Nigeria’s ruling APC set for a high-stake convention

Nigeria

Published on Monday, 7 February 2022 Back to articles

Nasarawa State’s former governor, Senator Umaru Tanko al-Makura, the next APC chairman?

Nigeria’s ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) has inaugurated its new state executives in a bid to impose order on its state chapters, including many which are factionalised as a result of ongoing conflicts and legal challenges. The ceremony was undertaken: under heavy security; without Yobe State’s Governor Mai Mala Buni, who is the party’s interim chairman, attending; and without administering the oath of office to the new appointees. The move also does little if anything to quell the rising internal supremacy battles that threaten to implode the party just as the then ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) did before the 2015 election.  

The APC will now hold its convention on 26 February after initial doubts as to whether this date would be respected by Buni’s committee. The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has been formally notified and a venue in Abuja has been chosen.  A battle has now started to choose who leads the party which, in turn, will influence who becomes the APC’s candidate in the 2023 presidential elections. 

Nasarawa State’s former governor, Senator Umaru Tanko al-Makura, has emerged as the leading candidate for the APC’s chairmanship at this month’s convention. Although there are other candidates, al-Makura’s close association with President Muhammadu Buhari has given him the edge. Buhari is expected to give the final nod to which of the party’s two shortlisted candidates he prefers before the convention. 

Al-Makura’s eventually emergence as chairman would be a triumph for the party’s Buhari faction which will then want to impose their own favourite as the presidential candidate. They fear that the APC’s national leader, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, will take over the party if he becomes the president so their political survival depends on preventing this from happening. 

Tinubu is continuing to widen his support base within the APC to try and ensure that he can claim the presidential ticket. He believes that this is his right because he was instrumental in forming the opposition mega-coalition which led to the APC’s victory in the 2015 national elections. One advantage for Tinubu is that he has spent years investing funds in the political careers of others.

In the first of our new weekly presidential election trackers, we highlight several interesting developments including the fact that former president Goodluck Jonathan may still be persuaded to defect to the APC to contest the 2023 presidential race. Meanwhile an NGO is planning to raise ₦10 billion (US$24 million) through crowdfunding to support the aspirations of Peter Obi — Anambra State’s former governor who was Atiku Abubakar’s running mate in 2019 — who has indicated that he would run in 2023 if the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) zones the presidency to the South even though he has little support. 

On the security front, the army has denied speculation that it has delayed paying January salaries and describes the media reports as misleading and inciting unrest, despite unnamed soldiers complaining that they have not been paid. It is very risky to delay paying soldiers’ salaries at a time of both rising insecurity and coups in fellow West African countries including Mali, Chad, Guinea, and most recently Burkina Faso.

This excerpt is taken from Nigeria Politics & Security, our weekly intelligence report on Nigeria. Click here to receive a free sample copy.

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