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National Convention: Plot to Jettison Zoning Thickens in APC

National Convention: Plot to Jettison Zoning Thickens in APC

… Governors, Others Intensify Lobby

There are indications that two governors of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in the North-central and other national chairmanship aspirants from the North-east and North-west are plotting against zoning arrangement, especially to the North-central.

A section of the media recently reported the APC leadership of the party had settled for North-central to produce the next national chairman. Contrary to this position, however, Blueprint gathered that the political game is yet to be settled.

While the APC scheduled February 26, 2022 for its national convention, so many aspirants for various positions remained uncertain on whether the zoning arrangement would favour them or not.

List’ disowned

The Governor Mai Mala Buni-led Caretaker Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC) had earlier denied a speculative zoning list which went viral on social media recently.  According to the said zoning list, the position of national chairman is zoned to the North-central.

Asked to authentic the list, CECPC National Secretary Senator John Akpanudoedehe, had said the current leadership did not discuss such arrangements in the last Caretaker Committee meeting.

“People who are interested in running for one office or the other can speculate. As far as I am concerned, the last Caretaker Committee meeting we had, we did not discussed that. That is not what we are concerned with now. What we are concerned with is data collection. Hoe to collect data without making mistake.

“We are not going to be pressurised by sentiment and we do the wrong thing. Let me say that zoning is not for the Caretaker Committee alone. It has to do with the President, it has to do with other major stakeholders, it has to do with a lot of people.

“I want to mute the speculation. The list is not from us (Caretaker Committee). The President is not in town. There is no way such decision will be taking without consulting with the President, consult with the governors and other major stakeholders. People should disregard the list. We are focused on delivering our mandate and we are to do it rightly,” the committee had declared.

Govs, aspirants’ move

It was, however, gathered Sunday that two governors from the North-central with the ambition for higher political offices and other influential national chairmanship aspirants from the North-east and North-west, allegedly influenced Buni’s CECPC to disown the ‘leaked’ zoning list.

One of the governors is said to be eyeing the APC presidential ticket while the other is seeking the nation’s number two seat if a Southerner picks the party’s presidential ticket.

The influential APC national chairmanship aspirants outside the North-central are former governor of Borno state  Alimodu Sheriff, former governor of Zamfara state, Abdulaziz Yari, Chief Sunny Moniedafe, former governor of Bauchi state, Isa Yuguda, another former governor of Borno state, Kashim Shettima and that of Gombe state, Danjuma Goje.

The permutations

Blueprint reliably learnt that if the APC eventually zoned the national chairmanship office to the North-central, the contest would be among former Deputy National Chairman of the defunct Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), Saliu Mustapha, former Governor of Nasarawa state, Tanko Almakura, the lawmaker representing Niger East Senatorial District, Mohammed Sani-Musa, Minister of Special Duties and Inter-Governmental Affairs, George Akume and Mohammed Saidu-Etsu.

A senior member of the ruling party who pleaded anonymity, said: “Some party leaders favoured zoning the national chairmanship position to the North-central like the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) did, but there are other arguments not to copy the PDP.

“The proponents of no zoning are of the belief that PDP has set a dangerous trap for the ruling APC, if care is not taken we may fall there in. Remember that the national chairman of PDP is from North-central and the same party said it won’t zone its presidential ticket to any zone, which means a Northerner can pick PDP’s ticket. Think about the implication,” the source warned.

Speaking in an interview with Blueprint, a chieftain of the APC from Zamfara state and a former Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Intelligence and Internal Security, Hon. Aminu Sani Jaji, expressed his opposition to zoning arrangement. Jaji, who was a governorship aspirant in 2019, said: “The issue of zoning is just political understanding but not something that is institutional. Most of the zoning arrangements are caricature. So, let us allow the due diligence to take place. We want to grow politically and democratically.

“So, let us allow space for everybody who thinks he has something to offer. That is the best. Because if you say you want to zone the Presidency to the North and people in the South like someone else because of his capacity, he believes in Nigeria unity and has all the credentials to become the good president and you say he should not contest because we have zoned it to North and you are from the South, so, what do you think? That means you are disenfranchising that person and stopping him from coming to serve his fatherland.

“The issue of zoning is a mere arrangement. I don’t subscribe to that arrangement. As far back as 2015, I opposed it. But I will support any person with integrity and credibility that can pilot the affairs of the state. Anybody who is going to contest I look at their pedigree and his ability to work all round the clock. That is my candidate.”

When asked about his opinion on zoning of APC National Working Committee (NWC) positions ahead of the forthcoming national convention, the former lawmaker said the party positions should be thrown open. “For me, the issue of party’s national executive positions is something that needs to be thrown open to everybody. But one thing that I understand from the party now is that there are some people trying to corner the whole process. If they did it, then they are killing the party. Because maybe somebody outside who wants to contest but because he didn’t have the party’s executives he will not aspire, them there is a problem. Who is the ultimate loser? We Nigerians. And we the APC members.”

Notwithstanding the permutation, secretary of the CCEPC, Senator Akpanudoedehe, has consistently said: “Zoning is beyond our mandate. The committee is organising national convention and reconciliation.”

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