It’s apparent that most Nigerians, chiefly members of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), are fundamentally preoccupied and concerned about the 2023 elections and beyond while heedless of the turbulence and inherent struggles ahead.
But, to many of us, who might have genuine faith and interest in the headway of the APC and the nation as a whole, what concerns us the most is the future of the party which is correspondingly the future of the country.
For a greater and prosperous Nigeria, what APC and the Buhari government have started and accomplished in the past six years should transcend the 2023 elections. Hence, continuity and sustainability are critical at the moment for both the APC and the government, particularly at this trying time of our nationhood.
Certainly, the ultimate future of the APC is inextricably connected with having the most experienced, politically sound, and reliably committed person as the next party chairman. In fact, that is what will guarantee the party”s sailing through the nautical waves of 2023.
Though, the extra-ordinary convention planning committee headed by Governor Mai Mala Buni of Yobe state recently rolled out the timetable for wards, local government, and zonal congresses but held in reserve, the date for the party’s national convention where the national executive committee of the party would be duly elected. This has stirred some reactions and political bubbles within the party in spite the fact that their motive is best known to them.
As impenitent loyalists of the party and great flag-wavers, our major concern is who is going to take the party to conquest, resolve internal wrangling, and lure more membership into the party. The yardstick to gauge the credentials of such a person should premise on his political antecedents and milestones. There have been inundations of political analysis by countless newspapers – traditional and conventional and social media is also wide-ranging on the same subject.
Most frightening and worrisomeof the all the happenings is the featuring of several names of some party stalwarts whose political antecedents are nothing to write home about or allude any wherewithal to even meditate becoming the party chairman at the first instance, especially at the time when the party is in dire need of an experienced political teamster.
Array of hopefuls have been mentioned, some have officially indicated interest while others are conspicuously silent about it. Names of about six former governors – Sen. Muhammad Danjuma Goje (Gombe state); Sen. Tanko Al-Makura (Nasarawa state); Sen. Kashim Shettima and Sen. Modu Sheriff (Borno state); Abdul’Aziz Yari (Zamfara state) and Sen. George Akume (Benue state). Others are; Clement Ebri (Cross River state) Salisu Mustapha (Kwara state); Muhammed Bello Mustapha (Taraba state) and lots more.
By means of a glimpse at history, the APC was formed in early 2013 following the merger of the legacy parties – Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), All Nigerian Peoples Party (ANPP), among others, – as an alternative platform to wrest power from the then ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). The PDP had ruled the country for 16 consecutive years.
The APC enjoyed Buhari’s popularity and support from angry members of the PDP through the formation of the New-PDP. They included former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, former Senate President Bukola Saraki, former governors of Kano, Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso; Sokoto, Aliyu Wamakko; Rivers, Rotimi Amaechi; Kwara, Abdulfatah Ahmed; Adamawa, Murtala Nyako.
Similarly, another strong team that moved from the PDP to the APC prior to the 2015 general election comprised former governors of Kebbi, Adamu Aliero; Gombe, Danjuma Goje; Osun Olagunsoye Oyinlola; former acting National Chairman of PDP, Abubakar Baraje, and former Speaker of the House of Representatives and present governor of Sokoto, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, among others.
As it is today, most of the aforementioned political bigwigs – Atiku Abubakar, Kwankwaso, Saraki, Tambuwal and many others – have returned to the PDP simply because the APC had failed to consolidate itself within the party firmament by collapsing the walls of the legacy parties after the 2015 general election. In fact, this requires a strong party leadership engrossed with passion and sincere commitment.
In some months to come, the APC is going to decide whether to maintain power beyond 2023 or cede it to the PDP, which seems to leverage on the ruling party’s abysmal mistakes and lack of strong and experienced party structure and leadership.
Consequently, most of the factors that favoured the party in 2015 and 2019 are no longer tenable in 2023 when President Buhari will be rounding off his tenure. The government is being blamed for the insecurity bedeviling the country as it was done to PDP in 2015; the APC is in disarray in many states. What the party needs the most is a versatile, strong, bold, experienced, committed national chairman, who knows the political chemistry of the nation and has a wide connection. Among those penciled by the media is a former minister, former two terms governor of Gombe state, and a third time senator. Danjuma Goje.
I’m not holding brief for Goje but if APC wants to go beyond 2023, the most qualified person to drive the party is Goje. Talking about his experience, he singlehandedly wrestled power from an incumbent governor, late Abubakar Habu Hashidu, in 2003, led the APC in 2019 to overwhelmingly and unprecedentedly win all the elective positions in Gombe state with the exception of only four of the 24 state assembly seats, defeating PDP that had ruled the state for 16 years.
Although, Senator Ali Modu Sherriff has indicated interest; others are yet to say anything and Goje will hardly talk as it was during the contest for the senate president where Nigerians from across board urged him to throw his hat into the ring. Nonetheless, even without his indicating interest from the onset, it has become apparent that he was in the race not because of his personal interest, but for the best interest of the party and the nation at large.
Senator Goje, as a major stakeholder in the APC, when the leadership of the party decided to support Senator Ahmed Lawan, he willingly allowed Lawan to emerge as the current senate president. This is a glaring show of affection for the party and the progress of the nation. Therefore, should Senator Goje accept to contest for the national chairmanship of the APC, the party should not hesitate to do the needful.
Emmanuel writes from Kaduna.