•Fear grips Buhari, loyalists
By FUNSO OMODELE
THE future looks bleak for the All Progressives Congress (APC) as indications emerged that the ruling party is beginning to develop cracks among its leaders.
The National Daily gathered that certain APC leaders are under pressure to float a new political party over lingering disaffections on emerging decisions and actions in the control of the Federal Government under the party’s hegemony.
A gale of wranglings over many issues may eventually be responsible for the breakup. For starters, the way and manner President Muhammadu Buhari went about appointing people into his cabinet does not seem to have gone down with the party stalwarts. Currently, the north has taken over 80% of the appointments Buhari has made so far. And his ministerial nominees, are also perceived essentially as by-product of his one-upmanship.
“To a large extent, the governors were not consulted on those picked from our states,” quipped an Aso Rock source last week. “But the leaders have to bear with the president because it is his constitutional prerogative.”
That Buhari “jobbed” certain southern politicians who were in the trenches when the APC was in the thick of the opposition war is another sore point. Of course, names which were neither members nor sympathisers of the APC suddenly cropped on the list of 37 ministerial nominees sent to the Senate among who 18 have been confirmed. And Bola Tinubu, APC’s national leader, is said to be somewhat upset about that as his nominees were flagrantly disregarded by President Buhari.
Again, the flank of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) which comprised to form the APC feels sidelined in nominating members of the Federal cabinet, leading to discontent between the likes of Tinubu, and the party’s guardian angel, ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo. Obasanjo had ostensibly been openly hobnobbing with Buhari to entrench his personal influence and thereafter run down Tinubu in the new government structure. National Daily learnt that Tinubu, as an example of trying to peddle influence reportedly tapped Wale Edun, his former finance commissioner in Lagos, for the Federal Ministry of finance but was blocked by Obasanjo. Though Edun hails from Ogun, but has lived mainly Lagos, he was considered not fit to be a nominee of the state, hence his nomination was blocked by Obasanjo who was said to have additionally insisted that the former Lagos governor wouldn’t fill the Ogun federal slot for them. And Tinubu’s candidate was dropped for Kemi Adeosun.
Clearly, the APC financier’s hold on Buhari’s appointment is no longer as vice-like as expected—in and outside Lagos, especially, in filling the southwestern slots in the federal cabinet. In Lagos, Tinubu’s estranged godson ex-Gov. Babatunde Fashola also slipped off his godfather’s grip. There were speculations that the APC national leader was against Fashola, and therefore doing everything to throw dirt on him in the run-up to the cabinet selection. The idea was to rubbish his credentials before Buhari obsessed with corruption rating as a ground rule in selecting his ministers. But in spite of all the mudslinging, Fashola still made the cut; likewise the former Governor of Ekiti State, Dr. Kayode Fayemi. He too was said to have struck out of the Lagos crowd kowtowing to Tinubu, and was almost kissing his political career a goodbye with that decision.
Tinubu might have lost the reins in Osun, too. Olagunsoye Oyinlola, a former governor and protégé of Obasanjo, has been nominated. The former president has expanded his reach that far. Obasanjo now seems to be having the upper hand over Tinubu. And that is already generating a lot of furore in the party.
The plot for the APC split into smaller pieces has reported been further exacerbated because of how President Buhari is carrying on the current war against corruption. There might be no sacred cows.
Senate President Bukola Saraki was dragged before the Code of Conduct Tribunal over a 13-count charge of false declaration of assets in 2003.
“We are not unmindful of the fact that the Tribunal is acting under political influence and external pressure. This is dangerous to our democracy,” said Yusuph Olaniyonu, his media publicist.
Furthermore, the president at different times indicated he would not close his eyes on any APC member linked to corruption. This has been sending deep fear into many APC leaders, particularly, when the Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee, Professor Itse Sagay, declared that the committee will revisit previous lost cases.
The southern elements in the party, especially, of the south-west stock, are said to have been frustrated. Having worked for the party during the electioneering campaign, many of them believe they have nothing to show for it now that it is pay time. Moreover, they were said to been provoked over perceived sidelining of their leader, Asiwaju Tinubu, from the major scheme of activities in the party since the inauguration of the current administration on May 29, 2015.
“It is not like this in other climes. Even in the U.S. and the U.K., people are always rewarded with positions in government, having worked for their respective parties. But with this administration, the president is working alone appointing his old associates and people of the northern stock who he claims are upright and he can comfortably work with,” some of the politicians said.
They protest that the ministerial list contain persons not recommended by Tinubu, while the president opted for those the national leader was purportedly not supporting initially.
Apart from being frustrated, many APC members, especially, governors who are suspected to have dipped their hands into public coffers to sponsor either their elections or other candidates, including the president himself, are now jittery. They fear coming under probe for their inability to pay workers’ salaries.
A source close to Tinubu also hinted that the APC leader, reputed for building bridges across tribes and political leanings that led to the emergence of Buhari, is under intense pressure and likely contemplating floating another political party. He was said to have discovered that his alliance with the northern politicians to kick out former President Goodluck Jonathan was a marriage of convenience after all.
According to our source, he had, two months ago, started reaching out to former associates, especially those in the Alliance for Democracy (AD), and leaders of other political interests in the south-west, with a view to presenting a united Yoruba front in future political arrangements in the country.
He was said to have read the handwriting on the wall early enough when the northern elements close to Buhari convinced him to shed the south-west agenda for a loose federal republic based on six autonomous geopolitical zones. This structure, many believe, has never been popular with the north.
It is believed that the AD will consider its future in its national convention slated for later in the year.
A top AD source told The National Daily that the party has not met formally since the general elections were concluded.
Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar is also said to have gone back to the drawing board to nurture his Peoples Democratic Movement (PDM), a political platform he inherited from the late General Shehu Musa Yar’Adua. The general died in prison on the allegation of planning a phantom coup against the administration of late General Sani Abacha.
According to sources close to the Turaki Adamawa, his calculation is to align with like minds among the breakaway faction of the PDP, the likes of the Senate President Bukola Saraki and Sokoto Governor, Aminu Tambuwal.
Meanwhile, the PDP has zoned its presidential candidate to the north for the 2019 general elections. This may be appealing to some APC leaders interested in the presidential race.
But some aides to Tinubu denied any plan by their principal to float a new political party. “It’s a lie from the pit of hell. There’s no way our leader can throw away his efforts to build the APC from formation to victory in the elections and abandon it for a new party. What else does he want to achieve,” they told The National Daily.