By G9ija

There is anxiety in the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) over the composition of its presidential campaign council for the 2023 general elections.

The APC is yet to constitute and unveil its presidential campaign council 23 days to the official commencement of campaigns.

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has slated September 28, 2022, for the commencement of campaigns by political parties.

But some APC leaders told our correspondent yesterday that the party was having difficulties in naming its campaign council members due to a barrage of interests and influence by some of its bigwigs and stakeholders.

A source who spoke with our correspondent yesterday said, “In the composition of the major campaign council, they don’t want those people who fought against Oshiomhole to be part of the campaign council now.

“And Tinubu knows quite well that Adamu, the APC’s national chairman, was never in his support. He was rooting for Senate President, Ahmad Lawan. All those ones are still there, that is why it is not easy for them to constitute the national campaign council.”

He added, “So unabated crisis, discordant tunes, selfishness and lack of internal democracy are specific factors militating or constituting the delay. In fact, some of those who call themselves the big guys are trying to hijack the process, hence the delay.”

The party had named Plateau State Governor, Simon Lalong, and the Minister of State for Labour, Festus Keyamo, as director general and spokesman respectively for its campaign council without listing the other team members.

Lalong’s emergence received bashing from the Christian community sequel to the party’s decision to field two Muslims, Bola Ahmed Tinubu (South West) and Kashim Shettima (North East), as presidential and vice presidential candidates respectively.

It was gathered that the top echelon of the party is working to protect the interest of its key players and prevent issues of anti-party, especially considering the reactions trailing the Muslim/Muslim ticket.

A chieftain of the party and National Coordinator of APC Coalition for Mass Mobilisation, Comrade Musa Ali Otigba, told Daily Trust yesterday that, “The formation of the campaign council requires consultations with the presidential candidate and other stakeholders of the party. So it is not something that can be done in a hurry. But the party is on top of the situation.”

Our correspondent further reports that even though the APC had dispelled claims that the formation of the campaign council was being delayed because of an alleged rift between Tinubu and Adamu, it is yet to constitute and inaugurate its campaign council members.

The APC National Publicity Secretary, Barr Felix Morka, neither answered his call nor an SMS from our correspondent on the situation.

But a staff at the party’s national secretariat, Abuja, told Daily Trust that, “They are still deliberating on it.”

7 weeks after, uproar over Muslim/Muslim ticket lingers

The uproar over the Muslim/Muslim presidential ticket of the APC has not abated seven weeks after the announcement of a former Governor of Borno State, Kashim Shettima, as the running mate of the party’s presidential candidate, Bola Ahmed Tinubu.

Tinubu emerged the party’s presidential candidate at the national convention of the party held in June, in Abuja and announced Shettima as his running mate on July 10, 2022, while on a visit to President Muhammadu Buhari in Daura, Katsina State.

But the choice of the Muslim/Muslim ticket has generated mixed reactions across the country.

Some key members of the party, including a former Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Babachir Lawal, and a former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, have launched a nationwide campaign against the party on the issue.

Two weeks ago, they met with two former heads of state, Generals Ibrahim Babangida and Abdulsalami Abubakar, and have planned to meet more stakeholders across the ethnic, religious and political divides in the country.

Some APC stakeholders have expressed fear that the development portends grave consequences for the party and the unity of the country.

A chieftain of the party, Chief Jackson Lekan Ojo, told our reporter in a telephone interview yesterday that, “There is palpable fear that the APC will lose in the North. And if they lose, where are they going to get their votes from to retain the presidency?

“Ethnicity and religion will play key roles in the emergence of President Buhari’s successor. For me, I have not seen the light at the end of the tunnel; I’m seeing only darkness in the APC.

“The core Fulani people will not vote the APC. The core Hausa people will not vote the APC, because Shettima is not their brother; he is a Kanuri man and they are in the minority. And remember, the Hausa/Fulani people are united.

“This will affect the chances of the APC. I know some staunch members of the APC who are working for the PDP presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar. What it means is that Atiku will get the majority of votes from the North, and especially from the Hausa/Fulani structure.”

Meanwhile, a Rivers State governorship aspirant on the platform of the APC in the recently concluded primaries, Hon Bernard Mikko, told Daily Trust that Christians should be allotted the number three, four and five positions to balance up for what had happened.

Mikko, a former Member of the House of Representatives, said, “This should be a firm consensus that shouldn’t be compromised. The Christians deserve the number three position, which is the senate president; the number four position, which is the Speaker of the House of Representatives; and the number five position, which is the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN).

“This to me will serve as a balancing factor and douse tension in the country. Other positions should also reflect the diversity of the party.”

But a former Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, who is now a chieftain of the APC, Barrister Abdullahi Jalo, told our reporter that opposition to the Muslim/Muslim ticket was not a threat to the APC.

He said, “They are just wasting their time. It is not a threat to the APC because the number of Muslims is higher than the number of Christians in the North. But we are working for peace so that APC will retain power in 2023.”