The widely speculated 2023 political ambition of a former Lagos state governor, Bola Tinubu, has suffered a major setback as President Muhammadu Buhari has chosen to side with Mr Tinubu’s opponents in the raging feud over the control of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).
The former Lagos state governor is the major force behind the embattled APC national chairman, Adams Oshiomhole.
Mr Tinubu, often referred to as “national leader” of the APC, played a key role in the political merger of 2013 which created the APC.
Although he is yet to openly declare his political plans for the next election, Mr Tinubu is widely believed to be gearing up to succeed Mr Buhari whose second and final tenure ends on May 29, 2023.
Mr Buhari on Wednesday publicly sided with a faction of the APC that is backing Victor Giadom as the acting chairman of the party.
Relying on a court order, Mr Giadom, who was deputy national secretary of the party, insists he is the rightful acting chairman of the party following the suspension of the substantive chairman, Adams Oshiomole.
Some 18 of the National Working Committee (NWC) members of the party, who met after the court judgement penultimate Tuesday, endorsed the deputy national chairman (south), Abiola Ajimobi, as the acting chairperson of the ruling party.
The NWC later declared Mr Giadom’s seat as deputy national secretary vacant and on Monday swore in Worgu Boms as his replacement.
But in a statement through one of his spokespersons, Garba Shehu, Mr Buhari declared that “the law was on the side” of Mr Giadom.
Mr Shehu said the president would attend the NEC meeting convened by Mr Giadom.
The purported NEC meeting was earlier disowned by 18 members of the NWC of the party backing Mr Ajimobi.
Speaking earlier Wednesday PREMIUM TIMES, the acting National Secretary of the party, Waziri Bulama, said the proposed NEC meeting called by Mr Giadom was in direct contravention of the party’s constitution.
“The constitution is very clear on the steps and circumstances of calling a NEC meeting. Chapter 14.2 of the constitution and Article 25 of the constitution are clear about who should convene the NEC and how. Any action outside of this is clear illegality.”
Mr Bulama said the secretariat was working to furnish the president and other leaders of the party with information to ensure “they are not misguided into backing an illegality”.
It is unclear if the president has received the said communication from the party.
The anti-Tinubu forces
Seven governors of the party are said to be teaming up with other topshots, notably the transport minister, Rotimi Amaechi, in fighting what they alleged to be a pro-Tinubu NWC.
Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi.
The governors said to be working along that line were those of Ekiti, Kayode Fayemi; Kebbi, Atiku Bagudu; Plateau, Simon Lalong; Kaduna, Nasir Elrufai; Jigawa, Badaru Abubakar; Niger, Abubakar Bello and Yobe’s Mai-Mala Buni.
Mr Tinubu is Mr Oshiomhole’s major backer, and by siding with those destabilizing and working to oust him, Mr Buhari has dealt the former governor a severe political blow.
Adams Oshiomhole, APC National Chairman. [Silverbird TV]
Besides, the forces working against Mr Oshiomhole are also majorly the same group of people committed to blocking Mr Tinubu’s presidential ambition.
On Monday, three of the group’s arrowhead met Mr Buhari behind closed-doors.
“Agenda” for the Thursday meeting
Sources familiar with the intrigues in the ruling party told PREMIUM TIMES the proposed NEC meeting may seek to dissolve the current National Working Committee of the party.
In its place, according to the sources who asked not to be named as they were not permitted to disclose the agenda, the meeting would seek to propose an interim leadership for the party.
The trio of Messrs Bagudu, Fayemi and Buni are said to be spearheading the search for those to be charged with leading the party in the interim.
Our aim is to save the party — Bagudu
Speaking to PREMIUM TIMES Wednesday night Mr Bagudu said the concern of the governors of the party is to save the party from its present predicaments.
“A situation where the party is mired in crisis, where court cases are being filed all around and people making all manner of claims, it is disruptive and destructive.”
The Kebbi State Governor and chairperson of the APC Governors Forum, Abubakar Bagudu. [PHOTO CREDIT: Official web page of Kebbi State government]
Mr Bagudu was non-committal on what the agenda of the meeting would be but insisted that the aim is to resolve the crisis rocking the party.
He discounted the calculations for 2023 elections from the action of the governors.
Mr Buhari’s spokesperson, Garba Shehu, did not respond to request to comment for this story.