Asiwaju tells ex-Rivers governor to resign How President upturned Imo congress
Less than a week after the All Progressives Congress (APC) held its national convention amid deep disaffection, a fresh crisis appears to be brewing in the party. Some governors in conjunction with a former Lagos State governor, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, as well as some top security officers are alleged to have commenced moves against the Minister of Transportation, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, principally to replace him as Director-General of President Muhammadu Buhari’s 2019 campaign. This development is said to be connected to scheming ahead of the 2023 presidential run.
Many party members see the emerging situation as a huge challenge for the new leadership of the party under Comrade Adams Oshiomhole.
While the power play in the APC assumed a new dimension, details of how President Muhammadu Buhari intervened in the recent crisis that rocked the Imo State chapter of the party emerged at the weekend. There was growing discontent as members rejected the president’s seemingly coercive intervention.
THISDAY gathered from impeccable sources at the weekend that the plot to displace Amaechi as the campaign DG had been on long before the national convention but was kept under wraps till after the exercise, as some of the actors had waited to see how the convention would pan out.
One of the reasons Amaechi is being opposed, according to the sources, is that many APC leaders feel he has a presidential ambition in 2023 and that the platform could put him in a vantage position by fortifying his ambition with vital contacts and network.
Although some of the northern governors, who ordinarily are Amaechi’s friends, are believed not to be averse to his ambition, if established to be true, they are said to nurse reservations about his closeness to el-Rufai. The relationship is being interpreted to mean that the Kaduna governor might be Amaechi’s favourite candidate as running mate in the event that he chooses to run in 2023. This is alleged to be why Tinubu is moving fast to oust Amaechi as the campaign DG. The former Lagos State governor has never hidden his interest in the country’s top job. He has taken steps to rally northern governors by dangling the running mate ticket before them, without showing preference for anyone for now.
The northern governors are believed to see their chances brighter with Tinubu than Amaechi, who they feel might have settled for el-Rufai.
The move against Amaechi as the president’s campaign DG, THISDAY, gathered, is being anchored on a bourgeoning narrative that the position should be held by a serving governor. There is also a position being advanced that the campaign director-general should, apart from being a governor, be chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, which narrows the job to Zamfara State Governor, Yari Aziz.
THISDAY sources close to Tinubu said there was a short meeting between him and Amaechi at the weekend in Lagos, where Tinubu allegedly asked Amaechi to drop his position as Buhari’s campaign DG. But when the former Rivers State governor disagreed, Tinubu was said to have asked him to resign his position as minister if he must retain his appointment as Buhari’s campaign DG.
Sources said Amaechi had immediately reeled off names of political parties’ DGs, who did not resign their former positions as at the time they took the job of DG in previous elections, noting that there is nothing conflicting between the two positions, to the best of his knowledge. He was said to have also mentioned at the meeting that the talk about his presidential ambition was the imagination of certain persons in the party, because he had never shared such information with anyone.
Meanwhile, the on-going celebration in Imo State by Governor Rochas Okorocha was said to have been made possible by Buhari, who was allegedly uncomfortable with Senator Osita Izunazo and ordered the new leadership of the party to declare the Okorocha faction of the party winner of the congresses in the state.
THISDAY gathered from reliable party sources that when some top APC members noticed the president’s body language, they approached him and advised against unilaterally declaring a faction of the party winner of an inconclusive congress. Such a move, the members believed, would contradict Buhari’s professed stance against injustice.
But the president was said to have dismissed the admonitions, saying as long as it is against Izunazo, they should go ahead and declare the Okorocha faction winner.