It seems that the biggest mistake that leaders, and members, of the All Progressives Congress (APC) made in seeking a replacement for the ousted chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, was to settle for Mai Mala Buni, the governor of Yobe State, as chairman of its caretaker leadership.
This is because that appointment, deserved or not, seems to have become an albatross for the party. And may ruin APC’ s chances in the 2023 general election.
If it does, APC members would have to hold Buni and his ambition responsible.
For his ambition, which is to become running mate to a presidential candidate from the southern divide, Buni is seen to be working the party’s internal processes to serve his purpose, which is best fed by upturning the zoning arrangement in the party and ensuring that its next national chairman comes from the North, as zoned, but especially, from the North-West.
This also works against the opinion of the party’s leader, President Muhammadu Buhari, who believes that the next national chairman of APC ought to come from the North-Central.
Buhari got his logic right here. For him, the North-West ought not to aspire for leadership of the party, having held the presidency for two terms, ending May 29, 2023.
For this reason, Buhari prefers the North-Central for the position. Furthermore, Buhari would prefer a position swap between North and South such that all party positions held by the South and the North prior to the 2015 general election are swapped. That is fairness. It is equitable too.
That position is, however, not favourable to Buni and his cabal of workmen who are seen to argue that allowing a new national chairman of APC to come from North-Central would mean handing the geopolitical zone the leadership of the two major national political parties, APC and PDP.
For this, scuttling an idea, which has the backing of the majority of the party’s membership, and forcing the chairmanship to go North-West would fix Buni in pole position to pair with a southern candidate for the presidency.
Despite the President’s position on this issue, Buni is seen as still working the ropes, hoping that, somehow, he would scale through, of course, with the active connivance of some strong members of the party’s leadership loyal to him.
This has also caused a rift within the APC’s ranks, with Governor Sani Bello of Niger State, who is openly disposed to the North-Central producing the APC chairman, frontally accusing Buni of taking unilateral decisions that may work against the party’s chances on February 25 next year.
Like Bello, many other leaders of the APC, including governors, ministers and state chairmen, believe that Buni must be stopped. They also accuse him, behind closed doors, of using his position as caretaker committee chairman to push a personal agenda, which is detrimental to the party’s general interest.
However, Yahya Bello, the governor of Kogi State, is seen to be openly opposed to the North-Central becoming chairman of APC. His view is tailored to the fact that such a development would effectively end his dreams of contesting to succeed Buhari in 2023, a dream that has become the butt of jokes among more serious-minded politicians.
Interestingly, the party has zoned its presidential slot to the South. But, from insider sources, it seems it is not yet victory for the region. There are indications that the Buni effect may have led to a development where some leaders of the party from the South are prepared to trade the presidential option in order to help push their willingness to fight for a running mate slot to a northern APC presidential candidate.
While this may be difficult to believe because of the general feeling that power ought to gravitate to southern Nigerian in keeping with the rotation convention of both APC and PDP, it is, however, within the power of politicians to throw up conjectures that feather their personal interests.
Those working on this template are also of the view that power may return to PDP if, as they fear, the presidential ticket of that party goes North.
The fear is that a PDP presidential candidate from the North would garner more votes to defeat a southern candidate of the APC on the suggestion that the North has a higher voting majority compared to the South. To stave off this possibility, political gladiators from the South are frantically working on the PDP to also zone its ticket to the South.
Doing so would effectively knock the North out of contention for the presidency in 2023 and leave it with the running mate slot.
This is where the battle would focus, getting southern political gladiators to force the hands of PDP to uphold its zoning convention, which, though had been abused, is still very active in the minds of party supporters in the zone.
Many PDP faithful in the South who are rooting for the upholding of the zoning convention argue that the last PDP presidential candidate was from the northern divide and as such the next ticket ought to go south.
Those who, like Atiku Abubakar, argue with the unconstitutionality of zoning, point to the fact that the last elected president of the party was from the South and as such the ticket ought to go north.
In spite of this, there are many influential political leaders from the North who openly canvass that power ought to shift to the South, and particularly, the South-East, as a soothing balm to foster Nigeria’s unity and strengthen the federation. Nasir El-Rufai, who governs Kaduna State, had insisted that though zoning is not mandated by the Nigerian constitution, it is, however, morally sensible and politically permissible to have the pendulum swing to the southern divide.
As it is, what Nigeria rightly needs to stitch its torn federation is a political arrangement that necessarily rebuilds it national systems and brings dissenting voices back to the table.
Such arrangements may not be necessarily constitutional but, as of necessity, must be convenient enough to help mend fractured walls and glue the nation back together.
Looking south for the next Nigerian President is a necessary and convenient arrangement that grows mutual understanding, patriotism and nationalism. And, this is why Buni, and those working the APC ropes with him, ought to be properly guided not to allow their individual ambitions to truncate the party’s goals in the next election and further endanger the Nigerian federation.