APC leaders divided over zoning, control of party structure ahead of 2023
Less than 27 months to the 2023 presidential polls, leaders of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, are in a pitch battle for the soul of the party. They are also divided over which zone should produce its next presidential flagbearer. Sources told Vanguard, yesterday, that eyes on 2023 is at the heart of the renewed battle for the control of the party hierarchy as party leaders in South-West and South-East are locked in underground moves to get the presidential ticket zoned to their areas.
APC minders sowed the seed for the looming battle between South-West and South-East zones in 2019 while campaigning for President Muhammadu Buhari’s re-election with a promise to both zones that they would produce the president in 2023. During a visit to the Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi, on December 22, 2018, few months to the 2019 presidential poll, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, said if the South-West wanted to produce the president in 2023, it should vote for Buhari in 2019. “The 2019 election is our own. We are not looking at 2019 but 2023. If we get it in 2019, Yoruba will get it in 2023. Because if we don’t get it in 2019, we may not get it in 2023 and it may take a very long time to get it. We need to look at tomorrow and not because of today. What we are doing now is for tomorrow and not for today,” he said.
In the same token, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, made a similar promise to the South-East. Mustapha reiterated the presidency’s promise to hand over power to the Igbo in 2023 if they support Buhari’s second term ambition when President Buhari met with a delegation of South-East leaders in the state house, Abuja, on November 21, 2018. Speaking to state house correspondents after the meeting, Mustapha said the fastest way for the Igbo to acqualise their dream of occupying the seat of power was for the region to support Buhari’s re-election bid in 2019 and then by 2023, the Igbo presidency could become a reality.
“This obviously might not be most appropriate time. You remember there was a programme in the South-East where Mr. President asked me to represent him and I flew the kite by telling the south-eastern states that their quickest and easiest means to presidency is to support President Buhari’s second term. Meaning that they can short-circuit the period in terms of only having him there for another four years and whatever they do in 2019 will determine what will happen thereafter because politics is a game of numbers and it is like a cooperative society.’’
Angling for APC presidential ticket Indeed, since Buhari’s re-election the polity has been awash with underground jostling for the presidency by some South-West and South-East leaders. Last week, Governor Dave Umahi of Ebonyi State, left the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, for the APC after he failed to get the PDP to zone its 2023 presidential ticket to the PDP. He complained that the main opposition party had treated South-East unfairly since the return of democracy in 1999. The polity is awash with reports of more South-East leaders and governors defecting to the APC soon to boost the zone’s chances and bargaining power.
This happened as Minister of Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, SAN, counselled the political class to honour any agreement they had reached on zoning whether it is written or verbal. Resurged leadership crisis On Friday, the leadership crisis in the APC, which seemed to have been resolved resurfaced when a former National Vice Chairman of the party in the defunct National Working Committee, NWC, Ntufam Hilliard Eta, sought a declaration of court to oust the Governor Mai Mala Buni-led Caretaker/Extraordinary National Convention Planning Committee of the party.
Eta was in the Comrade Adams Oshiomhole camp. He wants the court to sack Buni and declare him acting national chairman of the APC on the grounds that it is illegal for a person to hold an executive office in government simultaneously with an office in any organ of the APC at any level. He cited Section 183 of the 1999 Nigerian Constitution (as amended) and Article 17 (IV) of the APC Constitution to back up his prayer. Vanguard