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leader of the party, Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu and a group loyal to him had insisted that Yahaya Bello’s name be withdrawn for Faleke, other party chieftains kicked against the move, saying that Bello’s choice and subsequent nomination should be maintained.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.
Sources say 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.