Uneasy calm has pervaded the All Progressives Congress (APC) over the consensus option presented by President Muhammadu Buhari before governors on the party’s platform ahead of the party’s presidential primary slated for next Monday.
LEADERSHIP gathered yesterday that some of the governors are strongly opposed to the idea of the president picking his successor singlehandedly, insisting that one of them, preferably a northern governor, should succeed Buhari.
This is even as Vice President Yemi Osinbajo yesterday met with APC national chairman, Abdullahi Adamu, and five governors of the party at the presidential villa.
LEADERSHIP gathered that the meeting may not be unconnected with the presidential primary of the party slated for next Monday.
President Buhari had met with the governors on Tuesday before travelling to Spain.
Buhari who has been in Spain on a state visit at the invitation of that country’s president, Pedro Sanchez, the first by the Nigerian leader, is billed to return this weekend.
The president is also expected to meet with the APC governors tomorrow to arrive at a consensus for the presidential primary.
It was gathered that the governors had splintered into smaller groups and have been meeting in what seemed to be last minute consultations and horse trading to arrive at a position ahead of President Buhari’s arrival from Spain.
A reliable source told our correspondent last night that the APC governors were to meet under the Progressive Governors Forum (PGF) platform, but could not meet “probably because they are still consulting.
“It is not unusual that the governors are consulting, especially when the president has told them what he wants and threw it back at them to return the same gesture of allowing him choose his successor the way they did in their respective states. There may be disagreement here and there, especially when it has to taking a major decision, but I believe they would come out strong with one voice,” the source close to one of the governor said in confidence.
The governors opposed to the president’s consensus option who are said to have the support of some northern power brokers are worried that the governing APC might lose at the presidential poll if the selection of its presidential flag bearer is not done in a transparent manner the way it was witnessed in the presidential primaries of the Peoples Democratic Party(PDP).
“They also faulted moves by Buhari to limit his search for a successor to the North, with only the President of the Senate, Dr. Ahmad Lawan and Governor Yahaya Bello from the North-East and North-Central respectively. They wanted the party to allow more fresh aspirants to participate in the presidential primaries of the party” another source close to the PGF said.
On the other hand, southern presidential aspirants have rejected moves by the northern governors to reopen nomination after screening has been done, saying it may deepen the split in the ranks of the APC governors.
Our source further said, “As the President intensifies consultations on his successor, he has an uphill task ahead. Some of the APC governors, especially those on second term, do not subscribe to the imposition of APC presidential candidate.
“They are forming a group to advise the President to drop the idea because it will erode voters’ confidence in APC and its anointed candidate.
“They also claimed that APC will be setting a bad precedent for the nation’s democracy. Their greatest challenge is how to convince Buhari to buy in their view.”
Some of the governors are also said to be wooing the national chairman of the APC, Adamu, to reopen nomination for presidential primaries.
“Some of these governors have also been privy to the fact that Buhari might have zeroed in on two or three candidates , including a few Northern aspirants that they don’t want adopted.
“I think there must be more to this reopening of nomination agenda. We don’t know the mindset of our national chairman on this,” our source hinted.
Southern Governors Insist On Power Shift
Meanwhile, governors from the southern part of the country have charged the party to work hard to retain power by rotating the presidency to the southern part of the country.
Chairman of the Southern Governors’ Forum and Ondo State governor, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, stated the position of the southern governors in a short message via his personal Facebook page yesterday.
Akeredolu who was on Wednesday evening named the chairman of Security and Compliance for the party’s special convention re-echoed the position of his colleagues in the Southern Nigeria Governors’ Forum that power should be rotated to the South.
Governor Akeredolu noted that the APC must be ready to rotate power in order to retain power, adding that to retain power, the party must rotate to the South.
“APC must work to retain power. We must rotate power to retain power !!! Rotate to the South. Shikena,” the message reads.
It’s My turn, I’m Tired Of Sponsoring Political Sons – Tinubu
Meanwhile, national leader and frontline presidential aspirant under the platform of the APC, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, yesterday admonished party delegates from Ogun State against turning the forthcoming national convention of the party to a “family affair” while voting to pick the flag bearer of the party for the 2023 presidential election.
Tinubu who addressed party delegates in Abeokuta, the state capital, emphatically warned the delegates not to sacrifice sound judgment at the altar of family affair when voting at the party’s convention, stressing that it was time for him to reap the benefits of his own labour and sacrifices at building a formidable political party.
Going down memory lane, Tinubu who also met with the national delegates of the party from Oyo State said that he never regretted sacrificing the opportunity offered him to become a vice to President Buhari during the build up to the year 2015 presidential election, but declined the offer to enable him stabilise APC, particularly towards ensuring that the newcomers from the PDP were fully accommodated within the APC.
He said, “It is now over 25 years that I have been worshipping these political sons and daughters. If Governor Dapo Abiodun seated here will be faithful to his God, I want to emphatically state that he couldn’t have become the governor without me. Even President Buhari wouldn’t have won that presidential election in 2015 after three unsuccessful attempts without my support.
“Since President Buhari assumed office, I have not accepted any ministerial or Ambassadorial position. But now, it is my turn. My protection for these political sons and daughters is enough. I don’t want to be part of a sad political history in Nigeria. I am here to solicit for your votes. May God not turn you from being delegates to delicate. Don’t make it a family affair.
“What I am telling you now is between me and God Almighty. Prior to the 2015 general elections, Buhari called me to be his Vice President. He said because the first time he contested, he picked Chuba Okadigbo, a flamboyant politician, a Catholic, but Nigerians didn’t vote for him. The second time, he picked another Igbo, Umeh Ezeoke, Nigerians didn’t vote for him, that if he goes to bring the Pope to run as his vice, Nigerians won’t vote for him, but you, Bola Tinubu, you have six governors, you have never lost an election before, come and be my vice.
“He knew all the calculations then favoured us, that is why he wanted me as his vice, but I told him to let us build the party first. And when we finished building the party, after we brought in people from the PDP, Saraki now saw those from the PDP will not get anything if Buhari; a Muslim becomes the President and me, also a Muslim becomes his vice, he won’t get the Senate President because the Senate President cannot also be a Muslim, that was how they started the campaign of calumny against me.
“And I told them that I have a candidate that is a Christian that I can nominate, so that the party will not break, that was how I nominated Vice President Yemi Osinbajo. I surrendered my right to him (Osinbajo).
“I was asked to submit three names, Yemi Cardozo, Wale Edun and Yemi Osinbajo, but I told them if I submit three names, they will believe that I am not consistent and I insisted that I will present one candidate and I presented Yemi Osinbajo’s name.
“It is my time, I’m educated, I’m experienced. I have been serving you for a long time, bring me the presidency, it is my turn”.
Tinubu further recalled that when former Vice President Atiku Abubakar was being flogged out of PDP by former President Okusegun Obasanjo, he ran to him for help and he left the ticket for him.
Noting that former EFCC chairman, Nuhu Ribadu, had also come to him and he backed him, Tinubu said, “It has been over 25 years now that I have been serving them. This one sitting behind me, Dapo, can he say he can be the Governor without me? We were together at the MKO Abiola Stadium, he was intimidated, they didn’t want to give him the party’s flag, I was the one that handed the flag to him. He knows that he cannot be the governor without the help of God and my support.
“If not for me that stood behind Buhari, he wouldn’t have become the president. He tried the first time, he failed, the second time, he failed, the third time, he failed, he even wept on a national television and vowed never to contest again, but I went to meet him in Kaduna and told him he will run again, I will stand by you and you will win, but you must not joke with Yorubas and he agreed.
“Since he became the president, I have never got ministerial slots, I didn’t collect any contract, I have never begged for anything from him. It is the turn of Yoruba to produce a President. It is my turn”.
Lawan Appoints Orji Kalu As Campaign DG, Fani-Kayode, Others As Members
Meanwhile, Senate president and APC presidential aspirant, Ahmad Lawan, has appointed the chief whip of the Senate and Abia North Senator, Dr Orji Uzor Kalu, as the director-general of the Ahmad Lawan Central Campaign Organisation.
At a meeting held in Abuja yesterday, members and chairman of eight sub-committees of the campaign organisation were equally announced.
LEADERSHIP learnt that the team met behind closed-doors to fine-tune strategies and consolidate on the gains made so far.
Lawan’s campaign team led by Kalu is expected to strengthen the campaign organisation and build a stronger cohesion that would deliver the APC presidential ticket to the Senate President during the forthcoming presidential primaries and ultimately lead him to victory in the general election in 2023.
A former minister of aviation, Chief Femi Fani-Kayode, was appointed as deputy chairman of the campaign’s Media and Publicity committee headed by Niger North Senator, Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi.
LEADERSHIP recalls that before now, Fani-Kayode was the deputy chairman the of Yahaya Bello campaign organisation.
Others include the Finance and Budget Committee to be chaired by Auwal Lawan and Senator Sani Musa as co-chairman.
Senator Ikechukwu Obiora is chairman of Strategy and Planning Committee with Senator Betty Apiafi as deputy chairman; Contact and Mobilization is to be led by Kano North Senator, Barau Jibrin, as chairman, and Delta Senator, Peter Nwaoboshi, is the deputy chairman.
The Security and Intelligence committee is led by a former director-general of DSS, Mallam Lawal Daura, while Commodore Mohammed Barau (rtrd) is the deputy chairman.
Others are Transport and Logistics committee to be chaired by Katsina South Senator, Bello Mandiya, and Hon. Hillary Bisong as deputy chairman.
Prince Mustapha Audu is to lead the Youth Groups, while Women Groups will be chaired Hon. Aisha Ismail