Is The All Progressive Congress (APC) At The Brink Of Collapse?
The crisis rocking the All Progressives Congress (APC) continued Monday as 12 northern state governors of the party insisted that the party should pick its presidential candidate from the southern part of Nigeria. This occurred at about the same time the party’s national chairman, Abdullahi Adamu, announced that President Muhammadu Buhari has endorsed the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, as the consensus candidate.
The governors restated their position at a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday.
Briefing State House correspondents after the meeting, the Plateau governor, Simeon Lalong, said the governors were at the Presidential Villa to apologise to the president because they met at the weekend and took the position to support power shift to the southern part of the country in the spirit of fairness, but before they could convey their position to the president, the matter got leaked.
Also speaking, the Kebbi State Governor, Atiku Bagudu, said the stance of the northern PDP governors that power should shift to the south was for fairness.
“We looked at the totality of the issues in our country and we believe APC with a President that has delivered democratic dividends across the breadth of the country and 22 Governors, has everything going for it.
“What is the political brinkmanship that we need to bring so that every component of Nigeria will feel important. It is to allow opportunity for other parts of the country. And this is a step that will bring more peace and resonate with every part of Nigeria,” he said.
In his remarks, the Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai, said out of the 14 governors of APC-controlled states in Northern Nigeria, only one, that of Kogi State, who is also an aspirant, disagreed with their position of zoning the presidency to the south.
At the meeting with the president, the governors insisted on their advice that the party should nominate a candidate from among the southern aspirants in the race.
Ten of the governors and a former governor of Sokoto State, Aliyu Wammako, had issued a statement on Saturday in which they first issued their advice on the power shift.
“After careful deliberation, we wish to state our firm conviction that after eight years in office of President Muhammadu Buhari, the presidential candidate of the APC for the 2023 elections should be one of our teeming members from the southern states of Nigeria. It is a question of honour for the APC, an obligation that is not in any way affected by the decisions taken by another political party. We affirm that upholding this principle is in the interest of building a stronger, more united and more progressive country.
“We, therefore, wish to strongly recommend to President Muhammadu Buhari that the search for a successor as the APC’s presidential candidate be limited to our compatriots from the southern states. We appeal to all aspirants from the northern states to withdraw in the national interest and allow only the aspirants from the south to proceed to the primaries. We are delighted by the decision of our esteemed colleague, His Excellency, Governor Abubakar Badaru to contribute to this patriotic quest by withdrawing his presidential aspiration,” they had said in the statement.
On Monday, an aide to the Kwara State governor, AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq, issued a statement to affirm his support for his 10 colleagues.
Some newspapers had on Saturday reported that Mr Buhari had accepted the advice of the governors and stated this when he met the 23 presidential aspirants at the Aso Rock Villa Saturday evening.
However, a presidential spokesperson, Garba Shehu, issued a statement the following day to say that the president did not endorse the call for a southern candidate.
The president has since met with different stakeholders in the party and urged them to prevail on the aspirants to come to a consensus to produce a candidate before the convention for which preparations are now underway in Abuja.
The APC National Chairman, Mr Adamu, told a meeting of the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party that the president had picked Mr Lawan, a Yobe senator, as his preferred candidate.
A member of the NWC, who was at the meeting but asked not to be named because of the sensitive nature of the issue, said although the matter was not on the meeting’s agenda, Mr Adamu told them of the president’s position.
Mr Lawan was a late entrant into the race who picked the presidential nomination form of the party in May, two days before the close of the sale of the forms.
He later said he was a reluctant aspirant, saying it took him a long time to yield to pressure to join the race.
The governor of Jigawa, Abubakar Badaru, also dropped his senatorial nomination form to pick the presidential form about the same time.
He too was said to have succumbed to pressure from northern power brokers to join the race.
According to reliable information obtained , Kaduna State governor, Nasir El-Rufai, had to flee to Dubai last week after pressure was intensified on him too to pick the nomination forms, despite the sale of the forms closing almost two weeks earlier.