Tussle for APC’s national secretary hots up as CPC bloc makes strong bid
The position of National Secretary of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) is vacant. It was occasioned by the emergence of Alhaji Mai Mala Buni, as Yobe State governor-elect. He was first elected National Secretary about five years ago. He retained the position after the party’s last convention in June last year.
He emerged after series of horse-trading, as pressure was brought to bear on his major contender, Waziri Bulama, at the convention ground to step down. Bulama is from Borno State. He is of the Congress for Progressives Change (CPC) bloc, while Buni is of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) bloc.
Daily Sun gathered that at inception six years ago, following the merger that brought about the APC, the party positions were shared on pro-rata basis.
There were 32 positions then, ACN nine, CPC nine, All Nigerian Peoples Party (ANPP), nine and the remaining shared among the smaller parties who were parts of the merger. But the CPC bloc is complaining that just after one term in power of the APC, the party appears to have jettisoned the sharing formula.
One of the CPC stalwarts said that 90 per cent of the members of the APC’s National Working Committee (NWC) as at today are of the ACN bloc, adding that technically, they have been totally eliminated from the affairs of the party.
“Before our national convention, we were marginalised no doubt, but today what we have is total elimination. Our National Chairman is ACN, National Secretary, ACN, Deputy National Chairman (North), ACN, Deputy National Chairman (South), ACN, National Legal Adviser, ACN, Financial Secretary, ACN, National Vice Chairman (South-South), ACN, I can go and on. This is why I call it total elimination. We have been eliminated from the party,” the source added. By this, it means that all those who have a say in the NWC are all from the ACN bloc, the source insisted.
It was the desire to give the CPC bloc a say in the party affair, that compelled some like minds within the party to prompt Bulama to run for the office of the national secretary in June last year, it was further learnt, before he was brought under “tremendous pressure by the governors and Tinubu to step down.” He stepped down for Buni.
How Buni emerged in 2014
Buni was ACN’s chairman in Yobe State and chairman of the Conference of Political Parties (CNPP) in the state. After the merger, he became the APC chairman in the state, before emerging as the National Secretary of the party in June 2014, at a convention he had attended as a mere delegate with no ambition of running for any office.
Former governor of Borno State, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff, had positioned Kashim Imam for the position. Imam also enjoyed the support of Tinubu at the time. But when it became clear that there was need to “checkmate Sheriff’s influence in the party,” Tinubu was said to have dumped him and hurriedly embraced Buni.
In the end, all the Sheriff’s associates, Imam, Tom Ikimi and Umar Duhu were not considered “fit” for any position despite their earlier endorsement by party members and stakeholders.
Ikimi wanted to be the national chairman, while Duhu wanted to retain his position as the North-East vice chairman of the party. The development forced Sheriff out of the party in the build-up to the 2015 general elections. But Sheriff is back in the APC.
He is, however, not of the CPC bloc. He is of the ANPP bloc. But since part of the reasons he made the move in 2014 to get his men into the party’s hierarchy was to checkmate the influence of the ACN bloc and in particular that of Tinubu in the party, he is likely to team up with the aggrieved members of the CPC bloc to battle the ACN bloc for the office of the national secretary.
The 2018 convention
Daily Sun further gathered that, while Bulama had to step down at the last national convention, another of Buhari’s loyalists, Faruk Adamu Aliyu, who like Bulama was prompted to run for the office of the deputy national chairman (North) to represent what they call the “ideological” arm of the group, refused to step down despite appeals from party leaders.
But in the end, in spite of the fact that his candidature enjoyed tremendous support of the core Buhari men in government, like the Chief of Staff to the president, Abba Kyari, the Customs boss, Hameed Ali, the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), Abubakar Malami, and the rest he was roundly defeated by another member of the ACN bloc, Senator Lawal Shuaibu.
The battle this time
As at the time of filing this report, Daily Sun gathered that the North East zone of the party had been asked to forward a consensus candidate to fill vacancy created by the exit of Buni. But the Yobe State chapter of the party is insisting on producing Buni’s replacement.
Interestingly, Yobe and Borno states are also in hot contest for the Senate presidency. Senator Ahmed Lawan, who is the party’s preferred candidate for the position is from Yobe State, while his major challenger for now, Senator Ali Ndume is from Borno State.
Yobe State APC Secretary, Alhaji Abubakar Bakabe, in a recent interview noted that the state has competent personalities to replace Buni: “We have all it takes to occupy that seat; we have a lot of experienced and intelligent party administrators who are interested in the position. So, definitely, one of our people would be sponsored to occupy that seat again.
“Going by the fact that Buni was able to leave an indelible mark, we feel it’s proper for one of us to go and continue with the good job. Secondly, he only spent a year or less in his second term. So, we have to complete that term because it is Yobe State’s quota.”
Reminded that party stakeholders from Borno are already appealing to Ndume to drop his ambition for Lawan, he insisted: “We (Yobe) want both of them because Borno has occupied a lot of seats at the federal level. In Yobe, we consider whoever occupies that seat from Borno as our own because we were carved out of Borno State.
“I see no reason they cannot concede to us to produce the Senate President and the national secretary of the party at the same time. In this government, they have Chief of Army Staff, National Security Adviser, Chief of Staff to Mr President, EFCC boss and many others. We in Yobe have not complained because we considered them as our brothers.
“So, I think we need both positions and I believe they would concede to that. Ndume would soon concede because even the Governor of Borno State, Kashim Shettima, has expressed his solidarity and support for Ahmed Lawan’s ambition.
“I will like to call on Borno people to rally around Lawan for the Senate President because he is an experienced, committed and intelligent person. He has all it takes to hold that position; he is an orator and quite disciplined. That is why even the president and the party endorsed him, a gesture which I think other senators should consider and vote him,” Bakabe added.
He was, however, quick to add that should the party decides otherwise, by micro-zoning it to Borno, the Yobe State APC would not be opposed to it: “We are very disciplined and organised; whoever the leadership of the party endorses, all of us would support him.”
In 2018, three persons contested for the position from Borno. They were: Waziri Bulama, Alhaji Kashim Imam, and Abdulrahman Terab. But of the three, Bulama has remained visible and consistent in the activities of the party, especially at the national level. For instance, he was the deputy -director general of the APC Presidential Campaign Council (PCC). And he remains a committed member of the CPC bloc within the APC. Will the position elude him again this time? Only time will tell. But there are feelers that President Muhammadu Buhari and some of the president’s men are favourably disposed to his candidature. However, if indeed Buhari wants Bulama as the national secretary of the party, he must change his “lackadaisical attitude” towards his core loyalists within the party. He must also take personal interest in what happens in the party, if indeed he is interested in the survival of the APC after the end of his second tenure.