APC unveils transition members, office-sharing headache lingers
THE jostle for positions among the chieftains of the All Progressives Congress (APC) has split the party into five camps forcing its elders to devise survival strategies.
Though chieftains of the party had been united in the quest to oust the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) out of power, the story is not the same in the pursuit of self and regional interests in the build up to the May 29 handover date.
A group comprising members of the defunct Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) and a handful of the defunct All Nigerian Peoples Party (ANPP) — labelled in some quarters as the Katsina or the Hausa/Fulani group — have sprung up with a keen interest on ensuring that the President-elect, Muhammadu Buhari survives the intrigues of powerful forces within the ranks of the APC.
Buhari, who did not mince words in saying that he needs men of unquestionable integrity in his government, is already pondering over the final list of members of his transition committee.
Already, seasoned administrator, Alhaji Ahmed Joda, is billed to lead the APC transition committee to be inaugurated during the week.
A former Petroleum minister and ally of Buhari is also on the list of eminent Nigerians that would facilitate a smooth transition of power from the ruling PDP to the APC on May 29, this year.
Joda is a Nigerian administrator, journalist, politician and a former permanent secretary in the Northern Nigerian Public Service, Federal Ministry of Information, Education and the Federal Ministry of Industries. He was among a class of super Permanent Secretary in the 1970s, who played a major role during the Nigerian Civil War. In the 1960s, he worked with Ahmadu Bello in the Northern regional government.
n 1999, he headed a Committee on Assessment of Federal Government parastatals and also a panel on poverty alleviation. Lately, he served as the chairman of ABTI-American University of Nigeria, Yola and is the principal founder of Benue Valley Farms.
Among the nominees are Dr. Doyin Salami, selected as Vice-chairman and a seasoned journalist, Malam Adamu Adamu, who will serve as secretary of the committee.
Others are Mr. Boss Mustapha, Malam Muhammad Hayatuddin, Alhaji Abubakar Malami (SAN), Governor Rotimi Amaechi, Chief John Oyegun, Mr. Festus Odimegwu, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, Mrs. Nike Aboderin, Mr. Wale Edun, Mrs. Bola Adesola, Barrister Solomon Dalong, Chief Audu Ogbeh, Senator Hadi Sirika and Brig-General Lawal Jafaru Isa (rtd).
A second group that cannot be ignored is the one led by Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu. This camp comprises members of the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) that has been unrelenting in having a bigger bite in the office-sharing equation in the party.
Tinubu, a key leader of the party, who is generally believed to have contributed both his resources and goodwill in ensuring the success of the party at the poll, is said to be bent on seeing that his desire for both his interest and the South West geo-political zone sees the light of day.
He is working hard for the emergence of Mr. Femi Gbajabiamila and Senator George Akume as Speaker and Senate president, among others.
This is, however, not going down well with some elements within the party who fear he might become too powerful and uncontrollable to handle in the days ahead.
Some forces within the party even go ahead to argue that he has had a fair share of the bargain since he has not only been assured of juicy ministerial positions but had already had his way by anointing the Vice president-elect, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo and the National Chairman of the party, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun.
The third group, often referred to as the group of PDP defectors have the likes of Governor Rotimi Amaechi and Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso of Rivers and Kano states respectively. Rotimi, who served as the director general of the Buhari/Osinbajo Campaign Organisation, is said to be routing for the emergence of Senator Bukola Saraki as Senate president.
But sources said that a group close to the President-elect is not comfortable with Saraki’s aspiration and the fear that he might become too powerful to handle if he aspires for the presidency in 2015.
Former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, who ordinarily would have been spearheading the PDP defectors in the APC, has of late been leading the group pushing for a fair deal for the North-East geo political zone, which is asking for either the Senate President or Speaker House of Representatives to appease the people of the zone for their invaluable contributions to the party in the just concluded polls.
The North East zone is said to be claiming that it was shortchanged in 2011 due to the “coup” launched by Aminu Waziri Tambuwal in collaboration with the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr. Emeka Ihedioha. It insists that it had been systematically marginalised since 1999, when all the six geo-political zones of the country were considered in the office sharing arrangement by the PDP.
That was the period the zone produced the Vice President from 1999-2007 (Atiku Abubakar). From 2007-2011, North East produced Deputy Speaker (Usman Bayero Nafada). However, in 2011, PDP zoned Deputy Speaker to the region but Emeka Ihedioha was instead elected despite the fact that Ike Ekweremadu was also elected Deputy Senate president. Consequently, the North East was left with nothing in both Senate and House of Representatives.
Those pushing that the zone be considered argued that it is the third most populous zone in Nigeria after North West and South West. They contend that the region has the highest number of minority tribes who have always been schemed out and marginalised even in the face of the Boko Haram insurgency that devastated the region.
The Atiku group, therefore, contends that since, in the just concluded Presidential and National Assembly elections, the North East produced the second highest number of votes for the APC and second highest number of Federal lawmakers for the APC, there is the need to compensate the region adequately in the incoming government for the sacrifices it continues to make for the unity, stability and indivisibility of Nigeria.
Aside those that are yet to signify interest, the names of Senator Ahmed Lawan is being mentioned for the Senate presidency, while Yakubu Dogara and Mohammed Monguno have openly declared their bid for the Speakership of the House of Representatives.
There is also what one analyst referred to as the group championed by former president Olusegun Obasanjo, who subtly worked for the victory of the APC in the just concluded poll. The group, which has the ears of the President-elect, might just spring a surprise in the on-going power tussle within the party.
Already, Senate President, David Mark, an ally of Obasanjo, who is waiting in the wings to cash in on the cold war within the ranks of the APC might just retain his seat.
Last week, Mark who has had a crisis-free stay as Senate president for eight years was in the Asokoro residence of the President-elect on a “congratulatory and solidarity” visit.
But pundits maintained at the weekend that there were political undertones in the visit by the retired military General, who is reaching out to his colleagues to allow him consolidate his gains in the upper legislative chamber.
The calculation is that all Senator Mark needs is to muster the 49 seats of the PDP in the Senate and poach at least six seats from among the ranks of aggrieved APC senators to retain his seat