With no definite date yet for the next National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting of the All Progressives Congress (APC), key actors of the party in the North Central zone have kick-started moves aimed at regaining the party’s national chairmanship.
While the incumbent national chairman, Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, who emerged from the last NEC meeting of the party, is barely a year in the saddle of affairs, indications have emerged that some bigwigs of the party from the North Central zone, the zone of his predecessor, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, have already started mobilising with the aim of getting other zones to help drive the agenda to restore the chairmanship to the zone.
Recall that Ganduje, a former two-term governor of Kano State, emerged as the APC national chairman on August 3, 2023 after his predecessor, Adamu, was edged out following an internal crisis within the party, which many attributed to his (Adamu) initial opposition to President Bola Tinubu’s presidential ambition.
He emerged amidst protests, following the edging out of the North Central zone, which was supposed to produce another chairman. From 2013 when the APC was formed to date, it has had six national chairmen, with the majority of them exiting their position in crisis-ridden and controversial circumstances.
The six APC national chairmen since 2013 are Chief Bisi Akande (2013 – 2014); Chief John Oyegun (2014 – 2018); Comrade Adams Oshiomhole (2018 – 2020); Mai Mala Buni (2020-22), Senator Abdullahi Adamu (2022 – 2023) and Dr Abdullahi Umar Ganduje (2023-date).
Sources in the APC confirmed to our correspondent that some stakeholders in the North Central felt cheated following Ganduje’s emergence as the party’s helmsman and were in talks with aggrieved bigwigs from other zones to cut short his tenure.
They hinged their dissatisfaction on the party’s constitution, which they said provided that Adamu’s replacement ought to have come from the North Central where he hails from, especially considering that he was forced to resign before the end of his tenure.
But the party’s zoning arrangement was jettisoned when President Tinubu anointed Ganduje, one of his closest loyalists leading to the General Elections, as the candidate to succeed Adamu. And despite protests from various quarters, Ganduje also got the backing of the majority of the party’s governors.
The party’s tradition of convening a national convention for the election of a new substantive national chairman was also jettisoned as the NEC relied on Article 13:3 (ii) of the APC constitution (as amended 2022) to make Ganduje the national chairman. The article states: “The NEC has the powers to discharge all functions of the national convention in between national conventions.”
Since then, there had been permutations on whether or not Ganduje would survive onslaughts against his chairmanship but with his outing in the November, 2023 bye-elections in Kogi and Imo states and the recent defection of bigwigs from opposition parties to the ruling party, analysts said the former Kano governor has started on a good footing.
Yahaya Bello tipped as replacement
But multiple sources on Wednesday confirmed that there were moves to force Ganduje out of office to create room for the North Central to retain its position in the interest of peace and stability ahead of the 2027 polls.
Sources hinted that Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State whose tenure of 8 years would elapse before the end of this month, was one of those eyeing Ganduje’s position from the North Central zone and scheming to succeed him.
Several calls and text messages to Mohammed Onogwu, Governor Bello’s Chief Press Secretary, were not responded to as of the time of filing this report.
But sources within the party hierarchy and the Presidency said that it would be practically impossible to convince President Tinubu to let go of Ganduje as party chairman, especially as the president, it was gathered, already has his eyes on the 2027 presidential election.
One of the sources said understanding the role that Kano State and the North West region are expected to play in Tinubu’s second term agenda was what informed the choice of Ganduje in the first place.
“The president, aside his personal affinity with Ganduje, sees him as a very loyal and dependable political ally who can deliver not just the party’s ticket for him for 2027 but also the figures needed to retain the seat,” the source, who asked not to be identified, said.
It was further gathered that there is no love lost between the president and Governor Bello and that it would be a no-brainer to assume that the governor can achieve the unseating of the president’s choice.
Multiple sources said while the relationship between the president and Governor Bello has not been smooth since the APC presidential primary election, the relationship further degenerated after it was clear to the president that the governor would not be considering James Faleke, the president’s choice, as his (Bello) successor (APC candidate election for the Kogi gubernatorial election).
Many of those contacted confirmed that the above reasons, as well as past acts of the governor, which many believe has made him more enemies than friends, were what made it a no-brainer that any move by Governor Bello on the national chairmanship would be quickly nipped in the bud.
Also, it was gathered that the appointment of former governor of Benue State, Senator George Akume, a leading chieftain of the party from the North Central, was part of the calculations the president made in anticipation of complaints from the North Central zone. Akume, it was gathered, was expected to help neutralize any agitation from the zone and also give the zone a high ranking representation in the government after losing the party’s national chairmanship.
A chieftain of the party, Jackson Lekan Ojo, who spoke on record to one of our correspondents, confirmed that it was no longer a rumour that some forces in the APC were scheming to oust the APC helmsman but insisted that should these forces make good their scheming, Ganduje and the president may not be able to resist them.
He said, “It is very true. If the public sees it as a rumour, it is no longer a rumour. There are heavy moves to oust Ganduje. The appointments were lopsided. The North West where Ganduje comes from, got the two ministers of defence. That same zone got the deputy senate president. The same zone got the speaker of the House of Representatives. It equally got the national chairman of the party.
“Ab initio, there were a lot of controversies. A lot of persons and personalities, principalities and powers in the APC, Ganduje was not their choice candidate. Ganduje, was like, imposed by Mr. President because of the political relationship between them. Mr. President himself should be able to sacrifice Ganduje now, if he is to become a stumbling block to him in 2027.”
He added, “Ganduje has no capacity to resist this. Right from the beginning, he was imposed by Mr. President and an imposition that does not carry a lot of people along will not last. Abdullahi Adamu was imposed by the former president. Did he last? Omisore was imposed. Did he last? So let’s watch out.”
Another source, who pleaded anonymity said, “The game plan is to force Ganduje out of office before the next general elections. Plans are already on to force him out. Nothing is impossible in politics. You can’t rule this out.”