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The race for chairmanship of the All Progressives Congress (APC) is tied to which zone produces the presidency of the party in 2023, JONATHAN NDA- ISAIAH writes.

The permutations ahead of 2023 are in top gear as politicians strategise on who takes over from President Muhammadu Buhari in 2023.

Expectedly, the scheming for the top job has evoked the debate over whether power should shift to the south after the north would have served for eight years under Buhari.

While the ruling APC has not decided on which zone will clinch its ticket in the 2023 presidential election, a critical decider on where it will go to is how the party zones its offices, especially the national chairmanship.

APC has been run by a caretaker committee arrangement since the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the party dissolved the Adams Oshiomhole-led National Working Committee (NWC) last year.

However, pending any change of plans, the party will hold a national convention in June to elect new executives of the party. This much was stated by the chairman of APC Contact and Strategy committee and governor of Jigawa State, Mohammed Badru, who also dispelled claims of a plot to postpone the convention.

But so far most of those who have been linked to the chairmanship position of the ruling party are northerners. They are former governors of the APC from the north who have subtly been campaigning for the chairmanship seat are Senator Kassim Shettima (Borno); Abdulaziz Yari (Yobe); Senator Tanko Al- Makura (Nasarawa); Ali Modu Sheriff(Borno); Senator Danjuma Goje (Gombe), Senator George Akume (Benue).

Not intimidated by this array of contestants, former chairman of ACN in Abuja, Sunny Moniedafe has openly declared his ambition to lead the party.

Although the party is still engrossed in the party revalidation and registration process, the tussle for who becomes party chairman is intentifying as the aspirants are deploying subtle tactics to convince the party members to buy into in their candidacy.

Sheriff recently declared his readiness to run for the chairmanship if the position is zoned to the North-East.

Sheriff, who was sighted with the Yobe State governor, Alhaji Mai-Mala Buni, at Buni Gari during the Yobe State local government election said,  “In the APC, we have respect for the constitution of our great party, and if the position of the National Chairman is zoned to the North-East where I come from, I will contest, God willing.”

Sheriff’s claim is not different from that of Yari who has also said his ambition is hinged on where the party zones the chairmanship ticket to.

On his part, Moniedafe said, “If given the opportunity to serve as National chairman of the APC,  my team will first of all reaffirm the respect for and supremacy of the party’s constitution, and ensuring its effective implementation, whilst maintaining utmost discipline.”

While Al- Makura has not hidden his desire to head the party, his promoters, chief of which is his successor, Governor Abdullahi Sule, have also pushed the zoning argument. But for them, there is more.

They contend that Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) should be given the opportunity to occupy the seat considering that the party since virtually every other legacy party has occupied the position.

The first interim chairman of the party, Bisi Akande was from the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) same with Adams Oshiomhole while the current caretaker chairman, Mai Mala Buni is  from the All Nigeria People’s Party stock.

A political analyst based in Abuja, Ibrahim Idris, argues that Al-Makura moves quietly, but shows mettle, and strength when the chips are down.

He said, “In 2011, for instance, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), which was the dominant party in his native Nasarawa State, toyed with the lion’s tail over the governorship ticket. Al-Makura picked the ticket of the newly formed Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) where he beat the PDP and their federal might.

“By 1980, Al-Makura was already the Youth Leader of the defunct National Party of Nigeria (NPN) in the old Plateau State. NPN was the ruling party in Nigeria, but the main opposition old Plateau State and those who knew the young Al-Makura said he was a tough nut to crack,”he said.

Also, a social media commentator, Monday Isah averred that before Al-Makura emerged on the scene actualising a governorship or any other political ambition in Nasarawa outside of the PDP was more like the dream of a malaria patient.

He argued that under the former governor, CPC was able to stand its ground in the state surviving the threats posed by a PDP-dominated House, its federal might, and forces of the old order. He made APC clinch the entire three senatorial seats in the state for the first time since 1999, including the Nasarawa South senatorial seat where Al-Makura swept the polls to take his rich leadership experience to the Ninth Senate.

They argue that as the only governor of Buhari’s defunct party, CPC who didn’t defect or abandon the President, his chances of getting the top seat is high.

But these are still early days as the race for the seat is only beginning.

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