•We’ll emerge stronger from the exercise, says Ayade
•Coalition writes Buni, Ayu, demands southern presidency
There appears to be simmering discontents in the ranks of the All Progressives Congress (APC), preparatory to the February 26 national convention of the party as some of the chairmanship aspirants have begun to disagree over the mode of election to elect members of the new National Working Committee (NWC) of the APC.
But the Cross River State Governor, Professor Ben Ayade, has expressed confidence in the ability of the Senator Adamu Abdullahi led-nine-member reconciliation committee of the party to calm frayed nerves, saying the party would come out stronger from the convention.
At the same time, a coalition of Civil Society Groups, has called on the APC leadership and that of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to zone their presidential tickets to the south for the sake of unity ahead of the 2023 elections.
However, with respect to the convention, while some of the aspirants had promised to align with the decision of the party leadership, which seems to be tilting towards consensus arrangement, others said they would preferred an elective convention to elect the chairman of the ruling party.
Importantly, they wanted all the aspirants to be consulted on whatever mode of election – direct, indirect or consensus – as decided by the party.
A former Governor of Zamfara State, Abdulaziz Yari, who spoke through his Chief of Staff, Mr. Abdulkarim Tsafe, told THISDAY that though he would prefer an elective convention, he wouldn’t however mind if he emerged the consensus candidate of the party.
“If he is the consensus candidate, then good. But we’ll prefer to go for elective convention. It is very good if the party leadership will consult the aspirants on the mode of the convention,” he said.
The Senator representing Niger East and chairmanship aspirant, Mr. Sani Musa, also said the mode of election would depend on what the legislation stated, stressing that he had no problem whether it would be direct, indirect or consensus.
Musa stated: “The mode of election depends on what legislation comes out with. If it is direct, if it is indirect, if it is consensus, I have no problem with it, as long as it is in the statutes of our book (constitution). As long as that is what the legislation is, I will abide by it and go with it.”
Mr. Sunny Monidafe, on his part, said he would rather align himself with whatever decision the party was going to make, but pointed out that everything must be done transparently.
Monidafe, who spoke while addressing a press conference on Monday in Abuja and seized the opportunity to deny standing down from the race, said: “Do I prefer consensus, direct or indirect? I am a party man, if my party says they want to do consensus, I will go for it. Direct or indirect, I will go for it.
Mallam Saliu Mustapha said the decision as to preference of the options lied squarely with the leadership and stakeholders of the party.
Mustapha, who spoke through his Media Aide, Mr. Dapo Okubanjo, told THISDAY that as a candidate, he had done his best to canvass for the support of stakeholders of the party across the country, particularly, the delegates.
“So, whichever method the stakeholders adopt at the convention, be it consensus or elective, we believe that our candidate is the candidate to beat. However, as a good and decent politician, he has consistently prayed for guidance and good direction for the party hierarchy to allow them come up with the option that is best suited for the party at this time – one that will reduce rancor and unite the party in order to position it better to win the next election in 2023 and beyond,” he said.
Senator Ali Modu Sheriff, said he preferred all the aspirants to go into the field, so, the best candidate could emerge as chairman.
He said: “We are many and anyone can be chairman but not everyone can lead this party. All the people seeking to be chairman are qualified but only one person will emerge. It is a family thing and we will all go to the field, and party members will elect who they deem fit.”
However, speaking on the reconciliation committee, whose membership included the Cross River State Commissioner for Health, Dr Betta Edu, who was in Calabar for a courtesy call on the governor,
Ayade said he was optimistic that the APC would emerge from its current challenges stronger and more united.
Speaking while welcoming the committee members at the State Executive Council Chamber, the governor said, “Today, we have so many gladiators and today we are the ruling party, but what I know for sure is that at the last minute, APC will always come together and win again and again.
“For those, who have some complex permutations that, perhaps, this crisis or this tension arising from the congresses and perhaps, the potential national congress ahead of us will bring to an end the APC, they are just joking.
“In my short stay in the party, the warmth and embrace I have received, I know for certain that as soon as we are done with the convention, with the great work your committee is doing, the party will put her acts together and start preparing against 2023”
Appealing to APC faithful to embrace the principle of give and take, the governor said, “I want to commend you and to please use this opportunity to talk to our political party members, who have so much strength by the positions they occupy to please, give us room to share power. It is only by sharing power that there is peace.”
Earlier, Senator Abdullahi, a former Nassarawa State governor, commended Governor Ayade for the peace in the Cross River chapter of the party, said, “We didn’t come here because there are issues in Cross River and that’s a big commendation to the Governor. People underestimate peace when they have it on a platter.
“Those who enjoy the kind of tranquility you have here will understand the point we are making. We are happy the APC family is united in Cross River and all we have been hearing from all stakeholders is positive.”
Meanwhile, the coalition of civil society group, during a peaceful rally at the national headquarters of APC yesterday in Abuja, said it was of the opinion that zoning the presidency to the south would guarantee sustainable peace, national unity and strengthen the country’s democracy.
The coalition stated its demand in a letter dated January 24, 2022 and titled, “A Patriotic Call For Sustainable Democracy: The Need for Your Party; the All Progressives Congress (APC) to produce her presidential candidate for 2023 Presidential Election from Southern Nigeria.”
The letter which was addressed to APC Caretaker Chairman and Governor of Yobe State, Mai Mala Buni and Chairman of PDP, Dr. Iyorchia Ayu, was signed by its President General, Mr. Etuk Bassey, and Secretary, Mr. Abubakar.
The Coalition said the letter was one of those efforts aimed at lobbying for a southern president in the forthcoming 2023 presidential election.
It added also that the coalition at its last expanded executive meeting, considered the current political situation in the country and the need for the nation’s unity not to be threatened, because of 2023 elections, hence, its resolve to get involved and save the country from a possible instability and crises, considering the issue of zoning or rotation of the office of the president.
The statement stated in parts: “We wish to appeal to the leadership of APC and PDP to consider and concede to the southern part of the country the right to produce the party’s presidential candidate for the 2023 presidential election.
“By this patriotic call, we do not intend to undermine your right as a political party or your party’s constitution. At this point, in our political history, we deem it a worthy sacrifice and a patriotic display of love for the country if political parties can jettison all other interests and ambition for the peace, unity and stability of our democracy.”