From Romanus Ugwu, Abuja

Former Governor of Nasarawa State, Umaru Tanko Al-Makura, has predicted that the All Progressives Congress (APC) will retain power beyond 2023.

He spoke in Abuja on Thursday, at an APC Press Corps Second Annual Public Lecture Summit, boasting that not even the exit of President Muhammadu Buhari will threaten the chances of the ruling party continuing.

Al-Makura, who is contesting for the National Chairmanship of the party in the February National Convention, said: “We may not realise, the grave situation the party is in until we think deeply and see certain things that we may be weathering by 2023 and that is when the party will be expected to show its real focus. We are in a period of transition and the best thing that can happen is for us to start thinking about a APC beyond 2023.

“I am also a perturbed that our leader, our role model, the unifier of this party that has held this party together in the past six years and a half would be on his way out. Are we prepared to carry the mantle and at least, try to do what he has been doing? That is the question. So I can sum it up that what needs to be done is sustaining the gains and securing the future.

“In sustaining the gains, I would like to commend the caretaker leadership for the efforts they have been putting in since the past two years to ensure that the party is held together. They are being given serious challenge of how to ensure the party is dynamic; the registration, the congresses.

“We cannot but commend the caretaker committee for the efforts that they have been able to made to ensure that this party has been able to attain all these landmarks within the period in which they served.

“I am here as one of the aspirants. It may interest you to know what is my motivation? What is my motive? What is my objective of wanting to be the national chairman of this great party? It is not about myself. It is not about the ego or what goes with that.

“It is about sustaining the gains as one that was opportune by providence to be part of those that participated in the merger exercise. It will be a total disservice to the party, if I sit back at this very critical period, not to partake in ensuring value, addition to the party. That is my objective. That is my reason for wanting to contest for the office of chairman.

“Further than that, you all agree with me that never in the history of this country have Nigerians come together to imbibe certain national culture. When we were merging, we came from different tendencies. But for the sake of the unity of this country, for the sake of salvaging this country, we came together, and abandon those tendencies and assume a national, cohesive, united tendency and that’s what has been keeping the party along.

“So, you can see, it will be a disservice for someone who has participated and I am happy my Chairman is here. I started with him. We started to drive the process as Governors to ensure that this party was taken into a successful merger. The other person was Fayemi – the three of us amongst all the governors who are the ones that drove the process.

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“So it would be the service for any one of us. I wish Fayemi is not a governor, he would have been part and parcel of people to participate so that we can add value to something that we were prepared to nurture at the very infancy stage. I’m also happy that critical members of the party are here, my brother Senator Sani Musa, a wonderful Senator of the Senate of the Republic of Nigeria take interest in adding value to the party; my colleagues Modu Sheriff, His Excellency Yari amongst others. This to me is a sign of good omen that a lot of people are wishing to come and participate, and add value to the party. I wish that before the convention, we have much more than what we have now, so that we will be able to seef the grains from the chaff,” he said.

Similarly, former governor of Zamfara State, Abdul’aziz Yari, declared that the state Governors will continue to dominate the party, stressing that he is in the race to bring unity and stability in the party.

“I am one of the cofounders this great party and my colleague, Al-Makura and he mentioned one other who is not here. I can tell the gathering that three of us we started this progressive and a little history about it is at any point in time we went for a meeting in Amaechi House, after the meeting of the Governors Forum they will say PDP Governors wait, the President wants to see all of you and we were being a kind of intimidated with what PDP was doing.

“So we too said we’re going to do something and Al-Makura was part of the initiative, Femi as well as the immediate past Chairman, that’s Adams Oshiomhole. We arranged that after a meeting, we should also announced that we have opposition Governors meeting in Fashola’s House. That’s how the APC I can tell you come to birth.

“We agreed as opposition, unfortunately there are two who fell out, that’s Governors Obi and Mimiko but all of the opposition, the eleven of us were… in this important task to bring good governance in Nigeria. Thank God, for us to be part of the people that worked harder and bring this change which I personally am proud of.

“In governance, we can’t get it in 100%, there has to be the pros and cons but we can overcome them if we agree to come together. When we started it some people think we were joking. It’s a joke we were cracking because we cannot uproot a sitting government like PDP with billions of dollars and all other potentials… and God in his infinite mercies look at our hearts with zero interest or personal interest but interest in Nigeria in our heart.

“Now we are in command this country for the first six and a half years. In this position we are talking about, I must commend our leaders which have more respect too, George Akume and Al-Makura that what we are looking for is not do or die. We are all equal to this task and we can all do it.

“This 2023 and APC beyond we need to come together. We have a very serious challenge and task ahead of us and I wish organizers will organize a similar event that will bring all of us together, the Ministers, Governors, the President and members of National Assembly to address the important theme because many people outside are looking APC can finish after 2023 because the man who came with 11 million votes will not be in the ballot box again. So therefore, what next? I know by God’s grace, APC will go beyond 2023.

“I need not to say I can do it but people that are sitting here and my aspirants know the capacity of what I can do and what I can’t do. They have said all but the issue is the capacity to put that in place. Reward, how do you reward as a party Chairman. Can you reward? No. But if you have an understanding President and you are determined, focused… if not, you will just be talking in the Secretariat. But the most important is how are you going to relate with the President, how as you

going to relate with the people that you have given flags to fly either in the States. That’s how reward can come and that requires a capacity,” he said.