In less than two years, Nigeria will hold another general election where citizens will be opportuned to elect new leaders and parties at various levels. The controversy rocking the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is the agitation for zoning.
While there is no written law that mandates this, it has always been the norm and this agitation comes up every four years and anytime elections draw closer. In the ruling APC, the major controversy today is over the zones that should produce its national chairman and presidential candidate for 2023 general elections, POLITICS NIGERIA can report.
According to findings by this newspaper, the postponement of the party’s convention cannot be disconnected from a deep fear of division and a repeat of what led to the removal of the Adams Oshiomhole led National Working Committee last year.
Sources in the party told POLITICS NIGERIA that major talks among leaders of the party is to ensure that North produces the chairman of the party while the South takes the presidential ticket. If the South takes the party chairmanship, then the north will for the second time produce president.
Insiders said the agitations have created some blocs, with the largest belonging to National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu. One of our sources said “Tinubu seems to have the largest share of party members. The only fear is that if the current situation is not properly managed, it may split the party.”
“The fear of unnecessary split is one of the reasons why leaders considered the postponement of convention crucial. We are waiting to ensure that if division occurs, there is a party leader who can unite us all. The zoning is key but maturity is the most important because all forces must come together together for us to remain in power in 2023. Once we are able to produce the chairman of the party, election discussion will resume effectively.”
This newspaper also gathered that some blocs are not interested in the zoning of the party’s chairmanship position but more interested in who will favour their future ambitions. A source said the Chairman of the Progressive Governors Forum (PGF) and Governor of Kebbi State, Senator Atiku Bagudu, is also interested in who becomes the chairman despite earlier saying the seat is opened to all.
POLITICS NIGERIA recalls that two months ago, Mr Bagudu said “APC belongs to all Nigerians. Everyone, from every part of the country, is free to aspire for any position in the party in line with provisions of our party’s constitution and the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended.The guiding philosophy, as enshrined in the provisions of our manifesto, is economic, social and political development of Nigeria”
But sources reveal that all he said were ‘gimmicks’ and President Muhammadu Buhari himself is aware of this situation.
“The president is aware that there are a lot of blocs in the party and for that reason, he endorsed the postponement of the convention. The party must retain the control of the country in 2023. I am sure that it is the intervention of President Buhari that will address the situation,” another top official of the party said.
This newspaper also learnt that before the party made public announcement of extension of committee tenure, the party had met behind the scene two months earlier to postpone convention and make efforts to resolve some internal wrangling.
Speaking on where the South could get the presidential seat, political analysts explained that politicians in the southern part of the country are also divided.
Kunle Mamora, a political scientist said the problem is that “within the South, it must be South South; within the South, it must be South West; within the South, it must be South-East. So even if they zone it to the South today, the South South will not support the South West; and the South West will not support the South East. This is a big challenge and 2023 will be more than imagination.”
It is, however, said that Mr Tinubu has penetrated the northern part enough to have their support. Even though he is yet to declare his ambition, it loud enough for the deaf and clear enough for the blind that the former Lagos governor is hopeful. Yes, he has the strength but politics within the party will tell.
Amidst all of these, several issues have been dogging the ruling party in Kano following the suspension of the member representing Kano Municipal in the House of Representatives, Sha’aban Ibrahim Sharada. There is also the crisis of attempted factionalisation of the party by a staunch supporter of President Buhari in the state, Abdulmajid Danbiliki Kwamanda and his prompt expulsion from the party.
The political camps of the former Governor, Rauf Aregbesola has been at loggerheads with the camp of the incumbent Governor, Adegboyega Oyetola in Osun over the control of the party in the state.
In Ekiti, a camp of the party is loyal to Asiwaju Tinubu and another to Ekiti State Governor, Kayode Fayemi, who is said to be nursing presidential ambition as well. Also, the expulsion and counter expulsion of factions within the party threatened APC membership in Gboko LGA of Benue State.
The big question remains the same. Will APC settle for zoning as 2023 draws closer?