Ahead of the February 26 convention of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), top shots of the party including governors and those at the presidency have narrowed down on four of the contenders out of the many vying for the chairmanship seat.
According to Daily Trust, credible sources said that President Muhammadu Buhari and the governors are looking at the direction of two former governors of Nasarawa State, Tanko Al-Makura and Senator Abdullahi Adamu; former Deputy National Chairman of the defunct Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), Saliu Mustapha; and former Minister for Mines and Steel Development, Abubakar Bawa Bwari to pick the national chairman of the party.
Senator Abdullahi Adamu chairs the party’s reconciliation committee and Bwari, who was a minister in Buhari’s first tenure, have not formally indicated their interest in the race.
Sources said a section of the presidency was considering them as likely successors to the Yobe State governor and caretaker chairman of the party, Mai Mala Buni.
Though the party has dispelled the report that it has zoned positions, the four aspirants who are being considered for the party’s plum position are from the North Central geopolitical zone.
One of the sources close to the presidency said the body language of the president favours the former Governor of Nasarawa State, Al-Makura.
“Though it is very difficult to read the president’s mind on this, his body language showed that he has preference for Al-Makura, who was the lone governor produced by the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC),” the source said.
It was further gathered that Al-Makura’s successor in Nasarawa State, Abdullahi Sule, has reached out to many of his colleagues to support his predecessor to pick the chairmanship seat.
“Governor Sule has reached out to many of his colleagues (governors) to support his candidate. You will recall that he started the campaign for him long before other aspirants indicated their interest,” a ranking lawmaker said.
But those who are against him have drawn the attention of his promoters to the issue of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). He was a guest of the EFCC alongside his wife, Mairo, on July 29, last year.
It was gathered that some of the governors are pushing for the candidature of Senator Abdullahi Adamu.
The former Nasarawa governor, who chairs the APC’s reconciliation committee, has not indicated interest in the race.
Those promoting him said the ranking lawmaker if given the opportunity, will conclude the reconciliation moves he has started. They said he has the capacity to lead the party to victory in 2023.
But another section in the party was priming Saliu Mustapha, who hails from Kwara State as the consensus chairmanship candidate. Mustapha, according to those promoting him has ‘’no baggage like the former governors.’’
However, the name of Abubakar Bawa Bwari, from Niger State, a former minister during Buhari’s first tenure propped up last night. He is yet to formally join the race.
Other contenders for the chairmanship seat include former Governor of Zamfara State, Abdulaziz Yari; former Governor of Borno State, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff; former Governor of Bauchi State, Isa Yuguda and Minister of Special Duties and Inter-Governmental Affairs, Senator George Akume (a former governor of Benue State); Senator Mohammed Sani Musa (APC, Niger East); Sunny Moniedafe and Mohammed Saidu Etsu.
Meanwhile, the latest national chairmanship aspirant, Dr Sani Shinkafi, has said he would maintain the supremacy of the party at all levels if given the mandate at the convention.
He stated this Wednesday while speaking to newsmen at the party’s national secretariat in Abuja. He equally promised to promote and strengthen internal democracy within the party.
Two sources last night said that despite the horse-trading, President Buhari will play a key role in the selection of the next chairman of the party.
One of the sources said, “The issue of consensus has been settled. What we are waiting for is who the candidate will be. Like in 2018, it is Mr President that will give the final approval. The governors may recommend but it is the president that will approve it.”
The second source said people around the president are pushing for the selection of one of the aspirants who are of the defunct CPC, founded by the president.