Senator Abdullahi Adamu was last week elected the fifth National Chairman of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC). His leadership comes as the party prepares for next round of general elections. Johnchuks Onuanyim takes a look at the person of Abdullahi Adamu and the challenges before him as the new party leader.
Senator Abdullahi Adamu, the former governor of Nasarawa State, was last week under circumstances of consensus elected the fifth National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC). Adamu vied for the position with five other candidates.
The other candidates for the party’s number one seat included: Senator Tanko Al-Makura, who himself was Adamu’s successor as governor of Nasarawa State, Senator George Akume, Minister of Special Duties and Intergovernmental Affairs, Senator Sani Musa, Alhaji Abdullazizi Yari, former governor Zamfara State and Saliu Mustapha. Before his election as the new APC National Chairman, four other party chieftains had led the party and they are Chief Bisi Akande, a former Osun State governor, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, former Edo State governor who was later succeeded by another former chief executive of the state, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, before the coming in of the incumbent Yobe State Governor, Alhaji Mai Mala Buni, who served on interim basis. Among the previous leaders of APC, only Chief Oyegun completed four years as prescribed by the APC constitution.
The constitution of APC provides for its officers four years of two terms. No doubt the newly elected National Chairman is man of many parts and has a solid political resume that if applied appropriately would be advantageous to the growth of the party. Adamu’s foray into politics began in 1977 when he was elected into the Constituent Assembly, a body that drafted the country’s Second Republic Constitution of 1979.
Thereafter, he became a member of the National Movement which later metamorphosed into the National Party of Nigeria (NPN) and he became the first Secretary of the party from December 1978 and later chairman of the party in Plateau State from 1982 to 1983. Adamu also served as a member of the National Executive Committee of the party which ran the government at the centre under the leadership of Alhaji Shehu Shagari. Also, he was appointed a member of the National Constitutional Conference convened by the government of late General Sani Abacha. The task of delegates to the conference was to draft a constitution for a new democratic government (the Fourth Republic). While there as a member, Adamu participated actively alongside other patriots in the process of writing a new constitution for the country not just once but twice.
Thus, it is to his credit that he was a member of the two platforms that wrote both the 1979 and 1999 Constitutions for Nigeria. In March 1995, he was appointed a Minister of State in the Ministry of Works and Housing. He served until November 17, 1997. During his tenure, he actively participated in the United Nation’s (UN) sponsored programme for urban housing, the environment and sustainable development. He led the Nigeria delegation to all the Habitat Preparatory conferences at the United Nations and the main Habitat II conference in Istanbul, Turkey, in June and July of 1996.
He was in 1996 elected Chairman of Shelter Afrique (an OAU Umbrella for housing development in Africa). He represented Nigeria at the United Nations heads of state and government conference to review the charter of the Earth Summit in June1997 in New York. At the beginning of the current polit-ical dispensation in 1998, he became a founding member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and contested for the position of the Executive Governor of Nasarawa State on its platform.
He won the elections conducted on January 9, 1999. He was subsequently sworn in as the First Executive Governor of Nasarawa State on May 29, 1999. Senator Adamu also served as the Secretary PDP Board of Trustees (BoT). It is also pertinent to note that the lawyer turned politician and lawmaker, like most contemporary politicians, has remained controversial due to a series of allegations bordering on sleaze that have been leveled against them. Already the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has not even allowed him any breathing space by asking him to come clean on corruption allegations which the Economic, Financial and other Crimes Commission (EFCC) had charged him for.
Specifically, Adamu is being investigated for over N15bn fraud that reportedly took place during his tenure as Nasarawa State helmsman. The anti-graft agency had charged him to court and the case is still pending. Beyond the issue of fraud, some party members have some reservations about the ability of the Adamu-led committee to navigate through the thorny issue of zoning of the APC Presidential ticket. To those in this school of thought, Adamu might scuttle the agreement that the ticket of APC should be zoned to the South. Most Southern APC members and some from the North believe that the Presidential ticket of the party should be zoned to the South but Adamu believes otherwise.
According to the federal lawmaker, zoning is undemocratic and unconstitutional, therefore should be jettisoned. Members are even seeing Adamu in the negative in light of a national reconciliation committee set up by the last interim executive committee which was led by Adamu which is seen as having performed poorly. Party members believe that the reconciliation committee could not resolve any crisis in the party despite the huge amount of money budgeted to them. Reconciliation, members believe, is pivotal in the new National Working Committee led by Senator Adamu as his success as party chairman is dependent on how well he will reduce the level of acrimony within the party. The last round of congresses brought another level of crisis in the party, as no less than 17 states have parallel factional executives of the party.
For Adamu to succeed he must reconcile these factional bodies. Reputed for possessing a domineering personality and not a team player, some party members said this was evident in his speech during the handover. Adamu demanded total loyalty from members of the NWC. In that speech, he said, “I promise you in the spirit of collective leadership that team is the only way. I cannot deliver alone. What I am asking for is something called ‘loyalty’. “You have to be loyal.
You must have one team. If you bring a division tendency, we will deal with it. This country is greater than any one of us. And this party is bigger than any single member of this party.” The conduct of election and primaries is one fundamental problem party leaders have and APC is not left out, but Adamu would be leading the charge during the next governorship elections in Osun and Ekiti States. Observers believe that the two elections are going to be a litmus test for Adamu who had declared no more failure in APC. Another challenge is the issue of primaries of the party that would be carried out in the next few months.
The Abdullahi Adamu led NWC came at a time the party is going for elections. In the days of Comrade Adams Oshiomhole as the APC National Chairman, one area that affected his leadership was the conduct of the party primaries for the 2019 general elections.
The new National Chairman must be very careful as party primaries are always a banana peel for party leaders. As a National Chairman, Adamu would wield a lot of influence on those who will eventually become candidates of the party in the 2023 general elections. His role in choosing those candidates would make or break the party after the elections. For the records, the APC not only won the presidential election, it also won many governorship and National Assembly seats in 2015 under Chief John Odigie-Oyegun.
It repeated the feat in 2019 when it won the Presidential election but lost some governorship elections under the national chairmanship of Comrade Adams Oshiomhole. The question many party members are asking is, if the leadership of Abdullahi Adamu would retain APC at the National level both at the Presidency and National Assembly. Adamu himself has acknowledged that he has a herculean task regarding the forthcoming elections when he said: “l want to say on behalf of the new NWC that it is not going to be an easy time for us. “We have a major event that is going to test the water on how stable we are as a party.
That is the general election that is coming. For me, by the time we start working, our main task will be how we handle the elections as a party, and how we will win the general election. “People are talking; APC does not have an incumbent on the ticket. We will have the honour of the integrity and the legacy of the current president on the ticket. “We will work day and night.
We have less than 12 months to face the general election. So, everybody should buckle up. The little I have heard about the President is that he has a complete allergy for failure. So, failure will not be in APC from today. We will work for success together. However, to succeed, Adamu must be open, he must be a team player, he must be sincere and he must be tolerant of party members and NWC members.