The All Progressives Congress will today screen aspirants vying for the position of its national chairman and others at its national headquarters in Abuja.
The aspirants visited the party headquarters on Friday to submit their nomination forms. They also stated that no one had told them about any arrangement for a consensus candidate and so they would all be testing their strengths at the Eagle Square next Saturday.
The Senator representing Niger East Senatorial District, Sani Musa, confirmed that he remained in the race because no one, including the party’s leadership, notified him of any consensus arrangement.
The lawmaker disclosed this while fielding questions from journalists at the party’s national secretariat in Abuja shortly after he submitted his nomination form ahead of the March 26 national convention.
Saturday PUNCH observed that Musa was not the only aspirant who visited Buhari House. Other national chairmanship aspirants who returned their nomination forms include a former governor of Nasarawa State, Tanko Al-Makura, former governor of Benue State, George Akume, another former governor of Nasarawa State, Abdullahi Adamu, Saliu Mustapha and Mohammed Etsu.
Two aspirants vying for the office of National Deputy Chairman (North), Sunny Moniedafe and Abubakar Girer as well as a Women Leader hopeful, Mary Eta, also returned their forms.
Others who have purchased forms include former Governor Abdullahi Adamu of Nasarawa State and a former Governor of Zamfara State, Abdul’Aziz Yari.
Asked why he was in the race despite earlier reports that the party would adopt consensus to choose a new chairman, Musa said, “Why did the party sell forms to us? You (APC) sold forms to us. And as far as I’m concerned, there’s never been anybody that officially contacted me or any other aspirants. Nobody! And the spokesperson for Mr President, Femi Adesina, had said that there is no endorsement.
“So, we want a vibrant leadership. We want leadership that will change the status quo. I want the endorsement of 43 million APC members. That is what I need. The APC needs a leader that will be able to build concessions between all dividing organs.
“That is what I’m bringing to APC. And APC will not be dependent on anybody to fund it. With the number of 43 million members, we have no business going cap in hand to beg anybody for money. That is what I’m bringing to APC.”
Al-Makura who stormed the party’s national secretariat in a boisterous procession comprising women and several People with Disabilities noted that he would ensure full representation in the party. He also noted that though 70, he remains a youth at heart.
He said “My motivation is for national unity and cohesion. What I am going to do is to fast track or preside over this process, because there’ll be no government if there is no party, a formidable party.”
On consensus, the chairmanship hopeful said “The best option is that which allows franchise and permission for everyone to participate in the exercise. I will support an open-door policy, internal party democracy with the full participation of members so that they will have a sense of belonging and determine the fate and direction of the party.”
Moniedafe told journalists that he is in the race to “balance” the equation of the party in terms of religious representation.
He noted that “I am coming as Deputy National chairman to balance the religious agenda because all over Nigeria, people see the APC as a Muslim party. I am a Christian, a pastor in my church. I stepped down, obeyed my party and came to balance the equation of Muslims and Christians in Nigeria.
“I’ve planned for this thing, I have what it takes and I’m confident that when we get there, we’ll start things working right. This party deserves more than we’re getting right now, with due respect.”
On his part, Saliu Mustapha said his chairmanship would ensure the actualisation of the global sustainability goals, especially inclusion.
“This is not about title, but it is about coming to add value, serving the party and moving the party forward and to meet up with the millennium and global challenges of advanced politics. That is why for us in this team, we want to come and do Progressive and smart politics and proactive politics. We want to add value in many areas.”
In a related development, a group of APC youths Friday in Abuja purchased a nomination form for the party’s spokesperson, Ismaeel Ahmed, who is vying for the office of National Organising Secretary.
The gesture came as a birthday gift to the aspirant who has served as a youth representative in the Buni-led Caretaker Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee.
The CECPC chairman had on Thursday endorsed the arrangement that zoned the office of National Organising Secretary to the North-West where Ahmed comes from.
Meanwhile, a former Director-General of the Progressive Governors Forum, Salihu Lukman, has decried a plot to foist leaders from the defunct Congress for Progressive Change on the party.
This is as he warned that such a move could spell doom for the governing party.
In a statement he signed on Friday in Abuja, titled ‘Consensus vs Open Contest in APC’, Lukman cautioned political associates against undermining the authority of the President who is the leader of the party.
He said part of the sentiment deployed by the London lobby team of Abubakar Malami, Hadi Sirika, Adamu Adamu and Farouk Aliyu was to ensure that the old Congress for Progressives Change leaders “is not ‘marginalised’ in the new APC leadership to emerge from the March 26 National Convention.”
Lukman accused the group of desperately “pushing the President to anoint people like Aliyu as consensus candidates, these ‘CPC lobbyists’ have inadvertently created situations whereby there is the strong likelihood for an open contest in APC during the March 26 National Convention.
Omisore picks national secretary form
Meanwhile, a former Deputy Governor of Osun State, Senator Iyiola Omisore, has indicated interest to contest for the post of the National Secretary of the party.
Confirming the development in a chat with Saturday PUNCH, Commissioner for Political Affairs and Intergovernmental Relations, Taiwo Akeju, said Governor Adegboyega Oyetola and other stakeholders of the ruling party in Osun state were in support of Omisore’s ambition.
A statement titled ‘New era, as Senator Iyiola Omisore submits his nomination form for the national secretary of All Progressives Congress,’ personally signed by Omisore, obtained in Osogbo, said the ex-federal parliamentarian would ensure transparent and inclusive party administration if elected.
Commenting further, Akeju, who is an associate of Omisore said the two-term Senator who represented Osun East in the Senate had picked a form to contest for the post.
He said, “Governor Oyetola is supporting him (Omisore) and other party stakeholders are also in support of this project. He has picked the form.”