From Romanus Ugwu, Abuja
There are strong indications that the All Progressives Congress (APC) may have concluded arrangements to micro-zone its 2023 presidential ticket to the South-south geopolitical zone, thereby foreclosing the possibility of the Southeast zone getting the ticket.
This is coming on the heels of looming fresh crisis in the party following the decision of the leaders and stakeholders to endorse former governor of Nasarawa State, Alhaji Tanko Al-Makura, as the consensus candidate for the national chairman of the ruling party in the forthcoming February 26 national convention.
A credible source in the ruling party who craved anonymity told Sunday Sun that after the northern leaders of the party conceded the presidential ticket to the South, the likelihood that the party would micro-zone the presidential ticket to the South-south emerged last weekend.
The source maintained that the fate of presidential aspirants like Owelle Rochas Okorocha, Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu, Senator Orji Uzor-Kalu, and others from the South that have declared their interest for the plum job under APC may have been sealed.
The source revealed that going by the current dynamics in the party, the South-south will likely get the ticket.
Reacting to the zoning arrangement the ruling party may opt for, the source said: “The possibility of zoning the APC presidential ticket to the Southeast is almost a forgone conclusion. The possibility of the North getting the ticket is also a forgone conclusion. What I can confidently tell you is that APC will not certainly throw the ticket open because the party leaders are unanimous and in agreement that the ticket will be zoned to the South.
“I can also inform you, on good authority, that the most likely beneficiary of the micro-zoning option is not even Southwest as many envisaged, judging by the interest it is generating, but will likely be the South-south. And I can also inform you again that for now, the lot may fall on two persons from that zone.”
On the possibility of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) zoning its presidential ticket to the North affecting the APC zoning arrangement, the source argued: “We have told the party leaders that the North must sacrifice their presidential ambition regardless of the permutation of the opposition party. It will be a negation of equity, fairness and justice for the North to contest again after ruling eight years under Muhammadu Buhari. They have to sacrifice that ambition regardless of PDP’s zoning arrangement.”
The source equally dismissed the speculation that the crises rocking many state chapters of the party will pose serious threat to the proposed February 26 primary, arguing that once a consensus candidate for the national chairmanship emerges, statutory delegates may be used during the convention especially the states riddled with crisis.
“Ordinarily, the convention would have been delayed more to enable the party more time to conclude some reconciliation moves, however, Governor Buni and his committee members have tried. They also know that diminishing returns can set in if they continue to hang on to power more than necessary.
“Yes, I have heard that the state chairmen want to endorse the continuation of the Governor Buni-led Caretaker Committee especially to enable the party more time to reconcile more aggrieved members. However, we can conduct the convention in the states rocked by crisis by using statutory delegates to vote.
“We can no longer take chances because we know that the PDP is lurking around the corner to wrestle power from us. With the new election technology like the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) that may be our greatest undoing. As I said, we cannot wait again especially as the APC leadership can use the statutory delegates to replace those states where there are crises,” the source argued.
Meanwhile, the choice of the former Nasarawa governor as the consensus candidate for the national chairmanship position ahead of other aspirants for the post has continued to generate tension and acrimony.
While the stakeholders hinged their choice of Al-Makura on product of the legacy parties, the Congress of Progressives Change (CPC) which has not presided over the ruling party since formation, others claimed that the party leaders have since discouraged the possibility of electing any former governor with a sitting APC governor after the lamentable incidence in Edo State between Comrade Adams Oshiomhole and Governor Godwin Obaseki.
Our source further claimed that former Governor Al-Makura did not only win the endorsement of party leaders and major stakeholders, but also many APC governors and more importantly President Muhammadu Buhari, declaring that; “it is 80 per cent certain that Al-Makura will emerge a consensus national chairman of the APC.”
Reacting to the plans ahead of the party’s convention, our source said: “We are still exploring the option of a consensus candidate for the chairmanship of our party because apart from other reasons, it will even reduce the current tension within the party.
“From all indications, the former Nasarawa State governor, Al-Makura, may emerge as a consensus candidate, especially as he is of the CPC stock that has not yet produced the national chairman of our party. I can confirm to you that President Buhari and even many of the progressive governors have not only endorsed him, but are also rooting for him too.
“I can equally confirm to you that it is even 80 per cent certain that a consensus candidate may emerge ahead of the convention and once we achieve that, the controversial issue of state delegates to vote during the convention would be circumvented.”
Dismissing the claim, Ray Murphy, an adviser to former National Chairman of the party, Chief Odigie-Oyegun, told Sunday Sun that if there is any person to be fronted as a consensus candidate, the former governor of Benue State, George Akume stands at a more vantage position to be so endorsed.
“Akume has the experience as a two-term governor and the network. Don’t forget that he is a serving Minister with unrestrained access to Mr President and if there is any of the aspirants to get such favour, Akume who attends the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting should be considered before others. From all indications, the party may have zoned the ticket to the North-central and it favours all of them coming from that zone and Akume stands the chance of winning the position,” he argued.