Buhari’s Silence On Zoning, Successor Unsettles APC
The ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) is currently in a dilemma as President Muhammadu Buhari, who is the leader of the party, has not given a clear direction on his choice of successor or the region where the party should zone the presidency to.
Daily Independent gathered that the president’s silence on which region the party will zone the presidential ticket to has further heightened the tension in the party “as those mandated to run the affairs of the party are doing what suits them as there is no direction from the president”.
The Caretaker and Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC) on Tuesday said that at the appropriate time it will come up with a consensus and agreeable presidential candidate that will fly its flag in 2023.
“After our congresses and the national convention we will shock them (PDP) by bringing a consensus and an agreeable candidate that will fly the flag of the party come 2023. APC has no third term agenda like PDP. What we are doing now is to stabilise the party and not allow individual ambitions to derail President Buhari’s administration”, Sen. John Akpanudoehede, National Secretary of APC, had said.
Speaking with Daily Independent, a chieftain of the party, who served as minister in President Buhari’s first term, said the idea of fielding a consensus candidate is nonsense as the major contention in the party is the issue of zoning.
“I am a leader in the party and I can categorically tell you that there is no clear direction from the president as to where we are going. From the way things are going, I think it is high time the president spoke to us in the language we understand so that everybody can fall in place. Silence is no longer golden.
“The major bone of contention in the party now is the issue of zoning. Where will the next presidential candidate of the party come from? If you recall, few weeks ago when Governor Ben Ayade defected to APC, the chairman of the Progressive Governors’ Forum, Atiku Bagudu, said the APC will throw the presidential ticket open. The president has not said anything on that.
“Few days ago, Southern governors also insisted that in the spirit of justice and equity, the South must produce the president in 2023, still yet no word from President Buhari. Now, the Caretaker Committee is talking about presenting a consensus candidate.
“That is already creating tension in the party. How will the consensus arrangement take place? Will they zone first and after that they will now pick a consensus candidate from the region they have zoned the ticket to? So, there are many questions begging for answer and like I said, the president should speak to us in the language we understand”, he said.
However, when contacted, a member of the Caretaker Committee of the party said President Buhari is aware of developments in the party as he is regularly briefed by Governor Mai Mala Buni, who is the national caretaker chairman.
He said the president is waiting for the outcome of the forthcoming national convention where the issue of the national chairmanship of the party will be decided before taking a decision on the zone to produce the presidential candidate.
“Contrary to what they are saying, the president is well aware of everything in the party. When we get to the bridge of the presidential candidate, we will cross it. Right now our focus is on how to have a hitch-free ward congresses and national convention where our national chairman will be elected,” he said.
Buhari Had No Succession Pact With Tinubu, Says VON DG
Meanwhile, Osita Okechukwu, a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and founding member of the ruling party, has debunked claim that President Muhammadu Buhari had a succession agreement with Asiwaju Ahmed Tinubu, the national leader of the party.
Senator Rufai Hanga, former founding national chairman of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) had in a recent interview with a national newspaper alleged that Buhari had a succession agreement with Asiwaju Tinubu.
However, Osita Okechukwu, who was in the same defunct CPC, said he was not aware of any such agreement, pointing out that Buhari rarely entered into any formal or informal agreement with people.
“As a member of the defunct CPC, I never heard of such an agreement and most importantly, Mr. President is not wont to or better put rarely enter into any formal or informal agreement with anybody. But he appreciates good deeds”, he said.
Okechukwu, who is the Director General of Voice of Nigeria (VON), also hailed the consensus option being canvassed by the leadership of APC ahead of the 2023 presidential race.
APC National Secretary, John James Akpanudedehe, had while replying to the allegation made by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) that the president is nursing a third term agenda, hinted that at the appropriate time the party would come out with a consensus candidate for president.
Okechukwu said the option if implemented would confound those who have predicted an implosion of the ruling party ahead of 2023.
“I hail the consensus proposal for it is a deft move which will perish the phobia of implosion of our great party as touted by some naysayers,” Okechukwu said.
Chatting with reporters after the Sallah break at Abuja on Thursday, Mr. Osita Okechukwu, hailed the leadership of the APC for proposing the presentation of a consensus candidate for the 2023 presidential election.
“One slept well last night after reading the profound statement from the social media credited to distinguished Senator John Akpanudedehe, our National Secretary, that at the appropriate time APC would come up with a consensus and agreeable presidential candidate that will fly its flag in 2023. I hail the consensus proposal for it is a deft move which will perish the phobia of implosion of our great party as touted by some naysayers,” Okechukwu said.
Asked whether the adoption of consensus is bound to be like a double-edged sword as the national leader of the party, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, whom Senator Rufai Hanga narrated in a national newspaper interview had an agreement with President Buhari to succeed him? for notable aspirants such
“First it is refreshing that President Buhari is not for third term agenda. Second, in my slightest imagination, one doesn’t think any committee handling such delicate matter will miss out our national leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, in the matrix. Methinks, he will be among the top aspirants to be considered, given his immense contribution to the success of our great party in 2015,” stated Okechukwu.
He reminisced that Tinubu could have easily emerged the vice president to Buhari but for the Muslim/Muslim ticket that was resisted at the time.
“All I know was that Asiwaju automatically could have been the vice president if not for what lawyers will call force majeure. For our leadership warned against Muslim/Muslim ticket. Our leadership then argued that the Abiola/Kingibe Muslim/ Muslim ticket which worked in 1993 may not work in 2015, if Buhari/Tinubu both Muslims were to run, as the scenario differs. That was how Asiwaju nominated Professor Yemi Osinbajo, GCON, as a replacement.”
On the chances of Tinubu emerging the consensus candidate of the party in 2023, he said it is for members of the party to decide, even as he expressed fear that the recommendation of the PDP for an open contest in 2023 would scuttle the ambition of Tinubu.
“As a political scientist, all I fear is the Governor Bala Mohammed PDP Committee’s report which recommended open contest, rather than rotation.
“It is a big albatross to rotation of president to the South. Albeit the PDP by throwing it open, is covertly plotting to harvest Buhari’s 12 million vote-bank. Indeed, a lot of people take it that PDP is tacitly waiting in the wings for APC to go South and they go North to quickly harvest the Buhari’s vote-bank, domiciled mostly in the North.”