By Sunday Isuwa and ANDREW ESSIEN, Abuja
Ahead of the All Progressives Congress’ (APC) zonal convention meant to fill the vacant position of national vice chairman, North-east, governors and some party officials in the zone are enmeshed in a broil over who takes over from suspended Secretary to Government of the Federation (SGF), David Babachir Lawal, LEADERSHIP Weekend learnt yesterday.
It was gathered that all the vacant zonal offices that were created as a result of resignation and government appointments have been filled by other zones except those of the Northeast.
The mini-convention, which was billed to hold immediately after the Sallah celebration, is still shrouded in controversy over the choice of a new national vice chairman, even though the zone had settled for Dr. Umar Duhu.
Our correspondent obtained an endorsement letter for Duhu, signed by the Northeast governors, state party chairmen and senators, dated January 20, 2017.But as Duhu was waiting in the wings for a ‘Yes’ vote at the scheduled mini-convention in accordance with article 20 (a) and article 25 C (ii) of the APC constitution (2014 As amended), some party officials from Adamawa state also nominated Mustapha Salisu as Lawal’s replacement.
Duhu and the suspended SGF contested for the office in the last APC convention where the later was favoured, but Lawal’s office had remained vacant since his appointment by President Muhammadu Buhari as SGF in August, 2015.
The endorsement letter obtained by LEADERSHIP Weekend showed that almost all the party big wigs in the Zone had voted for Duhu to take over from Lawal.They are the governors of Borno State, Kashim Shettima; Yobe State, Ibrahim Geidam; Adamawa State, Mohammed Umar Bindow; Bauchi State, Mohammed Abdullahi Abubakar, as well as Minister of Women Affairs, Aisha Jummai Alhassan who is the leader of Taraba State APC and Sen Danjuma Goje, who also the leader of Gombe State APC.
Others include Sen Ali Mohammed Ndume, Sen Suleiman Nazif Gamawa, Sen Usman Bayero Nafada, Borno State APC chairman, Bukar Ali Dalori; Bauchi State APC chairman, Uba Ahmed Nana; Yobe State APC chairman, Adamu Abdu Chilariye; Gome State APC chairman, Shettima Lawan Ali and acting Taraba State APC chairman, Alhaji Sani Hassan Chul. But following the purported nomination of Mustapha Salisu at the national secretariat of the APC by some stakeholders from Adamawa State, with the backing of Governor Bindow on Wednesday, it was gathered that the Northeast governors are now divided over who succeeds Lawal.
It was reliably gathered that some serving and former governors in the Northeast have called the national chairman of the APC, Chief John Odigie Oyegun, to expressed their displeasure over the development.
The disagreement, LEADERSHIP Weekend learnt, has cast doubt as to whether the Northeast zonal mini-convention will still hold. Some of the governors, according to sources, want their earlier letter of endorsement for Duhu to be ratified at the mini-convention, though no date had been announced yet for the convention.
Meanwhile, three out of the four people contesting for the office of the national vice chairman of the Northeast APC have written a letter complaint to the national chairman of the party, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, urging him to be very decisive, fearless as well as ensure justice, rule of law and fair play in the process.
In the letter jointly signed by Dr Duhu, Mr Usman Iya-Abbas and Malam Umar Sanda Sani, the contestants said they have been consulting party leaders individually and making effort to secure support to emerge as the successful candidate through due process as provided for in the APC constitution (2014 As Amended).
The letter which was sent to the APC national chairman through the deputy national chairman, Northeast, Sen Lawal Shuaibu, noted:
“In fact, one of us, Hon. Umar Duhu, has secured the full nomination of all the four (4) APC Governors in the NorthEast, Distinguished Senators, Honourable Members of the House of Representatives, Honourable Speakers of the State Houses of Assembly and some notable Leaders of the Party in the Zone.
“But because consensus was not arrived at preceding his endorsement (Hon. Umar Duhu), it was agreed that there has to be a division selection process, which the National Secretariat of APC will convene the Northeast Congress to elect the most acceptable candidate as the replacement for the position of National Vice Chairman, North East.
“The finance/reconciliation committee constituted by the National Secretariat to visit all the states in the North East, after completing their assignment, recommended for convening of the North East Congress in July 2017, after the Ramadan fasting period to conclude all replacements arising from the vacancies created in the Zone.
“While we were busy with consultations and waiting for a date to convene the North East Congress, we received the shock of our lives through the social media that the National Working Committee met and approved the nomination of one Mustapha Salihu as the National Vice Chairman, North East. Indeed, this development came to us with shock, as it is completely in variance with Article 20 (a) and Article 25 C (ii) of the APC Constitution (October 2014 As Amended) and our resolve”.
The contestants urged the national chairman of the party to order the cancellation and withdrawal of the said letter dated July 19, 2017 issued to Mustapha Salihu and declare same as null, void and of no effect.
They also urged Odigie-Oyegun to direct for the immediate convention of the Northeast to democratically conclude the processes of replacement into all the vacant positions in the zone as stipulated in the party’s constitution, if consensus fails.
The contestants further stated:
“We want the chairman to forthwith, relieve the National Secretary from handling any process of nominations into the office of the National Vice Chairman, North East and any other position created thereof in the Zone, investigate forthwith and sanction appropriately the National Secretary for his involvement in smuggling out the name of Mustapha Salihu as the sole nominee for the position of the National Vice Chairman, North East and for abusing due process and rule of law by skewing the members of the National Working Committee from the process”.
But reacting to the development, the national chairman of the APC, Odigie-Oyegun confirmed that he has received the petition but added that the party will follow its constitution.
According to Oyegun, the earlier endorsement of Umar Duhu, the nomination of Mustapha Salihu and complaints by all the aspirants were received, adding that the party will follow the constitution since it is an internal party politics.