President Muhammadu Buhari has backed Abdullahi Adamu, a former governor of Nasarawa State, as the chairman of the ruling party ahead of the APC’s National Convention on March 26.
The sources, including governors and former governors, said the president endorsed Senator Abdullahi Adamu, who chaired the reconciliation committee of the party, during his meeting with APC governors at the State House on Tuesday.
With this arrangement, Sen. Adamu will take over from Yobe State Governor Mai Mala Buni who has been piloting the affairs of the party for almost two years.
Buni and other members of the caretaker committee of the party had come under unrelenting attacks from different quarters for shifting the national convention of the party severally.
However, sources said while personal ambition by some party members could not be ruled out, the Buni-led committee had been waiting to get the green light on the direction President Buhari and other powerful forces around the villa would want the party to take.
Daily Trust had on February 18, exclusively reported that the body language of the president favoured Adamu, a two-term governor of Nasarawa State, who has been at the Senate since 2011.
Unlike other aspirants, Adamu joined the chairmanship race only last week.
With the endorsement, our correspondents were told that the national convention would only ratify the endorsement as done in June 2018 when Adams Oshiomhole, a former governor of Edo State, emerged as the party’s national chairman.
Oshiomhole emerged as the party’s national chairman on June 23, 2018, following voice votes by delegates to the APC national convention.
One of the sources said at the Tuesday meeting, Buhari told the governors that the party chairmanship position should be zoned to the North Central geopolitical zone.
Efforts to hear from the spokesmen of the president last night were not successful. Senator Adamu could also not be reached but some sources close to both the president and the Nasarawa senator said the deal had been sealed.
“The president, at the brief meeting, told us that the party chairman should come from the North Central and that the person should be Senator Abdullahi Adamu. Nobody disagreed with him,” the governor said.
He said with presidential endorsement, all other aspirants vying for the chairmanship seat were expected to withdraw from the race.
“I think the nomination is in the best interest of the party because we need a national chairman that can match Ayu, the PDP chairman. From all angles, Senator Adamu has the capacity to tackle him and lead the party to victory,” he said.
Another source, a former governor confirmed the endorsement of the president saying, “He has endorsed Senator Adamu to be adopted by consensus as the next chairman of the APC.”
Some of the APC governors initially nominated a former governor of Nasarawa State, Tanko Al-Makura; some nominated a former minister for Mines and Steel Development, Abubakar Bawa Bwari; some wanted the Minister of Special Duties and Inter-Governmental Affairs, Senator George Akume and others rooted for Senator Mohammed Sani Musa but the president told them he would like Abdullahi Adamu to become the chairman,” he said.
The source, however, punctured the claims that the president had endorsed a former Senate President, Ken Nnamani and Faruk Adamu Aliyu as deputy national chairmen South and North, respectively.
The claim was countered by a ranking lawmaker, who said the trio of Nnamani, Aliyu and Senator John James Akpanudoedehe have been endorsed as deputy national chairmen and secretary respectively.
An insider said, “While most of the over 20 APC governors were comfortable with Buhari’s endorsement of Sen. Abdullahi Adamu, some of them quietly suggested that they should be allowed to play key roles in the selection of other important offices like deputy national chairmen for North and South, national secretary, national organising secretary and national legal adviser.
“Some of them who are rounding off their second term would not want the party to slip away from their hands and therefore want their preferred candidates to be chosen. It is all about politics of 2023,” he said.
Recall that while fielding questions from State House reporters after their meeting with Buhari, Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State disclosed that positions have been zoned and admitted that the governors initially had some differences.
The governor of Kebbi State and chairman of the Progressive Governors’ Forum (PGF), Atiku Bagudu, who led the post-meeting briefing, while reacting to the question earlier, said the president enjoined them to employ consensus option to fill the vacant NWC positions.
Some aspirants kick
A former governor of Benue State and current Minister of Special Duties and Inter-Governmental Affairs, Senator George Akume, who is one of the top contenders to the APC chairmanship, has said if any consensus was reached, or is to be reached, he is the one to be chosen.
Akume, who spoke through the chairman, Contact Committee and Media Group for his campaign team, Chief Simon Shango, said,” if any consensus was reached, it is his Excellency Senator George Akume.”
Another top contender from Kwara State, Saliu Mustapha, the Turaki Ilorin, told Daily Trust that no one had been anointed, saying he remained the candidate to beat.
Mustapha, who spoke through Dapo Okubanjo, the media aide/head of media for his campaign organisation, said, “We believe our candidate, Malam Saliu Mustapha, remains the candidate to beat even if you consider what President Buhari said recently on the type of candidates he is willing to back for positions at the forthcoming national convention.
“Aside from his youthfulness and background in party administration, he is a core party man and a founding APC member who has never deviated from the path of progressivism and has absolutely no political baggage.
“What we learnt is that no one was anointed during PMB’s meeting with the governors regardless of the kite flown by certain interests.
“So we have to make it clear that the Saliu Mustapha Campaign Organisation does not dwell on rumour or innuendos,” he said.
But another contestant from Adamawa State, Sunny Sylvester Moniedafe, told Daily Trust in a telephone chat that for consensus to be successful, the party should call all aspirants to a meeting and brief them.
Moniedafe, the Jagaban Jimeta said, “Honestly, I have nothing against consensus, and if one of the aspirants emerges, I will have nothing against him. I will abide by the decision of the party; I will remain in the party but I know some may not.”
Adamu’s four decades in politics
Born in 1946, Adamu was the Secretary-General of the National Party of Nigeria (NPN) in old Plateau State in 1978. Four years later, he became chairman of the NPN in the state (1982 to 1983).
In 1997, Adamu joined the United Nigeria Congress Party (UNCP) and a year later became a founding member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
He was a two-term governor of Nasarawa State between 1999 and 2007; and became Secretary, Board of Trustees (BOT) of the PDP in 2009.
Adamu was a member of the new PDP that fused into the ruling APC and since 2011, he has been at the Senate, representing Nasarawa West.