Tinubu’s victory sparks zoning crisis in APC

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• NWC Member, Lukman, Demands Removal Of Adamu, Omisore 
• Says South East Or South South Should Produce Senate President
• Group Wants Speakership Zoned To North-Central, Drums Support For Wase
• I Have No Take On The Issue, Says Party Spokesman
• Akume Likely To Succeed Adamu — Sources

There is palpable crisis in the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) following a call by the National Vice Chairman North West, Dr. Salihu Lukman, for the immediate removal of the National Chairman of the party, Senator Abdullahi Adamu.

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Lukman in a piece yesterday titled ‘APC Internal Dynamics and the Future of Democracy’ also called on the President-elect, Bola Ahmed Tinubu to run an all-inclusive government when sworn-in to office.

Lukman, who was the Director General of the Progressives Governors Forum (PGF), remarked that it behoves Tinubu to take every step to rectify any situation that may be used to continue divisive campaigns and propaganda against the APC and its control of Federal Government.

Justifying the call for the immediate replacement of Adamu with a Christian from the North Central geopolitical zone, he contended that there was the need to also remove the National Secretary of the party, Senator Iyiola Omisore to ensure harmonious relationship within the ranks of the party.

He noted: “With a National Chairman, Sen. Abdullahi Adamu, who is also a Muslim, it will be important that every necessary step is taken to inject a change of leadership for the party so that a new National Chairman, who is a Christian, takes over. Part of the advantage of this is that the National Chairman could be retained in North-Central. 

“Noting that the current National Chairman has done an excellent job to manage a successful campaign to win the 2023 election with all the attendant challenges, there should be no difficulty in convincing Sen. Adamu to resign as National Chairman to create opportunity for a new National Chairman of APC to emerge who is a Christian. 

“For that to happen may require emergency National Convention, because if the hierarchy of the current leadership is to be followed, the successor to Sen. Adamu will be Sen. Abubakar Kyari who is a Muslim from North-East.

“Apart from changing the National Chairman, there is the need to also recognise that the case of Sen. Iyiola Omisore, National Secretary of the party, has become a source of stronger dispute in Osun State. Unfortunately, rather than serving as a unifying factor for the party leadership in Osun State, Sen. Omisore is more a divisive factor, which may have been responsible for why APC lost the 2022 governorship election to a political mediocre whose only qualification in politics may appear to be comic dancing skill.  

“To save Osun State and bring it back to its old standard of national political reckoning, Sen. Omisore would need to resign as National Secretary of APC, and a new unifying National Secretary elected. Beyond Sen. Omisore, similarly, any member of the National Working Committee of the party who is not a unifying leader in his/her state should be changed.”

He stressed the need for Tinubu to avoid witch-hunting individual leaders of the party for their opposing role during the presidential primary where he emerged victorious.

The Kaduna-born politician called for the emergence of the President of the 10th Senate from either the South-South or South East geopolitical zones of the country as a means of appeasing Christians opposed to the Muslim-Muslim ticket of Tinubu in the country.

“In addition, APC must take up the challenge of reconciling its members across the country. The recalibrated APC leadership with a new National Chairman must take up the challenge of reconciling members from every part of the country. APC must never make the mistake of proceeding with the task of constituting the Asiwaju-led Federal Government based on business-as-usual strategy.

“The opportunity of constituting the Federal Government led by Asiwaju Tinubu must be used strategically to reconcile the APC with Nigerians. Every sacrifice must be made by every leader of the party to create the condition for an Asiwaju Tinubu-led Federal Government to emerge with strong legitimacy and wider support base by Nigerians.

“Therefore, side by side with the initiative to recalibrate the APC leadership is the need to properly plan the distribution of key positions in the Federal Government to reflect both ethnic, religious, gender and other demographic considerations. As a party, we must consciously avoid any mistake that could be used by our political adversaries to suggest insensitivity to the inclusion of all Nigerians.  

“APC leadership must take steps to regulate the aspirations of individual leaders to positions in the next Federal Government. Some positions, for instance, must be deliberately locked to sections and groups in the country.

“Some specific recommendations may be necessary at this point. The offices of Senate President and Speaker House of Representatives would have to be locked. Given that the President and Vice President are from South-West and North-East respectively, nobody from either of these two regions should aspire for any of these offices. Opportunist may argue that in the last four years, the South-West also produced the Vice President and Speaker of House of Representatives. 

“We must correct this kind of lopsided reality as a strategic approach to dousing ethnic and religious tension in the country. With a National Chairman from the North-Central and hopefully a Christian, the North-Central too should also be excluded from aspiring for either the position of Senate President or Speaker of the House of Representatives.

“Accordingly, the positions of Senate President and Speaker House of Representatives should be zoned to North-West, South-East or South-South. With a Muslim President and a Muslim Vice President, it is only logical to zone the Senate President who is the number three ranking leader of government to either the South-East or South-South, who would be Christian. Logically, the position of Speaker of the House of Representatives should be zoned to the North-West.

“This would have the advantage of acknowledging that the North-West gave Asiwaju Tinubu the highest votes of 2,950,393 representing 33.6 per cent of the votes he won. All other positions in government can be assigned by taking bearing from that.

“While it may be important to consider including the position of Secretary to Government Federation (SGF) as part of positions to be zoned, Asiwaju Tinubu must avoid the mistake of undermining his government by appointing politicians with zero experience in managing public service institutions to serve as SGF. 

“The office of SGF is in fact the brainbox of government and once a wrong person is appointed into such a position, the delivery capacity of government will be weak. Therefore, the choice of where the SGF will come from is as important as the qualification and public service experience of any person to be considered.

“Achieving all these would require institutionalised consultations and negotiations involving structures of the party. Asiwaju Tinubu as the new leader of APC should challenge party leadership to make all structures of the party functional in line with provisions of the constitution of the party.

“A situation whereby key decisions including issues of zoning are handled outside the constitutional structures of the party is unhealthy, unsustainable and challengeable.”

Lukman stressed that the APC needs to recognise that the Muslim-Muslim ticket it provided for the 2023 presidential election, if not managed to produce desired outcome of inclusivity to broaden the foundation for wider participations of Nigerians in politics and governance across all divides, could further widen the division among Nigerians, which should be avoided.

“A successfully, well-managed Muslim-Muslim would make a Christian-Christian ticket viably possible. For instance, if a Christian Northerner is to emerge as a candidate for a presidential contest, the choice of a Southern Christian as running mate should be a viable consideration for a potential electoral victory. 

“Finally, President Muhammadu Buhari’s government for eight year operated based on the philosophy of ‘I belong to everybody and I belong to nobody.’ As a result, APC leaders and members had to leave with the reality of producing a government in which they have little or no influence. Many Federal Government appointees inherited from PDP were retained. For instance, Mr. Godwin Emefiele is one of the appointees of Federal Government inherited from PDP in 2015, but retained till the end of President Buhari’s tenure.

“Similarly, processes of appointments into government positions were handled without consulting party leaders. Consequently, many appointees of government were hardly accountable to the APC and its leadership. An Asiwaju Tinubu-led Federal Government must avoid the mistakes of President Muhammadu Buhari administration while building on its strength,” he noted.

In a related development, the National Coordinator of Exemplary Leadership (EL), Hassan Isa Maimadara, has urged the national leadership of the party to zone the office of the Speaker of the House of Representatives to the North Central zone of the country.

Maimadara, who addressed a press conference in Jos yesterday, also urged the President-elect, the Vice President-elect, as well as all elected members of the House of Representatives, to buy into his suggestion and subsequently support the emergence of the current Deputy Speaker of the House, Idris Ahmad Wase as Speaker.

According to the group, the call became important considering that the North Central gave second highest number of votes to the President-elect.

“We deemed it necessary to drum support for North Central because the zone has performed excellently for APC during February 25 presidential election.

“By doing so, we are also calling on the leadership of the party and members of next Assembly to support Wase, who is from North Central, to become the next Speaker of the House because of his experience and exemplary leadership.

“He is a man who is widely accepted by all sections of the country devoid of sentiment,” Maimadara said. He also said the APC and 9th National Assembly members of the party could recall that Wase, who represents Wase Federal Constituency in Plateau State, humbly supported Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila to become the speaker, while he was unanimously chosen as Deputy Speaker.

He noted that the combination has provided the most cordial, credible and purposeful leadership, adding that the time is now for the party to reciprocate the humility.

“Added to that, Wase was a Majority Leader and now Deputy Speaker and therefore we believe that he is competent to provide quality leadership for the house and the country at large.

“We are calling on members of the next Assembly, including those from the opposition party to support him,” he said. When contacted, the National Publicity Secretary of the party, Felix Morka, said he was not aware of the call for the sack of his colleagues in the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party.

“I don’t have a take on the issue, I am not aware of what you described and I haven’t received any communication from my colleagues and so I won’t be able to react to it until it happens,” he said.

A former National Vice Chairman South-South of the party, Prince Hilliard Eta, also spoke in the same vein. He noted: “It’s too early in the day to wade in, because he has raised a lot of topical issues. One needs to really study it, do some research to make informed opinion. It’s too early at this point in time to say anything.”

Meanwhile, a source told The Guardian that the position by Lukman enjoys the full support of the Governor Ahmed Nasir el-Rufai of Kaduna state, adding that it may pave the way for the emergence of the former Benue State governor, Senator George Akume as the next chairman of the party.

Akume, a former Senate Minority Leader, was in pole position to clinch the chairmanship seat in the build up to the party’s National Convention last year before he was prevailed upon by the Presidency to step down for Adamu.

Akume had a sound working relationship with the President-elect in their days in the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) where he was re-elected in April 2011 on the platform of the party, after dumping the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).  

El-Rufai was among the arrowheads that ensured the zoning of Presidency to the southern part of the country in the build up to the presidential primary of the party last year.

Recall that alleged moves by Adamu to impose the Senate President Ahmad Lawan as the APC presidential candidate met the brick wall after it was roundly opposed by northern governors and some members of the NWC of the party.