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Party leadership: A curious look at the hand behind APC’s wheel

Party leadership: A curious look at the hand behind APC’s wheel
August 25
08:32 2022

The implosion. The biggest political upset of the decade is, perhaps, the Peoples Democratic Party’s (PDP) self-deracination. Proverbially, the party fetched the coal for its own conflagration. By 2013 – ahead of the 2015 elections – the PDP had become flatulent from morbid indulgences, fractious and in disarray.

All the privileges and accoutrements of power could not save the PDP. At the party’s national convention in November 2013 in Abuja, five governors — Rabiu Kwankwaso of Kano; Aliyu Wamakko of Sokoto; Abdulfatah Ahmed of Kwara; Murtala Nyako of Adamawa, and Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers — staged a walk-out and formally joined the All Progressives Congress (APC). Two other governors joined the procession to inter the PDP.

‘’The centre could no longer hold, and things fell apart’’. The precipitates for the collision began under Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, but it was Adamu Mu’azu, as national chairman, who presided over the eventual inhumation of the PDP. He could not keep the party together, or rather, he did not work to keep the party together. It was noised that Mu’azu betrayed former President Goodluck Jonathan – Jonathan himself alleged this. But the former PDP national chairman denied the allegation.

Managing a political party is an onerous task. It takes extreme levels of tact, temperance, fortitude, and smarts. There are often conflicting interests within a party, and it takes a surfeit of percipience to manage them.

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The APC has had its fair share of domestic crisis. The past national chairmen of the party left in a rather unceremonious note. In June 2020, the party dissolved the Adams Oshiomhole-led national working committee (NWC) and appointed Mai Mala Buni, governor of Yobe state, as the chairman of the national caretaker committee. The chief responsibility of the committee was to hold an elective convention where substantive members of the NWC would be elected.

However, it became knotty for this to happen as high-level political manoeuvrings arrested the plan. In March 2022, about two years after the Buni caretaker committee was inaugurated, an elective national convention was eventually held. Before the convention, Buni was accused of seeking to succeed himself and of throwing a spanner in the works by allegedly initiating a lawsuit against the convention. The APC was witnessing a Dunkirk, but the intervention of some governors and the president forestalled an immanent seizure.

However, it seems the party has found a lodestar in Alhaji Abdullahi Adamu, former governor of Nasarawa state. Alhaji Adamu became the national chairman of the APC at the party’s elective national convention in March 2022. He was the governor of Nasarawa from 1999 to 2007. And he was a senator representing Nasarawa west before his election as APC chairman.

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Alhaji Adamu is a lawyer, and he chalked up functional experience in the private sector before his political expedition. In 1967, he joined the Electricity Corporation of Nigeria, but later moved to the Northern Nigeria Development Corporation (NNDC), Kaduna, in 1971. He was the project manager for the construction of the Durbar Hotel and Murtala Mohammed Square in Kaduna while he was with AEK Consultancy in 1973. He became the executive secretary of the Benue/Plateau Construction Company by the Benue/Plateau State government in 1975, and he was the chairman of Benue Cement Company, Gboko, from February 1980 to September 1983.

Alhaji Adamu is also a thoroughbred politician. He has walked the treadmill of statecraft. He has been there, done that. He began his progression in politics in 1977 after he was elected as a member of the Constituent Assembly which drafted the constitution of the Second Republic. He held party positions as Plateau state secretary-general of the National Party of Nigeria (NPN) in 1978; state chairman of the NPN in 1982 and was Nigeria’s minister of works and housing between 1995 and 1997.

This explains the maturity and the poise with which he manages the APC. Alhaji Adamu is respected within the party for his integrity. He cannot be accused of compromise or of engaging in anything unkosher. And there is no confusion about where he stands on issues – on the side of the party. Perhaps his training as a lawyer gives him the rare aptitude to prioritise critical matters and address them headlong — applying the blue-pencil doctrine and prioritising what counts whilst keeping the unnecessary at bay. His efforts to unite the party (which he succeeded at) immediately after the keenly contested primaries accent this out-of-the-ordinary leadership facility.

A few months ago, the APC was hit by a maelstrom of controversy over its presidential primary election. The primary election was predicted by some pundits to be a make-or-mar actuality for the party. Really, it was a tempestuous time for the party. The presidential primary election was postponed twice amid intense political sword-crossing.

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Alhaji Adamu was accused of trying to foist Senate President Ahmad Lawan on the party as standard bearer – when, in reality, he was only being a loyal party man and dutiful wingman to the president. The APC national chairman took the mudsling and vicious campaign gentlemanly, but in the end a free, fair and peaceful presidential primary election was conducted — under his stewardship. The will of the party prevailed, and Alhaji Adamu made sure of it.

In his speech at the APC presidential convention in June, Alhaji Adamu said truth is the first victim in a political contest. And truly, he was that truth which became the victim of sparring interests in the party.

He said: “It is said that in all serious socio-political contests, truth is the first casualty. It is so in this contest. It doesn’t take rocket science to unite a party. It takes sincerity of purpose, commitment and determination to sacrifice our individual interest and ambitions for the larger interest of the party. Efforts are required to work, perfecting electoral processes in our country, this feat would not have been attained without the cooperation of everyone concerned. It is a clear indication that our party has emerged stronger from the grievances, we are united, and we are speaking with one voice once more.”

Alhaji Adamu has been able to walk the tightrope of maintaining loyalty for President Muhammadu Buhari and the party. Sometimes, he has had to outdo himself to keep the balance, but he puts the interest and unity of the party above himself.

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Alhaji Adamu is unflinching in his commitment to the party and the Tinubu/Shettima candidature. At a news conference earlier in the month, he reiterated his support for the ticket, declaring that the APC was working to secure over 25 percent votes in areas that are not its stronghold. He asked all members of the party to close ranks and work for the victory of the party in the 2023 elections.

Months after the presidential primary election that was suggested would lead to the declension of the APC, the party appears stronger, more united and even more resolved to win the 2023 elections. The party sailed through the storm by Alhaji Adamu’s leadership. Also, the Muslim-Muslim ticket, which was well-noised to be the party’s kryptonite, has not upended the party as widely speculated.

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Well, it seems to be plain sailing for the APC with its lodestar behind the wheel.

By Fredrick Nwabufo; Nwabufo is a writer and journalist.

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