Nseobong Okon-Ekong writes that the office of the national publicity secretary of the All Progressives Congress, APC, may be one of the most keenly contested at the party’s convention.

The national convention of the All Progressive Congress (APC) is expected to bring all members of the party together as many positions ranging from the National Chairman of the party and other elected positions would be contested. Kogi State is not left out as some members of party from the state are jostling for the position of the National Publicity Secretary of the party, which is zoned to North Central Zone to which the state belongs. The neighbouring Kwara State is in the race, as well.

Already, four persons are gunning for the position; two from Kwara State and also two from Kogi State. From Kwara, we have the incumbent National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Bolaji Abdullahi and also Lanre Isa-Onilu; while from Kogi State we have Hon. Duro Meseko from Kogi West senatorial district of the state and Mallam Abubakar Sidiq Usman from Kogi Central. According to some political stakeholders of the APC, the position of National Publicity Secretary of the party should be zoned to Kogi State considering the fact that the incumbent and his predecessor, Alhaji Lai Mohammed (both from Kwara State) had already sat on the position in the last three years making micro-zoning of the position to another state imperative.

Thisday checks reveal that principal stakeholders from the North Central would meet today to micro-zone the National Women Leader Position to Kwara. This will automatically position Senator Gbemi Saraki for the office, while the National Publicity Secretary post moves to Kogi. From Kogi, stakeholders are in support of a veteran journalist and former Member, House of Representatives, Hon. Duro Meseko to clinch the position. The reason that the other candidate, Mallam Abubakar Sidiq Usman comes from the same Kogi central zone Governor Yahaya Bello and the current state chairman of the party, Abdullahi Bello.

Beyond this assertion, leaders from the zone believe that the party needs a tested hand to manage its publicity unit especially at this time of political campaigns and the coming general elections. According to Mr. Joshua Adinoyi, a member of the All Progressives Congress from Kogi Central, the fact that the governor is from Kogi central alongside the state chairman has made it imperative for the position to move to other senatorial districts. “It will be very unfair if the position is not given to Kogi West,” he declared. He noted that since the governor is working towards reconciliation of some aggrieved members of the party in the state, he should use this opportunity to settle the differences between himself and the late Abubakar Audu group, which form the largest political group in the state.

“The Governor should wholeheartedly support Mr. Meseko from the Audu/ Faleke group if he is really serious about working towards victory for President Muhammadu Buhari as the group has been neglected all along with no single position either at the state or federal level despite the fact that they were the group that spearheaded the victory of the party in the state.”

Reports indicate that majority of the governors from North Central are in support of any decision on Kogi that would facilitate victory for the President Buhari.

A source who pleaded anonymity said, ” The failed recall process of Senator Dino Melaye has shown that Governor Yahaya Bello really needs the support of the Audu Political Group for President Buhari to be able to win convincingly in the state. Any thing other than allowing a tested professional like Meseko from the group into the National Working Committee will surely be a political disaster for the party as the group would have been completely shut out of the scheme of things both at state and national levles. Till date, nobody from the group has been given any political appointment.”

Already, Meseko has submitted his letter of intent to contest for the position of national publicity secretary of the party come June 23rd and has been going round stakeholders of the party from all the zones for support. A graduate of Political Science from the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, he started his journalism career from the Courier Magazine Kano in 1990 after bagging the Best Corper’s Award in the state and given automatic employment by the state government. In 1992, he joined the services of TELL Magazine, Lagos and later became a major nemesis of military dictatorship leading to his subsequent arrest, torture and detention in 1993. In 1995, he continued his journalism career at The News/Tempo Magazine from where he eventually joined THISDAY Newspapers as Senior Assistant Editor in 1996. Between 1996-1999 when he became a Political Editor (Nation’s Capital) of THISDAY, he held various appointments including Chief Press Secretary. He was later appointed as Manager, Public Affairs, Albarka Air Plc, the office from which he was elected Member, House of Representatives in 2003. After his tenure in the National Assembly in 2007, he ventured into Media Consultancy business and has been privileged to consult for some standing Committees in the Senate and House of Representatives respectively as well as leading corporate organizations in the country. In 2015, he was also privileged to be to be appointed as Director, Media and Publicity of the APC Governorship campaigns in Kogi State and today, he remains a major stakeholder of the party.

Soliciting support for his aspiration to become the National Publicity Secretary of the party, he said, “In arriving at, and clarifying this aspiration, I first introspectively considered my ability, passion, energy, drive and desire to portray our party in the best possible light and make the real image of principles and fidelity to the people that we truly stand for. “In addition, I reflected deeply on how best to accomplish this objective, the current political landscape in our country, our strengths, opportunities and threats to our dominance and domination. “Finally, realizing that our greatest asset has been our beginning history of consensus and continuing ability to build, and sometimes forge this consensus, I consulted widely with critical stakeholders at every level to ensure that we could build a consensus in the best spirit and character of our party.” Advancing more reasons for his quest, he said, “By training, I am a professional journalist, in work experience, I have been a strategic communications, crisis management and public relations specialist. “Decades of experience in these vital areas have served me well, and I know it will serve our party well. Further, I have been politically active for many years including handling the entire public relations of major campaigns and important political causes and situations. “Beyond that, I have been a political office holder and elected as an Honourable Member of the House of Representatives in the National Assembly. All these have assisted to build solid political, media, professional and social justice/civil society networks which are so crucial to the role of making and projecting the image of our party.”

He promised that if elected he will always disseminate information to the general public at all times, key strategic communication initiatives and collaborations with relevant internal and external stakeholders to reiterate their achievements, their continuing core values and demonstrated interest and commitment to nation building, as well as decimation comparisons and comparators with opposition. He also promised to educate the nation about the acceptable dynamics of democracy and show that existing and arising opposition are neither credible nor pose any track record that can be trusted. He concluded his appeal with a pledge to render, “Regular briefings on the achievements of our party and government across all sectors of our socio-political entity. We will enter robust engagements with opposition parties on policy directions of government. There will be robust defence and management of the corporate image of the APC at all times and also constructive engagements with other members of the National Working Committee (NWC) in the administration and development of the party, among others.