Indications have emerged that the National leader of the All Progressive Congress (APC) Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu may have shifted allegiance from his party’s Presidential candidate, Mohammadu Buhari to that of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, Alhaji Atiku Abubarkar towards the 2019 Presidential election.
The Southwest strong politician is said to be weighing his options as he may not be able to bear the humiliation that may follow, should antagonists succeed in pushing out the APC chairman, Adams Oshiomole, following growing call for his removal by Governors in the party.
Jagaban, a close source said, is restrategising ahead of the coming elections as a result of what the source described as his measure to ” avert repeat humiliation “
Thepage source confirmed that already a meeting has been scheduled to hold between Tinubu and Atiku in Ghana over the issue.
Tinubu it was gathered, started reconsidering his support for the Buhari presidency after the emergence of his bossom friend and political ally, Atiku Abubarkar as the presidential candidate of the PDP.
According to sources, the Jagaban of Borgu’s camp was jolted by the popularity so far garnered by the candidature of Atiku, especially within major interests in the Southwest because of his (Atiku) restructuring agenda which APC had been reluctant to pursue despite initial promise.
Apart from these interests having reached out to Tinubu to throw his weight behind the restructuring of the country, Thepage sources confirmed that Tinubu himself believed in the restructuring of the country, but had refused to mouth it of recent to prevent open opposition with his party’s position on the issue.
Thepage gathered that, should Tinubu eventually decide to support the Atiku bid, the restructuring issue would be his public alibi for doing so.
In what our source also described as the ground preparation for the launch of his restructuring campaign along the Atiku narrative, former Interim National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief Bisi Akande at the weekend purportedly spoke the mind of Tinubu in far away United states of America where he delivered a talk tagged “Devolution Of Powers and National Restructuring”
“I can confirm to you that the position Baba canvassed in America is Asiwaju’s position and by the time every plans would have been perfected, Asiwaju will take the narrative from Baba” canversed our source.
In the paper which he delivered at the APC-USA Second Annual Convention in Washington DC, United States of America where he was guest of honour, Akande faulted the previous military governments that ruled Nigeria for 29 years since independence, for creating what he described as the ‘lopsided political structure’ of the country.
The former Osun State governor accused the military of creating states and local governments by fiat selfish reasons rather than through any scientific political reasoning.
He lamented that the military might have inequitably created more local governments per population per state in the North than in the South, thereby giving the North an unfair advantage in revenue allocation from the national treasury.
He therefore called for restructuring, which he described as “equitable rearrangement and redistribution of the existing states and local governments per population within the various ethnic nationalities”.
Appropriate amendments to the country’s constitution, according to him, will be required to accommodate the various rearrangements and redistributions.
He identified restructuring as a Herculean task for all Nigerians compared to the political change of power for which the APC was put together.
Chief Akande, making public this time,the position on restructuring, which is in line with the Chief agenda of Atiku as the campaigns beckons, our source informed, was not a coincidence. But a foundation laying for what may take place soon since Chief Akande and Tinubu are not known to share different views on political issues.
Incidentally, the Tinubu shift in allegiance plan is being made easy with the growing campaign against the APC chairman, Adams Oshiomole which our source said, may make Tinubu reconsider is involvement with the APC if Oshiomole is eventually pushed out.
According to Thepage source who is also a force within the Tinubu political space, the former Governor of Lagos state can not afford to operate in the party again, without a little control of its structure which he seems to have gotten under the Oshiomole dispensation.
“Tinubu is aware that those calling for the removal of Oshiomole are also indirectly saying they want Tinubu’s influence withered and with the experience of the Oyegun era when he lost influence in the party still fresh, Asiwaju will naturally review his relationship with the president should Oshiomole leaves”
According to the source, Tinubu may not dump the APC, but strike a working relationship with Atiku on how to deliver the Southwest for the 72 year old PDP candidate for the presidential election.
* By Femi Adepoju
Jerry Gana Laments As He Returns To PDP After 3 Years
Former Minister of Information, Professor Jerry Gana, has alleged that there is no government in Nigeria.
Gana said this when he, alongside many of his supporters, returned the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) on Wednesday.
In March 2018, Gana, a member of the Board of Trustees of the PDP, had dumped the party for the Social Democratic Party.
But addressing the party members in Bida, Niger State, during a reception to mark his return to the party, Gana said the country is nose-diving and needs urgent rescue.
Prof. Gana said, “Today is not a day for lecture. It is not a day for campaigns. We just want to rejoice that we are back together solidly; and we are going to work together solidly, that we are going to work together effectively, that we are going to campaign powerfully.
“I tell you, we are going to go around strategically, in such a way that the All Progressives Congress (APC) so called government, whether in Niger state; is there a Government in Niger State? Because many people are not aware, or at the Centre? At federal level, we don’t even have a Government.”
Earlier, Party leaders from across the three Senatorial zones assured the party faithful that the PDP is ready to take over Niger and salvage it from the “deflated state that it is under the ruling APC”
2023: Crack In Buhari, Tinubu Camps Widens
The last time Bola Tinubu was seen in the Villa was in January 2020, and it could not be established that the two spoke… As 2023 politicking begins to gather momentum, the crack that divides the camp of President Muhammadu Buhari and that of a national leader of the APC, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, has widened, Daily Trust reports.
But while some sources admitted there were issues between the two strongmen, a university lecturer with a good understanding of Nigerian political schemings, said the purported rift was tactically created to push Tinubu aside and pave way for another aspirant to clinch the party’s ticket to the presidency.
Our correspondents report that the last time the two leaders met was on January 7, 2020, when Tinubu, a former governor of Lagos State, visited State House, Abuja.
Daily Trust could not establish the last time the president and the former governor spoke on phone, but multiple sources said all was not well between the duo.
After three attempts for the presidency, Buhari aligned with Tinubu and others to form the All Progressives Congress (APC) in 2013, leading to his victory.
Daily Trust reports that soon after Buhari took over, Tinubu was not seen around the presidency until 2018 when politicking for the 2019 general elections commenced.
Another lull by Tinubu
Since the commencement of President Buhari’s second term, the former Lagos State governor has only visited the president on few occasions even as, despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the president has been hosting top members of the party.
On Friday, he received three APC governors, Atiku Bagudu (Kebbi), Muhammad Badaru Abubakar (Jigawa) and Mai Mala Buni (Yobe) who is the national caretaker committee chairman of the ruling party.
On Monday, he met with former Governor Gbenga Daniel and ex-Speaker of the House of Representatives, Dimeji Bankole.
On Tuesday, the president met with Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State.
Though Asiwaju is reportedly out of the country, his “distance from the Villa” is being interpreted in many quarters as a manifestation of a rift between his camp and that of President Buhari with the 2023 presidential election as the bone of contention.
During his last visit on January 7, 2020, Tinubu described President Buhari as a man of character and courage who would never accept the offer of a third term in office.
Before then, they had held a similar closed-door meeting on November 2, 2018. But Tinubu declined to comment on the outcome of the parley.
Tinubu had earlier on October 31, 2018, met with President Buhari and dismissed the call for the resignation of the then national chairman of the party, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole.
How governors weakened Tinubu’s influence
Despite spirited efforts by Tinubu to save Oshiomhole, a key figure in his camp, the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the APC sacked him.
The sacking of Oshiomhole, with the blessing of Buhari, weakened the camp of Tinubu as the party machinery has been taken over by governors.
After the sack of Oshiomhole, Governor Buni was made the chairman of the caretaker committee of the party.
Twice, the tenure of the committee has been extended and there are reports that the national convention of the party, scheduled for June this year, might be postponed to pave way for the continuation of the caretaker committee.
The claims by Jigawa State governor and chairman of the party’s Strategy and Contact Committee, Muhammad Badaru Abubakar, on Tuesday that the convention would not be shifted was received with a pinch of salt by party stakeholders.
Daily Trust reports that the party’s machinery is being controlled by the governors, especially the trio of Buni, Badaru and Bagudu, with the support of the presidency.
In October last year during the #EndSARS protest, Tinubu was in the eye of the storm as he was accused of being one of the sponsors of the protest; an allegation those in support of Tinubu described as lies, insisting that he was among those that suffered serious losses and therefore could not have been a sponsor.
Speaking during a Channels TV programme, Tinubu said some people lied to the Presidency that he was behind the protests.
‘Buhari under pressure not to support Tinubu’
A member of the first family said there were efforts to convince the president to support a candidate that would protect his (Buhari’s) interest when he exits the presidency in 2023.
“We believe that Tinubu will not protect Buhari’s interest after his tenure, hence the need to look elsewhere.
“We are working hard to convince the president to support a candidate that would protect his interest after his tenure,” the source, who sought not to be named, said.
Similarly, a cabinet member said: “The president is not interested in Tinubu’s candidature because he is not convinced that Asiwaju is the right person to succeed him.”
Daily Trust reports however that Tinubu has not formally declared his intention to contest for the presidency but different groups are openly campaigning for him.
Ambode, Omisore, others to ‘tame’ Tinubu
As part of measures to whittle down the influence of Tinubu in the South-West, the ruling APC has continued to bring in people who are perceived to be opposed to the former Lagos State governor.
A former governor of Lagos State, Akinwunmi Ambode, whose second term bid in 2019 Tinubu worked against, was on Tuesday named as a member of the contact and strategy committee of the party.
Aside Ambode, the party has harvested top shots in the South-West political zone, including a former deputy governor of Osun State, Iyiola Omisore; a former governor of Ogun State, Gbenga Daniel, and former Speaker Bankole, among others.
There are reports that they were cajoled by the APC towards demystifying Tinubu ahead of 2023.
Why crack will persist – APC chieftains
Talking about the relationship between Buhari and Tinubu, a source in the presidency said: “President Buhari has never had a cordial relationship with Asiwaju.
“He just believes that the former governor of Lagos State should be used to achieve his ambition. After the 2015 elections, you will recall that Asiwaju was abandoned.
“He was brought close again before the 2019 elections. So, there is no need to worry about their relationship. It is the same scenario that is playing out,” he said.
A ranking APC lawmaker also told Daily Trust that the president was not happy with happenings in the South-West even as he accused Tinubu of doing nothing visible to quench the rising agitations in the region.
“I can bet you the president will not come out openly to support him (Tinubu) to become president even though the former Lagos State governor believes that this is payback time considering the huge investment he made in Buhari and the APC.
“Also, the president has had reservations about Tinubu’s personality because he sees him like any other politician in the country. But he became suspicious of him when Tinubu started claiming the title of a national leader of the party after the 2015 elections.
“As you know, the national leader of a ruling party should be the president. You know, the former Lagos governor is arrogant and the president is stubborn, the two cannot go together,” he said.
‘Crack between Buhari, Asiwaju hearsay’
But an influential member of the party close to both President Buhari and Tinubu said there was no crack between the two personalities.
In a phone interview, he said: “You know when an election is approaching people will want to fuel crisis and all sorts of theories will be in the media.
“To me, this is normal in the political setting of the country. With or without Buhari, Tinubu’s influence in the South-West cannot be wished away.”
Asked why Tinubu has not visited the Villa in the last 14 months, he said: “My friend, he is abroad.
“There are a lot of things that are not meant for public consumption. If Tinubu is going to contest, he will not be doing so against Buhari. So, what is the area of conflict?
“Two, the time is not ripe for the president to show or endorse any of the aspirants; the real politics has not started. Tinubu has been away for about a month.”
Tinubu’s supporters explore options
In the South-West, especially Lagos, where the agitation for Tinubu’s presidency has been rife, his numerous disciples are said to be keenly watching the unfolding scenarios and exploring other options ahead of the election.
Many of them believe the alleged move by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to open a fresh investigation against him was the product of a rift between him and the president.
But his loyalists say they were unperturbed by the seeming gang-up, describing the purported probe as a “campaign of calumny against the national leader of the APC.”
Speaking with our correspondent, the founder of Tinubu 2023 Non-Negotiable, Kunle Okunola, insisted that the recent move to probe the assets declaration of Asiwaju by the EFCC was politically motivated.
He vowed that all forms of scheming against him would fail.
According to him, the 2023 presidency of Tinubu is not about him or Buhari, saying Asiwaju remained the choice of Nigerians of all divides.
He said: “I don’t want the politics of bickering and speculation that there is a problem between Asiwaju and Mr President as if Nigeria belongs to Mr President or one person. Nigeria is not for Asiwaju, neither for Mr President.
“Nigeria belongs to all of us and any good person who wants the best for this nation would do the needful at the right time.
“We saw the same thing when Buhari came. Despite the speculation that he had no certificate, nobody was able to investigate him. So, the same thing would happen to Asiwaju.
“We are less concerned, we are moving on with our vision,” he said. The spokesman of the APC in Lagos, Seye Oladejo, agreed with Okunola and stressed that the sponsored attacks against Tinubu cannot stop him.
He said, “The rift remains in the realm of rumour-mongering and idle speculation.
“However, the history of this dispensation will be incomplete without the leadership role of Tinubu in the unprecedented dislodgement of the then ruling PDP by a galvanized opposition.
“The cabal should continue to live in self-deceit until the appointed time.”
Presidency being manipulated to diminish Tinubu – Don
Dissecting the situation, an Associate Professor of Political Sociology, University of Abuja, Dr Abubakar Umar Kari, said the presidency is being manipulated to diminish Tinubu.
In an interview, Kari said: “There may not be any real crack between the two leaders as par deteriorating personal relationship or political differences.
“I am not aware of any incident, issue, disagreement or bone of contention indicating a parting of ways between the two.
“By nature, Buhari is very aloof, does not openly socialise, nor is he given to display of amity. This is why some people accuse him of not caring about others.
“For the same reason, some people believe Buhari is selfish and is not concerned about anyone, particularly now that he is not looking for anything from anybody.
“I am one of those who think PMB will not play any significant role in the 2023 politicking.
“This indifferent attitude is bad news for Tinubu who would expect Buhari to support him if just to return the favour he did to him in 2014/15.
“Buhari’s nonchalance is what is fuelling the speculation that there is a crack between the two.”
According to Prof. Kari, there are some powerful individuals, close to the president who have been invoking his name to pursue and achieve their political goals.
“Most of them are implacably opposed to Tinubu and his presidential ambition. They are the ones creating and propagating the impression that all is not well between Tinubu and the president. They are deftly using and manipulating the presidency and the party machinery to diminish Tinubu’s influence and support base.
“This will continue and intensify going into 2023, even as Buhari’s characteristic indifference will also likely worsen, notwithstanding the adverse consequences of same to Tinubu and many others in the APC, including the party itself.”
Buhari, Tinubu relationship cordial, productive – Media aide
Tinubu’s media aide, Tunde Rahman, told Daily Trust the relationship between President Buhari and Tinubu is a good and productive one.
“The insinuation of a cold war between them is the stuff of idle gossip by people who profit from causing controversy where there is none.
“Asiwaju Tinubu is a loyal man and devoted patriot who stands committed, in any capacity he can, to supporting President Buhari realise his policy objectives for the benefit of all Nigerians.
“It is a testament to the quality of the relationship between them that President Buhari has so kindly agreed to chair the 12th annual colloquium marking Asiwaju‘s birthday on Monday.
“We expect the colloquium to be a productive and enlightening event where important issues are discussed and serious recommendations made. This is the type of interaction that will help Nigeria achieve its better self,” he said.
Efforts to get the reaction from the presidency were not successful as the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, did not reply to a text message sent to him after phone calls.
Amaechi Told Me I Was Next in His Life After God — Wike
Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State has said God used him to make the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, the state governor in 2007, claiming that the Amaechi said he was next in his life after God.
Meanwhile, Wike said he would not support former President, Dr Goodluck Jonathan, if he picked the ticket of the ruling All Progressives Congress to contest the 2023 Presidential election.
Wike said this in an interview with BBC Pidgin in Port Harcourt, the state capital, monitored by our correspondent.
He said the minister had stated in a church that he (Wike) came next in his life after God and told him to freely choose any position in his government having played a key role in the Amaechi’s emergence as governor.
The governor further said Amaechi wanted to appoint him as commissioner, but that he rejected it to take the position of Chief of Staff.
He said, “I was not close to Amaechi. We were just in the same party and in politics everybody has an ambition. He has his own. I don’t regret that as of that time, we preferred him to be governor. We fought it and God crowned our efforts and he became a governor.
“He is in APC and I am in PDP. So don’t expect me to support what he is doing in APC. He said I was his employee. What he said was not good. God used me to make him the governor. I will give you a tape where Amaechi spoke in church saying after God, I came next. But when he spoke the other day, he said I was his employee. No problem, but an employee that dealt with him here (Rivers State).”
He also explained that the judicial commission indicted the Amaechi-led administration for allegedly wasting N54bn on the abandoned 1.4 kilometer monorail project.
According to him, the minister had challenged his indictment in both Federal High Court and Court of Appeal, and lost the case.
In a separate development, Wike said he would not support former President Goodluck Jonathan if he picked the ticket of the APC to contest the 2023 Presidential election.
Wike while speaking to the BBC pidgin at the Government House, Port Harcourt on Saturday, according to a statement by his media aide, Kelvin Ebiri.
“If President Jonathan is given the APC presidential ticket, he knows that I will not support him. I will not engage in anti-party activities. Even if he is from the South, I will not endorse him. What is paramount is my party’s interest,” Wike stated.
He affirmed that if Jonathan secures the PDP presidential ticket, Rivers State would support him.
Wike however said if zoning the PDP presidential ticket to the North would make the party win the 2023 general election, he would support the decision.
He revealed that he would make decision over his political future in July 2022 when he must have completed all the projects started by his administration.
Reacting to Wike’s claims, the spokesman for the APC in Rivers State, Ogbonna Nwuke, said the governor was being economical with the truth.
He said, “I think Wike was a chairman of the council and the man that he claimed he made Governor was responsible for his second tenure as chairman, Obio-Akpor Local Government Area.
“On account of Wike’s struggle in Obio-Akpor, the State House of Assembly led by the Speaker, impeached the deputy chairman in order to pave the way for Wike to do a second tenure.
“He (Wike) was appointed Chief of Staff, I was appointed director press and (Magnus) Abe was appointed Secretary to the State Government. That made Wike Amaechi’s employee because as chief of staff, he was answerable directly to the one who appointed him and that person who appointed him then was the governor. Wike did not make Amaechi a governor.”
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