Ahead of the All Progressives Congress (APC) National Convention, President Muhammadu Buhari may have directed all his backers to close ranks in choosing the next set of leaders to manage the party.
Based on Buhari’s advice, it was learnt yesterday, APC governors and some top leaders of the party, who are pro-Buhari, were trying to work out a harmonised or unity list.
Former Edo State Governor Oserheimen Osunbor’s sudden decision to run for National Chairman appears to have caused some anxiety in Buhari’s camp.
Osunbor will vie for the office with ex-Governor Adams Oshiomhole and ex-Governor Clement Ebri.
The three chairmanship aspirants had undergone screening with others amid fears that Osunbor was drafted by some members of a “third force” in the party.
The Screening Committee will submit its final report to the National Convention Committee next week.
According to sources, who pleaded not to be named, the President asked APC governors on Tuesday night in Abuja to ensure a rancour-free National Convention on June 23.
It was learnt that as part of steps to have a smoother convention, some governors and top leaders of the party (loyal to Buhari) had been contemplating a harmonised list or a unity list in line with the wish of the President.
The recourse to a harmonised list was meant to avert a repeat of the events which led to the choice of principal officers of the party.
The silence of the New Peoples Democratic Party (nPDP) caucus in the party is said to have made Buhari’s supporters to become circumspect in the past few days.
The President might be involved on the consensus built by the governors and party leaders.
There are three groups in the party pledging to work for Buhari.
But the three groups had been working at cross-purposes and there were fears in the presidency that going into the convention in a disunited form might be dangerous.
The three groups are:
- the reformists led by those who facilitated the coalition of parties into APC;
- the group said to be headed by a governor;
- and another set of eight governors who have the backing of five APC state chapters in the South-South and four in the South-East.
A source, who spoke in confidence, said: “The people around the President are really worried that there are three distinct groups in APC working for him and pledging loyalty. To avoid a crisis at the convention, some governors have proposed a harmonized or unity list.
“The challenge at hand is that most of the governors have been meeting on how to control the party structure. But our leaders are saying that the governors should not be ambitious to the detriment of President Buhari.
“There are forces within and outside the party working round the clock to ensure that the President loses the APC structure at the convention.
“Some of those planning to defect from APC to other parties are plotting a joker and loyalists of Buhari have to be careful not to be caught unawares.
“This is why there is a push to prevail on loyalists of Buhari, governors and party leaders to close ranks. We do not want to leave any gap for division in APC.”
The source added: “I think the next few days will be devoted to more horse-trading by governors and some leaders of the party.
“The real danger is that without a harmonised list, the outcome of the convention can be hijacked by a third force in the party. For some offices, we have as many as seven or eight candidates. The situation is polluted by this third force.
“So far, two governors have not been forthcoming on where they are headed at the convention. They have been attending meetings to feel the pulse of Buhari’s supporters.”
The Chairman of the National Convention Committee, Governor Abubakar Badaru, is said to have proposed that governors and party leaders should meet at the zonal level to arrive at a consensus on candidates.
“The options are open, we want to avoid any stalemate at the convention. We hope the zones will meet before the convention and save APC a lot of trouble,” the source added.
Three aspirants have applied to be National Chairman. They are ex-Governor Adams Oshiomhole, ex-Governor Oserheimen Osunbor and ex-Governor Clement Ebri.
Despite of the President’s anointing of Oshiomhole, some governors and party leaders are shocked that Ebri and Osunbor have thrown their hats into the ring.
A party source said: “Osunbor collected chairmanship form at the last minutes and he filled it immediately. We are suspecting that a third force in the party is behind him because the Edo State chapter had already endorsed Oshiomhole. The same Osunbor was defeated by Oshiomhole at the governorship poll in 2007. There must be more to his ambition.
“But so far, Oshiomhole is still the leading candidate. On Tuesday, the National Leader of APC, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the first Interim National Chairman of the party, Chief Bisi Akande and seven governors paid a solidarity visit to Oshiomhole at his campaign office in Abuja.
“The governors who visited Oshiomhole are: Umar Tanko Al-Makura(Nasarawa); Yahaya Bello(Kogi); Ibikunle Amosun(Ogun); Simon Lalong(Plateau); Rotimi Akeredolu(Ondo); Atiku Bagudu(Kebbi); and Abdullahi Ganduje(Kano).
Earlier, Kaduna State Governor Nasir el-Rufai had been part of the inauguration of the campaign office. (The Nation)