The rift in the fold of the All Progressives Congress (APC) widened at the weekend as loyalists of President Muhammadu Buhari, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar and erstwhile Lagos State governor, Bola Tinubu, fight for the control of the party’s structure.
This is coming when the real reason for the delay in the appointment of key government officials, especially ministers by President Buhari, has been revealed. Sources disclosed that one of the reasons for the delay is to see if a change in the leadership of the Senate could be effected, which will see the impeachment of the Senate President, Dr. Olusola Saraki and the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu.
A chieftain of the party from the North-East told Daily Sun that one of the national leaders of the party and an arrowhead of Saraki-must-go campaign has asked for a month or two to effect a change of leadership in the Senate.
He said: “I have to be truthful to you; we are faced with many challenges as a party. We have won election; we are in charge of government, but some leaders of the party are fighting internal wars.
“Those who are opposed to Saraki being the Senate President have promised that they can remove him and his deputy within a month or two. They don’t want the list of ministers to be sent to the Senate now until a new leadership emerges.
“I am afraid that this kind of thing might wreck our government because this will set us against the people of Nigeria. They don’t want Saraki to have access to Mr. President.
“We are not happy with the bi-partisan arrangement we have in the Senate, but it is a reality we have to live with instead of working to destabilise the National Assembly. I don’t think it will be easy to get a two-thirds to remove the Senate President and his deputy, but some people have promised to make this happen.”
On the crisis rocking the party, the APC chieftain stated that whereas supporters of Tinubu have not given up in the push to remove the National Chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, henchmen of President Buhari are strengthening his grip on the party.
He said all efforts are being made by the President’s loyalists to correct the impression that he is not the leader of the party.
“Some people made a huge mistake by coming out to say that the President is not the leader of our party. That statement revealed what their thinking is. Some of our governors have convinced Mr. President that he needs to take charge of the party. The President may not be showing that he was not happy with that comment, but the truth is that we are seeing what those who have his ears are doing,” the source said .
He maintained: “They are not allowing the other forces to have their way in the National Assembly. They have also succeeded in convincing the National Chairman to be on their side.
“That is why some people are working very hard to remove the National Chairman. They feel betrayed that after helping to make him chairman, he can align with those who are working against the same forces that brought him to office.”
They accuse Odigie-Oyegun of not showing much interest in fighting either Saraki or other elements in the party that are opposed to Tinubu.
Another factor that is tearing the party apart is the fight over 2019 presidential ticket. According to the source, the assumption that President Buhari would not go for another term is causing gladiators of the party to fight for the structure of the party.
According to the source, Tinubu and his men are working with Kaduna State Governor, Mallam El-Rufai, on the understanding that the latter will take over from President Buhari should the latter decide not to run in 2019.
He said: “Our national leader is working with the governor of Kaduna. He identifies him as a potential candidate in 2019. It is believed that el-Rufai is close to the President and is also popular in the North.”
He disclosed that some forces, like Atiku and former Governor Rabiu Kwankwaso are fighting to take charge of the party.
Hear him: “Atiku is the main problem Tinubu has in APC. The assumption is that he has his eye on 2019 and some people want to stop him. The man himself is fighting back and wants to take charge of the party.”
He argued that what is happening in the party is normal, predicting that the situation will soon be taken care of when the government settles fully.