venue of the convention and demanded that the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Godwin Emefiele, should declare his ambition to contest the 2023 presidential election without further delay.
The mammoth crowd of women, young professionals, and, other Nigerians, who wore Emefiele-branded colourful apparel, were led by the APC League of Young Professionals, Ethnic Youth Leaders’ Council, and the Emefiele Support Group.
The groups overran the convention ground with calls on the CBN governor, to contest Presidency in 2023.Addressing the media, Mallam Kabir Buba, who spoke on behalf of the groups, reiterated the need for a worthy successor for President Buhari.
He argued that Nigeria cannot afford to miss the golden opportunity of electing a financial expert and globally renowned economist like Emefiele at this time in Nigeria’s history.
Buba further explained the type of leader Nigeria would deserve in 2023.He said: “Such a successor must be a professional, loyal to the president, a technocrat, a patriot, and detribalised Nigerian.
“He must be one, who has been part of the progress recorded in this administration, and a less-controversial leader.
“Most importantly, he must be a unifier and peacebuilder, someone to douse the South-South quest for one more term and satisfy the Igbo agitations for the presidency.”
He added that Emefiele is the man that would continue to consolidate and expand the progressive legacies of President Buhari. He emphasised the CBN governor’s patriotism and his irrepressible commitment to the growth and development of the Nigerian economy.
Buba stated that the CBN Governor’s good character and attributes made him a worthy successor to the president.
“As an experienced economist with more than 26 years of commercial banking experience, Emefiele is well-equipped to place Nigeria amongst developed and wealthy nations in the world.”
He re-emphasised that Emefiele, having worked in the two political divides, appointed by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) government, and retained by the APC as the CBN governor, has continued to show great dedication and commitment regardless of political alliances.
Evildoers Didn’t Have Their Way Today, Says Oshiomhole At the event, a former National Chairman of the APC, Mr. Adams Oshiomhole, said the fact that the convention was held was an indication that evildoers did not have their way.
Speaking in a chat with journalists at the venue of the convention, the former Edo State governor expressed satisfaction with developments at the convention.
He said: “I am happy; I am excited that the party will be restored to the leadership position that it ought to be. We are democrats and our party is for the ordinary Nigerians. It is not a party of big men.
“For us to have our convention today shows that evildoers can have their plans but God has produced someone today. And we have more people of goodwill than the evil ones who wanted this convention to happen today,” Oshiomhole.