APC Congresses Buhari and the Governors
The All Progressives Congress (APC) has begun the processes of its ‘make or mar’ congresses for wards and local governments slated between July 10 and August 6, 2021. The congresses are critical because of the nature of the APC – a conglomerate made up of diverse interests and competing blocs. The 2023 presidency politics will be highly embedded in the congresses and the national convention.
All the blocs and interest groups will flex their muscles in order to have an upper hand in the wards and local government congresses. The game will climax in zonal and national conventions.
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In Nigerian politics, the formation of the National Working Committee (NWC) of political parties during the national convention is mainly a product of consensus rather than competition, but interest groups will still try to have an upper hand.
The APC has not announced a definite date for its national convention, but intense horse-trading, ploys and scramble for ‘who gets what’ are already ongoing – this is normal in political parties and most common in Nigeria. However, the outcome of the party’s national convention is expected to be a product of consensus within the various interest groups in the party. The big question is; what is the position of the progressive governors and President Muhammadu Buhari? This is very key because all the interest groups know that the position of Buhari and sometimes that of the governors ultimately determines who gets what. This is also common in Nigerian party politics, though not a written rule, but it is generally accepted. The position of the president is the deciding factor.
There are hints that the APC governors are silently trying to make sure that the Governor Mai Mala Buni led caretaker/extraordinary planning committee (CECPC) continues as interim caretaker – a tactful strategy ahead of the 2023 presidency politics – to keep control of the party structures as well as not take any chance.
The APC governors may succeed with their schemes because come 2023, the APC has no reason to retain presidential power in the North. Besides, the ruling party has no strong presidential candidate from the North.
So, keeping the Buni committee keeps the control of the party within their grip. That said, allowing Buni, a serving governor, to continue steering the affairs of the party is very strange to Nigeria’s political party system. The best and the most strategic option for APC is to elect people to manage the party before the 2023 elections.
There are some candidates from the northeast and north-central Nigeria who have shown interest in leading the APC. All of them are strong candidates and are being promoted by many groups and bigwigs.
The forthcoming APC congress and national convention will be a make or mar for the party if consensus fails and one interest bloc hijacks the key positions because of the 2023 presidency. APC must align the membership composition of the NWC with its strategies for the 2023 presidential election. For instance, it must look for youths to fill some positions and that of the vice-presidential candidate in particular. However, at the end of the day, President Buhari’s input will definitely determine the direction of the convention and who gets what – this is not a written rule in Nigerian party politics but an acceptable one in party politics.