By CYPRIN AJAH, Abuja
THE All Progressives Congress (APC) has continued to show signs of internal rivalries between notable political godfathers over control of the party and privileges of influencing the federal government under the hegemony.
The National Daily investigations show that the seeming conflicts in the APC which came to the public glare in the power competition for the leadership of the National Assembly were not unconnected with the build-up to the 2019 presidential race.
The foot soldiers in the battle field created in the National Assembly involve President of the Senate, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Right Honourable Yakubu Dogara, Honourable Femi Gbajabiamila, Senator George Akume, Senator Ahmed Lawan. The APC governors and the party’s National Working Committee members attempted to play mediatory roles.
They are also discovered to be waging the war at the instance of certain political godfathers or principals, including APC National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, former Vice President Abubakar Atiku, among others.
Even when Tinubu joined other APC leaders to attend the wedding of Atiku’s daughters in Adamawa last week, that political gathering did not blur the existing cold war in the party.
The party was also plunged into factional struggle for power between the legacy parties which include the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), including the co-opted Peoples Democratic Party (nPDP).
The PDP leading a faction that aggregated greater proportion of CPC and ANPP members knocked out the ACN which had alliance with minority ANPP and CPC members.
The PDP-led faction constituted a conglomeration of APC members who also play the role of minor godfathers in their respective micro political entities, particularly, their states, with extended intra-regional influence.
On this divide was Atiku, leading some former northern Governors in the Senate like Rabi’u Musa Kwankwaso of Kano, Senator Aliyu Magatakarda Wamakko and incumbent Baby Governor of Sokoto State, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, among others, who had good working relations with the PDP.
The ACN was built around Tinubu who was supported by Chief Bisi Akande, former APC Action National Chairman. Unfortunately, the political lieutenants who would have provided additional support for Tinubu like former Governor Babatunde Fashola, former Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State, including incumbent APC governors in the southwest were neutral in the conflicts.
Tinubu’s battle in the APC is further compounded by former President Olusegun Obasanjo who has seemingly been hobnobbing with Buhari to entrench his personal political influence in the Presidential Villa beyond any other political leader from the southwest.
The former president is widely perceived to have constituted a major blockade for Tinubu. Many stakeholders have been expressing the view that Tinubu was not being favoured in the ministerial appointments by Buhari, pointing accusing fingers at Obasanjo.
Indeed, a strong loyalist of Tinubu told National Daily in Lagos that Buhari has divided the southwest and has subtly taken power away from Tinubu by appointing into his cabinet people who are beginning to compete with Tinubu for power in the region.
Indeed, a source revealed that Tinubu purportedly left Abuja in anger on October 1, when he got hint of the ministerial list. Thus, he shunned participation in the country’s 55th Independence anniversary, the first hosted by APC government.
Invariably, attempts to use the APC structure which is controlled by Tinubu’s men to consolidate his hegemony through the mock election to nominate APC’s contenders for the National Assembly leadership was pulsated by the opponents.
The opponents opted for democratic process on the floor of the two chambers of eh National Assembly relying on the confidence that they have majority supporters. This culminated into the victory of Saraki, Dogara and others but since then losers have not given up the battle.
Tinubu, it was gathered, has persistently been deploying his political dexterity to reverse the trend.
Some APC leaders have attempted linking Tinubu with the trial of the Senate President at the Code of Conduct Tribunal which he has since refuted.
Even the Governor of Kaduna State, Mallam Nasir El-rufai, was also accused to be behind the CCT saga, though he has not responded to the accusation.
The battle field has been shifted to the court to unseat the senate president and possibly bring back the anointed ‘servant senator’.
The National Daily investigation further revealed that while Tinubu has continued to show unalloyed loyalty to President Buhari, he is also subtly digging up into the CPC faction to carve a part to reinforce the ACN faction in the APC.
Many stakeholders attributed this new strategy to the current romance going on between the APC national leader and Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State.
Again, like the Independence Day when Tinubu ignored the event in Abuja, the APC national leader shunned the administration of oath of office on the ministers by the President last Wednesday to pay a visit to Governor El-Rufai in Kaduna, who is a stout opponent of Saraki.
There were reports that El-Rufai is one of the star government witnesses in the CCT case against Saraki.
It was gathered that Tinubu was in Kaduna as a special guest of the State Government on the invitation of the governor to commission the Kaduna State Taxi Cab service initiated by El-Rufai.
The governor was said to have thanked Tinubu for making Kaduna the first state he was officially visiting since the APC’s victory in March. “It is my delight to say “sanu da zuwa to our esteemed Asiwaju Bola Tinubu,” the governor said. It was curious that Tinubu had to send his goodwill message to the new ministers from Kaduna.
Atiku, who is also a renowned master strategist in power competition in the country, has never showed his role in the public but is gathered to be doing what he knows how to do best behind the scene.
Observers had noted that after the Thursday saga, a fortnight ago, at the Code of Conduct Tribunal where counsels to the Senate President abandoned the tribunal proceedings, Atiku arrived the Presidential Villa Friday morning where he had early morning prayer with the President. There was high expectation that something unusual will happen thereafter. Though, the former vice president was at the Villa to formerly invite Buhari to the wedding of his daughters, observers believe he had chipped in a word to the President on the CCT controversy.
Subsequently, the Supreme Court halted the trial at the CCT until the substantive appeal by Saraki is given hearing at the apex court.
However, Tinubu seldom hides his disagreement with Saraki, always accusing the senate president of betraying the APC to enter into alliance with the PDP to win his position in the National Assembly.
The APC national leader once revealed the severed relations with Saraki because of his “crass act of disloyalty” and that he “may have joined the APC on paper but has remained true to the malpractices and wrong aims of the reactionary PDP in his soul.”
Saraki on the other divide endeavoured to be calculated in his response, saying that he will not join words with Tinubu.
Meanwhile, there is the belief that Tinubu might have been to Kaduna to review strategy with El-Rufai after the Supreme Court judgment last week.