OPINION: APC chairmanship: Who is Saliu Mustapha? By Gidado Shuaib

Date: 2022-01-22

At the moment, the most prevalent question on the lips of Nigerians is the 2023 presidential election. Analysis is being churned out about who will become the next president of Africa’s most populous country.

But before the 2023 general elections, a few weeks from now, delegates of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) will elect national officials. The impending party elections aren’t lacking in dramas, too.

The top spot — the chairmanship — is naturally the position that would generate most scramble and talking points. This is because it is naturally pivotal to the clinching of APC’s presidential ticket.

A number of politicians are gunning for it. They include: Senator George Akume, Senator Tanko Al-Makura, Malam Saliu Mustapha, Mallam Isa Yuguda, Abdulaziz Yari, Ali Modu-Sherrif, Senator Sani Mohammed Musa and the youngest among them, Mohammadu Saidu-Estu.

Each of the candidates has the capacity to move the party forward even though it is being touted that the leadership of the party has been zoned to the North-Central. If the scoop is true, given his personality and profile, Malam Saliu Mustapha, the Turaki of Ilorin, should simply be given the diadem.

Turaki’s political career spans over two decades. His journey in active politics started in the late 90s when Nigeria was still healing from the dictatorial rule of the military. His early days in politics were with the All Peoples Party (APP) in 1999 to the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) in 2003.

Mustapha was an integral part of the movement that championed President Muhammadu Buhari’s presidential ambition during the days of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC). He was also instrumental to the coalition of the parties that gave birth to the APC.

Besides being a staunch mobilizer, Mustapha possesses the trait of forging harmony among disparate groups, which is what APC needs prior to the general elections. The people who worked with him while he was the Deputy Chairman of the defunct APC are always testifying.

You can’t help but be awed upon having an encounter with him, because of the aura he exudes. My first encounter with the colossus was on one early morning at the Abuja airport, when he and his family emerged from a vehicle parked next to mine.

Having seen his poster in strategic locations, I simply walked up to him and exchanged pleasantries and he gave me his contact and that of his Executive Assistant, a very jovial and hardworking lawyer, Abdulkareem Alabi Mohammed.

I became curious and wanted to know more about him. I contacted a friend to inquire about the man I met. He said nice things about the man even though they never met in person. According to him, Turaki once brought media experts to Kwara State to train young bloggers on ethics of journalism and fake news. I was wowed by this act as not many Nigerian politicians would think of this, even though fake news has become a menace in the social and socio-political structure of Nigeria.

Although there are other big shots from the North-Central, I believe that what makes Mustapha stand out is his dexterity in managing people of different backgrounds and his administrative expertise. These are lacking in other candidates. The 49-year-old also possesses a clean slate as he holds no records of encounters with anti-corruption agencies or controversies linked to him, because it will be scandalous and disgraceful if the leadership of the ruling party falls into the hands of an indicted personality.

My warning to the APC delegates is that they must consider an aspirant that has a manifesto of prioritizing youth engagement if they want to have a party that would serve as a strong institution that will stand the taste of time because the next phase of Nigerian politics will be hinged on personalities with a general appeal. Mallam Saliu has exemplified this as his motto is doing things differently.

Gidado Y. Shuaib, a media practitioner, can be reached on giddyshuaib@gmail.com.


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