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The Drama Within Buhari, Tinubu, Atiku and their men

oyegun-tinubu-buhariFrom Kogi to Delta, Bayelsa, Kano, Ondo and Abuja, the All Progressives Congress (APC) is  in crisis. Like a marriage of convenience, the APC is, unarguably, made up of strange bedfellows, a development that presented it as a party dead on arrival, notwithstanding the fact that it is in power. While the APC leadership may want to bury its head in the sand and pretend that it is all a bed of roses for its members, recent events have shown that the party is made up of various cliques competing for its soul.   APC now in Factions -Timi Frank One man that the Chief John Odigie-Oyegun-led National Working Committee (NWC) of the party does not usually want to hear speak in public is Comrade Timi Frank. While the NWC refers to him as “Deputy National Publicity Secretary”, who is not sanctioned to speak for the party, Frank prides himself as the “Acting National Publicity Secretary” of the APC and he is always firing from all cylinders, reacting to issues in the polity even  when the party leadership fiddles. Despite repeated denials by the NWC, Frank, an associate of a former Vice President and chieftain of the party, Atiku Abubakar, said the party is now greatly factionalized. “If anybody should tell you that there is no division even at the national level, they are telling lies. I can tell you, there are issues; there are very critical issues. The issue of the Senate President is still lingering, nobody is saying anything at the national level, but I tell you, any Nigerian that knows will tell you very clearly that with the body language of our party as of today, if we are not careful, we are going to lose our popularity”, he said. “So, there is crisis in the party. If anybody says there is no crisis, it is a lie. We have many divisions right now within the party, so I won’t be scared to speak. That is my personal opinion and I have spoken again and I will continue to speak out. Oyegun, Tinubu and Buhari “I have nothing to worry about, in a matter of short time, this will come to play out”. Meanwhile, there is no gainsaying the fact that the party is controlled by “political warlords” who would do everything to ward off any intrusion to their territories. Since politics is a game of numbers, these warlords are often on a collision course as they engage in battle of wits to out-manoeuvre themselves in the bid to capture new territories. But, what does the equation roughly look like? APC   In the beginning… Obsessed with the dream of sacking the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)-led Federal Government, the APC started off as a conglomeration of friends and fiends, sharply divided in political ideology but strongly united in the bid to obtain power at all costs. What is now known as the APC began with the self-styled “Legacy Parties”, listed in order of political importance: the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN)-led by Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu; Gen. Muhammadu Buhari’s Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) and the All Nigeria People’s Party (ANPP) led by Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu. Ofcourse, there was also a faction of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) led by the current Imo State governor, Rochas Okorocha, even as the late Sen. Pius Evwherido and Olisaemeka Akamukali led the Democratic Peoples Party (DPP) into the merger. It was later on that a faction of the PDP, tagged new Peoples Democratic Party (nPDP), led by the incumbent Senate President, Bukola Saraki, and some five governors joined the APC. From the beginning, the party had issues with who should be its “National Leader”. While the APC interim chairman, Pa Bisi Akande, reportedly settled for Tinubu, Sen. Ali Modu Sheriff, (who has since defected to the PDP and now leading a faction), protested and said that since he led the APC to the merger, equity demands that he be accorded the same respect as Tinubu.   ‘No National Leader’ In attempting to cut Tinubu to size, President Muhammadu Buhari was, sometime in June, reported to have laid the issue of “National Leader” of the party to rest. At a dinner with senior party chieftains, Saraki had reportedly addressed Tinubu as “national leader of the party”, but in his own address, Buhari had allegedly countered, saying: “Sen. Bola Ahmed Tinubu, even though the Senate President addressed you as the National Leader of APC, you are not the National Leader of the party. You are one of the National Leaders of the APC”. Since then, the party leadership has been referring to Tinubu as “a National Leader of the party” and not “the National Leader of the party”.   The Asiwaju men Some political pundits believe that Tinubu has been left in the lurch by the Buhari administration, especially following reports that the former Lagos State governor could not influence the appointment of many of his appointees in the government. Aside Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and the Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service FIRS, Tunde Fowler, most of the  appointments from his South-West were said to have been done without his input. Today, he has lost more disciples compared to the days leading to the formation of the APC. Odigie-Oyegun, the APC National Chairman,  is clearly not in his camp any more. The same can be said for its National Legal Officer, Dr Muiz Banire, whose legal advice on the recently concluded but highly controversial primary election to pick the APC governorship candidate  in Ondo State led to the NWC to uphold the mandate of Mr Rotimi Akeredolu as against Tinubu’s preferred candidate, Dr Segun Abraham. In Lagos, it is alleged that Tinubu has lost his political son and former governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, to the Buhari group. Same for Dr. Kayode Fayemi, a former governor of of Ekiti State. The list is endless.   The Turaki Adamawa Atiku is one man who understands Nigeria’s politics very well and his entry into the APC also altered the equation. For a long time he sought to also control the soul of the party, but while he may not be happy that the APC has refused to elevate his “son”, Timi Frank, as its spokesperson following the appointment of the former National Publicity Secretary, Lai Mohammed, as a cabinet minister, the former Vice President might perhaps take consolation in the fact that his group produced the Senate President, the House Speaker and some ministers. The governor of his home state, Adamawa, Jubrilla Bindow, is also in his camp while his ally, Sen. Lawal Shuaibu, remains the Deputy National Chairman (North) of the party. Sen. Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, who is at loggerheads with his governor in Kano, Abdullahi Ganduje, is also in Atiku’scamp despite having contested against the former Vice PSesident during the party’s presidential primary election ahead of the 2015 general election. Sen. Aliyu Magatakarda Wamakko and the incumbent governor of Sokoto state, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, among others, are also said to be aligned to this bloc. But the the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir (SGF) David Lawal, also from Adamawa and who calls Atiku his “uncle”, seems more aligned with Tinubu. While the SGF is also close to the President, it is now understood that there are those in Buhari’s camp who have decided to place  Lawal on some kind of “political watchlist” to determine where his current and true allegiance lies. Vice President Yemi Osinbajo Osinbajo was reportedly nominated by Tinubu, but  Buhari’s authorized biographer, John Paden,  recently claimed in his book, “Muhammadu Buhari: Challenges of Leadership,” that the President unilaterally chose Osinbajo as his partner in the 2015 presidential election despite pressure from Tinubu, who wanted the position. However, speaking at a presidential dinner in honour of the beneficiaries of the Amnesty Programme Wednesday night in Abuja, Osinbajo explained how “somebody somewhere” recommended him for the position. He fell short of naming the person. For now, the vice president appears aloof from the behind-the-scene politicking that has been a hallmark of the present administration.    Chairman Odigie-Oyegun During the party’s national convention in 2014, Odigie-Oyegun was Tinubu’s candidate while Kwankwaso and, later, Rotimi Amaechi reportedly rooted for a former governor of Bayelsa State, Chief Timipre Sylva. But with party Chairman’s handling of the Kogi APC governorship crisis as well as the Ondo primary election crisis, it is not in doubt that the relationship between him and Tinubu has headed south. And ofcourse, there is no love-lost between Odigie-Oyegun and the governor of his home state of Edo, Adams Oshiomole.   Aisha Buhari Though her husband said she belongs in the kitchen, living room and the other room, Aisha featured prominently in the 2015 presidential campaigns, galvanising support across the country not just for her husband’s presidential bid but also for the success of the APC. Though she is said to be close to the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Muhammadu Bello, the minister’s loyalty clearly lies with the President. Aisha, according to reports, does not exercise authority over any of the competing power blocs, even though many party chieftains are aligned with her recent outburst that Buhari seemed to have forgotten those who toiled for his emergence.   The NSA Monguno and Magu connection The National Security Adviser, NSA, Mohammed Monguno, and the Chairman, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, are believed to also belong to the same bloc.   Lawal Daura, Abba Kyari, Mamman Daura and Malami Rumour of the romance between the Director General, Department of State Services, DSS, Mamman Daura, and the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, has continued to gain traction with the use of the DSS to track some suspected corrupt individuals. Many pundits have questioned the use of the DSS to raid the residences of some judges when the EFCC could have also done that. It got so bad that Malami was alleged in some reports to have lost confidence in the EFCC, hence his decision to use the DSS. Although, the EFCC has denied the existence of any cold war between it and Malami, the recent constitution of the “National Prosecution Council” under the Minister to handle some high-profile corruption cases is perhaps instructive. This is aside having the Presidential Advisory Council on Anti-Corruption. Equally believed to be in this group is the President’s Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari, as well as Daura. This is perhaps, the group that is closest to the President.   Former CPC Chairmen Former Chairmen of the defunct CPC in 26 states of the federation have also regrouped to “take back the party from outsiders”, as one of them put it. The forum of the former Chairman, recently met behind closed doors at the end of which it reminded Buhari that its members were the original stakeholders in the movement for Buhari for President, tagged: “Buhari Project”, which dated back to 2012. According to a communiqué signed by 26 defunct CPC state Chairmen, the forum called on Buhari to “remember the goose that laid the golden egg in the scheme of things.” Some of the defunct CPC Chairmen at the meeting include Hon. Ahamad Dan Zago from Kano, Sebastian Akpan from Akwa Ibom, Oko Agha Chris from Ebonyi, Comrade Francis Ikonomwan from Edo, Dr. Iheanacho from Abia, Dr. Mike Nwielaghi from Rivers and Mr. M. A. Oderinde from Oyo. “The fact is that we can’t totally trust men and women from other political parties like the ACN and ANPP. Though we are under one umbrella, the APC, everybody knows where he or she belongs. So, we need to come together to support our own; this is politics”, one of them had said.

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Ihesiulo Grace

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