Anxiety in APC groups over presidential appointments

Tinubu and BuhariAs the nation awaits the constitution of the top echelon of government by the new President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration, there are growing misgivings by the All Nigerian Peoples Party (ANPP) faction of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the South East chapter of the party that they may lose out of the emerging post-inauguration power sharing equation if one of their own is not appointed as the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF).

Already, there is anxiety in the ANPP segment of the APC and the South East section of the party following complaints in Abuja that they were being blacked out of the major appointments within their party. The ANPP faction, in reality, seems to have been left out as it is yet to get any major post-inauguration appointment. Senator Ahmed Lawan, who was defeated by Senator Olusola Saraki in the election into the office of President of the Senate, was, until the merger of the legacy parties to form the APC, a member of the ANPP.  The CPC faction has produced President Buhari, and the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) has produced the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo.

The ‘New PDP’, whose members comprised of some governors and their supporters who decamped in protest from the then ruling Peoples Democratic Party to be part of the merger that produced APC, sensing it may lose out in both the executive and legislative branches, helped itself by getting the backing of the PDP to have Saraki elected as President of the Senate and Alhaji Yakubu Dogara as Speaker of the House of Representatives. Saraki was one of the arrow heads of the ‘New PDP’ until they joined the APC early last year. Dogara was, until November 2014, a member of the PDP and joined the APC only when the Bauchi State Governor, Alhaji Isa Yuguda, denied him the PDP ticket to return to the House of Representatives.

Already, forces opposed to appointment of an Igbo as SGF are using last Tuesday’s emergence of Senator Ike Ekweremadu as Deputy President of the Senate as reason. These forces have grown bolder in the last few days to assert that the Igbo had resorted to self-help and should therefore be denied the slot. But many Igbo groups especially within the APC are up in arms, claiming there is no nexus between the election of Ekweremadu as deputy president of the Senate and the clamour by the South East leaders to have one of their own appointed as the SGF. They have dismissed an allegation that some leaders of the ruling APC conspired with their supporters in the PDP to back Ekweremadu in order to deny the zone the SGF slot.

A source said if the SGF slot is not given to the South East, the pre-election campaign of the PDP that the APC was anti-Igbo will ring true and therefore foreclose all efforts to woo Igbo into the new ruling party.

Describing the breeding campaign as “hatred for Igbo about to manifest”, the source told The Guardian yesterday that “the emergence of Ekweremadu has nothing to do with the need to give the Igbo a sense of belonging. In any case, since he has gotten this appointment through the benevolence of Senators, it is time for the President to appoint our own party member into a higher office since it is possible Ekweremadu will continue to use the office to advance PDP interests. In spite of his election in the Senate, we need our own party man who will be our own rallying point.

“We don’t know if this is because he’s not found a worthy Nigerian of Igbo extraction or he is bowing to pressure from those bent on subverting the appointment of an Igbo as the SGF. Whichever way, this is a high risk game which will determine how the government of President Buhari will be viewed by a section of the country.”

Despite the intrigues surrounding the appointment of SGF in Abuja, the conventional wisdom is that it is the slot left for the Igbo. Top on the names for consideration is the former governor of old Abia State and immediate past National Chairman of the defunct ANPP, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu. But since his name was mentioned, he has faced a gang up against him which may destroy his chances.

Onu was one of the founding leaders of the APC as he was instrumental to the convergence of his party (ANPP) and the national chairmen of ACN, CPC) and All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) in midwifing the APC. Before then, he had given President Buhari the platform to run for the presidential election twice – in 2003 and 2007– under the ANPP. He was the chairman of the APC presidential primaries screening committee which cleared Buhari and defended his choice as the presidential candidate of the APC.

If Onu is appointed, it might be a way of killing two birds with one stone. The South East, which gave the APC a near shut out in the presidential and National Assembly elections, would have been represented at the top of the Federal Government. Also, the ANPP group within the APC would have found one of their long standing leaders at the national level of appointment.

Initially, Onu was at the inauguration of President Buhari, his presence was believed to be a show in for the post of SGF. In fact, twitter account believed to belong to APC, @APCSituationrm had on May 31 announced that President Buhari had appointed Onu as the new SGF. But this was not to be.

A former governor of Anambra State, Dr. Chris Ngige, who is the other major opposition politician from the South East may also be considered for the post of SGF. After his 33 months in office as governor, Ngige never found favour within his former party, the PDP. This forced him to find refuge with the opposition ACN where in April 2011, he won the election to represent Anambra Central in the Senate under the ACN platform.

Ngige is seen as a core follower of the National Leader of APC, Bola Tinubu, whom the politicians in Abuja said is also sponsoring Ngige for the post of SGF as part of his aim to have his followers at the topmost level of governance in the country. The third entrant is the candidate of the Governor of Imo State, Rochas Okorocha. Okorocha is said to be leading the fight against Onu in order to pave way for his in-law and former Secretary to (Imo) State Government (SSG), Prof. Anthony Onwuka. Okorocha’s second daughter on Saturday October 11, 2014 got married to the first son of Onwuka.

And to ensure that the anti-Onu agenda succeeds, the Imo State governor is allegedly stating that his APGA faction of APC has no representation for now at the federal level and therefore, as the only APC state in the South East, he should be in a better position to sponsor a candidate for the SGF slot. In addition, Okorocha has allegedly approached the PDP Governor of Ebonyi State, Dave Umahi, to enlist his support.

Umahi was said to have been cautioned against allowing Onu to be appointed as SGF as it would pose a big threat and be a major plank of opposition to his government, citing the problem faced by the former governor of Ebonyi State, Martins Elechi, from the immediate past SGF, Anyim Pius Anyim. In fact, in order to stop Onu, all cards are on the table, including getting the support of other leaders of APC from other zones.

Those pushing for appointment of someone from outside the South East, are pointing to “an unwritten tradition” established since the return of democracy in May 1999 in which Presidents appoint those from their geographical side of the country as the SGF. They want this to be maintained. For example, President Olusegun Obasanjo appointed as his SGF for his eight year rule, Chief Uffot Ekaette from South South State of Akwa Ibom. The late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua had two SGFs – Alhaji Baba Gana Kingibe and Alhaji Yayale Ahmed – from the northern states of Borno and Bauchi. Under President Goodluck Jonathan, his SGF was Anyim from Ebonyi (South East). For this group in Abuja, it would be bucking the trend for President Buhari to appoint anyone from the South East zone.

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  • honesty NO1

    The Nigerian political water is so murky that you hardly can understand what the business of government is about. Is it about power sharing or about looking for the best brain .We keep on basing all our decision on party patronage. We are in trouble in this country

    • OKO

      It boggles the mind my brother. The well being of more than 170 millions citizens are concerned here while these unrepentant few have again resorted to who-gets-what irrespective of merit. I hope that the President will follow up on his words regarding tapping the know hows from the nations’s technocrats without party affiliations.

    • Abayomi A

      Naturally, the fate of every country follows the normal distribution curve. A few rule over the many. It is just that Nigeria has the special ill-luck that its few often emerge from the rank and file of the mental and intellectual dreg of society.

      Here is the acid test. Besides a handful of Nigerian occupiers of the country’s #1 seat of power since its paper independence in 1960, line up the rest and see how many quality materials you can recall as having ruled Nigeria! Go ahead.

    • Keneri

      Political appointments all over Democratic World is partisan…go and read wide. The only problem with Nigeria is TRIBALISM/REGION and RELIGION

  • Olu Martins

    Point of correction, Yakubu Dogara is a christian.

  • Benny Hills

    This writer is so skew-headed

  • Abayomi A

    After Boko Haram (security) and corruption, pathological ethnicism is the third in line for Nigeria’s leading albatross. On his own merit, Ogbonnaya Onu is not only an ex-Governor, he is a first-class intellectual and priced personality with character and sterling record of performance in and out of office. It is a disservice to the man Onu to be unwittingly reduced to an ethnic symbol. Onu is bigger than that. Buhari knows Onu very well; in fact, much better than some of those pretending to help Onu toot his own horn (since he will not).

    Many people under-rate Buhari; that works very well for him. Buhari knows he needs Onu; he will place him where and when he needs him. Those canvassing for SFG should wake up from their tortuous dream. It is not going to happen. While Ike’s throw-up in the Senate was not the culprit, it helped seal an already closed option.

    The good news for Nigeria is that Onu will play his assigned role in Buhari’s government. And, it will not be because Buhari is looking to satiate any political correctness. It will be because he believes in Onu’s personal merit. I prefer that option for Onu.

    • YK

      I will even place ethnism as number one, I know the problem Onu would have is the Igbo blood in him though personally I love the man but others will not see it that way especially the Yorubas who are major stakeholders in this coalition. Anyim displayed this when he had opportunity to do so taking it as a payback time to get back to Yorubas which he did successfully.


        When ANYIM paid the Yorubas back, did we complain?. So the Ibos needs to get lost for now.

        • Abayomi A

          Am not sure I understand how Anyim allegedly paid back Yorubas and for what? Someone, help me out here. I could research it, but what are friends for?

    • abuasmau


  • Arogbo

    I hope Buhari will pick a non Igbo for the post of SFG this time around, because the last man who occupies that post in the person of Pius Anyim really did us a disservice by placing his ethnic agenda over our national common interest.

  • Nelson

    I must say that I am disgusted by this report. What is happening in Nigeria? Has public governance gone so bad in the country that appointment into offices would degenerate into selfish personal, ethnic chauvinistic permutations? What happened to honest consideration of merit and pedigree for honesty and diligence. To drag Dr. Ogbonnaya Onuh into this funny debate is to do serious disservice to his image, integrity and humble character. Whether we like it or not, Dr. Onuh is a great asset to APC and Buhari and they should not fail to utilize the opportunity of his service. By the way, why should Okoroha run down Onuh? That is, if the report is true. If so, then, that is really sad. You do not need to run a good person down in order to project another person of your preferred choice. For Christ’s sake, some Igbos still voted for Buhari, based on his integrity and good name. Why are some reporters carrying on as if ALL Igbos are anti-APC and anti-Buhari? Or is this a hatchet man’s job?

  • Jonathan

    Onu is a sound man. Above all he is not a political begot or prostitute. He is an asset. We will rally around him to forge a new Igbo Leadership. President Buhari should need such people on sensitive positions

  • AGU

    yoruba is behind the new system of tribal appointment in APC. although APC is a worthless party that cannot archive anything in the next 4 years due to in-house war.

    • Keneri

      Thank God the President is not a yoruba man…continue your hatred for Yoruba and see how far it would take you

  • Keneri

    Is this a campaign for ONU?

  • Keneri

    This report is for the DUSTBIN

  • Dankasa

    Please, if I may ask the writer what exactly is he agitating for? is he demanding for SGF of Igbo extraction or SGF from ANPP faction of the APC? if he want ANPP to be compensated then the case is that ANPP has never produced even a common Councillor talk-less of Chairman or Governor in the South East. Throughout its existence, APP/ANPP governors were from North West and North East. Until this merger, states like Zamfara, Kebbi, Yobe and Borno were all ANPP controlling states and have never been under PDP control; base on this I think these states or zones are the most competent to produce any position given to ANPP faction of APC.

    But if the agitation is based on ethnocentric tendencies then i rest my case but the writer should come out boldly and present his case without covering under the ANPP factio.

    I therefore urge the campaigner to streamline his demand, which I believe is centered on ethnic jingoism, all they want is that Igbo should be given the position of SGF but, only using ANPP faction as an excuse and cover up.

    • abuasmau

      Some history lesson. And why nepotism is bad. Thank you.

  • Izeobor

    I cannot take my glare away from the ‘I de laugh’ pic of Tinubu and Buhari. Smiles that at least brighten the pages of the newspapers. My advice to the celebrating duo is that the ‘Ides of March are come but not gone’. Beware of the snares of OBJ. If this govt can escape his political landmines, the ship of state would at least be on its ‘merry – go – round’ voyage.

  • Artful ºDodger

    Always the same problem with the Igbos, throw up a position and everyone of them will want to have it at the same time. What is wrong in compromising and rallying around one of your own for the job? Na waoo!

  • Artful ºDodger

    Did you have a brain bypass between when you read the article above and when you made this comment?

  • Sal Yarima

    Currency Stability and Removal of Subsidy. How to reduce pressure on the Nigerian Naira. Introduce the Chinese currency in Nigeria as legal tender. Within 2 years the pressure on the Naira would stabilize because the hundreds and thousands of Nigerian traders who buy from China would no longer need the Dollar..