The All Progressive Congress, APC, might not be at peace after all as two major power brokers, Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Atiku Abubakar are reportedly engaged in a very fierce battle as regards who controls the leadership of the party.
The fight believed to be fueled by the outcome of the just concluded National Assembly leadership polls of Tuesday, June 9, 2015 which produced leaders of both senate and House of Representatives against the party’s wish.
Punch learnt that both Atiku and Tinubu were desperate to have maximum control over the party structure so that party decisions could favour them at all times.
The duo of Tinubu and Atiku were all about their candidates winning the seats as principal officers of the National Assembly so their candidates would automatically become members of the party’s National Executive Committee, which is the highest decision arm of the party.
It was learnt that Saraki’s victory was announced while the power brokers were busy waiting for General Muhammadu Buhari at the International Conference Centre for a meeting which was supposed to be a decision making avenue for the already concluded polls.
It would be recalled that the party’s National Working Committee, NWC, fought a lost battle by holding a demo election which produced Senator Ahmad Lawan and Senator George Akume as candidates for Senate President and Deputy Senate President respectively.
However, Atiku who was bent on breaking Tinubu’s influence on the party was said to be against the mock election believed to have been led by the latter.
Meanwhile, most of the current members of the party’s NWC are ardent followers of Tinubu.
Strong indications have emerged that Tinubu and his supporters are seriously aggrieved by the result of the National Assembly leadership elections.
Sources said the Tinubu camp, though still jolted by its initial ‘defeat’ would likely spring a surprise in the days ahead.
It was even learnt that members of the Senators Unity Forum, who supported the party’s candidates are solidly behind Tinubu in the fight and it doesn’t appear like they would back out in the near future.
Furthermore, Atiku who supported the aspirations of Saraki and Dogara, argued that democracy could better be served when the principle of internal democracy is respected.
The Senate President and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Saraki and Dogara, by implication, have become automatic members of the National Executive Committee, the highest decision making body of the party.
Their positions also confer on them automatic membership of the party’s Board of Trustees.
Speaking to Punch, a leading member of the party’s NWC, explained that the unfolding scenario is likely to open up new frontiers in the power struggle within the party.
The member whose identity was not disclosed said that decisions at NEC from hencefort will be keenly contested by the two power blocs.
The outcome of the National Assembly elections would likely affect decisions to be taken on ministerial nominees as some of the candidates in Tinubu’s camp may be rejected during screening by the Saraki/Atiku group.
He said, “It is obvious that with what happened on Tuesday at the National Assembly, two (dominant) power blocks have emerged in the party.
“We hope to heal the wounds created by the contests, but there is mutual suspicion between the two groups.”
Also speaking was the Director-General of the Atiku Media Office, Mazi Paul Ibe.
He said, “Atiku did not orchestrate the emergence of the new leadership in the National Assembly and insinuating that amounts to nothing but political mischief, as he had refused to leave the party or work for the PDP even when the then President Jonathan was desperate for Atiku’s support.
“The visits of politicians and APC leaders including that of the Senate President are common political rituals in Atiku’s Asokoro residence. For the purposes of emphasis, the President has confidence in him and that explains why he had drafted him as an envoy of sorts in the race leading up to the emergence of a Nigerian President of African Development Bank.
“It is baseless and unfounded to suggest that Atiku conspired with the PDP or Saraki to ‘sabotage’ the APC. He would have congratulated Senator Ahmed Lawan (or any other leader) if he had won. It is simplistic to attribute conspiratorial agenda to an innocuous congratulatory visit.
“Atiku’s loyalty to his party is indisputable. He remains a loyal party member. He, in fact, threw his political assets behind the Buhari presidential campaign. Any suggestion that he conspired with Saraki or anybody is the figment of someone’s imagination.”
Tinubu’s spokesperson, Mr. Sunday Dare, is yet to respond to both calls and messages sent to his mobile phone in the evening of Friday, June 12, 2015.