By Usman Aliyu
To political observers, the aspiration of Mallam Saliu Mustapha for the national chairmanship position of the All Progressives Congress (APC) is not only apt, but desirable.
Mallam, as Mustapha is fondly called by his admirers, political followers and philanthropic beneficiaries, signified interest to contest for the coveted APC seat at the national convention scheduled to hold in June, barring any last minutes change.
The convention will produce new National Working Committee (NWC) that will provide leadership for the party for the next four years. This is after the Caretaker/Extra-Ordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC) will have held sway of the party structure for close to a year, subsequent to the dissolution of the Adams Oshiomole-led NWC by the National Executive Council (NEC) in June 2020.
Apparently, the dissolution of the NWC and the resultant setting up of the CECPC were as a result of the crisis that bedevilled the party in the build up to the 2019 general elections, which later transcended to the Edo State Governorship election primaries.
It is, therefore, incontrovertible that there is no better time for the APC to have an experienced, competent and generally accepted thoroughbred politician as its chairman than now, that all major political parties in the country are re-strategising for the 2023 elections.
The ruling party needs now, more than ever, a more committed man that will jettison personal gains, interest and vendetta among other ill-wills to allow for internal democracy to take the central stage in deciding the fate of party faithful, particularly, during primaries. This can only ensure the growth and enhance the chances of the party in next elections.
Evidently, if there is anything that had the forces of the ruling party dwindled in recent governorship elections in Nigeria, it is the antics of a few individuals to subvert the wishes of the majorities through the imposition of unpopular candidates. This manifestly ruined the victory of the party in some states in recent polls.
An analysis of political situation would reveal that the outing of the APC in the 2019 elections can never be adjudged to be good except that it ably returned its presidential candidate for second term. Rather, the party declined in its numerical strength when compared, the number of governors it lost with the states it was able to claim.
Regrettably, in those states where it lost, it was majorly due to lack of recourse to internal democracy; the party, hence, paid dearly for this with some candidates produced under such defective arrangements lost at the polls, while others had their candidacies nullified by the court, thereby throwing away the genuine mandates of the people to the hands of oppositions.
Political scenarios in Zamfara, Bayelsa, Adamawa, Bauchi, Oyo and Edo pointed to the direction of this argument. We can also not forget in a hurry how the party struggled to win governorship elections in Kano, Osun and Imo states.
It is in view of this development that political analysts perceive the aspiration of Mustapha for the prestigious party’s position as appropriate considering his pedigree and political experience. If emerged, it will be a sigh of redemption for the party to regain its strength and accrue more fortunes in next elections because Mustapha is not only a consummate politician, but a philanthropist of note, who had through his wealth uplifted several indigents out of poverty.
Hailed from Gambari District in the Ilorin East local government area of Kwara, the 48 year-old Mustapha is driven by purposeful and progressive ideology. He was an aide President Muhammadu Buhari and played active role in the presidential aspiration of the president since 2003. He has, indeed, distinguished himself in all spheres of life being it business, politics and humanitarian services among others. He founded Saliu Mustapha Foundation to serve a platform for human empowerment and community development.
With his political expertise at this youthful age, I have no doubt that Mustapha, beaconed by his prowess in party administration and developmental politics, will boast the fortune of the party in the forthcoming general elections if given the desired opportunity to lead. This is because as the deputy National Chairman of the defunct Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) , he joined in the management of the newly formed party to beat the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) to emerge second in the 2011 presidential election and went on to win 27 seats at the National Assembly elections.
Mustapha also played a momentous role in the merger of the CPC with other tendencies that birthed the All Progressives Congress (APC) in 2014. In fact, records have it that he is reputed to be the signatory to the merger agreement on behalf of the CPC tendency in the coalition. Whereas, before he became the deputy chairman of the CPC, he had served as an Ex-Officio and a foundation NEC member of the party under which President Muhammadu Buhari contested the 2011 presidential poll.
Mustapha’s profile is further enriched as he also served as the National Publicity Secretary of the Progressive Liberation Party (PLP) between 2001 and 2002 under the leadership of Dr. Ezekiel Ezeogwu. In 2003, the younger Mustapha and other like-minds formed the Progressive Action Congress (PAC) where he was returned again as the National Publicity Secretary.
This APC national chairmanship aspirant was a central member of The Buhari Organisation (TBO) and the Buhari Campaign Organisation (BCO) for several years; these two organisations worked assiduously for the realisation of the presidential ambition of Buhari. Undoubtedly, Saliu Mustapha is a true progressive of impeccable character, who has paid his dues and immeasurable contributions to the sustenance of the APC at the local, state and national levels. He was a prominent player in the O toge movement that enthroned APC government in Kwara despite the high level of injustice he suffered at the hands of the national leadership of the party during governorship primaries he obtained form to participate in.
Besides this political proficiency, Mustapha remains one of the chieftains of the party that command respect and followership across the country for his impactful achievements as well as service to people at the grassroot. His humanitarian activities in areas of health, education and human capital development are unprecedented. These do not in any way preclude his giant contributions to the development of the ancient Ilorin.
Through his foundation, Mustapha engages in a wide range of charitable projects in the hometown and beyond, advancing humanitarian causes. On the average, he spends over N100 million annually to execute various plans and projects, including financial empowerment programme, scholarship and educational support services, among others.
Recently, this renowned politician, aside the annual empowerment programme, uplifted his political loyalists in different areas of business with each beneficiary going home with a whopping sum, ranging from N250,000 to N2 million. The disbursement of this grant was preceded by trainings on financial management and business development.
Obviously, Mustapha’s aspiration is to bring all these experiences and goodwill to bear in moving the party forward and it is my belief that he is fit for it. Mustapha is a force to reckon with in the political landscape of this country and with the garnered experience over the years and the political goodwill enjoyed, it is my wish that the ruling party would tap into this asset and give him an overwhelming victory come APC national convention.