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2023: The new Sheriff in APC and the gladiators battling for party’s presidential ticket

By Lanre Oloyede

There is a new regime in the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, and the atmosphere at the Buhari house national secretariat of the party is that of palpable fear, trepidation and caution.

This is because the new sheriff in town, a former governor of Nasarawa State, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, who emerged as the national chairman and leader of the newly constituted National Working Committee, NWC, at the recently conducted National Convention of the party is regarded by many as a tough and no-nonsense man.

Some even went far to describe him as an authoritarian tyranist and one who have little tolerance for insubordination and disrespect.

This was made more intense with the omnibus power of the National Executive Committee, NEC, devolved to the NWC at its maiden meeting held in Abuja last week to be exercised by Adamu for a period of 90 days, and according to his antecedents, Senator Adamu sure knows how to wield power.

This he has began to demonstrate already with the immediate suspension of all Directors at the national secretariat of the party.

The change of guard in the ruling party came barely less than 10 months to the crucial 2023 general elections and barely two months to the presidential primary of the party.

Currently the battle is set in array in the ruling party as torrents of aspirants including the gladiators have declared their interests to contest the coveted position of the president of Nigeria and are already throwing in everything to secure the party’s presidential ticket.

However, the manner of emergence of Senator Abdullahi Adamu as the national chairman of APC is one thing that should serve as an instructive lesson for aspirants jostling to pick the party’s presidential ticket for the 2023 presidential election.

Adamu, who never declared his intention to contest the position from the beginning, neither printed posters nor run any significant campaign suddenly emerged from nowhere as president Muhammadu Buhari’s preference and the party’s eventual consensus candidate after other aspirants, who had spent billions in campaign fund with elaborate billboards all over Abuja, were allegedly ‘pressured’ to step down.

Already, there are about eight aspirants in the ruling party battling to outwit one another to secure the APC presidential ticket for the 2023 elections but there are fears that the individual who might eventually emerge as the party’s flagbearer might not have even indicated his interest at all nor printed a single poster.

The fear is that a scenario similar to that of Adamu’s emergence, where the president suddenly came out with a consensus candidate as his preference at die minute might also play out at the special convention to determine the party’s presidential flagbearer.

Recall that president Buhari had at an interview granted on Channels TV hinted of an unknown successor whom he feared might be assassinated if his identity is unwrapped prematurely.

Those who have indicated interest to contest for the party’s presidential ticket so far included Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu, a highly reverred national leader of APC and former two-term governor of Lagos, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, an astute legal professional though regard as a greenhorn in party politics, others are the current Ebonyi State governor, Dave Umahi, Former Imo State governor, Rochas Okorocha, Minister of Transport and former two-term governor of Rivers, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, Minister of Labour and former governor of Anambra, Chris Ngige, Kogi State governor, Yahaya Bello, former Senate President, Ken Nnamani among others.

There are insinuations that Senator Adamu was purposefully planted in the party’s national Secretariat to act out a script already written by those who want to determine the individual who would be the next occupier of the highly exalted Aso Villa office after president Buhari’s exit in May 2023.

The picture became clearer last week with the devolution of the powers of NEC – the highest decision making organ of the party- to the Adamu-led National Working Committee NWC for 90 days, a period which covers the timeframe and deadline given by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, for all political parties to submit their nominated candidates for all positions to be contested in the 2023 general elections.

According to APC National Publicity Secretary, Barr. Felix Morka, those powers of NEC under Article 13 paragraph three, two, and three, and four, and five and six respectively, of APC constitution have been devolved to the National Working Committee, NWC.

Morka said, “those provisions are now vested in the National Working Committee of the party, meaning the NWC of the party is authorised for a specified period of 90 days to exercise the authority that is constitutionally assigned to the NEC on behalf of the party.

“The NEC, also divolves its authority, as enshrined in article 13 paragraph three subparagraph two of the APC constitution to discharge all functions of the national convention as constituted in between conventions. NEC also devolved its powers to NWC as enshrined in article 13 paragraph three sub four of the APC constitution to consider reports from national, State and Local governmrnt areas and area Council chapters of the party and to take such decisions as are necessary to protect, advance and consolidate the gains and interests of our party.

“NEC further devolved its powers to the NWC as enshrined in article 13, paragraph three, five of the APC Constitution, to exercise control and take disciplinary actions on all organs, officers are members of the party and determine appeals brought before it by any member or organ of the party.

“Finally, that NEC has devolved its powers to the NWC as enshrined in article 13, paragraph three sub six of our Constitution to create elect and appoint any committee it may deem necessary, desirable or expedient and assigned to them such powers and functions as it may deem fit and proper,” Barr. Morka said.

Analytically, the powers given to Adamu included the power to remove or suspend any member of the NWC or party if such person does contrary to his bidding.

According to analysts, giving such power to Adamu may turned out to be a very dangerous and costly mistake given that Adamu is a high-handed and power freak personality.

Speaking to Nigerian Pilot on condition of anonymity, a party Chieftain said he feared that Adamu may later turn against those who planted him in office and begin to do his own bidding like it was experienced during the tenure of immediate-past chairman Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee, CECPC, Mai Mala Buni.

Recall that Buni became the CECPC Chairman allegedly on the plot of certain cabal who wanted to secure the control of party machinery going into the national convention and ultimately the 2023 general elections.

That cabal included five governors and three serving ministers close to the presidency. It was reported that Buni initially was getting his instructions from these cabal on how to proceed but as time rolled by and the dynamics of politics set in, Buni’s personal interest outgrew those of the cabal that puts him in office and that led to the split among the five governors and three ministers making up the cabal.

Other analysts believed the devolution of powers of NEC to Adamu-led NWC was targeted at eliminating the candidacy of Bola Tinubu because with such power, Adamu has the singular power to determine who emerged as the party’s presidential flagbearer.

The general believe is that Tinubu has a very high prospect of picking the party’s presidential ticket if the NEC were allowed to oversee the conduct of the special convention because the former Lagos State governor is believed to be the only candidate with widespread structure and loyalists across the party’s decision making organs.

There are insinuations that if Tinubu is edged out, it might turn out to be one of the greatest ondoings of APC as Asiwaju might either pull out all his structures from the party and defect to a new party.

Another option is that if Asiwaju refused to defect as it is likely to happen, he might stay and work against the party from within.

Although there are speculations that the ruling APC might implode particularly if it comes up with the option of consensus like it did at the national convention, but going by what happened during and after the Convention analysts are of the opinion that the APC might shock once again shock its critics like it did with the convention.

Also part of the decisions taken at the NEC meeting which was attended by president Muhammadu Buhari and vice president Yemi Osinbajo was the pecking of the party’s nomination and expression of interest forms at N100m a decision which has since drew the ire of Nigerians.

The party’s National Publicity Secretary, Felix Morka, announced at the end of the party’s 11th National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting that the party has fixed the cost of the party’s presidential Expression of Interest and Nomination forms for the 2023 presidential and governorship aspirants at N100 million and N50 million respectively.

But Nigerians who were shocked and angry at the decision described it as a recipe for massive corruption, saying that aspirants when in office would loot massively in order to recoup their money.

Meanwhile, aspirants jostling for elective offices in 2023 on the platform of the party will have to wait a little while to buy their Expression of Interest and Nomination forms.

This is because the sale of the forms which was scheduled to begin on Saturday, could not commence due to what sources said was failure of the printing contractor to deliver as scheduled.

An authoritative source at the party secretariat told Nigerian Pilot that contractors handling the printing of the forms were yet to deliver the forms as at close of work on Friday.

The source assured, however, that the sale of the forms would begin soon after they had been delivered to the secretariat and logistics fine-tuned.

“The delay is because the contractor did not deliver the forms as at close of work on Friday, but may deliver before the weekend runs out.

“If that happens, sale of forms could begin on Monday or Tuesday.

“The party’s National Working Committee will determine the new date,’’ the source said.

Already the new national chairman, Abdullahi Adamu, had started on a tough note with his decision ordering all departmental directors at the party headquarters to proceed on an indefinite suspension.

According to media report, Adamu had on assumption of office on April 1 hinted at the possibility of reorganizing the national secretariat.

On his assumption of office, Adamu had disclosed the possibility of probing the staff of the secretariat, especially its directors.

The former Nasarawa governor declared that the party could not continue to carry on with the old way of doing things, adding that his administration will have zero tolerance for failure.

“As for you the Director of Administration, you have no hiding place. We will count on your loyalty to the party. It is in God’s pleasure that we are here at the helm of affairs of this party. We have come with a very open mind but you have to reciprocate in the same spirit.

“We will, definitely by the will of God Almighty, the Secretariat, we need to look at you but I am not saying anything today until the transition committee submits its report.

“It is my hope that by the time the report is submitted, you have what they call a clean bill of the ledger, that is my prayer. Right?

“We have zero tolerance for failure in this new dispensation of our great party”, he had declared.

He immediately set up a transition committee headed by a former Governor of Jigawa State, Ali Saad Birnin Kudu to study the handing over a note of the defunct Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee CECPC and other sundry matters affecting the National Secretariat of the party.

On Friday however, Adamu, based on the committee’s recommendations decided to suspend the directors, about eight of them.

Some of the departments include those Administration, Organization, Welfare, Strategy, Legal and Publicity. Adamu’s action is the first of its kind at the secretariat. On assumption of office in June 2020, the then national chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole had said he would reorganize the secretariat by removing those who had no business at the party house. He indeed embarked on some form of staff verification and weeded out those found wanting.

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