By Dr. Aliyu Ibrahim
The All Progressives Congress (APC), is a marriage of convenience or if you like, an assemblage of very strange bad fellows, housing very diverse people from different political parties, equally different with ideological standpoints and world views.
However, the APC membership profile which came from a conglomeration of political parties namely the defunct All Nigeria People’s Party (ANPP), Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) some factions of the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) as well as the defunct ‘New People’s Democratic Party (NPDP). All these emerged as a result of deep perceived considerations for far reaching political interests’ aggregations, horse-trading, permutations and sundry alliances, that had capacity for and were designed to wrestle political power from the then People’s Democratic Party and eventually access political and development administration at the Federal, State and Local Government tiers of governance.
One central factor that held them together was the quest to further advance the development administrative leadership and economic progress of Nigeria.
In other words, the common denominator that bound the APC members together at the emergence of the party prior to the 2015 Presidential and general polls, was the progress of Nigeria.
The major challenge the APC had prior to the 2015 Presidential polls was being able to functionally assimilate and accommodate all the diverse components into one formidable one party platform, without rancor in line with its manifestoes.
Having at its apex pioneer leadership structure, is an urbane man of all seasons and experienced political leadership figure in the person of Chief Bisi Akande, as its first interim National Chairman.
Chief Bisi Akande, a well tested, skilled, experienced and vibrantly intelligent political leadership figure from the South-West region, had the difficult task of midwifing the foundational emergence of the party at its national leadership experience.
As the mantle of party leadership moved over to Chief John Odigie Oyegun, a former Executive Governor of Edo State, from the South-South geographical zone, Chief Oyegun showed promise in the diligent handling of the affairs of the party. This was not without some distractive influences that tended to frustrate his efforts at steering the affairs of the All Progressives Congress to relevance, credibility, discipline and cohesion.
However, forces from almost all fronts stood in the way of the Chief Odigie Oyegun led National Working Committee due to the vested interests of some party members who wanted to have their ways in the affairs of the party.
Somehow, Comrade Adams Aliyu Oshiomole, the erstwhile Executive Governor of Edo State became an easy replacement for the exit of Chief Odigie Oyegun. But unknown to the entire party membership, all elected representatives, top notch executives and appointees of the APC led Federal Government, Comrade Oshiomole was a time bomb, waiting to explode.
Instead of correcting the perceived wrong doings, mistakes and allied behavior discrepancies, that were considered to be the shortcomings of his predecessor, Chief Odigie Oyegun, the Comrade Adams Aliyu Oshiomole led national executive, became a torn in the flesh of the party. He almost brought the functionality of the national party leadership of the APC to disrepute.
Comrade Oshiomole as the National Chairman of the APC witnessed several crisis within the state chapters of the party that led to the defeat of the party in some states, in the 2019 general elections. These crisis also led to the decamping of the different party chieftains to the opposition parties. The APC, which had control of 24 states in the 2015 general elections, had its figure nose-dive to 19 states, in the 2019 general elections, due to his unstructured approach to the handling of party affairs.
Oshiomole failed to differentiate between labour unionism and party diplomacy, a development which led to several court cases, and further deepened the magnitude of the crisis, eventually leading to his ouster and that of the entire National Working Committee (NWC).
This gave birth to the emergence of the Governor Mai Mala Buni led APC Caretaker Committee.
Many members, welcomed the emergence of the party National Caretaker Committee as a doctrine of necessity to save the party from destruction.
This became so, because the decision to constitute the National Caretaker Committee was agreed upon by the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the party – the highest ranking organ of the party, apart from the National Convention.
As the 2023 general elections approach and less than few weeks to the APC National Convention, so many aspirants, have indicated interests towards becoming the National Chairman of the party.
The list of aspiring candidates amongst many others, include Hon. Abdulazeez Yari, the immediate Executive Governor of Zamfara State, Dist. Senator Danjuma Goje, former Executive Governor of Gombe State, Dist. Senator Tanko Almakura, former Executive Governor of Nassarawa State, Alhaji Mustapha Salihu, former Deputy National Chairman of the defunct CPC as well as the former Executive Governor of Benue State and current Hon. Minister of Special Duties and Inter Governmental Affairs, Dist. Senator George Akume.
Here is an insight into the different person-perceptions and ratings of these political leadership figures in the eyes of key watchers of their political careers within the APC fold and their immediate native states of origin; based on their individual capacities.
- ABDULAZEEZ YARI:
Former Governor Yari, presently has attracted to himself a wave of dwindling political visibility. He’s easily being identified by his kinsmen and women in the circles of state and national politics, as having adopted a totalitarian approach to democratic governance, through the use and adoption of an anti-people governance tool that allegedly terrorized the good loving people of Zamfara State.
He is also easily perceived as a political leadership figure who had difficulties, managing the micro and macro economic conditions of existence of the people of Zamfara State while he ruled as Executive Governor. His kinsmen and women, had formally forwarded petitions to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission; over alleged funds belonging to the Zamfara State Government, that are yet to be accounted for.
- SENATOR DANJUMA GOJE:
Dist. Sen. Danjuma Goje, is seen as a very vocal political leadership figure in Gombe State. He’s also seen as being a vibrant politician, who is fearless in expressing his views or opinion on issues of urgent national importance, whose political influence is only limited to his home state of Gombe, where he had the opportunity to govern as Executive Governor.
Very little is known about him at the national level in terms of his leadership qualities, outside Gombe State.
Watchers of political events within the APC and even his home state of Gombe, say that apart from being a short-fused personality whose anger pulse is easily triggered, he lacks the instinctual capacity to manage his anger within group dynamics and in wider areas of political aggregation and leadership pursuits.
Additionally, this strong man of Gombe State politics had been principally associated with a militant group known as “YANKALARE”, which he nurtured during his tenure as governor.
Political watchers say he will have difficulties handling the affairs of a political party due to his lack of diplomacy, a factor which characterized the Comrade Adams Oshiomole tenure and capable of taking the party to the back waters.
- SENATOR TANKO ALMAKURA:
Dist. Sen. Tanko Almakura is a middle-level business man and contractor, who through social apprenticeship inherited the commercial tradition of merchandize from his late father and midway into his early adulthood, opted for partisan politics.
He is a positive example of a successful transition from the economics of trading to partisan politics, culminating into the governorship of his home state, Nassarawa, and governed for 8 years.
Keen observers of the APC do not see him as a leadership figure who has the capacity of showing promise in the task of national party leadership. He is rather seen as a man seeking mere political visibility or relevance.
Though one amongst the two members of the defunct CPC bloc in the race, which many observers see as a chance for the old CPC arm of the APC to have a shot at the Chairmanship position; besides, analysts argue that Sen. Tanko Almakura’s uncommon personality conditions as well as his dismal democratic scorecard may work against his emergence as the chairman of the party.
- ALI MODU SHERIFF
Dist. Sen. Ali Modu Sheriff is as well established and very successful business man during the late Gen. Sani Abacha era. Shrewd merchant and top-notch national and regional contractor of class.
A one-time federal lawmaker, not much of his presence was felt in terms of contributions at the plenary in the Red Chambers of the National Assembly.
Political observers of the All Progressives Congress Party, have their individual and collective person perceptions of him as a potentially authoritarian political leadership figure, who hardly accommodates alternative views or rationale thinking other than his dominant opinion on issues, values and norms he believes in.
In utter rating of his leadership capacity, analysts argue that the former Governor of Borno State, can be remembered as the originator of the Boko Haram insurgency that had been ravaging some parts of Northern Nigeria for decades.
Sen. Sheriff, the watchers of APC politics, argue, has a pathological lust for power.
They argue that he had decamped to the opposition People’s Democratic Party twice, a quality they say makes him an unstable political leadership figure, which is not good for the APC at this time.
- ALHAJI MUSTAPHA SALIHU
Alhaji Mustapha Salihu’s only known credential, include that he was the former Deputy National Chairman of the defunct CPC.
He is also seen as a political leadership figure who brandishes opportunistic party assignments as parameters for constantly seeking exalted positions, without having the needed personality development infrastructure to match the challenges expected of the aspirations to such positions of tasking leadership experience. Pundits, say he lacks nation-wide political network to reposition the APC.
- SENATOR GEORGE AKUME
Analysts see Dist. Senator George Akume, as an amiable and systematic interventionist political leadership figure with a high affinity for accommodation in group dynamics. They also see him as a cerebrally gifted scholar-turned political administrator, that understands the balance of power, power game and power play.
Impeccable sources from the Presidency, consider him as the best optional choice amongst the list of those seeking to lead the party as National Chairman.
According to Presidential sources, Senator Akume, has the backing of the President, Commander-in-Chief, as well as the cabal within the Presidency.
Sources say that his network amongst his colleagues, both serving and former governors, see him as a good team player and one of their own. These they further maintain, no doubt places lots of advantages on his emergence as the National Chairman of the party.
According to political analysts, Sen. Akume’s colleagues who are serving senators and former federal lawmakers of the National Assembly who have collectively and individually endorsed him as the best candidate to lead the party at these trying times of national challenges.
Political watchers in the APC political landscape describe him as a brilliantly intelligent academician, seasoned bureaucrat, technocrat, grassroots mobilize and balanced personality who has a heart for change besides philanthropy.
Political watchers argue that Sen. Akume’s shortcomings are that he is extremely soft-hearted, kind and humane in offering to help people. They argue that a political leader should not be seen to be offering assistance everybody that comes across his way.
Given the array of political leadership figures who have shown interests in contesting the National Chairmanship position of the party, it will be safe to say that the best leadership personality to be supported, should be the most competent, intelligent, proactive, disciplined and focused, which is in line with the APC Chairmanship aspirations and the contest within.
Speech is both free and fundamental; however, the ability to generate positive ideas, ideals and concepts that will transform the economic conditions of the voting electorate, in a developing economy, such as ours, is not given to every individual who is a product of the larger society, but the best.
In the same vein, it is one thing for an aspiring political leadership figure to express his or her intentions to seek for a given political position within the circles of polity, yet it is another for such a personage to possess the required personality infrastructure to face up to the inherent challenges that such an elective position requires.
These conceptual experiences and lasting impressions, had since the return of the democratic rule in Nigeria, been the major challenges facing the capacity of elected representatives to successfully manage the gains of their electoral investments as well as offer positive returns on electoral investments as social contracts with the voting electorate, who for the most part had been disadvantaged and impoverished.
Though in few selective instances of measured good governance experience, in terms of how elected representatives can manage the gains of their electoral successes, there are very cogent and verifiable case studies recorded at the three tiers of government from 1999 to date, even with the cumulative years ploughed in by the PDP’s 16 years and the APC’s 6 years in power, respectively.
However, for the APC to further convince the Nigerian voting electorate that it means well for the good of the Nigerian citizenry, it has to focus on the urgent need to offer corresponding democratic returns on the electoral investments, it received between 2015 and 2019 Presidential and general elections from Nigerians.
Again, the APC has to successfully rebuild itself by instilling confidence in the electorate, in spite of the series of political behavior discrepancies that appeared to have characterized the national polity in the last six years of being in control of the federal governance.
The next chairman of the APC must be seen to also possess high degrees of emotional, cognitive, investigative and social intelligence in his primary assignment schedule of rebuilding the party.
From among the list of persons so far listed as having the ambition to lead the party, Dist. Senator George Akume comes out as the most suited for the position. He has all it takes to bring the party to its glory.
A look at the thrust, content and form of this political review, aptly titled, “APC Convention, Chairmanship aspirations and the contest within”, no doubt speaks volumes about what will be the pathway towards a nationally acceptable leadership figure to reposition or re-invent the APC, which had witnessed lots of behavior-discrepancies, leading to the loss of the initial goodwill that the party was known for before now.
These experiences, however led to the loss of huge political investments, recorded by the party between 2015 and 2019 general elections.
No doubt that the contest within, will be a keenly contested race for the soul of the party, particularly as to who becomes the National Chairman of the APC.
These observers believe is the last chance for the APC to re-invent itself politically before it is too late for it, to find its feet as the opposition parties are on the prowl to see the outcome of the APC National Convention and see how they can take advantages of any possible loopholes that may be created by the party.
This the APC must avoid, considering the contest within.