In a bid to control the levers of the All Progressives Congress (APC) ahead of the 2019 elections, major forces in the governing party are currently in a suppressed war, which has split the party into, at least, three major factions.
The internal crisis in APC is deep-seated such that the various factions have weakened the ruling party. The only difference now between APC and the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is that in the former, it is a suppressed war, while in the latter, the party is divided along Ahmed Makarfi and Ali Modu Sheriff factions with cases on the leadership in various courts. it was learnt that there are three major tendencies in the party: Bola Tinubu, Abuja group and Buhari loyalists.
The Tinubu tendency, which has Chief Bisi Akande, former governor of Osun State and ex-Interim National Chairman of the APC with a few APC governors aligned, has been the subject of attacks from forces in the party. The tendency played a major role in the merger of the legacies party that coalesced to form APC.
The second group is the Abuja group with Governor Nasir el-Rufai of Kaduna State, Babatunde Fashola (Minister of Power, Works and Housing), Rotimi Amaechi (Minister of Transportation), and some other ministers as members.
The third tendency within the party is the core loyalists of President Muhammadu Buhari. Former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar, Senate President Bukola Saraki, Speaker Yakubu Dogara and some state governors are spread across the three tendencies.
They might eventually pull out from the APC, credible sources have disclosed. The fourth tendency is the party leadership, especially the national chairman, John Odigie-Oyegun, and national legal adviser, Muiz Banire. The party leadership is more aligned to the Abuja group. All the groups are working at cross-purposes.
While the Tinubu-Akande tendency is today strategizing on how to hold on to the South- West front, the Abuja group, led by el-Rufai, is working with the Governor Ibikunle Amosun-led South-West block to take control of the party structures in the zone from Tinubu. It was learnt that major forces in the party see Tinubu as a common enemy ahead of 2019.
“What exactly is Tinubu’s sin, no one has been told. How can someone who played a part in the electoral victories of APC at virtually all levels suddenly become a threat?” an associate of Tinubu asked. Multiple sources also revealed that the idea is to weaken the support base of Tinubu ahead of 2019 general elections.
The internal strife within the APC played out in the recent governorship primaries of the party in Ondo State where the Abu-ja tendency worked against Tinubu and ensured that their preferred aspirant, Rotimi Akeredolu, emerged as the party’s candidate in the November 20 poll.
There is suspicion in the Tinubu camp that the Abuja group and the party’s national leadership manipulated the process in favour of Akeredolu. This was not the first time the Abuja group fought against Tinubu. It was learnt that the same forces fought Tinubu’s choice, James Faleke, as replacement for the late Abubakar Audu, who died before the final announcement of the Kogi State governorship election result. The Abuja group, with Buhari’s loyalists, influenced the choice of Yahaya Bello as late Audu’s replacement for the supplementary election.
“We know that there are forces within the party trying hard to weaken Tinubu’s support base in the party. The party primaries in Ondo State was just one of the battles against us. The whole process was manipulated in such a way that Tinubu’s candidate did not emerge.
They succeeded in Kogi. Now in Ondo, they seem to be having their way. But wait. Who loses in the long run? It’s the party. Not Tinubu. “In spite of our sacrifices for the party, some forces are pushing hard to turn us to onlookers in the party.
Well, we are watching how events unfold. The only thing is that we were instrumental to the emergence of this government and we won’t abandon the ship,” a loyalist of Tinubu revealed at the weekend. The Abuja/El-Rufai group has two goals – all revolve around 2019 elections – to take over the structures of the party in the South- West and boost their ambition.
There are plans for the group to produce Buhari’s successor either in 2019 or 2023. Amosun, Fashola and some ministers are coordinating the South-West block aimed at challenging the APC leader. Tinubu’s influence earned him the right to nominate the vice president for Buhari in 2015. Also, some of the ministers are fighting back over alleged attempt by Tinubu to block their nomination as ministers.
Tinubu and Amosun fell apart during the constitution of the Buhari cabinet over who takes the Ogun State slot. While Tinubu recommended his former finance commissioner, Wale Edun, Amosun opted for his finance commissioner, Kemi Adeosun. In the end, Amosun had his way as Adeosun emerged Minister of Finance.
The relationship got worse when Tinubu facilitated the return of former Governor of Ogun State, Aremo Olusegun Osoba, back to the APC. This, Amosun considered as a plot to fight him. Again, the governorship ambition of Senator Solomon Adeola representing Lagos West in 2019 has further ruptured their relationship. Amaechi is coordinating the South-South axis of the Abuja group while el- Rufai is working with some northern governors to rally the north for the APC ahead of 2019. For loyalists of Buhari, politics is secondary.
They are preoccupied with how to get Buhari on the right side of history. The Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), David Babachir, and Chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kyari, are core members of this tendency who are working on how to find solution to varying challenges confronting the country. The tendency depends on all groups within the party. Buhari has remained indifferent in the crisis rocking his party.