By: Ibrahim Tajudeen
The forthcoming national convention of the All Progressives Congress (APC), slated for June, this year, presents an opportunity for the critical stakeholders to address the marginalisation of the North-Central geopolitical zone in the ruling party.
Barring any last-minute changes, the convention of the party will be held in June, to usher in a new set of members of the National Working Committee (NWC) to take over the affairs of the party.
Ahead of the convention, contenders for the chairmanship seat of the party, mainly from the three geopolitical zones of the North, have started horse-trading, underground scheming and grouping to ensure their emergence.
Since 2013 when the APC was formed following the merger of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), a faction of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) and the new PDP, four persons have chaired the party.
However, the North-central zone has not produced a chairman of this great party despite its commitment and I believe that the time for that to happen is now.
With its outstanding contributions to the party at the polls, both in 2015 and 2019, the North-Central, comprising, Benue, Kwara, Kogi, Nasarwa, Niger and Plateau States, should be supported by all members of the APC to produce the next chairman of the party in the spirit of inclusion.
In 2015, the APC garnered millions of votes in the presidential poll, won all the six governorship seats in the zone and many parliamentary seats. The same was repeated in 2019 except for Benue, which went to another party in 2019 owing to the defection of the state Governor, Samuel Ortom. Indeed, due to the hard work and commitment of party stalwarts, the area moved from being a PDP-dominated zone to an APC votes bank.
What better way to recognise these contributions than to allow someone from the zone to clinch the chairmanship. In the party’s former NWC, the zone produced the publicity secretary and women leader. At the federal executive council, the zone only got seven out of the 44 ministerial seats. Of the seven, five are junior ministers.
Yes, the zone got the chief of staff position, with Professor Ibrahim Gambari’s appointment, and deputy speaker of the House of Representatives, Ahmed Idris Wase, but generally, it has not fared well in the party’s leadership, executive and parliamentary appointments. All that can be remedied and the upcoming convention is the place to do that.
Supporting someone from the North-Central zone to become chairman of the party will assuage many party members who feel that the region has been left behind in the area of appointments/ positions.
All that we are asking for is due recognition like other areas. Take, for instance, the South–West, with five governors like the North–Central, it has the vice president, the speaker of the House of Representatives and it has produced the party’s chairman in the past.
In the spirit of fairness, the North-West zone, should not be part of permutations and scheming for the chairmanship position, going by the fact that it has the president and many other influential positions in this administration.
Similarly, contenders from the North- East, should also withdraw from the race to enable those from the North-Central to battle for the position. With the Senate President, chairman of the national caretaker committee (a former national secretary of the party), and juicy federal appointments, it would be unfair to pick the new chairman of the party from the North-East zone.
Therefore, I humbly appeal to key players in our party to pick the next chairman of our beloved party, from any of the six states of the North-Central zone. The region boasts of thoroughbred, tested, trusted and reliable party administrators who will not only restore the confidence of the people in the party but will lead the APC to victory in 2023.