Governors elected on the All Progressives Congress (APC) platform have expressed their readiness to support the preferred candidates of President Muhammadu Buhari at the party’s forthcoming national convention.
The governors made the pledge Wednesday after a meeting with President Buhari at the State House Abuja.
Addressing State House correspondents at the end of the meeting, Chairman Progressive Governors’ Forum and Kebbi state Governor Atiku Bagudu said the governors were ready to do Buhari’s bidding.
The governors were led to the meeting by the Chairman APC Caretaker Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC) and Yobe state Governor Mai Mala Buni.
Last month, Buhari said he was in favour of the consensus mode for selecting candidates for the party’s national positions, urging the governors to explore same.
Speaking to journalists at the end of the meeting, Bagudu said: “Today, members of the Progressive Governors Forum were hosted by President Buhari at a meeting to discuss what the governors have been doing in preparation for the March 26, National Convention.
“Some of you may recall that last week there was a letter that was widely circulated in the media, addressed to me as the Chairman of the Progressive Governors’ Forum and copied to a number of others, including the Chairman of the Caretaker Committee, the acting Chairman of the Caretaker Committee and indeed the Secretary to the Government of the Federation.
“That letter led to a series of actions, including meetings between the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Chairman of the National Caretaker Committee, Acting Chairman, Gov. Abubakar Bello of Niger State, as he was then, and myself.
“We all restated our commitment to working together to ensure that the convention takes place on March 26, 2022 and then we agreed to support all the decisions that were taken by the Caretaker Committee, both acting as a working committee and acting with the donated powers given to it by the National Executive Committee.
“Indeed, the Chairman of the Caretaker, upon his return, also appreciated what the Caretaker Committee did and the decisions that were taken in his absence.
“Today we all briefed Mr President on that, and our support for Mr President’s endorsement of the candidate for the National Chairman of the party.”
Bagudu further said the president was also briefed on the issue of sharing of political party offices among the respective zones.
“Most of the zones have been allocated National Working Committee positions that are fewer than the number of states, but however, there are zonal executive committees from which the zones are working to produce a consensus list.
“The governors are unanimous in support of Mr.President. The governors are unanimous in the support of the caretaker committee; we thank the caretaker committee for what they have been doing.
“Naturally, there will be hiccups one day, but we have overcome them and we are a human organisation, which is bound sometimes to generate emotions and anxiety, but we are united and unanimous and by God’s grace, we’ll have a very successful and peaceful National Convention,” he said.
Adamu, Mustapha, others cleared
About seven aspirants have picked the expression of interest and nomination forms to contest for the office of the national chairman of the ruling party.
The aspirants, all of whom hail from North Central zone, are; Senators Tanko Al-Makura and Abdullahi Adamu, both senators and former Nasarawa state governors, Minister of Special Duties and Inter-Governmental Affairs Senator George Akume; Saliu Mustapha from Kwara state, a Niger East Senator, Sani Musa; and an aide to the Niger state Governor, Mohammed Etsu.
Also, an aspirant, Abdul’aziz Yari, a former governor of Zamfara state in the North-west, who dared the zoning arrangement by picking the form last week, also made the list.
In a related development, the APC national convention screening committee has extended screening of aspirants contesting various positions beyond Wednesday, Blueprint has learnt.
One of our correspondents also reports that Adamu was screened, contrary to reports that he had earlier been screened before now.
Some online media (not Blueprint) had earlier reported that Senator Adamu did not attend the screening exercise.
But when Blueprint correspondent visited the Kastina Lodge in Abuja, venue of the said screening exercise, it was reliably learnt that Senator Adamu was at the venue by noon Wednesday and had his time with Governor Aminu Bello Masari-led screening committee.
A source said: “Senator Abdullahi Adamu and few other aspirants for NWC offices joined aspirants for zonal offices today (Wednesday) at Katsina Governor’s Lodge, Asokoro, Abuja for the screening.”
According to the earlier announcement signed by Secretary of the Committee, Emmanuel Otagburuagu, the screening of chairmanship and other National Working Committee (NWC) aspirants, was fixed for Tuesday while aspirants for zonal offices was to be conducted Wednesday.
Blueprint, however, learnt that the screening of aspirants for substantive NWC could not be completed as it started late Tuesday night.
Other aspirants sighted at the venue of the exercise include Akume, Musa, Al-Makura, Mustapha, former Deputy Governor of Osun state Senator Iyiola Omisore, Etsu and Yari among others.
Akume commends exercise
Meanwhile, former Benue governor, Senator Akume, has expressed satisfaction with the screening of aspirants for the national chairmanship position.
Accompanied to the venue by a delegation of elder statesmen, APC leaders across the states of the federation and other stakeholders, the minister expressed confidence that the screening exercise would produce quality leadership for the ruling party.
Senator George Akume said: “I don’t know whether it’s an interview, it’s a screening exercise. They asked me questions on political realities of our time, so these are issues that affect many other political parties even the big ones like APC which is a flagship political party movement. It was an interactive session so to speak, and I think I learnt much from them and I think they learnt a little from me. By and large, it was okay.”
The former senator was among the national chairmanship aspirants screened Tuesday evening in Abuja.
Also screened were Musa, Al-Makura, Mustapha, Etsu, former governor Yari and Adamu.
Meanwhile, a Forum of Christians and Muslims Youth of Nigeria have backed the national chairmanship aspiration of Senator George Akume.
At a media briefing at the end of their meeting in Abuja, the forum said Akume was the best for the party and by extension the country.
Leaders of the forum, Malam Yusuf Muhammed and Mr. Peter Bassey Asuquo, President and National Publicity Secretary respectively, said Akume would unite the party and ensure it wins the 2023 presidential election.
“The Forum of Christians and Muslims Youth of Nigeria recommend Senator George Akume without reservations as the best candidate for the APC National Chairmanship based on his competence, experience, and nationalism.
“We have constituted a lobbying committee among our members who cut across the 36 states and FCT to solicit the support of the APC critical stakeholders for Senator Akume’s victory as the next National Chairman of the APC.
“This, we have been doing behind the scene silently and are quite hopeful of our Patron’s victory,” they said.