By Uche Mbah
The conspiratorial silence of President Muhammadu Buhari over who succeeds him has created loopholes for rancor within the rank and file of All Progressives Congress, APC Presidential hopefuls, resulting in internal wranglings that is already threatening to implode the party.
There have been speculations that the recent abysmal performance of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria, PHCN, is a product of fifth columnists that are bent on making sure that the Minister for Power, Tunde Fashola, is so discredited that President Buhari will not think of re appointing him as a minister in the new dispensation. Fashola is a presidential hopeful, and a lot depends on his being reappointed into government. Apart from the fact that it shows presidential confidence in him, he needed to still be in circulation to be able to pull the initial nomination stunt.
Incidentally, President Buhari is said to be unapproachable-or, more appropriately, his aids has made him inaccessible to lobbyists, making the office and home of people like Aba Kyari, his Chief of staff, a Mecca of sorts for lobbyists.
This magazine was told that Aba Kyari’s home is inundated with nocturnal visits that stretches into the wee hours of the night, with all types of exotic cars parked far into neighboring streets. So Presidential hopefuls-particularly those from the south-are simply clinging to earlier promises made before the campaign, which is neither here nor there.
Only recently, Kayode Fayemi, governor of Ekiti state, suspended an aid for daring to suggest that Fulani herdsmen must undergo head counts to be able to know where there is a problem. “The governor was furious”, said an aid, “he said that the issue is very sensitive. ‘Does this man not know that if there is any infraction against herdsmen the president takes it personally? Please he should not jeopardize my bid for the 2023 presidency'”, Fayemi was quoted to have said.
He is not alone in that fear. During the elections, southern governors were mandated to deliver their zones to be considered for the 2023 presidency, which was the reason for the desperation of Rotimi Amaechi, the Minister of Transport,for example. With his inability to muscle his way past Nyesom Wike, Rivers state governor, he simultaneously lost his bid-the way he lost the vice presidential bid to Yemi Osinbajo, a Tinubu crony, because he was regarded as a king without a kingdom.
But the most formidable contender to the throne-there are said to be many other jobbers and pretenders-is said to be Bola Tinubu. He is said to have both the empire and the dept of pocket to pursue his ambition to a logical conclusion. But the Northern elites are already out to decimate him before his time.
That was why, this magazine learnt, fifth columnists stood behind his detractors like Muiz Banire to invite the Kaduna State governor, Nasir el Rufai, to Lagos for a colloquium through which they released a missile to the Jagaban of Borgu Kingdom.It is bad enough that the event held just a few houses from the Bourdillon residence of Tinubu, the carefully worded answer to a question-which was said to have been planted- elicited an acerbic attack on the Lagos Landlord. El-Rufai was reported to have given Lagosians a blueprint on how to destroy Godfatherism in Lagos.
El Rufai never paid a courtesy visit to Tinubu even though he was near his house.
The war of words that followed resulted in more viscous attacks. As usual, Tinubu took out the war by proxy, via hatchet writers who tried to disparage el-Rufai. They even hinted that el-Rufai was to be Tinubu’s running mate in 2023, but El Rufai replied that he cannot be a running mate to a drug baron who was convicted in the United States in the past and had to free himself through plea bargain.
Apart from that, El Rufai appears to be using his influence on convincing the Presidency to jettison Lawan and Gbajaibiamila as candidates for Senate President and Speaker of the house respectively. “The Northern elites have made up their mind to jettison Lawan and Gbajiabiamila”, an APC stalwart said over the weekend, hinting that Ali Ndume may emerge the APC consensus candidate. Ndume was one arraigned as a sponsor of Boko Haram.
So apart from probably Kano state, Tinubu may be facing stiff opposition from other core North states.
Some common allies among the ruling cabal saw the damage that the Tinubu el Rufai rift is doing to the party, and that even Adams Oshiomhole has suddenly became quiet (he is said to be a closet Tinubu loyalists), they hurriedly arranged a meeting with Buhari over breaking of Ramadan fast. The foto-op was uploaded for public interest. But Buhari still kept mum.
While the whole APC intrigues go on, they are also mindful of the fact that the Presidential candidate of the Peoples democratic Party, PDP, Atiku Abubakar,is still pursuing his case with vigor. The final Supreme court ruling may be the final determinant, though people like the Sokoto state governor, Aminu Tambuwal are already preparing for 2023, if sources are to be believed.