By Saliu Mustapha
Sometimes in February, 2021, I formally kick-started a series of consultations with APC stakeholders and leaders towards enlisting their support for my aspiration to lead the party as national chairman. During the same period, I encountered several of our party members who shared with me their deep desire to have a party leadership that prioritizes inclusiveness, a fair reward system and a transparent internal democracy; all of which were major pillars of my campaigns.
My promise and pledge to the esteemed members of our party, at every point, was to provide a vibrant leadership for APC, one that reflects the ideals of a modern political party built on every known principles of participatory politics. Indeed, the numerous conversations I had in the last few months as a frontline chairmanship aspirant proved to me that this is what a vast majority of the party members yearned for.
My vision has always been about building a strong party, because I believe that our politics can only get better when we sanitize our political parties and make them true instruments for recruiting competent and desirable leadership for our country. It is, therefore, towards the realization of that singular objective that I have made several sacrifices in the past.
Without doubt, I have paid my dues in terms of loyalty and commitment to the progressive cause. From the APP to the ANPP through to the CPC and of course, the APC, a period of political maturation that spanned over two decades, I have paid numerous prices in vilification, disappointments, maltreatment, injustice, etc. But not once have I showed any sign of weakness in my loyalty to these causes, despite the turbulence.
Instead, I have continued to consciously tried to remain the quintessence of unity and inter-generational understanding in the body polity both in Kwara, my home state and at the national level. Today, I believe, is yet another such call, however inconvenient to the person of Saliu Mustapha and discouncerting to several thousands of my supporters and enthusiasts.
As you may already be aware, on Friday 25th March, 2022, on the eve of the All important National Convention of the APC in which I was a frontline aspirant for the party’s national chairmanship seat, I decided to step down in deference to the wishes and dictates of the leadership of our party. I did it for the unity and cohesion of our great party, for its greater good and as proof of my undying loyalty to a political party I hold so dearly in my heart.
I made this decision with the full awareness that our party represents a cohesive family, one that ambition and interests must never be allowed to divide. As a family and as a political party, contestation and competition will be inevitable, but the ultimate objective of maintaining our unity and togetherness must always triumph over whatever individual aspirations we all may have.
To my family, supporters, friends and well wishers, I know this is not the outcome we hoped for when we began this journey several months ago. But I’m convinced that as people of faith, you will all bear in mind the ultimate power of Allah as the sole decider, and as one who decides who gets what in life. We may not have gotten what we set our minds on, but we ran a good race for as long as the campaigns lasted; and I am confident that posterity will judge our intentions fairly.
I wish to thank all those who supported the aspiration and campaign in diverse ways. My gratitude goes to my family, friends and associates who weathered the storm with us throughout the tumultuous but very engaging journey.
I thank the multitude of party women and youths for their open solidarity; our friends in the media who gave us the right exposure, particularly the radio and TV presenters who made the campaign daily talking points on their shows; and to the social media influencers who dominated the internet space with our messages with no strings attached and of course my support groups, who organised themselves nationally and took the gospel of our campaign to the nooks and crannies of Nigeria.
To my campaign team as led by my friend and brother, Mallam Bala Usman, I am forever grateful for the sleepless nights, for the rigorous brainstorming and the tumultuous journeys. It was only because of the passion and commitment of you all that what started as the ambition of a single individual took a life of its own and grew beyond imagination.
I wish to express my unreserved appreciation to the Government and people of Kwara state for all the support; and to my family, friends and associates who stood firmly and offered their unmitigated solidarity; I thank you all.
I am particularly grateful to their royal highnesses, the Emir of Ilorin, Mai Martaba Dr. Ibrahim Sulu Gambari, CFR, and other royal and religious leaders for their immense moral support and their constant fatherly counsel and prayers.
Finally, to the leadership of our party, I welcome and congratulate you.
As you may already know, this moment again presents you with a rare chance as well as the opportunity to deliberately set the future course for our party. Are we going to relive our progressiveness and advance into the future as a formidable platform for the advancement of the general good of our country; or are we going to backtrack and embrace all the anti-democratic practices we had hitherto fought and still fight against? That decision is embedded in the choices you make fr now on.
Because I have interacted directly with a vast majority of you, and I am quite familiar with the pedigree of a sizeable numbers of others, I am confident that your choices and decision from today onward will reaffirm my belief in your individual and collective will to build and strengthen the APC into a party that represents all the fine ideals that we shall all be proud to hold dear and to bequeath to those who shall come after us.
I wish you all a hitch free administration.
Turaki of Ilorin
2022 APC National Chairmanship aspirant