APC Crisis: Atiku, Tinubu Consider Formation of New Party Ahead of 2019
LAGOS OCTOBER 23RD (URHOBOTODAY)-The crisis threatening the foundation of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) has assumed a new twist. Fresh facts have emerged, that former Vice President Atiku Abubakar has entered into a plan ‘B’ alliance with the party’s national leader, Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu, ahead of the 2019 general elections.
An alliance between two aggrieved political heavyweights of the ruling APC, Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu and former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, may lead to the fall of the party and the formation of a new one ahead of the 2019 general elections, Daily Trust on Sunday gathered.
A credible source within the party told Daily Trust on Sunday that: “Tinubu is having a serious realignment with Atiku on the possibility of pulling out with their teeming supporters if President Muhammadu Buhari continues to look the other way.”
The source, who wouldn’t want to be named due to the sensitive nature of the matter, said that Tinubu and Atiku were not happy with the presidency but do not want to come out openly on it. He traced their displeasure to the outcome of last year’s governorship election in Kogi State, the APC’s Board of Trustees (BoT) conundrum and the recent governorship primary election in Ondo, among others.
“While Tinubu expected to win Kogi, Atiku wanted to be the chairman of the BoT, but the presidency frustrated their efforts,” the source said. James Faleke, who was the running mate to the late Prince Abubakar Audu, was Tinubu’s choice, but he was subsequently replaced with the incumbent governor, Yahaya Bello, following the sudden death of Audu. As soon as Prince Audu died, indications emerged that leaders of the APC were divided over the choice of Bello as the party’s candidate for the supplementary governorship election in the state.
While the national leader of the party, Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu and a group loyal to him had insisted that Yahaya Bello’s name be withdrawn for Faleke, other party chieftains kicked against the move, saying that Bello’s choice and subsequent nomination should be maintained. His name was already submitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). Bello came second during the party’s governorship primary election on August 29, 2015.
Although Bello had been nominated and his name submitted to INEC, Tinubu and some powerful stakeholders in the APC wanted his name replaced with that of Faleke. This development had set the stage for cracks in the party’s hierarchy, with the leader of the party and former governor of Lagos State, Bola Tinubu, reportedly insisting that it was either Faleke or no one else.
Having eventually lost out in Kogi, our source said Tinubu was hoping to have his consolation in the forthcoming Ondo governorship election, but the outcome of the party’s primary in that state rather added salt to injury.
Signs of the crack within the wall of the Ondo State chapter of the APC started manifesting following the announcement and counter announcement over its gubernatorial primary election, which was postponed twice. Following an intense infighting among members in the state, it was eventually announced that a date for the primary election would be shifted from August 27 to 31, 2016.
Many analysts saw the outcome of the Ondo APC governorship primary as a consequence of the manipulation of the delegate list and the imposition of a gubernatorial candidate on the party by the state chairman, who was later suspended over an alleged involvement in the saga.
In reaction to the outcome of the Ondo governorship primary, Tinubu expressed his anger by asking the national chairman of the party, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, to quit.
On September 25, Tinubu wrote a heavily worded open letter, alleging that Oyegun colluded with mercenary forces to forge the delegates list used for the September 3 governorship primary of the party in Ondo State. Tinubu also accused him of subverting the decision of the party’s National Working Committee (NWC) when he submitted the name of Chief Rotimi Akeredolu, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) to INEC as its candidate.
In the five-page letter, Tinubu said the development showed that there was an evil and regressive force within the APC using Mr. Oyegun to derail its democratic and progressive tenets, adding that the party is under threat.
According to the statement, “Oyegun must go. He has shown that he and democratic fair play cannot exist in the same party at the same time. If Tinubu is to choose between Oyegun and progress towards a better Nigeria, the choice has already been made.
“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.”
Exonerating the governor of Jigawa State, Alhaji Mohammed Badaru Abubakar of any wrongdoing during the primary election, Tinubu said: “The Jigawa governor chaired the primary convention with decorum and impartiality. He was unaware that a tampered list had been slipped into the process. Indeed, within hours of the announcement, the news that began to filter in gravely disturbed me.”
In what appeared like a counter attack, Oyegun said Tinubu’s allegations were reckless. He added that he was angered by the false accusation of corruption, rigging, and overruling the party’s NWC “vote” on the Election Appeal Committee report.
“This reckless and baseless corruption allegation leveled against me is unfortunate and an insult to my person and my hard-earned reputation, which I have strongly maintained. Nobody has the kind of money that can buy my conscience or make me do injury to an innocent man.
“In all the primaries conducted under my watch as national chairman, I have strived to ensure a free, fair, transparent and credible process. The 2016 Ondo APC governorship primary election was not an exception. There must be internal democracy in the party, and our constitution must be respected by all,” Oyegun said.
He insisted that he did not overrule any NWC’s vote of “six against five” in favour of cancelling the primary election results and conducting another primary during the 18th emergency meeting of the APC NWC held from Monday, September 19, 2016 to Thursday, September 22, 2016 in Abuja as alleged by Tinubu.
Interestingly, no sooner had Oyegun made known his invectives on the Ondo governorship primary than former Vice President Atiku Abubakar issued a statement backing Tinubu’s position.
Atiku said it was imperative for the national leadership of the party to live by the rules of internal democracy and respect for democratic consensus, warning that “you cannot break your own rules without creating problems.”
Arguing that the party was supposed to be an impartial entity in the arbitration of crisis amongst its members in any given election, Atiku contended that 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, which was aimed at resolving the crisis in our party in Ondo State. It is a recipe for acrimony and division,” he said, adding that the party leadership should always be guided by respect for the rules, fairness, equity, neutrality and respect for democratic consensus.”
Expectedly, the deputy national publicity secretary of the party, Timi Frank, also came up with a statement supporting Tinubu’s position on the matter. He said the position corroborated earlier grievances he raised against Mr. Oyegun.
“The founding father of our party, the national leader of our party has concurred to my earlier call that Oyegun should resign as national chairman. That should let you know that I foresaw what they didn’t see. I am giving Oyegun 14 days to convene a NEC meeting to do so. I have started mobilising members of the National Executive Committee (NEC) to ensure that the APC leadership is made to do the right thing and summon a NEC meeting,” Frank said.
No BoT, other vital organs to address crisis
Investigations by Daily Trust on Sunday revealed that the crisis in the APC has been exacerbated by the absence of vital organs of the party like the Board of Trustees (BoT). The party is yet to properly constitute its BoT, which currently has members but lacks a chairman and secretary.
It was also gathered that apart from the last NEC meeting of the party held in February this year, no other meeting has been held to address crucial issues affecting the party, including crises at states and national levels.
Confirming this position, Timi Frank said: “There is no BoT in place to checkmate the NWC. The last NEC meeting we held was in February, where we proposed to take a date for a mini national convention to fill vacant positions. But since then, there has been no meeting and no date for anything. We are in the dark.”
Also, there is no tangible reconciliation mechanism in place to address crises in state chapters of the party like Delta, Bayelsa, Edo, Kano, Kaduna, Ondo, Abia and other states where internal animosity has polarised the ruling party.
A member of the party asked: “Why does it take the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) to wade into the crisis in Edo State when a standing reconciliation committee could have done that?”
Atiku cashes in
Daily Trust on Sunday gathered that former Vice President Atiku Abubakar is cashing in on the deepening crisis within the APC, especially the recent altercation between Tinubu and Oyegu, to advance an alignment with Tinubu.
A party source privy to the plan said: “I can tell you that there is an ongoing political alliance between them. If they (Tinubu and Atiku) cannot remain relevant in the APC, they are likely to come up with a new political party unless the current situation is brought under control.”
It was gathered that Atiku is nursing an injury inflicted on him by the party’s hierarchy. Our source said: “Atiku himself is aggrieved. He had wanted to become the chairman of the BoT of the party, but that was scuttled. He is, therefore, cashing in on the current crisis to realign with Tinubu.”
It was also gathered that the alliance between Tinubu and Atiku may well be yielding results as 12 APC governors are said to have indicated their readiness to go with them.
The deputy national publicity secretary of the party said the crisis was getting worse, and the only way forward is genuine reconciliation.
“Under Chief Oyegun, our party has been facing one crisis after another, either at state or federal levels. For instance, Tinubu cannot sit down today at a meeting with Oyegun. There are aggrieved members everywhere. This is why President Buhari must break his silence and wade into the matter,” Frank said.
Frank, however, said he did not see any political agenda between Tinubu and Atiku. “The former vice president and Tinubu are friends; they only had political disagreements. This is the time for them to come together and salvage the APC in spite of their differences. This is because if we continue like this, Nigerians cannot trust us in 2019,” he said.
When contacted, Atiku’s media aide, Paul Ibe said he could not confirm if his boss was in any alliance with Tinubu. He, however, said that as a major stakeholder in the party, it wouldn’t be out of place if Tinubu is in talks with Atiku on issues of national interest. He admitted that Atiku is unhappy with developments in the APC and has already spoken out.