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Notable APC Leaders And Blocs In Fierce Battle Over Buhari’s Ministerial List



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As the nation awaits the un­veiling of Presi­dent Muhamma­du Buhari’s ministerial nominees, which he has repeatedly promised to constitute before the end of this month, palpable anxiety, lobbying, des­peration and intrigues have seized the entire party apparatchiks.

The delay has widened the cracks in the ruling All Pro­gressives Congress (APC) and exposed the various interests, orientations, differences, cata­lyzing in solidifying the two major blocs within the party.

Sunday Sun Newspaper reports that notable leaders of the party have slipped into restiveness, following recent appoint­ments of key functionaries of the government, which in their calculations left them in the lurch, holding the wrong end of the stick.

President Buhari has so far adroitly warded off the intense jockeying, with his eyes set squarely on “goals in concert with the primus inter pares”, Sunday Sun was told.

Unlike the general per­ception within the polity, the president is said to be engaged with only one major bloc, which in general estimation constitutes a sizeable chunk of the ‘soul’ of the party, and a key factor and ally in the suc­cess recorded in the March 28 presidential election. The two major blocs in the party are the president’s bloc, which is composed of elements in the defunct Congress for Progres­sive Change (CPC), All Nige­ria Peoples Party (ANPP) and other northern elements who have since the famous victory been assimilated into the fold; Asiwaju Bola Tinubu’s bloc which comprises the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), and a rump of renegade politi­cians from other parties.

According to a top notcher of the party, “these two blocs are the APC and the APC are these two blocs. Not ev­erybody is equal in the APC. Buhari brought integrity, and cultic following, Tinubu brought following, resources and courage. There are those who brought only resources”. Painting a deeper scenario of the jostling for power in the party, the stalwart said: “You see in APC, where there are about 10 to 15 million mem­bers, not all the members are worth 15 million votes. Some are worth 10 million votes; some are worth only five mil­lion votes. Is it democratic to say that I that am worth prob­ably 10 votes am equal to the man that is worth 15 million votes? Only five to seven peo­ple know where we go. Others will follow.”

In consonance with this analysis, Sunday Sun learnt that the script is always at play during meetings of the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party and in the pattern of consultations by the President before major deci­sions are reached. The NWC is dominated by these two blocs, whose members often reach out to their leaders to untie knotty issues. Any of the two powerful blocs can over­turn NWC decisions using their zonal strength, Sunday Sun further learnt.

A breakdown of the analy­sis shows that there are 36 state chairmen, two ex-officio members from each zone. Powerful elements like Buhari or Tinubu can torpedo NEC using their numerical strength in their zones.

Contrary to widespread speculations that the president is running the government alone, and has sidelined criti­cal leaders of the party, Sun­day Sun was given a differ­ent picture.

Indeed, the president is always engaged in informal consultations. “The president is constantly consulting, but not all are formal consulta­tions. It is informal. The presi­dent is not going to have a meeting of NEC where there are 80 people or 100 people to discuss his list of ministers. You can see that there is no disconnect between the party and the president.”

It was further learnt that the ACN bloc might be roundly rewarded in the nomination of ministers through Tinubu, and not the governors from the South-west zone. This is a clear departure from the tradition in the past whereby governors nominated the min­isterial nominees. The presi­dent has equally tipped off the former governor on the list, in line with his style of carrying him along. Tinubu is said to have not objected to the list, despite his misgivings about a few of the names.

The running style of the party and government may have fuelled apprehension in the party as the president pre­pares to name his ministers. The new PDP, which joined the party with so much gus­to, resources and aplomb is poised for a showdown.

Sunday Sun learnt that this seemingly critical bloc is toying with a number of options to upstage the apple­cart. A key figure in the party who spoke to Sunday Sun, said that their group was not unaware of the evolving situ­ation. He said the develop­ment began immediately after the victory of the party in the presidential poll and has been managed since then.

“It was for this reason that we went the extra-mile to try to take control of the two arms of the National Assembly. We succeeded with the Senate, and to a small measure in the House of Representatives. They are doing everything to upturn our victory in the Sen­ate so that we will be effec­tively sidelined.”

The struggle for power by these blocs has brought in its wake untold instability in the National Assembly, as they have only managed to sit for just 12 times since the inaugu­ration on June 9. One of the options on the card is to use the Senate to block the ratifi­cation of the ministers. This option may go with the wind if the court removes the leader­ship of the Senate this month, as is being widely expected in government circles. This ob­viously accounted for the long delay in the constitution of the ministerial list. In a coun­ter offensive, the new PDP in collaboration with opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is considering pressing charges of impeachable of­fences against the president, should he forge ahead with this style, which they dubbed dictatorial.

The long adjournment of plenary and the incendiary probes that are ongoing have been designed to arm-twist the president, and bring him to the negotiation table. So far, the trick has not worked. It was further learnt that the president does not trust majority of the New PDP leaders, preferring instead to work with his own people and the ACN bloc, especially with the vice presi­dent emerging from that cru­cial bloc. In realization of this goal, he has turned a blind eye to some thorny issues, like al­legations of marginalization of some sections of the country that have the capacity to rock the party in future. Indeed, the President was quoted to have acknowledged this in a recent interview with the BBC Hau­sa Service, where he said he would only appoint those who suffered with him in the last 12 years that he had been seeking for the office. The undoing of the New PDP appears to lie in its marginal presence in the party. The bloc had angled to clinch the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) by positioning former Rivers State governor, Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi.

Having lost the slot, the fo­cus has since shifted to three ministerial positions, namely; Power, Works and Hous­ing and Education. A source within the bloc vowed that anything outside these three is unacceptable. “We lost out in the race for SGF, we lost the Petroleum ministry. Are they saying they would have won the election without us?”

The bloc of the All Progres­sives Grand Alliance (APGA) led by the Imo State Gover­nor, Chief Rochas Okorocha is not in the calculation of the power equation at all, even as the governor leads the APC Governors Forum, aka, Pro­gressives Governors Forum. Having brought in very little into the arrangement, and with insignificant presence in the party hierarchy, and in all the arms of government, they have been consigned to the realm of irrelevance despite their loud grumbles. An aide of the governor, who claimed he was not speaking with the permission of the governor and therefore would prefer anonymity, dismissed the claims of marginalization of the group in its entirety. “We joined the party to save Ni­geria from slipping into the precipice because of bad gov­ernance, corruption and impu­nity. We did not join because of expectations of juicy posi­tions. We are not complaining. The government of President Buhari is doing very well and Nigerians are satisfied with what he has done so far.”

Reminded that politics is all about struggle for power, he said calm, results and nor­malcy can be achieved with­out drawing blood. A peep into Buhari’s likely names in the ministerial list shows that it will not be any different from his previous appoint­ments in terms of bent and interests. So far the President is holding it closely to his chest. Already the list has been sent to the Department of State Services, DSS for security checks. Giving an insight into the list, the Presi­dent had said, “If I choose people I know quite well in my political party, people whom we came (together) all the way right from the All Peoples Party, Congress for Progressive Change, and the APC and we have remained together through good and trying times, what then is the reward for such dedication and suffering? They did not defect because of positions; they did not involve them­selves in the pursuit of per­sonal gains.” The list, when released is bound to elicit shock in many quarters and send ripples down the spine of many a Nigerian.

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