APC National Convention: Stakeholders narrow leadership tussle to Musa, Al-Makura

Hint Of Emergence Of Dark Horse With President’s Support Rife
With the inauguration of chairmen and state executives by the Governor Mai Mala-Buni-led All Progressives Congress (APC) Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC) on Thursday, some pundits have said the race for the national chairman of the party may be reduced to a contest between former governor of Nasarawa State, Umaru Tanko Al Makura and Senator Sani Musa who currently represents Niger East in the upper chamber.
One of the two are considered as the strongest that may likely succeed Governor Buni in the next few weeks when the party eventually holds its national convention.
While it is almost certain that the CECPC will zone the national chairmanship post to the North Central, some interested individuals from other zones within the party are still nursing the ambition to run if the CECPC does otherwise.
Competent party sources said a development that may likely jolt faithful is the possibility of a dark horse coming up at the last minute, may likely get the backing of President Muhammadu Buhari. The said dark horse, whom the governors and lawmakers are trying to use to strike a deal, is said to come from Niger State in the North Central and has also served as a minister.
The Guardian gathered yesterday that if the dark horse eventually indicates interest, other interested parties might be forced to rest their ambitions because of the President’s nod.

However, as things stand, stakeholders say Al Makura and Musa remain the contestants to beat. While the Musa is said to have received endorsement from Governor Abubakar Sani Bello, his home state governor and massive backing from the National Assembly members, the presidency is said to be rooting for Al Makura on the sentiment that the Nasarawa State lawmaker had a very close affinity with Buhari during his tenure as the only governor on the platform of the defunct Congress for Progressives Change (CPC).

Major stakeholders in the party have continued to bank on Musa to reposition APC, which currently appears to be in total confusion on how to address critical issues confronting it across the 36 states.

The Niger State senator recently met with some presidential hopeful and as well gets more endorsements as stakeholders task him to be ready to deplore his bulk of legislative experiences to reconcile and reposition the party.

Although the February 26 scheduled date for the national convention remains uncertain, several party faithful believe that Musa stands a better chance to be used to douse the tensions likely to come up before, during and after the primaries to select candidates for the 2023 elections.

One of the reasons the stakeholders are being careful and also want a candidate with the best of experience, is to prevent the repeat of what happened to APC during the Adams Oshiomhole-led National Working Committee (NWC) in 2018, which caused the party a lot of misfortunes.

Musa has been having a flurry of endorsements and backings from the leaders and stakeholders since he declared his ambition for the position.

Recently, the National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, paid a visit to Musa, who is the Chairman, Senate Services Committee, in his Maitama, Abuja residence, assuring the lawmaker that his (Musa) contributions to APC since 2015 will not go in vain.

A statutory delegate to the proposed national convention, who prefers anonymity, disclosed that Musa is the likely consensus candidate for the national chairmanship position.

While stressing that the lawmaker possesses the requisite experience and commitment to provide leadership that will lead the ruling party to a massive victory in the 2023 polls, he also identified his capacity to effectively relate and bring everyone on board in the party.

He said, “The decision to queue behind the senator was thoroughly scrutinised by stakeholders in the party especially since there are handfuls of former governors whose influence in the party cannot be shoved aside. But we discovered that Senator Musa, with his pedigree and antecedent, can completely re-engineer the internal structures and workings of the party using the tools of persuasion and negotiation.

“He is a party man inside out and we have an election to prosecute in the next 12 months or thereabout. He has no baggage and he will create a new voice and direction for APC and by extension enhance the legacy of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.”

While stressing the need for a rancor-free convention for the party, he said APC could not afford to bring on board any controversial candidate as its national chairman.
Although Musa himself has continued to say his decision to leave the Senate to join the national chairmanship race was out of the love to serve not only his party but also the nation, his argument is that the process that will throw up the right candidate is as important as the national election itself. “You must bear in mind that if I become the chairman of the APC, I can leverage my experience here in the Senate to push the manifesto of the party to the National Assembly more efficiently.

“It will also place me in a vantage position to deliver reconciliatory leadership, which the party needs now to navigate out of its present challenges,” he said.
Interestingly, while there are insinuations that the governors on the platform of APC are considering one of their colleagues either serving or past to succeed Buni, the Niger State Governor, Bello distanced self from insinuation as he threw his weight behind Musa.
Speaking recent when he received the legislator in company of the National Assembly Niger caucus at Government House, Minna, Governor Bello said he would do whatever he could to see that Musa gets the national chairmanship seat.

He said: “It’s time for North Central to be fully represented and we want someone from Niger State to occupy that position.”
The delegation, led by Senator Abdullahi Sabi, said the visit was to commiserate with the state government and officially unveil Musa.
But the ambition of Musa and the support promised by Governor Bello as well as other stakeholders may be jeopardised by the aspiration of Al-Makura, who is also tipped as a consensus choice of the party.

Some pundits have continued to put Al-Makura ahead of the pack as the candidate to beat and even a possible consensus candidate.

The erstwhile Nasarawa state Governor is popularly referred to as the ‘first political son’ of President Buhari, being the first elected political office holder on the platform of the defunct CPC floated by the President Muhammadu Buhari. It also noted that political chieftains of the APC see Al-Makura as a level-headed politician, who is said to enjoy the full support of President Buhari and his successor, Governor Abdullahi Sule of Nasarawa State.

A party source said: “While Al-Makura is being favoured by most of the governors, some strong forces in the Presidency and the Senate are backing Musa. Al-Makura is being tipped as the next chairman because he is a safe option and has no problem with any of the governors. He was the only CPC governor in 2011 and he resisted all temptations to defect to another party but remained loyal to President Buhari. And you know Buhari cherishes loyalty.”
A chieftain of the party, however, dismissed the argument that Al-Makura is the political son of Mr. President. He said Buhari has no preference yet among the contestants.


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