Over 100 days since Mai Mala Buni left the position of National Secretary of the All Progressives Congress (APC) to become governor of Yobe State, the seat has remained vacant.
A fierce tussle is on for the seat mainly by aspirants from Borno, Bauchi and Taraba states who believe that Yobe State should not retain the position since Senator Ahmed Lawan is now the senate president.
But Yobe’s insistence on the slot seems to have paid off as Daily Trust Saturday learnt that the top echelon of the party might have succumbed.
Several sources said the party leadership, which had agreed on the argument adduced by the APC leaders in Yobe, might soon announce a replacement. However, stakeholders from the North East would have to put forward a consensus candidate.
It was gathered that the party leadership in Yobe had wondered why their case would be different as the former SGF, Engr. Babachir Lawal, was replaced by Comrade Mustapha Salihu, also from Adamawa State, while he left the position of National Vice Chairman, North East.
Pro-Yobe lobbyists also cited the replacement of Malam Bolaji Abdullahi from Kwara State with Malam Lanre Issa-Onilu, ‘a fellow Kwaran’, when the former resigned from the position of National Publicity Secretary to run for the PDP governorship ticket.
They also mentioned the replacement of the Director General of Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN), Dr. Dikko Umaru Radda, with Alhaji Ibrahim Masari when the former, who also hails from Katsina State, left the position of APC National Welfare Secretary to take the current job.
The latest development was said to have informed the earlier decision of the Adams Oshiomhole-led National Working Committee (NWC) of the APC to appoint Victor Giadom, the Deputy National Secretary, to serve as the party’s acting National Secretary, pending when Yobe nominates a replacement for Buni.
By tradition, the person to replace and complete Buni’s tenure should come from Yobe. But reliable party sources said the current scenario was created following a purported agreement during last year’s national convention on the new occupant.
But this unwritten understanding seems to have been scuttled as the Yobe State chapter of the APC voiced its readiness to produce a replacement.
The State Secretary of the party, Alhaji Abubakar Bakabe, in an earlier interview with our correspondent, said the state was not only interested in the seat of National Secretary but also had competent personalities who had shown interest to fill the vacant position.
Bakabe said the person would come to complete Buni’s tenure.
“There are lot of people who want to contest the seat and we have all it takes to occupy the seat, coupled with the fact that the former secretary now the governor in Yobe, has performed credibly well in office. He is one of the people who made it possible for the party to win twice at the national level.
“We have all it takes to occupy that seat, we have a lot of experienced and intelligent party administrators who are interested in the position. So, definitely, one of our people would be sponsored to occupy that seat again,” he said.
On whether the state still has a chance to occupy the position, he said, “Going by the fact that he (Buni) was able to leave an indelible mark, we feel that it’s proper for one of us to go and continue with the good job. Secondly, he only spent a year or less in his second term. So, virtually, we have more years to complete that term. It’s better for us to go and complete the remaining period since it’s Yobe state’s quota.”
It would be recalled that the tussle for the senate presidency threw up another challenge as some party stakeholders said the state could not hold both the positions of senate president, which has been micro-zoned, and that of national secretary at the same time.
Bakabe appealed to stakeholders in Borno to back Yobe State to get the two seats.
“We want both of them because Borno has occupied a lot of seats at the federal level because, in Yobe, we consider whoever occupies that seat from Borno as our own, just like Yobe is occupying it, and it has been so ever since we were carved out of Borno State.
“I see no reason why they cannot concede to us to get senate president and national secretary of the party at the same time. In this government, they have the Chief of Army Staff, National Security Adviser, the Chief of Staff to Mr President, the EFCC boss, and many others. We, in Yobe, have not said anything because we consider them as our part and parcel, as our brothers. So, I think we need both positions and I believe they would concede to that.”
He, however, expressed readiness of the state chapter of the party to back the decision of the APC national leadership on the occupant of the position of national secretary, saying, “We are very disciplined and so organised, whoever the leadership of the party endorses, all of us would support him.”
Daily Trust Saturday gathered that long before the battle for the senate presidency, the decision to take the position of national secretary out of Yobe State had been taken.
Sources said both President Muhammadu Buhari and the national leader of the APC, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, have interest in the position of national secretary.
But Tinubu, who was said to have expressed support for Alhaji Kashim Imam during the race for the position in June 2018, might have agreed to back the preferred candidate of President Buhari who hails from Borno.
Daily Trust Saturday gathered that the presidency might have zeroed in on Architect Waziri Bulama of the defunct Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) who also bought forms to contest the position with Buni, Alhaji Kashim Imam, Barr. Mohammed Bello, and Abdulrahman Terab at the June 23, 2018 national convention.
Arc. Bulama, the Deputy Director General of the APC Presidential Campaign Council, who hails from Borno State, was one of the aspirants who contested the position of national secretary last year before he was prevailed upon to step down.
However, another reliable party source said Alhaji Imam as well as a former interim National Secretary of the APC, Alhaji Tijani Musa Tumsah, who is also a member of the APC Board of Trustees (BoT) were also interested in the position of national secretary.
But a new twist was added into the race when two aspirants from Taraba and Bauchi also showed interest in the position.
An aspirant and chieftain of the APC from Taraba State, Barrister Muhammad Bello Mustapha, recently urged the leadership of the party to act fast in appointing a national secretary for the party.
Mustapha, particularly called on the Oshiomhole-led NWC to ensure fairness and follow due process in appointing a national scribe to fill the vacant post.
According to him, the post has been vacant for more than six months, a development which he described as alien to the party constitution.
Mustapha, a former national youth leader of the defunct CPC and supporter of President Buhari since 2003, said at a press briefing that the party needed to appoint a capable person to man the post to ensure wider acceptability of the APC across board. Mustapha also participated in the last APC convention.
Another aspirant and APC chieftain in Bauchi State, Dr. Sama’ila Dahuwa Azare (Kachallan Katagum), recently implored Yobe and other states in the North East to support Bauchi to produce the next national secretary.
Dr. Azare, who is also interested in the post, said conceding the seat to Bauchi State would be a strategic move that would strengthen the APC not only in the state but the North East and the country in general.
The APC chieftain added that Bauchi deserved the post as the other states had more key strategic political appointments which placed his state at a political disadvantage.