APC chairman: Tinubu, North-Central stakeholders continue battle of wits over Ganduje

APC chairman: Tinubu, North-Central stakeholders continue battle of wits over Ganduje

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There is a raging cold war in the All Progressives Congress over the seat of the National Chairman of the party currently occupied by former governor of Kano State, Abdullahi Umar Ganduje. Party chieftains of the ruling party from the North-Central geopolitical zone have insisted that giving the slot to Ganduje from the North-West contravenes APC zoning arrangement and certain provisions of its constitution. Senior Deputy Editor, TAIWO AMODU examines the argument of the anti-Ganduje group and recent assurance by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to redress perceived imbalance against the North-Central region.

IN a deft move to mitigate the discontentment and seething anger against his administration by chieftains of his party from North-Central geopolitical zone, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu last weekend dropped the hint of more strategic appointments for the region to address perceived lopsidedness.

Speaking through the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Senator George Akume, at the APC North-Central Stakeholders Summit in Lafia, Nasarawa State Capital,  Tinubu acknowledged that he was aware of  allegation of marginalization in the distribution of party patronage and appointment being levelled against his administration by certain chieftains of his party from the North-Central. Senator Akume, who incidentally is from Benue State in the zone, said his principal was determined to give sense of belonging to the zone.

He said: “We have Minister of Police Affairs; Minister of Steel. I know that we deserve more and apart from what I have heard, because I have my ears on the ground, that we still deserve more. That’s why when our president observed some lopsidedness, he decided to take some decisions. We have a template which we are going to follow.  Those who are aggrieved will no longer be aggrieved. Just watch, you will see what will happen in the next few weeks.”

 

Left in the cold at the 10th NASS:

APC chieftains from the North-Central have consistently argued that the zone is being offered the short end of the stick by the Tinubu administration. Checks revealed that federal lawmakers from the North-Central and the North-East were arm-twisted by the Presidency in the race for leadership of the 10th National Assembly with the North-West picking the positions of Deputy Senate President and Speaker of the House of Representatives.

While the senator representing Niger East, Sani Musa, was left stranded in the power game in the APC which “allocated” Senate President to Godswill Akpabio, (South-South), Musa’s colleague from Kano North-West senatorial district, Barau Jibrin, was to emerge as Deputy Senate President. Same treatment was meted to top contenders from the North-Central for position of Speaker of the House of Representatives as immediate past Deputy Speaker in the House of Representatives in the Ninth National Assembly, Idris Wase and Yusuf Gagdi lost out to Tajudeen Abass from Kaduna State in the same North-West zone.

While the North-Central was yet to recover from its loss of key positions in the National Assembly, the president’s foot soldiers moved into Buhari House, the national secretariat of the APC to unseat former Nasarawa State governor, Senator Abdullahi Adamu as national chairman.

At the National Executive Committee (NEC)  meeting of the party held last August, former Kano State governor, Abdullahi Umar Ganduje from North-West region was crowned as new national chairman.

Since then, stakeholders in the APC, across the geopolitical zones, have continued to squeal against the replacement of Senator Abdullahi from the North-Central with a chieftain from the North-West. They noted that it was a breach of the zoning arrangement in the ruling party, as enshrined in the party’s constitution.

Former National Vice Chairman, North-West of the APC, Salihu Lukman, who resigned from his position in protest on the eve of Ganduje proclamation as national chairman at the NEC meeting held at Transcorp has maintained that giving the exalted seat of national chairman to the North-West breached provisions of the party’s constitution.

Checks revealed that by provisions of Article 31.5(i) of the APC constitution, a successor to an ousted National Chairman of the APC must come from his region.

Incidentally, Ganduje is from the North-West state of Kano.

The section reads in part: “In the case of a National/Zonal Officer, the State Executive Committee shall propose a replacement to the State Congress and Zonal Executive Committee for endorsement. Thereafter, the name shall be sent to the National Working Committee, which shall forward same to the National Executive Committee for approval.”

 

North-Central stakeholders mount barricades….

Stakeholders from the North-Central zone have continued to raise their voices, demanding for a return to the zoning arrangement in the party. Penultimate Thursday, some of the chieftains of the party stormed the party’s national secretariat in Abuja in protests.

They were led by Plateau State Coordinator of the North-Central APC Stakeholders, Hamisu Suleiman and his counterpart from Nasarawa State,  Sani Jigas. The duo jointly demanded for a return of the office of national chairman to the region.

Suleiman vowed that they would not relent until Ganduje is forced out.  He maintained that his occupation of the office of national chairman was a clear breach of the provisions of the party’s constitution and its zoning arrangement.

He said: “We came here only to be attacked by thugs sponsored by the party. They did not only beat us, they stripped us of the banners and drove our people away from the APC secretariat.

“Today, we are here to protest the unfair treatment meted out to people of the North-Central. This is because the national chairmanship of the APC was mistakenly given to Dr Abdullahi Ganduje.

“We are therefore calling the attention of our dear President Bola Tinubu to correct the anomaly. We know that he will listen to us. The APC chairman position is supposed to be zoned according to the constitution of the party and the same constitution confers the position on us. Unfortunately, it was zoned to the North-West and we will not accept it.

“We are here for justice and justice must be served. I am calling the attention of all the stakeholders of the party to return our mandate. This is why we are protesting here today. It is our right and nobody can take it away from us.”

Further checks by Sunday Tribune revealed that two North-Central groups had since filed suits, seeking to nullify Ganduje’s position as APC chairman.

In an originating summons filed by Muhammed Saidu Etsu, on behalf of the group through their counsel, Joshua Oka Obono Obla, the group argued that Ganduje’s appointment by the APC NEC on August 3, 2023, following Senator Abdullahi Adamu’s resignation, contravenes the party’s constitution.

They are asking the court to set aside Ganduje’s appointment as the APC National Chairman, alleging that the APC failed to comply with the procedure laid down by the party’s constitution. Defendants in the suit include Ganduje, the APC, the NEC of the APC, and the NWC of the APC.

Similarly, the North-Central APC forum, represented by their counsel, Ayuba Abdul, filed a suit before a Federal High Court in Abuja challenging Ganduje’s nomination to replace Adamu in 2023.

 

Ganduje divides North-Central governors?

Amidst the agitation for his ouster, a party source revealed to Sunday Tribune that the party national chairman is leaving nothing to chance to retain his seat.

The source disclosed that the governors from the region are polarized as some are indifferent towards the agitation for return of the office to the zone.

The party source cited first term governors of Benue, Kogi and Niger as fence sitters who are wary of the likely effect of the agitation on their second term bid since Ganduje is anointed candidate of President Tinubu.

The source also recalled that some of the chieftains of the party from the zone recently pledged loyalty to Ganduje. In February, former Senate president, Ameh Ebute led some chieftains to the party national secretariat on a solidarity visit to Ganduje.

Senator Ebute at the session dismissed the call for fidelity to the zoning arrangement as enshrined in the APC constitution as he submitted that competence for the office should be paramount.

He said: “This is a solidarity visit to our respected national chairman by party members of North-Central Nigeria to ask and demand that you continue to do more for our party.

“Of course, Mr Chairman, we are not unaware of growing calls by some elements of the party from the North-Central zone for reversal of the occupant of the office of the National Chairman based on the zoning arrangements that made Senator Abdullahi Adamu, your predecessor, who is from Nasarawa State in the North-Central zone, the National Chairman of our party before he resigned in 2023.

“While we acknowledge the efforts of these advocates of returning the chairman’s office to the North-Central zone, we, however, believe that the more compelling reason for anybody to advance the manner of person that will occupy the office of the national chairman of our party should be consideration for track record of performance as shown in winning political contests against the opposition. Equally important is how the rank-and-file members of the party are directly benefiting from the activities of the party across the country.

“When we put all these together, we came to the conclusion that you, Your Excellency, tick all the boxes for a performing excellent chairman. Indeed, you’re not just a performing national chairman but a national chairman who has done the most in the shortest possible time to positively impact individual members of our great party, while our party has also recorded impressive electoral strides bereft of rancour under your leadership.

“By these considerations, we hereby declare our unalloyed support for you, Your Excellency, to continue to manage the affairs of our great party, the APC and to remain in the office of the national chairman for the good and development of members of the party, especially for the purpose of ensuring stability in the administration of our great party.”

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