By Ali Abare
It’s already a known fact, that agitation to occupy the position of the National Chairman of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), has commenced in earnest, with the country’s geopolitical zones jostling for the top party slot.
As Nigerians continue to lend their voices to the ongoing agitation surrounding the search for the next national chairman of the ruling All APC, it has become imperative to look at the journey so far, with a view to arriving at certain salient facts.
The journey to the presidency for the APC began precisely on February 2013, after four major opposition political parties namely Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), a faction of All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) and the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), fused together in a merger to form the All Progressives Congress (APC).
All is history now as the APC successfully wrestled power from the then ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), when incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari defeated former president Goodluck Ebele Azikiwe Jonathan in the keenly contested 2015 general election.
Since the coming of the party into power at the national level, the APC has continued to ensure that it protect the interests of the distinct political parties that gave up their individual identities to form the APC. This, the ruling party has done largely by putting into consideration the sharing of political offices, with a view to accommodating each of these political parties that agreed to go into the alliance.
One of such offices that readily comes to mind and which could be used to demonstrate this internal arrangement within the APC to carry along its founding members, is the office of the National Chairman of the party.
A cursory look at those who occupied the office since the party came into power in 2015, will show that those who occupied the office, represented the interest of the founding political parties. The first national chairman of the party, Chief John Oyegun, former governor of Edo State, came from the ANPP, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, former Edo State Governor who succeeded Chief Oyegun, came from the ACN. The present interim National Chairman of the party and Yobe State Governor, Mai Mala Buni, is also from the ANPP.
Now, as the party prepares to hold its next national convention, possibly in June, on the expiration of the additional six-month granted the Caretaker/Extra-ordinary National Convention Planning Committee, Chaired by Governor of Yobe State, Mai-Mala Buni, it has become imperative to look once more at this internal arrangement with a view to ensuring justice and fairness for all the parties in alliance.
From the foregoing, two things can easily be deduced. Obviously, the APC has decided to alternate the position of its national chairman between two political parties within the alliance namely, the ACN and ANPP, leaving out the CPC mostly because the party presently occupies the seat of the President, with its founder, President Muhammadu Buhari at the helm of affairs.
This obviously is understandable, since the CPC cannot simultaneously occupy both the offices of the President and national chairman of the party. However, this dimension is expected to give way when the tenure of the incumbent President terminates in 2023. At the end of his tenure, it’s to be expected that the CPC will lose the position of the President to another member of the alliance, ostensibly the ACN.
It’s for this reason that even as individuals within the party begin to jostle to occupy the seat of the National Chairman of the APC, the party must ensure justice and fairness within its fold, which are basic requirements that would further solidify the alliance ahead of the 2023 general election. And that this justice and fairness means that as President Buhari leaves office, his party, the CPC, should be compensated with the position of the National Chairman of the party.
In order to balance the political equation within the ruling APC, the CPC, which is yet to produce the National Chairman of the party, should be given the chance to do so during the next national convention of the party.
What remains, is for the CPC to also look inward with a view to identifying a credible candidate it will present who has all the required competences to occupy the position of the National Chairman of the APC.
In this respect, the CPC may not need to look far. First, the CPC must look to where the party had a stake prior to the merger in 2013. Before the merger that produced the APC, the CPC controlled only one state in the country, Nasarawa State, under the leadership of Senator Umaru Tanko Al-makura.
It was Nasarawa State that provided the platform for the CPC to enter into the alliance, which led to the eventual victory at the 2015 presidential election, which saw President Buhari emerging victorious.
Then governor Umaru Tanko Al-makura weathered the storm, to defeat his erstwhile opponent, the then incumbent governor of Nasarawa State, the late Alhaji Aliyu Akwe Doma of blessed memory, to bring the CPC to limelight.
This was at a time that even Katsina State, the home state of President Muhammadu Buhari, founder and later presidential candidate of the party, lost the election to the opposition PDP.
It was no mean feat, coming from a relatively obscure political party then, for Senator Al-makura to brave the political intimidation and persecution by the then ruling PDP, to fly high the flag of the CPC and to berth the party on the political shores of the country.
Then again, Nasarawa State comes from the North Central geopolitical zone, which has been largely marginalized in terms of sharing political offices at the national level, but for the arrival of President Buhari on the scene.
Senator Al-makura was indeed the political gladiator that provided President Buhari the platform to join the alliance leading to the formation of the APC, which culminated in the electoral victory of 2015.
After serving two terms, Al-makura was elected into the Senate of the National Assembly to represent his Nasarawa South Senatorial district, where he is presently the Chairman Senate Committee on Solid Minerals, as well as belonging to several other committees.
Not only that, unlike any other likely candidate from the zone, Senator Al-makura has played and will continue to play critical role in the party, especially as the national secretariat of the party continue to saddle him with responsibilities at the national level.
Recall that Senator Al-makura chaired the Committee on the 2018 Ekiti State APC governorship primary election, where he successfully delivered on his assignment, as well as the chairman, Post Primaries Peace and Reconciliation Committee of the party for the North East region, where the former governor successfully reconciled aggrieved party members in the wake of the 2019 party primaries.
Senator Al-makura remains a close ally of the President and continues to play critical role uniting the APC and projecting its cause.
Thus, as the APC searches for its next national chairman, it’s imperative that the party takes into cognizance, the underlying matrix represented by both the internal party arrangement, as well as the critical role Nasarawa State and Senator Al-makura played leading to the formation of the party and the eventual political victory back in 2015.