President Muhammadu Buhari’s appointment of Bola Ahmed Tinubu, to reconcile feuding members of the ruling All Progressive Congress, APC, has not gone down well with the key stakeholders of the party.
From the National Working Committee, NWC, to the major blocks that merged in 2015 to form the APC, the President’s action has been criticized.
The NWC saw the measure as a usurpation of their powers and surrendering the leadership of the APC to Tinubu ahead of the 2019 general elections.
Supporters of the APC National Chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, described the development as demonstration of Buhari’s lack faith in him.
To those in the Senate President Bukola Saraki’s camp, the President brought Tinubu to cage their leader.
Buhari on Tuesday, February 6, 2018, mandated Tinubu to lead the “consultation, reconciliation and confidence building” efforts in the APC.
The move is part of on-going efforts to improve cohesion within the party, the President’s Senior Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu, said in a statement he issued on Tuesday.
Shehu said: “The assignment will involve resolving disagreements among party members, party leadership and political office holders in some states of the Federation”.
Other stakeholders deemed the President’s action as preparing the ground for him to secure the APC ticket without any serious opposition. They also said that Buhari was using the offer to bring Tinubu back into his administration after dumping him in the first three years of his tenure.
The APC has faced series of problems at both the state and national levels, since it took over power in May 2015, leading to loss of so many members, who have either returned to the opposition Peoples Democratic party (PDP), or remained dormant politically, waiting for their chance of using the 2019 elections as a pay back.
The party has been in crisis in states such as Kano, Imo, Enugu, Bauchi, Rivers, Gombe, Kaduna, Bayelsa, Delta, Ogun, Ondo, Kogi among others.
Soon after Tinubu’s appointment, some NWC described the development as bringing in more confusion in the party, considering the number of perceived enemies of Tinubu in both the NWC and the National Assembly.
The party’s NWC was embroiled in a stormy meeting yesterday, moments after the news of Tinubu’s appointment broke.
Though the party maintained that its meeting was scheduled before the announcement, an NWC member who confided in our reporters faulted the appointment, stressing that it would lead to more confusion and crisis in the APC.
The member warned that considering the number of Tinubu’s perceived enemies in the party, the move may cause more problems.
The NWC member, who noted that Tinubu had a running battle with both Saraki and Odigie- Oyegun, over the Senate leadership and the APC chairman’s role in the last Ondo State governorship primary, feared that Buhari may have tactically handed the APC over to Tinubu.
“This appointment may work against the party in 2019. The President may have done it in good faith, but my fear is that it may be used against some party loyalists.
“I am sure that we all know that Asiwaju Bola Tinubu has not forgiven Odigie-Oyegun, after his firm position on the Ondo party primary. The chairman maintained his stand that the result of the primary must stand, despite various blackmail and underground moves by the powers that be.
“Asiwaju Tinubu was very prominent in that battle and he called Odigie-Oyegun various names, with underground moves to remove him. Well, our tenure will end soon and I think this is a plot to ensure that the NWC members do not return.
“We cannot also forget in a hurry the fight between Tinubu and Saraki, which is still on-going,” the NWC member stated.
Since APC fixed June for its elective congress, there has been underground fireworks by some NWC members to get tenure elongation from the Presidency, and there are fears that the new development may thwart such moves.
A group led by some members of the Progressive Governors’ Forum are determined to get rid of the Odigie-Oyegun led NWC, informed sources say.
Some of the NWC members who do not want to return to the party leadership in June are seeking automatic ticket. This, NWC the member said may be thwarted with the coming of Tinubu as APC chief peacemaker.
Among the NWC members aspiring to contest for either the governorship or senatorial seats are: National Secretary, Mai Mala Buni (Yobe State); Deputy National Chairman (South), Engr. Segun Oni (Ekiti) and National Publicity Secretary, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi (Kwara). Also the National Organising Secretary, Senator Osita Izunaso (Imo) is said to be nursing ambition to return to the Senate.
Incidentally, Tinubu, who is the very influential national leader of the party, had been severally reported to be displeased with the Presidency owing to alleged marginalization, but he has equally strongly denied the reports and stated that he remained strongly loyal to Buhari.
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