Kogi State governor, Mr Yahaya Bello, has moved against the choice of Senator Umaro Tanko Al-Makura for the post of National Chairman of the All Progressive Congress, THE WHISTLER learnt on Monday.
It is believed that the former Nasarawa State governor enjoys the backing of the National Leader of the All Progressives Congress, Mr Bola Tinubu, who is known to have a presidential ambition for 2023 just like Gov Bello.
for financial impropriety, embezzlement and money laundering while he was Governor of Nasarawa State and it is unclear how this could affect his chances. But it was gathered that Bello is reaching out to governors of the party, some of who have aligned with him on the project to stop the emergence of any candidate anointed by the former Lagos state governor. Bello and his allies among the governors are hoping to replicate what the opposition People’s Democratic Party governors did to seize control of the party machinery ahead of the 2023 election. The PDP governors were able to overpower some bigwigs in the party such as former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, its 2019 Presidential flag bearer; Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, former Governor of Kano State; Former Senate President, Mr Bukola Saraki among others, to produce Iyorchia Ayu as its National Chairman during its October Convention. This has bolstered the chances of the governors to produce from among them the party’s presidential candidate for the 2023 election. Sensing how successful that move was, the APC governors being organised by Bello feel the same thing can be replicated in their party to give anyone of them a fighting chance for the presidential ticket of the party.
Bello is particularly worried about Tinubu’s growing influence and how readily he seemed to be recruiting high profile members of the party to float his campaign organisations even as the party is yet to put its house in order. Thus, Bello is taking the operation to whittle down Tinubu’s influence seriously and has vowed to ensure that whoever emerges from the February Convention would not be a political ally of Tinubu. But Bello did not need to stress too much as there are a handful of governors who are hoping to achieve similar objectives as him. Sources close to the governor told THE WHISTLER that governors who have come on board to go against Tinubu’s choice and float their own Man Friday for the National Chairman of the party are the Kaduna State governor, Mr Nasir El-Rufai, Cross River State governor, Mr Ben Ayade and Niger State governor, Mr Abubakar Sani Bello. Other state governors who have joined what a source described as ‘integrity alliance’ are Governor Simon Lalong of Plateau, Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq of Kwara, Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti and Gombe state governor, Inuwa Yahaya. Governors with Tinubu are Babagana Zulum of Borno, Mai Mala Buni of Yobe, Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano and Aminu Bello Masari of Katsina . While the Ekiti State governor, Kayode Fayemi, appeared unwilling to openly commit to the Tinubu project, other governors from the South West have pledged their support.
Gov Fayemi is said to be interested in the presidential race, least as a running mate should the North gets the party’s presidential ticket. This has put him at cross purpose with the Tinubu camp, as they do not invite him to their meetings. Similarly, El-Rufai is understood to have cooled his ambition to replace Buhari or run as a vice presidential candidate, nonetheless, he is not happy with Tinubu’s apparent posturing for the party’s presidential ticket, a source explained. Kwara’s AbdulRazaq is miffed that Tinubu’s protege, current Minister of Information, Mr Lai Mohammed, is being supported by Tinubu to control the party’s machinery in the state. The state has been embroiled in crisis producing two state chairmen. Tinubu recently attempted to smoothen the relationship between the governor and the minister but that has not yielded any result. It is not clear where Jigawa state governor, Mohammed Badaru Abubakar, and his Kebbi state counterpart, Governor Abubakar Atiku Bagudu, are within the camps. Bagudu is the Chairman of the APC’s Progressives Governor’s Forum, a forum that comprises of all governors on the platform of the party. According to Bello’s camp, the governors in the party are divided because they see their interest as conflicting with Tinubu’s.
The source include governors in cross River and Ebonyi States as among those joining Bello for the APC’s presidential ticket, and said the development might lead to a lot of governors and high profile party members decamping to the PDP. He revealed that, “Already the party’s decisions since the Caretaker Committee was created will be subject of litigation from the opposition when the time comes.
Those who by virtue of court’s decisions will not contest will seek help elsewhere especially in the PDP. “It will be worse if the caretaker Committee decides to play Tinubu’s card and allow him to usurp the party to emerge as the party’s presidential candidate, then you will see mother of all defections. And the major beneficiary will be PDP. “Don’t take this for granted; whether one likes it or not, the PDP still has an intimidating structure and machinery. So any loss in the APC will be PDP’s gain,” he said. THE WHISTLER reached out to the APC Extraordinary/Caretaker Committee for comment but was unsuccessful. However, the party is yet to release clear guidelines and screen aspirants for the February Convention. Apart from Al-Mukara, others in the race for the APC Chairmanship are the Senator representing Niger East Senatorial District at the National Assembly, Mr Mohammed Sani Musa; former interim National Chairman of the PDP, Mr Ali Modu Sheriff of Borno and former Governor of Zamfara State, Mr Abdulaziz Yari of Zamfara. Others are a former National Publicity Secretary of the defunct Congress for Progressive Change CPC, Mr Saliu Mustapha and the Hakimin Jimeta, Mr Sunny Sylvester Moniedafe. According to sources, while Bello prefers any zone outside the North Central to produce the Chairman, the governors opposed to Tinubu’s anointed aspirant have endorsed Senator Musa, which will signal a generational shift. Bello’s camp said on Monday that even if Musa emerges, it will not serve as a death knell to the governor’s presidential aspiration.