On Wednesday, at the 11th meeting of the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Abuja, President Muhammadu Buhari warned the party leadership at both national and state levels against imposing unpopular candidates as the 2023 general election approaches.
He also enjoined the leadership to always follow due process in all the party processes as well as to develop more mechanisms against corruption.
Among other things, he pointed out that such dictatorial behaviour cost the party many electoral victories in the past as well as “some of our strong members, unfortunately, opting to go elsewhere because of the unfairly oppressive behaviour of party leaders at the state level.”
“I call on all party members to abide by all extant laws, rules, and regulations and to leaders of our party to avoid the imposition of candidates that cannot win popular elections.”
The president’s warning rings true for leaders of the party in Adamawa State.
Since the emergence of Senator Abdullahi Adamu as the national chairman of the ruling APC through consensus in the recently concluded national convention, stakeholders in the party in different states are considering adopting the same method in nominating candidates for the gubernatorial and other elections.
The consensus model of election in itself is constitutional and it is a decent way of nominating candidates if all the aspirants and stakeholders are involved and given a sense of belonging.
However, party stakeholders in Adamawa State have stated that where a few privileged members of a party decide to impose a consensus candidate, it is clearly walking the path of defeat.
They point out that Adamawa is an APC state despite the fact that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is the party occupying Adamawa Government House after Governor Ahmadu Fintiri won in 2019 because of the unresolved internal wrangling in the APC at the time.
According to the APC stalwarts, the party is on ground and if the party puts its house in order and does the right thing, it will sweep off the PDP of the governorship seat come 2023.
Some of them have, however, expressed misgiving at the report that some APC stakeholders from Abuja are planning to impose a consensus gubernatorial candidate in the state for the forthcoming party primaries, and dropping the name of President Muhammadu Buhari and the party’s national chairman, Senator Adamu in order to actualise their game plan.
An APC chieftain in the state, Hamidu Bappah, told journalists in Yola, the Adamawa capital, that as a die-hard supporter of the APC in Adamawa and beyond, he wished to humbly advise the party and whoever is the originator of this deceitful consensus that is brewing and already causing ripples within the ranks of the party supporters in the state to desist from it henceforth.
“We must not be poor students of history and forget so soon how Senator Bindow and the APC lost the governorship in 2019. Apart from other factors, Dr. Halilu Modi’s loss to Jibrilla Bindow at the primaries, which he termed as unfair and the resolve of his supporters to pay the party in its own coins. contributed immensely to the APC’s defeat in the general elections.”
He further noted that the former anti-corruption czar, Nuhu Ribadu, himself is not a bad candidate but that if he is imposed on the party, he will likely lose like he did in 2015 when the PDP imposed him as the candidate.
According to Bappah, there are at least 12 aspirants so far gunning for the APC governorship ticket and all must be allowed to test their popularity through the ballot box in a free, fair and transparent primary. In this way, the APC will be on the way to reclaiming its lost mandate. Those familiar with the politics of Adamawa know that there are very many constituencies in the state that do not reckon with unpopular and imposed candidates.
He warned the APC not to play into the hands of the PDP again.
“We are aware that most APC members of the state assembly are looking forward to having a popular governorship candidate to work with and retain their seats. Hence, the party will be doing a great disservice to the lawmakers should it insist on imposing an unpopular and unsaleable candidate who would make them lose at the polls.
“The APC must, by all means, avoid a repeat of the 2019 scenario because feelers from the party faithful and supporters point to the fact that foisting an unpopular consensus candidate on the party will again spell doom on the fortunes of the APC. The supporters are already angry at the sentiments of the consensus candidate and it must be jettisoned now. Consensus will never work in Adamawa APC because of some of the following reasons,” he said
Adamawa State has an array of strong candidates looking to pick the APC governorship ticket. There is Senator Jibrilla Bindow, the immediate past governor who narrowly lost to Fintiri in 2019, who should not be taken for granted.
Party bigwigs believe that if there will be any consensus, Bindow should be accorded some respect as the former governor. Feelers say his supporters are angry over the consensus arrangement and are spoiling for a fight.
Another strong contender is Senator Aishatu Ahmed, better known as Binani and the lone woman in the race, whose supporters believes that if at all there will be consensus, she should be considered first, considering the fact that no woman has been governor in the state and in fact the whole country.
Her supporters believe that the party should pander to gender sentiments and if she is overlooked in the consensus candidature, the APC could definitely lose huge support, especially from the womenfolk.
There is also Hon. Abdulrazak Namdas, who is so far the only aspirant who has successfully toured all the 21 local governments in the state and interacted with the state executive of the party and other key stakeholders.
Also going for Namdas is that after the loss of the state to PDP in 2019, most of the people angling for governorship now abandoned the party and hibernated in Abuja while Namdas went about meeting people.
Bappa recalled that after the state congresses, Namdas played a pivotal and significant role in assuaging the feeling of aggrieved party members and set the tone of reconciliation to bring the party back on stream, spending his resources, time and energy traversing the state.
So, according to some APC leaders in the state, if consensus is being considered, an aspirant like Namdas would also want to be considered, especially as he has large followership and his popularity should not be toyed with.
Therefore, with such high-calibre aspirants, President Buhari’s warning – that imposition of unpopular candidates hiding under consensus mode would be disastrous for the party – is a timely one.
APC stalwart Bappah adds another angle to the Adamawa scenario. He pointed out that it will be a shame for the first lady’s state to lose to the PDP back-to-back.
According to him, even when the PDP lost the presidency to APC in 2015, through the support of First Lady Patience Jonathan, the PDP retained Rivers State.
“It is largely believed that even out of power, Mrs Jonathan was instrumental to the victory of Chief David Lyon as governor-elect on the platform of APC in Bayelsa. Apart from First Lady Aisha Buhari, Adamawa parades an array of top government appointees including the Secretary to Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha and FCT Minister, Mohammed Bello among others.
“Therefore, let us not use our own hands to give Adamawa state to PDP on a platter of gold again. Let’s give all the aspirants a level playing field to test their popularity so that we can have the most popular, acceptable and winnable candidate to face the PDP in 2023. No to consensus; yes to transparent, free and fair primaries,” he said.
Culled From Leadership Newspaper