The All Progressives Congress leaders from North-West on Thursday held a crucial meeting over the choice of the vice-presidential slot for the party’s presidential candidate, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and other issues affecting the party in the zone
Rising from the meeting attended by APC governors, governorship candidates and ministers in Kaduna, the North-West leaders resolved to meet with Tinubu to present their case.
This was contained in a statement issued by the APC National Vice-Chairman (North-West), Salihu Lukman, on Thursday.
Although the statement was silent on whether the meeting was on the vice-presidential slot, it was gathered that it was part of the agenda.
But Lukman, in the statement disclosed that the meeting supported the initiative to commence the consultative meeting as vital for strengthening the APC in the North-West as well as improve leadership engagements and cohesion within the zone.
According to him, the governors and political officeholders reviewed the state of the party at the national and zonal levels and also acknowledged the challenges facing some APC state chapters and resolved to promote efforts at reconciliation as an urgent priority.
He said, “The meeting noted the contribution of the North-West to the emergence and growth of the APC and its electoral viability, with the North-West providing about 39 per cent of the votes the APC recorded in 2019 and 2015 presidential elections.
“Therefore, the zone resolved to aggregate its interests and vital concerns and engage accordingly with the presidential candidate of the party.”
When asked how the APC hopes to neutralise the renewed threat posed by Ibrahim Shekarau’s defection to the New Nigeria Peoples Party, Lukman stated that the party’s challenge was not about the perception of the political strength of the former senator representing Kano Central district, who defected to the New Nigeria Peoples Party.
He stated that Shekarau had never been a problem to the APC even in Kano.
He said, “Remember that in 2015, Shekarau was not in APC and we won. So the dynamics of winning an election are not about the individual presence and we recognise that the APC has so many influential members. We are taking the right step to take care of all that in our negotiation.
“Whether anybody likes it or not, we have asked people to look at the 2015 and 2019 elections; the North-West alone gave APC 39 per cent votes. Go and check, compare it to North-East and tell us what they gave to the party. But we are not taking that as a substitute.
“At the end of the day, we want to retain our support in both North-East and North-West at the centre. That is what those of us in the party are working on,” he added.
When prodded further if the ‘vital concerns’ that the North-West delegation plans to discuss with Tinubu has to do with his running mate slot, Lukman averred that it goes beyond the VP slot.”
N’West on slot
Meanwhile, the Public Relations Officer of APC in Kano state, Ahmad Aruwa, has said the North-West zone is still interested in the APC vice-presidential slot if given to the zone.
Speaking in a telephone interview with one of our correspondents in Kano on Thursday, he hinted that the APC in Kano State would be very happy if the presidential candidate of the party selected Ganduje as his running mate “in view of the political relevance of Kano.”
A party chieftain, who craved anonymity, told our correspondent that Shekarau’s defection and proposed coalition with the NNPP and Labour Party’s presidential flagbearer, Peter Obi, had changed the dynamics of the negotiation.
He said, “North-West politicians cannot continue to rely on bloc vote again. The bloc vote is dead. Once Buhari leaves, it goes with him. What it means is that even the usual bloc votes for the APC in the Kano and Kaduna could be decimated by the NNPP and left in a disadvantaged position. This could worsen if the party runs with a Muslim-Muslim and NNPP unveils Obi to the Christian residents in the North West.
“If we are not careful, we are going to lose in Kaduna. Just look at the performances of the local governments in the last election. These are some issues the NNPP is taking advantage of to divide his votes in the state.” The party chieftain added, “I think this is why the negotiation table has changed in the favour of North-East where even the Muslim-Muslim ticket we are likely to run with can coast us to victory.
“That can only happen if the North West assent to it. This conflict is partly why the issue of vice-presidential slot has dragged on for this long,” he said. The Publicity Secretary of the APC in charge of North-West, Musa Mailafiya Mada said the stakeholders of the party from the zone met in Kaduna not specifically for the post of the vice president alone but for the general issues affecting the party.
Mada who spoke to The PUNCH on phone said, although, the APC stakeholders discussed on the issue of the Vice President, it was not the main agenda of the meeting.
The National Publicity Secretary of the APC, Felix Morka, who spoke on the growing profile of the NNPP in the North-West, said he was surprised to discover that most people panicking about his move were not party members.
When asked if the recent registration of students and revalidation of members exercise was the APC’s response to the Labour Party presidential candidate’s movement, Morka debunked the claim.
But the Director-General of Asiwaju Tinubu Presidential Campaign Organisation, Adebayo Shittu, disclosed that those saying that the NNPP would humble the ruling party were not conversant with northern politics.
The former Minister of Communication expressed confidence that the APC would crush the Peoples Democratic Party and the NNPP in the North to give his principal victory in the 2023 general elections.