The Caretaker Chairman of the All Progressives Congress in Lagos State, Mr Tunde Balogun, has disclosed that the founding fathers of the party had an agreement in 2014 that the South-West geopolitical zone will produce the party’s presidential candidate for the 2023 election.
He said it would be “dishonourable” for the party to jettison the agreement now, adding that the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), the National Leader of the APC, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, and many other persons made the “gentleman’s agreement”.
There have been insinuations among some party members and chieftains that the resolutions of the National Executive Committee meeting, presided over by Buhari on Tuesday, was a ploy by some party chieftains to hijack the control of the party for personal interest, including scheming towards 2023.
The NEC approved the extension of the six-month tenure of the Mai Mala Buni-led Caretaker/Extraordinary National Convention Planning Committee for another six months. It also approved the immediate dissolution of the party organs at the polling units, wards, local government, states and zonal levels as well as the non National Working Committee component of the National Executive Committee.
It thereafter approved their immediate reconstitution and composition of the dissolved excos to serve in their respective offices in a caretaker committee capacity, excluding the non-NWC members of NEC.
But speaking with our correspondent on Saturday, Balogun said, “In 2014, the founding fathers of APC had a gentleman’s agreement and they committed themselves to the agreement. The party was victorious because they honoured the agreement they made and everyone worked together for the party in 2015 and 2019.
“According to the 2014 agreement, the South-West should be the zone to produce the presidential candidate in 2023. Among them (those present) were President Buhari and Asiwaju Tinubu.
“What I want is for this agreement to be honoured by the founding fathers. I have no doubt in my mind that they are men of honour. An agreement was reached and that agreement produced Buhari as the President in 2015 and 2019, so to jettison the agreement now will be dishonourable.
“Like I said, they are men of honour and I hope they will honour the agreement. They know what I’m talking about. Anything different from following the agreement is like shifting the goalpost.”
When asked the other parties to the agreement, Balogun declined. Asked if he also believed that the NEC resolutions were aimed at thwarting the 2014 agreement, he maintained that doing anything contrary to the agreement “is like shifting the goal post”.
Some party members have also argued that part of motives of the resolutions was to frustrate the rumoured presidential ambition of Tinubu, Balogun maintained, “That agreement should be honoured, anything contrary is like shifting the goal post.
“There are a lot of people who have personal agenda, pushing through all these caretaker idea and the dissolution of structures looks unconstitutional to me. Caretaker is alien to APC constitution but that is what obtains now. However, as a loyal member of the party, I don’t want to go against the party.
“People, because of their personal agenda and aspirations, are trying to destroy our party and make it unstable. That should not happen. Our party’s interest should not be sacrificed on the altar of personal aspiration or ambition of any individual.
“There is nothing wrong with leaders like Asiwaju (being supported). He’s one of the greatest leaders we have in Africa; he has charisma, character and he’s a man of his people. If he wants to aspire, it’s his constitutional right to aspire to any position in the land.”
Balogun’s revelation came as a fresh twist to the raging debate over where the ruling party would zone the presidential ticket to ahead of the 2023 election.
Former Lagos State Governor and Minister of Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola (SAN), had also told journalists on November 24 that the APC had a gentleman’s agreement that should be honoured.
Even though the party’s deputy spokesperson, Yekini Nabena, had previously told The PUNCH that the party was currently not concerned about the zoning of the presidency in 2023, some party chieftains, including a foundation member of the party from Bauchi State, Abdullahi Dauda and APC Chairman in Zamfara State, Alhaji Lawal Liman, noted that there was a zoning agreement in principle.
Meanwhile, some top APC members believed to be loyal to Tinubu, have also faulted some of the resolutions of the NEC, saying it was a ploy to frustrate Tinubu’s perceived presidential ambition. Even though Tinubu has yet to declare his intention to run, insinuations are rife that he might contest the party’s ticket for the election.
Spokesperson for aggrieved members of the APC, under the aegis of Concerned APC members, Abdullahi Dauda, described the dissolution of elected party executives as illegal, noting that it was a ploy to influence the party’s candidates in 2023 general elections.