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  • Saliu Mustapha: The Dark Horse in the race for the APC National Chairman
  • The ruling All Progressives Congress has its work well cut for it ahead of the convention to pick its next national leaders, and the party may by now be said to be at a tipping point.
    The circumstances that culminated into the ouster of the former leadership of the party makes it, more than ever before, in need of a fresh wave of guidance to set the party on the right footing as it hopes for successes in coming elections.
    With Nigeria dogged by a plethora of challenges, particularly insecurity, it won’t be out of place to say that the APC may have lost a significant part of its support base ahead of the coming elections.
    Therefore, if anything, the party’s choice of leaders is one the ruling party would want to untangle from controversies, at least to send the right message that it still has the steam to go again and retain national relevance.
    What this means is that, were the party to choose a person without past controversies or long standing litigations, it would save itself a great deal of troubles and broker some confidence among non-partisan members of the public.
    And of the chairmanship hopefuls of the ruling party, Kwara-born politician, Saliu Mustapha, cuts this figure best.
    With no ongoing litigation, no past history of corruption allegations, no records of anti-party rhetorics, he is clearly the soothing balm the APC needs to assuage the bulging boil around the party’s head.
    With around 80 per cent of Nigerians yet to celebrate their 40th birthday, Nigeria’s burgeoning youthful population has often begrudged the stark contrast between the ages of their political leaders and the national reality.
    This explains why there is usually a disconnection between most Nigerian leaders and the people they lead.
    The APC needs to allay these fears, right from its own doorstep, and from the very top of its political echelon. In essence, it needs a leadership brand that can appeal to the nation’s majority demography, one that the youths can see themselves in.
    The age range of past chairmen of the party had been well around the thresholds of 70 and 80 years. The party needs to bridge this gap.
    Being less than 50, Mallam Mustapha can be this bridge. Of course not an outright generational shift, his age makes him an easy appeal to the vitalistic demand of the young population and the more reserved tendencies of the older population.
    In terms of experience, he is not a pushover. He matches his age with a pool of experience both in the business world and the political terrain.
    An accomplished business tycoon, the genteel politician was a member of the defunct All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) and Congress for Progressives Change (CPC). Another advantage: he will be no stranger to the interest of the two political blocs, thereby ensuring a sync.
    His position as the former deputy national chairman (North) of the CPC is yet another  boost to the party’s need for a leader that knows the party working inside out.
    Likewise, if politics is about loyalty to an ideal, not many would match Mallam Mustapha’s track records of unwavering allegiance to the APC and the presidency of Muhammadu Buhari.
    The candidacy of President Muhammadu Buhari has been a proud emblem he has hoisted since the president’s days as a candidate of the  ANPP in 2007, down to the CPC in 2011, and then to the APC in 2015, to which he donated his campaign office to the Buhari/Osinbajo Campaign Organization and refurbished the secretariat.
    Meanwhile, the CPC bloc of the party, although a beneficiary of executive zoning in the past years, has not had so much share of the party’s leadership in those years.
    Now that the faction would likely need to give way for other blocs in the coming regional and national elections, entrusting the leadership of the party to a trusted hand within the bloc must be a top agenda.
    That he saved the APC court encumbrances after he was unjustly denied the party’s ticket in the build up to 2019 governorship election in Kwara State positions him as a brand that will douse the tension in the party.
    While wrangling among party members is not an impossibility, a figure that once diplomatically prevented escalation of crisis is surely one the party would wish for as a chairman.
    States like Zamfara, Imo, Rivers and recently Edo, where governorship hopefuls who felt slighted decided to go for the kill, have slipped out of the control of the APC. The only exception, maybe, is Imo; thanks to the Supreme Court. Whether or not the APC will make a comeback soon in the remaining states is left to be seen.
    Kwara could have joined that list had Mustapha walked that path. But, no. He put party first before self by joining hands to deliver the Oto’ge Revolution in the state and ensure the re-election of President Buhari.
    More so, his logistical and technical support for the Kwara APC leadership in spite of the unending political backstabbing by some elements within the party has been immense.
    When one equates these with his philanthropic and humanitarian outreaches within the state and beyond, you will have no doubt that Mustapha is a neat package perfectly positioned for the top job in the APC.
    Saying he is the dark horse in the APC national chairmanship race cannot be gainsaid. His political grit, diplomatic wit and administrative gift are what the APC needs to steady its ship while getting more people on board the progressive sails.
    The APC ship must not sink!

    The post Saliu Mustapha: The Dark Horse in the race for the APC National Chairman appeared first on Vanguard News.


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