Chuks Okocha in Abuja
Efforts by the All Progressives Congress (APC) to elect its National Chairman by consensus like the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) have suffered setbacks as former governors aspiring for the position have opted to test their popularity among the members of the party, THISDAY has learnt.
Investigations have also revealed that the alleged plan to hold the National Convention alongside the presidential primary as suggested by the Senate Whip, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu would also not be feasible as too many stakeholders are opposed to it.
According to multiple sources who spoke to THISDAY, the various interventions by stakeholders to prune down the number of aspirants to one have hit the rocks due to the refusal of many of them to step down for each other.
It was further gathered from the sources that the quest for the consensus option was to ease tension across board, following suspicion in certain quarters that it could result in what was witnessed in many states when state congresses were conducted last year.
Also, the need for the option became more pressing following comments by President Muhammadu Buhari that the APC might lose in 2023 if there is no compromise on the hard-line positions adopted by the various party stakeholders.
Currently, there are eight APC national chairmanship contenders, each holding a strong grip on their immediate constituencies, as rival contenders make an incursion into their areas of influence.
One of the sources told THISDAY that a number of the contenders are in firm control of their immediate states and environs and are not willing to step down.
Instead of stepping down, he said the aspirants all have intensified their bid for endorsement across the country.
“The party has been delaying the National Convention to explore opportunities for consensus because with the nature of the grievances arising from the state congresses, going into National Convention without reaching compromise will not be in the interest of the party. If members go into an election, the outcome will be more rancorous than the crises in the state chapters. But none of the aspirants, particularly the former governors, is ready to shift ground,” the source explained.
The source explained that the National Caretaker Committee of the party might meet on Tuesday as part of the efforts to find a common ground among the various interest groups within the party.
THISDAY gathered that while the former Governor of Benue State and Minister of Special Duties, Senator George Akume, was in Plateau State last week to lobby APC stalwarts over his chairmanship bid, some chieftains of the Nasarawa State chapter of the party paid a solidarity visit to another aspirant from Kwara State, Mallam Saliu Mustapha in Abuja.
And to compound the challenges, another contender has joined the already crowded field.
He is Mr Sani Shinkafi, an aide to Zamfara State Governor, Mr Bello Matawalle who is believed to be opposed to the aspiration of his predecessor, Mr Abdul’aziz Abubakar Yari to become the next national chairman of the party.
The emergence of Shinkafi, it was learnt, is to whittle down the support base of Yari.
Younger elements in the party such as Mr Saliu Mustapha from Kwara State, Senator Sani Musa representing Niger East in the Senate, and Sunny Moniedafe from Adamawa State, are also in the race.
However, one of the sources told THISDAY that the president’s meeting with the APC National Caretaker Committee led by Yobe State Governor, Mai Mala Buni, has been rescheduled for today and there is a likelihood that far-reaching decisions would be taken at the meeting.
Another source said that though the Buni-led committee had said that the February date was still feasible, paucity of funds may hamper the plan unless there is a bailout from the presidency and the governors elected on the platform of the party.