Tinubu sending message to all, not only Oyegun – APC stalwarts
Where the Presidency stands
Asiwaju will not leave APC – Ally
Ondo APC in deep dilemma
Tinubu’s towering influence not permanent – Dr. Esuola
Genesis of the problem
There is apparent disquiet in the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), which was brought to the fore, soon after the self-acclaimed National Leader of the party, Sen. Bola Ahmed Tinubu, sent a clear and an unambiguous message that all he wants is the head of the National Chairman of the party, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun.
Tinubu and Oyegun parted ways soon after the Ondo State APC gubernatorial primary election held on September 3, when
Mr. Rotimi Akeredolu, a former President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), who reportedly got the support of Oyegun, defeated Olusegun Abraham, said to be Tinubu’s candidate.
Many pundits expected that when Tinubu, using the outcome of the Ondo State APC primary as a basis, draw the battle line between him and Chief Oyegun, the APC as a party should talk.
But, sadly, nearly three years after its establishment, the ruling party does not have a Board of Trustees (BoT), which is aptly described as the “Conscience of the party” that could be handy in moments of distress like this.
And with the exception of few, all those working with Oyegun at the national headquarters of the APC have maintained sealed lips, apparently skeptical about talking to the press.
There is the popular saying that ‘Silence is Golden, but in some instances, in the midst of rising tension, the silence of those that matter is interpreted as consent.
Over a week ago, Tinubu, citing serious infractions, said the APC was heading for the precipice because its national chairman had literally mortgaged it for selfish reasons.
Tinubu had accused Oyegun of disrespecting the rule of law and fair play as enshrined in the APC Constitution.
“To rescue the party, Oyegun must go,” he said in a statement issued by his media officer.
“He has shown that he and democratic fair play cannot exist in the same party at the same time. For those who care about the party, who care about Nigeria and its chance for a better tomorrow, now is the time to stand against this brewing evil before it grows to encompass all we have built and all we hold dear,” he said.
“From the party’s inception, the principles of democratic fairness and justice were to guide APC internal deliberations. Party founders realized that only by intramural fair dealing could the party remain faithful to the progressive ideals that we presented to the Nigerian electorate as our governing creed.
“If the party could not justly govern itself, it would find it difficult to establish and maintain just government throughout the nation.
“Chairman John Oyegun has breached these good pledges in a most overt and brazen display. In doing so, Oyegun has dealt a heavy blow to the very party he professes to lead. It is an awful parent who suffocates his own child for the sake of a few naira,” he said.
Tinubu is talking to Buhari and co-stalwarts
Some stalwarts of the APC told our correspondents that Tinubu was angry that he had raised many issues in the last 18 months but all of them were treated with levity and disdain by the “inner caucus” of the party, and therefore, when he felt slighted, he took to the media and vented his frustration.
They said “Tinubu had nursed and filled his tummy with grudges and a feel of betrayal for too long; and the way he ventilated his anger over the contentious Ondo State APC gubernatorial primaries spoke volume of a deep rooted acrimony in the ruling party”.
According to them, several appointments had been made, including that of ministers, chairmen and chief executives of some key government parastatals, and despite the fact that some of those appointed were nurtured by Tinubu, the appointments were not in tune with his expectation.
“Look, Tinubu is only sending a message to the larger APC family that the tea party is over,” said Ahmed Nura, an APC stalwart in Kaduna.
“Under normal circumstances, the issues raised by Tinubu in his press release ought not to be announced in the media because it’s akin to someone stabbing himself with a knife in the stomach.
“ But the fact is that Oyegun is just a victim of circumstances and therefore Tinubu’s sacrificial lamb. The so-called “Ondo Crime” is nothing but a caveat to an enlarged disaffection. Tinubu is angry, he felt betrayed, he felt that the APC, which he nurtured to maturity, had been taken away from him and it seems he is ready to fight back,” he said.
Nura, therefore, said the outburst by Tinubu against what he described as injustice in the APC by Chief Oyegun may have deeper underlining and possibly far reaching significance.
“Everybody in the party is worried,” another source at the APC headquarters in Abuja, said.
According to him, “There is no way we can say all is well when two notable personalities in the party have problem. However, I am sure we would come out stronger and hopefully, Tinubu and Oyegun would see ‘eye-to-eye,’” he said.
Where the Presidency stands
In other climes, the president, who is usually a member of the ruling party and therefore its leader, normally intervenes when things are going awry.
However, like the circumstances that led to the lingering crisis in the National Assembly, President Muhammadu Buhari or those that could be called his “Kitchen Cabinet” are yet to say something on the Tinubu-Oyegun feud.
Sources said Buhari has been comfortable with Oyegun all this while even though nobody could tell the actual reason.
It was gathered that the president prefers working with Oyegun, for his age, less ambition and easy going posture over a younger and ambitious chairman, who would be mounting pressure in a bid to push for the supremacy of the party.
It would be recalled that after the 2015 general elections, when the APC won the Presidency, Senate and the House of Representatives, power sharing in the National Assembly became a subject of discourse.
Though Oyegun became the national chairman of the APC at the instance and influence of Tinubu, the duo reportedly parted ways when Senator Bukola Saraki and Yakubu Dogara became the Senate President and Speaker respectively, to the detriment of Tinubu’s preferred candidates (Senator Ahmed Lawan and Femi Gbajabiamila).
And while the president might not be happy with the development(s) at the National Assembly, sources said he has no “apparent grudge” with Oyegun over the “mistakes made in the National Assembly” and would not be perturbed if the national chairman maintains his seat as APC chairman.
“Oyegun does not have tendencies of notoriety; he does not disturb, and some of the things he does have the endorsement of the powers that be. Therefore, Tinubu would find it difficult to defeat the chairman, at least for now,” another source in the APC, said.
He said when the large chunk of the leadership crisis at the National Assembly was heaped on Oyegun, he simply went for “annual leave” last year.
However, four weeks after, when there were insinuations that Oyegun had actually exited from the chairmanship position and would be given a board appointment by Buhari, he returned from the ‘leave’ and continued waxing stronger in the APC, visiting the presidency from time to time.
“Oyegun is simply acting a script,” he said. “This is exactly what is happening now, pressure on Oyegun to go but I can assure you that the thunder will melt away,” the source said.
APC family sharply divided
Beside the words of consent by former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, who threw his weight behind Tinubu, most of those that matter in the APC family have remained indifferent, a move interpreted by political pundits as “extremely suicidal.”
Atiku, in a statement issued by his media office, called on the APC to retrace its steps over the Ondo State governorship primary election and do the needful to restore confidence among conflicting stakeholders for the overall benefit of the ruling party. “You cannot break your own rules without creating problems,” Atiku said.
“Since the APC found veritable reasons to review the outcome of the gubernatorial primary election it conducted in Ondo State, and was able to establish valid grounds to cancel that election and call for a fresh one, the decision to deviate from its own resolution is a negation of due process and an unfashionable hollow in democratic best practices.
“It was wrong for the APC to have set aside a resolution it had reached aimed at resolving the crisis in our party in Ondo State. It is a recipe for acrimony and division,” Atiku added.
Pundits believe that Atiku wants to be in the good books of Tinubu because he stand the chance of remaining relevant in the event the crisis leads to bigger trouble in the party.
Though some members of the National Working Committee (NWC) of party had on Tuesday, last week, held a meeting in Abuja, over the issues raised by Tinubu, the outcome hasn’t been made public.
Sources close to the meeting said it was stalemated because the NWC members were sharply divided, with some in support of Tinubu and others in support of Oyegun.
It was gathered that a third group within the NWC wanted a situation whereby Tinubu and Oyegun would be brought to a round table for a truce.
“The two other groups agreed with those calling for a truce but all entreaties made to convince Tinubu to agree for a meeting, at his convenience, at a venue to be chosen by him, in order to iron things out proved abortive,” an insider said.
“Tinubu said the first condition for him to listen to anyone is that Oyegun should be sacked,” another insider said.
“But Oyegun had said that he hasn’t done anything wrong and will not resign,” he said.
The only APC official who spoke on the development was the Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the party, Timi Frank, who also aligned himself with Tinubu.
He told journalists at a press conference in Abuja that Tinubu vindicated him for telling Oyegun to resign.
“I was one of the first persons in this party who took the bull by the horns to foresee what is happening today in our party, and I came out early to say there were issues or crisis in this party,” he said.
“They appropriated my job and said it is only Oyegun and the secretary that can speak for the party. Today, I have been vindicated. …a founding father of the party, a national leader of our party has concurred with my earlier call that Oyegun should resign as national chairman,” he said, promising that if Oyegun refused to quit in 14 days time, he will mobilize party faithful for a protest in Abuja.
Tinubu will not leave APC – loyalist
Ayodele Adewale, a former Chairman of Amuwo Odofin Local Government and key ally of Tinubu, said the Asiwaju was not in power contest with other forces within the APC.
In a chat with Daily Trust on Sunday correspondent in Lagos, Adewale said, “Asiwaju is a progressive who strongly believes in due process and the supremacy of the constitution. In the case of the gubernatorial primary in Ondo State, it would be wrong for anyone to ascribe his letter against the party’s National Chairman as selfish.
“Let those accusing Asiwaju of selfishness point to one instance where he personalised battle with people. Where were they when he risked his life, spent his money and galvanized forces and ultimately brought the APC to fruition?
Asked if Tinubu might leave the party if his demands are not met by the party’s leadership, Adewale said he believes the situation will be addressed, foreclosing any thought that Tinubu may defect from the APC.
“Asiwaju will not leave the APC. He is a principal founder. He has never run away from battles and he would not run out of APC, the party he has put in so much to build” he said.
How the problem started
Tinubu’s steam in the APC started weaning after he lost the leadership battle in the National Assembly, then the Kogi State governorship election.
Some of the developments are seen as a “subtle way of reducing his political hegemony,” occasioned by his dominance in the South-West, which could not be wished away, as the 2019 elections draw nearer.
Though likes of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, former governors Kayode Fayemi, Babatunde Fashola and incumbent Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Muhammed, where all Tinubu’s protégés, observers believe that President Buhari has succeeded in drawing their loyalty.
According to them, with all of them becoming politically stronger, they would be able to checkmate Tinubu in the South-West on behalf of the power at the centre.
Ondo APC in deep dilemma
In Ondo, where the latest crisis in the APC erupted, the PDP’s gubernatorial candidate, Eyitayo Jegede, has already concluded the first leg of his campaign which took him to all the 18 local government areas of the state.
This came at a time when the APC, which is trying to wrestle power from the PDP, was yet to settle and decide a way forward.
Though the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had received the name of Chief Rotimi Akeredolu (SAN) as the APC gubernatorial candidate, he is yet to start enjoying the support of a great number of the APC members, who have so far taken what could aptly described as “Sit-down-look approach.”
Those who contested with him, including Engr. Segun Abraham, Barr. Sola Oke and Senator Ajayi Boroffice and their followers have remained adamant.
So far he is in only in the cold support of few people that earlier vied for the same APC ticket, such as Barr. Tunji Abayomi, Tayo Alasoadura and some few others, a solidarity seen as not enough to subdue the PDP.
Daily Trust on Sunday learnt that some of the party leaders in the state, who have the grip on the grassroots, have refused to call meetings in support of Akeredolu, saying they were waiting for the party leader, Tinubu, and the state chairman, Barr. Isaac Kekemeke for direction.
“For now, we don’t have a candidate in Ondo,” one of the grassroots leaders said.
Tinubu’s towering influence not permanent- Dr. Esuola
Dr. Kayode Esuola, a political scientist at the University of Lagos, said in as much as Tinubu helped in building the APC, his towering influence in the party is not something that is permanent.
He said whether he likes or not, Tinubu would not remain a permanent champion in the political scene.
Removing Oyegun, according to Esuola, is not a mission that can easily be accomplished. He said, “Tinubu has achieved what I may call a hegemonic position in the party called APC, and generally speaking, one will always expect him to behave like an overlord, whose wishes and aspiration must come to pass. It is politically expected, generally expected.
“However, there is a caveat to that kind of situation. That caveat is he can only be a current champion. It is not possible for you to be an everlasting champion however well accepted you are. I mean, go the history of Nigeria’s military interregnum; IBB was a name to reckon with, today, that has changed. That is politics, nothing is permanent.
“The message Tinubu should get is that he has made his point, he has exerted his influence. There is no way you will mention Nigerian politics at any level without mentioning his name with respect for his political sagacity, wisdom and ability to manipulate which is what politics is all about,” he said.