Seventy-two hours after conceding the national chairmanship of the party to President Muhammadu Buhari’s choice, Senator Abdulahi Adamu, the governors, working in tandem with some ministers, yesterday named their choices for the majority of the remaining 75 national executive committee positions.
Missing from the Unity List released by the governors were the names of a former President of the Senate, Chief Ken Nnamani; Farouk Adamu Aliyu; Ifeolu Oyedele; and Arc. Waziri Bulama.
They had sought to vie for Deputy National Chairman (South), Deputy National Chairman (North), National Secretary and National Organising Secretary respectively.
Governor Abubakar Badaru of Jigawa State formally presented Adamu to the convention last night.
Delegates were scheduled to vote for the next national women leader.
Former Minister of Communication, Adebayo Shittu, last night stepped down from the race for APC National Secreatary.
The governors’ own list itself is a product of intense lobbying, meetings and consultations over three days.
The governors were said to have been guided by the following five factors in compiling the Unity List:
Protecting the interest of the legacy parties that formed APC;
The need to respect the desire of members and leaders for unity, a sense of belonging and party cohesion;
To have a solid and vibrant National Working Committee (NWC) which can help Senator Abdullahi Adamu who age may slow down;
Building a bridge between current governors/leaders and latter ones at the party level from 2023; and
Winning the 2023 polls begins with getting it right with the right party structure.
On the Unity List are: Senator Abdullahi Adamu, (National Chairman); Senator Abubakar Kyari, (Deputy National Chairman, North); Emma Eneukwu, (Deputy National Chairman, South) ; Senator Iyiola Omisore (National Secretary); Festus Fuanter (Deputy National Secretary); Mustapha Salihu (National Vice Chairman North-East); Muhazu Bawa Rijau (National Vice Chairman North-Central) and Suleiman Mohammed Argungu National Organising Secretary).
It also contains Salihu Lukman (National Vice Chairman, North-West); Dr. Ijeoma Arodiogbu, (National Vice Chairman South-East); Dr. Victor Giadom, National Vice Chairman South-South); Isaac Kekemeke (National Vice Chairman South-West); Barr. Ahmed El-Marzuk (National Legal Adviser); Bashir Usman Gumel (National Financial Secretary) and Uguru Mathew Ofoke (National Treasurer).
Chief Eneukwu was National Vice Chairman (South East) of the party under the Chief John Oyegun and Comrade Adams Oshiomhole leadership.
The National Unity List was signed by APC governors and leaders including Simon Lalong of Plateau State; Nasir el-Rufai of Kaduna State; Bello Matawalle of Zamfara State; Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State; Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano State; Ben Ayade of Cross River State; Abubakar Bagudu of Kebbi State; Professor Abubakar Zulum of Borno State; A. A. Abdulrazaq of Kwara State and Mohammed Inuwa Yahaya of Gombe State.
Other signatories were Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State; Abdullahi Sule of Nasarawa State; Dapo Abiodun of Ogun State; Yahaya Bello of Kogi State; Hope Uzodinma of Imo State; Nweze David; Aminu Bello Masari of Katsina State; M. B. Abubakar; Mai Mala Buni of Yobe State; and Abu Bello of Niger State.
Some of the candidates had announced that they were stepping down from the race at the convention venue before the arrival of House of Representatives Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila, Senate President Ahmed Lawan, Vice President Yemi Oainbajo and President Muhamadu Buhari.
Mr. Adebayo Shittu, Engr. Ifeoluwa Oyedele and Prof. Abideen Olaiya withdrew from the race for national secretary to pave the way for Senator Iyiola Omisore.
How governors, ministers struck the deal
Party sources told The Nation that the governors and ministers seemed to have applied “a scramble and partition” model in assembling the NEC members.
Some of the governors/ministers who have their allies on the Unity List are the outgoing Chairman of the Caretaker Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee and Yobe State Governor Mai Mala Buni, Governors Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti), Nasir el-Rufai (Kaduna), Abubakar Badaru (Jigawa), Hope Uzodinma (Imo), Dave Umahi (Ebonyi), Babagana Umara Zulum (Borno), Rotimi Akeredolu (Ondo), Aminu Masari (Katsina), Atiku Bagudu (Kebbi), and Abubakar Sani Bello (Niger),as well as Transportation Minister Rotimi Amaechi.
Said one source: “At the stakeholders meeting of the North-East during the week, Buni virtually begged everyone that his political ally, Mustapha Salihu, be allowed to return as National Vice Chairman, North-East.
“Some party leaders from Adamawa State opposed the choice of Salihu but Buni applied diplomacy. And when some stakeholders got to know that certain forces in the Presidency wanted Salihu, they immediately endorsed him at the zonal level.
“On his part, Governor Atiku Bagudu did not waste time to recommend his Chief of Staff, Suleiman Mohammed Argungu, as the party’s National Organizing Secretary.
“Similarly, Governor Rotimi Akeredolu was passionate about Kekemeke for the office of National Vice Chairman (South-West). The same Akeredolu resisted a plot to re-zone the office of National Secretary to Ondo to edge out Kekemeke.
His anger was compounded by the fact that Ifeolu Oyedele, who was handpicked by some forces in the Presidency to be National Secretary, had not been his political ally.
“On his part, Victor Giadom returned to APC NWC in deference to the PDP elements in the legacy parties led by the Minister of Transportation, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi. The same Giadom was handy in fighting a former National Chairman of the party, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, to a standstill.
“To fill his slot, Governor Aminu Bello Masari opted for his Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Ahmad Usman El-Marzuq as APC’s new National Legal Adviser.
“As for el-Rufai, his preference for the National Vice Chairman (North-West) is his trusted aide, Salihu Lukman, who held the fort while he was in exile during the administration of the late President Umar Yar’Adua.
“Apart from coordinating the acceptance of Sen. Abdullahi Adamu as the consensus National Chairman by other aspirants, Governor Kayode Fayemi ensured that the South-West kept its agreement with Senator Iyiola Omisore as its choice for the National Secretary of APC.
“Omisore, who was vital to APC’s victory in the 2018 governorship Election in Osun State had not been fully accommodated. His choice may seal the hope of PDP in the South-West in the 2023 poll.
“Conscious of his exit next year, Governor Simon Lalong nominated his kinsman, Festus Fuanter as Deputy National Secretary of APC. Fuanter is the immediate past Commissioner for Lands and Survey in Plateau State. He is also of the same Gomai ethnic group in Plateau South Senatorial District. He is close to the governor.
“With bickering in his state over Deputy National Chairman (North) slot, Governor Abubakar Badaru settled for the office of National Financial Secretary for his state. His choice is Bashir Usman Gumel, who is said to be his wife’s relation.
“Until his nomination by Governor Hope Uzodinma, Dr. Ijeoma Arodiogbu was Chairman of the South East Zonal APC Secretariat.
“On his part, Governor Dave Umahi has his anointed candidate in Uguru Mathew Ofoke as the National Treasurer of the party.”
One of the governors said: “At last, the governors have agreed on a Unity List which can stabilise, unify and assuage all feelings in the party to win the 2023 polls.
“We have succeeded in balancing the interest of the President, the legacy parties, governors, stakeholders and APC members at the grassroots.
“Without securing the buy-in of all, we may not be able to win both off season elections in some states and 2023 elections.
“It was not easy reaching consensus at the state, zonal and national levels, but the Unity List was fair enough to keep APC alive.
“We have sent the Unity List to the President for concurrence. We may not need to vote at the convention.”
Earlier yesterday, the six aspirants who sought to contest the national chairmanship with Senator Adamu had written a letter to the Chairman of the APC Election Committee, notifying him of their withdrawal from the race.
Ex-Benue State Governor George Akume, who signed the letter, said their decision followed the appeal of President Buhari to “agree to a consensus arrangement wherein our colleague H.E. Sen. Abdullahi Adamu is made our consensus candidate.”
Others who agreed to step down were ex-Governor Tanko Al-Makura, ex-governor Abdulaziz Yari, Senator Sani Musa Muhammed, Comm. Etsu Muhammed and Turaki Salifu Mustapha.
Buhari to new NWC: Ensure most popular candidates emerge
President Muhammadu Buhari charged the new National Working Committee (NWC) to de-emphasise money politics and always allow the most popular candidates to emerge.
The committee, Buhari said at the convention, should “as a matter of policy, promote internal democracy and always respect the wishes of the people. We must de-emphasise money politics, and not subject party primary and elections into public offices to the highest bidder syndrome.”
He added: “Popular and acceptable aspirants who remain the people’s choice must be allowed to fly the party’s flag in the 2023 elections. We will resist the imposition of candidates.
“We should also promote equal opportunities and respect for the laws guiding the elections to stand us out as Nigeria’s ruling party.
“It is our hope that the new electoral act which l recently signed into law would promote the process of election, enhance transparency, fill in existing gaps and add value to Nigeria’s democracy.
“I, therefore, call on all the political parties, politicians and indeed the electorate, to be guided by the act and all other relevant laws for our democracy to thrive.”
He said the convention came at a very crucial period, being just a few months away from the general elections.
“This Convention is coming at a crucial time when we prepare for another round of a general election. Therefore, the need to remain strong and united for the party to exploit the rich and abundant potentials at its disposal cannot be over emphasised.
“We appreciate the right to hold different opinions and aspirations. However, such differences must not be to the detriment of the party,” he said.
He commended the Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee for steering the ship of the party this far, including reconciling aggrieved party members, purchasing a new party secretariat and launching an aggressive membership drive that saw three governors defecting into the APC, among others.
Oshiomhole: Evil doers have failed
Former chairman of the APC who breezed into the venue amidst cheers from the crowd said it was a great day for the APC.
“I am happy, I am excited that the party will be restored to the leadership position that it ought to be,” he told the NTA in an interview.
He added: “We are democrats and our party is for the ordinary Nigerians. It is not a party of big men. For us to have our convention today shows that evildoers can have their plans but God has produced someone today. And we have more people of goodwill than the evil ones who wanted this convention to happen today.”
Better days are ahead of us, says Gbajabiamila
House of Representatives Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila told delegates that better days were coming for Nigeria under the APC.
His words: “Our party, like our country, is going through a process of rebirth. We have the power and opportunity to build a political party that can stand the test of time and lead our country to a future of abiding peace and universal prosperity.
“We have answered that call and must now work together to make ourselves worthy, and by so doing, write our names, each and together, in the good book of history for all generations to come.
“The All Progressives Congress (APC) is a triumph of vision over cynicism and principled action over apathy. As it was in the beginning, so it remains today.
“Together, we are a living monument to the principle that when patriots stand together in a righteous cause, God is ready to bless the works of their hands.
“And from our union of progressives has emerged substantive, long-lasting change that will stand to the benefit of our country for years to come.”
We delivered on CECPC assignment -Buni
In his valedictory speech, Governor Buni said the Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee which he led delivered on the assignment given it, citing the party’s registration of over 41 million members during the last revalidation and exercise and the defection of some PDP governors and other high profile politicians to the APC.
He said the former PDP governors whose defections are being challenged in the courts “have nothing to fear because your defections did not contravene any law.”
He added: “You will by the grace of God emerge successful and victorious in the superior courts at the end of these litigations. Your wise decision to join APC along with millions of your supporters shall never be in vain.”