The All Progressives Congress, the party in power, is currently experiencing a leadership crisis once more, which will be President Bola Tinubu’s first test of how he would lead the party.
According to reports, President Tinubu has selected former governor Umar Ganduje as his top choice to lead the party. Ganduje is a devoted ally of Tinubu’s.
However, due to the zoning setup and split within the party’s National Working Committee, Ganduje’s road may not be straightforward.
The abrupt departures of the National Chairman, Abdulahi Adamu, and the National Secretary, Iyiola Omisore, on Monday brought the party crisis to a head that had been simmering for months.
However, the two’s departure did not end the party’s crisis because the NWC is split between those who support Adamu and those who support Abubakar Kyari, the party’s acting national chairman.
Adamu’s supporters have either joined Kyari’s side or remained silent in order to avoid being marginalized within the party since his departure.
One of the NWC members from South-east, faulted the emergence of Kyari as “Acting Chairman”.
On condition of anonymity, the insider added, “Kyari is from the same state as Vice President Kashim Shettima (Borno)—having someone in the North-central would be the ideal situation.”
However, Kyari’s choice to assume the role following Adamu’s departure is supported by clause 14.2 of the APC constitution.
Section 14.2 states that while the National Chairman is not in his Zone, the Deputy Chairman (North and South) “shall act as the National Chairman.”
President Tinubu was accused of marginalizing the North-Central by appointing the North-West Speaker and Deputy Senate President at the formation of the National Assembly leadership. However, some supporters defended the arrangement by pointing out that the National Chairman was located in the North-central. The Secretary of the Federation was subsequently added to the Government of the Federation by the President.
Many predict that the president will turn to the North-central for a replacement after Adamu leaves. Sen. Sani Musa, Tanko Almakura, and Simon Lalong are potential possibilities from the Northcentral, but it seems the president is looking for a reliable ally.
Salihu Lukman, the outspoken vice chairman of North-west, has previously criticized the idea of appointing Ganduje as the party’s chairman on the
“Already, part of the speculation emerging from the Governor’s bloc is that Ganduje is being considered to succeed Senator Abdullahi Adamu. If this is true, it only suggests insensitivity and taking members of the party for granted. This is without prejudice to the person of Ganduje.
“The Speaker of the House of Representatives and the Deputy Senate President coming from North-West and North-Central shut out of consideration.To propose that the party’s National Chairman moves to North-West from North-Central will be unjust and almost political suicide,” he said.
The president may have to be concerned about the capacity of Lukman to fight the leadership of the party.
He was at the forefront of a movement that ousted the Mai Mala Buni-led Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee.
Equally, he was relentless in his criticism of Adamu and Omisore, and many within the party credited him with the removal of the duo. If Ganduje takes over the leadership of the party, he may have to inherit a hostile and divided NWC.
President’s prerogative to pick National Chairman
Over the years, the ruling party has embraced the practice of the President picking the National Chairmen of the party. Former President Muhammadu Buhari adopted Adams Oshiomhole as a consensus candidate, picked Buni as Caretaker Chairman and also adopted Adamu as a consensus candidate.
Tinubu appears not to be departing from that tradition of picking the Chairman of the party, and strong indications have emerged that he will pick Ganduje.
It appears the tradition of having a former Governor as National Chairman of the party will continue, and President Tinubu sees the North-west as a vital region for his re-election.