APC national convention: Security beefed up at Eagle Square as Buhari pushes to impose consensus candidates

SECURITY has been beefed up at the Eagle Square in Abuja, venue of the national convention of Nigeria’s ruling party the All Progressives Congress (APC), which takes place on March 26.

A new national chairman and other members of the party’s National Working Committee (NWC) will be elected at the convention.

Police patrol vans, manned by armed policemen, were positioned at strategic locations around the Eagles Square on March 25, when The ICIR visited the venue to observe preparations for the national convention.

Vehicles that attempted to pass through the road that linked the Square were screened and turned back by the security operatives.

The ICIR also observed that police patrol vehicles were positioned by the entrance of the Eagle Square.


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Inside the Square, where the convention will take place, artisans were observed setting up the podium, mounting loud speakers, making decorations and attending to other logistics required for the convention.

Campaign posters of aspirants for various positions have taken up all available space in and around the Eagle Square.

The posters of a former Nasarawa State governor Tanko Al Makura, who is vying for the position of APC national chairman, were the most prominent.

Al Makura’s posters were bigger in size than others, and are positioned at more strategic positions around the Eagles Square.

However, despite the prominence of his campaign posters, Al Makura is not the favourite for the position of APC national chairman.

The former Nasarawa governor, who is currently representing Nasarawa South in the Senate, is believed to be backed by majority of APC governors and his chances were further boosted by the zoning of the office of national chairman to the North-Central, comprising Nasarawa, Benue, Kogi, Kwara, Niger and Plateau.

Another former governor of Nasarawa State, Abdullahi Adamu, is highly favoured to emerge as the new national chairman of the APC.

Adamu, like Al Makura, is currently a senator, representing Nasarawa West.

Adamu, a latecomer to the race, is openly backed by President Muhammadu Buhari.

Favoured aspirant Adamu’s posters missing at Eagle Square

However, while Al Makura’s posters, and those of another chairmanship aspirant Saliu Mustapha, were all over the place at the Eagles Square, Adamu’s posters are conspicuously absent.

The ICIR’s correspondent could not find Adamu’s posters after moving round the Eagle Square on March 25.

Buhari pushes for consensus, wants other aspirants to step down for Adamu

But Adamu may not require posters to clinch the APC top job, if Buhari is to have his way at the convention.

The president wants all the new APC national officers who would be elected at the convention to emerge through a consensus arrangement, as was largely the case in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) national convention in October 2021.

The president is pushing for the adoption of a ‘unity list’ of consensus candidates for all the positions that are to be contested at the convention.

Already, Buhari had at a meeting with all the chairmanship aspirants on March 23 made clear his preference for Adamu, and advised the other contestants to step down for the former Nasarawa governor.

To make it easier for aspirants to step down, Buhari has instructed the convention organisers to refund money paid for nomination forms to those that decide to withdraw from the race.

Buhari has also asked the APC governors to back Adamu as national chairman, and also work towards arriving at a consensus unity list before the convention.

Niger State governor Abdullahi Bello confirmed Buhari’s directive to the governors in an interview on Arise TV on March 24.

“At the moment, we are looking at Senator Abdullahi Adamu based on the suggestion by the President for whatever reasons,” Bello said.

Campaign posters at the Eagle Square on March 25
Campaign posters at the Eagle Square on March 25.
Image: Ihuoma Chiedozie, The ICIR

Reasons for Buhari’s decision to back Adamu are not very clear but the former governor was not in the race until reports emerged that he has been endorsed by the president.

Other aspirants may not step down for Adamu

While Buhari is pushing for a consensus arrangement, there are indications that aspirants who are not favoured would be unwilling to step down.

Bello admitted as much on Arise TV, noting that the national convention was a democratic system.

“If the other contestants do not key in or buy this idea (consensus), it is their legitimate right to contest, but we hope that this matter will be resolved,” he added.

24 hours to convention, election format uncertain

The ICIR reports that 24 hours to the national convention, the format for election of national officers at the event is still uncertain.

The uncertainty centres around the success, or failure, of Buhari’s push for a the consensus arrangement.

At a press briefing which was attended by The ICIR at the APC national secretariat on March 25, governor of Nasarawa State and chairman of the publicity sub-committee for the national convention, Abdullahi Sule, disclosed that while a consensus format was the preferred option for election of national officers at the event, other options are also on the cards.

“As far as our party is concerned we have all the three options (direct, indirect and consensus) in our Constitution but the first choice is consensus because it provides for a rancour-free convention,” Sule said when asked which format would be adopted in the convention.

He noted that other options would be considered if consensus fail.

Unity list expected to be finalised before convention

Sule also confirmed Buhari’s wish for a consensus arrangement, noting that a unity list of consensus candidates for all the positions is being finalised.

“From all what we have heard from the various regions the unity list will be ready today (March 25). It will be submitted. If you are talking of consensus, you must have a unity list, because that’s the whole essence of consensus.”

Ekiti State governor Kayode Fayemi reportedly kicked against Buhari’s quest for the consensus arrangement while speaking at a high-level policy dialogue organised by the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) on March 24.

Fayemi reportedly said he was not aware of any agreement on consensus, adding that while Buhari has the right to back any candidate, the said candidate can win or lose.

Fayemi’s comments suggested that some governors were opposed to the consensus option but Nasarawa governor Sule, at the March 25 press briefing, said Fayemi had explained that he was misquoted.

“Governor Fayemi was at the meeting where the consensus was agreed. He has refuted the reports. Governor Fayemi has said he didn’t say that,” Sule said.

Statutory delegates to vote at convention

Reacting to reports that political appointees were barred from participating in the convention, Sule noted that the party will make use of its statutory delegates.

But he was quick to add that being an appointee does not disqualify those who are already statutory delegates by virtue of the party’s rules.

The governor said, “Our delegates list are statutory delegates. So if you have a former president as a political appointee, if you have a former senator as a political appointee, these are already automatic delegates.

“Let’s not confuse the two just because being an appointee doesn’t necessarily take you out of being a delegate, because our delegates are classified clearly.”

Delegates to elect new APC chairman, other national officers

An unspecified number of delegates will participate in the APC national convention, where party officials, including 21 National Working Committee (NWC) members, would be elected.

The positions have already been zoned by the Caretaker/Extra-ordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC), which has been running the affairs of the party.

A police patrol can at the entrance of the Eagle Square on March 25.
A police patrol can at the entrance of the Eagle Square on March 25.
Image: Ihuoma Chiedozie, The ICIR

The positions to be filled at the convention, and the geo-political zones to which they were zoned, is as follows:

NORTH-CENTRAL: Benue, Kogi, Kwara, Nasarawa, Niger, Plateau

National Chairman, National Vice Chairman (North Central), Deputy National Secretary, Deputy National Legal Adviser, Deputy National Publicity Secretary, Zonal Secretary, Zonal Youth Leader, Zonal Organising Secretary, Zonal Women Leader, Zonal Special Leader (Persons with Disabilities – PWD), National Ex – Officio Member.

SOUTH-SOUTH: Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, Edo, Rivers

National Vice Chairman (South South), National Publicity Secretary, National Women Leader, Deputy National Treasurer, Deputy National Welfare Secretary, Zonal Secretary, Zonal Youth Leader, Zonal Organising Secretary, Zonal Women Leader, Zonal Special Leader (Persons with Disabilities – PWD), National Ex – Officio Member.

SOUTH–WEST: Ekiti, Lagos, Ogun, Ondo, Osun, Oyo

National Secretary, National Vice Chairman (South West), National Youth Leader, National Physically Challenged Leader, Deputy National Auditor, Zonal Secretary, Zonal Youth Leader, Zonal Organising Secretary, Zonal Women Leader, Zonal Special Leader (Persons with Disabilities – PWD) National Ex – Officio Member.

SOUTH-EAST: Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu, Imo

Deputy National Chairman (South), National Vice Chairman (South East) National Treasurer, National Welfare Secretary, Deputy National Organising Secretary, Zonal Secretary, Zonal Youth Leader, Zonal Organising Secretary, Zonal Women Leader, Zonal Special Leader (Persons with Disabilities – PWD), National Ex – Officio Member.






     

     

    NORTH–EAST: Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, Taraba, Yobe

    Deputy National Chairman (North), National Auditor, National Vice Chairman (North East), Deputy National Financial Secretary, Deputy National Women Leader, Zonal Secretary, Zonal Youth Leader, Zonal Organisig Secretary, Zonal Women Leader, Zonal Special Leader (Persons with Disabilities – PWD), National Ex – Officio Member.

    NORTH-WEST: Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Sokoto, Zamfara

    National Vice Chairman (North West), National Legal Adviser, National Organising Secretary, National Financial Secretary, Deputy National Youth Leader, Zonal Secretary, Zonal Youth Leader, Zonal Organising Secretary, Zonal Women Leader, Zonal Special Leader (Persons with Disabilities – PWD), National Ex – Officio Member.

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