Some aspirants vying for various positions in the All Progressives Congress, including those seeking the office of the national chairman at today’s convention have refused to step down.
This is contrary to the appeal by the President, Maj. Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), that those who would be voted into offices should emerge by consensus.
It was learnt that as of 9.30pm on Friday several aspirants were still meeting at various locations in Abuja. Saturday PUNCH learnt that national chairmanship aspirants continued to meet for the second day with no agreement.
One of the aspirants, Saliu Mustapha, said he was still in the race, adding that consensus should be all-inclusive.
In a statement on Friday by the Director-General, Saliu Mustapha Campaign Organisation, Bala Usman, the aspirant said no consensus had been reached as far as he was concerned.
The statement read in part, “Our campaign organisation has received several calls from multitudes of party stakeholders, friends and associates regarding the upcoming convention of our party and the decision of Saliu Mustapha as an aspirant, especially in relation to the unravelling issue of a possible consensus arrangement.
“Indeed, we recognise consensus as one of APC’s acceptable leadership selection methods, which is completely legal and constitutional. However, we are convinced that for consensus to abide, it must be all-inclusive and devoid of any vestige of imposition.
“This is why Mallam Saliu Mustapha, together with all the other aspirants, would continue to engage to review the options before them and agree on a common and mutually beneficial decision. Until this is done, nothing has been decided yet.”
However, the APC said the much-expected Unity List proceeding from the wide consultations on consensus to pick party leaders would be out on Friday. Nonetheless, it was learnt that the list was delayed as governors continued to debate over the list.
The party reaffirmed that consensus remained its preferred mode of choosing its leaders.
Fielding questions from our correspondent at the party’s world press conference held at its national secretariat on Friday, the Chairman of the National Convention Media and Publicity Sub-committee, Governor Abdullahi Sule of Nasarawa State, said the unity list would be out soon.
He said, “From what we have from the regions, the unity list will be ready today (Friday). It will be submitted. If you are talking of consensus, you must have a unity list, because that’s the whole essence of consensus.
“If you’re having consensus, you would have people who have agreed, aspirants who have agreed, stakeholders who have agreed, and the constituency that has agreed, and in that case, that name automatically will be adopted. That’s just the meaning of the unity list.”
However, speaking on Channels Television Politics Today, Sule said a former Governor of Nasarawa State, Abdullahi Adamu, had been adopted as the consensus candidate for the office of the national chairman.
Responding to a question on the adoption of Adamu, Sule said, “Yes, he is our consensus candidate,” adding that with the adoption of Adamu had been cleared to lead the party by the President.
He said, “The President has spoken. He sat down with other aspirants and leaders of the party. The aspirants have been meeting and I know they will out of respect for the President agree. The President has disclosed his decision to them all.”
He said the unity list would show that “only a single candidate would vie for each of the positions.”
Meanwhile, it was learnt that the APC would be making special concessions for serving political appointees who previously held elective office to vote at conventions.
Such persons include a former Governor of Rivers State and Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi; the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, who is also a former governor of Anambra State; a former governor of Lagos State, Babatunde Fashola and Minister of Works and Housing; and a few others.
Governor Sule said they would be given concessions because the APC Constitution makes them statutory delegates.
He said, “Our delegates’ lists are statutory delegates. So if you have a former president as a political appointee, if you have a former senator as a political appointee, these are already automatic delegates.
“Let’s not confuse the two just because being an appointee doesn’t necessarily take you out of being a delegate, because our delegates are classified clearly. Former presidents from our party, former elected personalities, party officials and the rest are delegates.
“So if you are talking of the ones we have submitted now, we don’t have commissioners, we don’t have advisers, we don’t have all those unless somebody particularly who was a former this or former that. In that case, just being an appointee doesn’t completely exclude such a person from being a delegate.”
But speaking on the Channels TV programme, Sule said some ministers, including the one from his state, had been excluded from being delegates. He, however did not say if this would affect his earlier position.
The APC on Thursday barred political appointees from taking part in its national convention or primaries due to the controversy surrounding Section 84(12) of the Electoral Act, which bars political appointees from voting at party congresses.
A Federal High Court sitting in Umuahia, Abia State, ruled last week that the section was null and void because it was at variance with the constitution, the National Assembly had vowed to appeal the judgment.
Probably sensing that his appeal on consensus could be ignored by some delegates, the President has put some of his trusted allies in a sub-committee to enforce his plan at the national convention.
The 35-member committee known as Technical Committee on Monitoring and Supervision is headed by Imo State Governor, Hope Uzodinma. Listed as members of the committee are Governor Bello Matawalle of Zamfara State; the Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami (SAN); and the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, who also represents Buhari’s home state of Katsina in the federal cabinet.
Others in the committee include Buhari’s ally and Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu; the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management, Sadiyya Farouq; and Buhari’s social media aide, Lauretta Onochie.
An impeccable source in the APC told one of our correspondents that the members of the monitoring committee would be the “President’s eyes and ears at the convention.”
“They will monitor those who defy the President’s orders and report accordingly. Some of the members of the committee were the ones that travelled to London two weeks ago to save Buni’s job. They were with him long before he became the President,” said an APC chieftain who wished to remain anonymous.
The President’s insistence on Adamu as his preferred candidate had caused friction among some chieftains of the party, including some chairmanship aspirants.
Buhari had insisted on Adamu while other aspirants were asked to step down with a promise that the money they spent on procuring forms would be returned to them.