AT least five power blocs in the All Progressives Congress (APC) are reportedly digging in ferociously to fully control the structures of the party ahead of the February 18, 2023 presidential election.
Findings by Nigerian Tribune showed that serving governors, their predecessors, senators and other major stakeholders in the party are involved in the fight for the soul of the ruling party formed about seven years ago.
Some former governors, who were not successful in the bid to install their successors in 2019, are said to be steadily pushing against incumbent state chief executives and their godfathers as the logjam created by the recent conduct of APC ward congress persists.
The aggrieved party leaders are also said to have an axe to grind with the national caretaker committee over alleged manipulative tendencies, which has delayed the choice of a date for APC convention.
The APC Caretaker and Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee leadership postponed the local and state congresses, due to festering conflicts trailing the conduct of ward congress in states, where the exercise held.
According to the sources, one of the major problems is the presidential ticket of the APC for 2023, with the five power blocs emerging, each hoping to get the backing of the villa.
“Everybody wants to control the party structure across the zones. Everybody is claiming access to the Presidential Villa and this is because it is the villa that installed the current APC national caretaker committee. Some governors are using Mai Mala Buni in the quest to achieve their desire.
“Former governors and serving senators believe they have access to the Presidential Villa. Everybody is lining up their teams, hoping that the structure of the party will fall into their hands. Where a governor has a candidate, some ministers and senators are determined to protect their own candidates, so whoever is able to receive endorsement of the Presidential Villa will be in charge of the APC structures at the state level,” a top-level source told Nigerian Tribune.
“All former governors, ministers, senators and others who believe the governors are oppressing them, belong to this group. For example, a former governor from the South believes he is the ‘son’ of Mr President. He is fighting back because of perceived injustice meted out to his group by the other camp during the 2019 elections. Most of the party leaders, who still feel cheated during the 2019 governorship primaries and believe they are the pioneers of the party, have formed a camp.”
The source claimed that members led the campaign that culminated into the sudden exit of a former national chairman of the APC, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, from office to pave way for the Buni-led committee.
It was learnt that another camp comprises allies of the current interim national leadership of the party, which the other blocs claimed was attempting to take advantage of its present status in the APC to completely takeover the structure of the party.
“Remember that it was an influential minister, few former governors and party stalwarts that came together to oust Comrade Adams Oshiomhole from office as APC national chairman. All those stalwarts, who led the campaign belong to this camp, which also includes some serving governors, two from the South inclusive.
“However, majority of the APC governors are in another camp and because Buni is part of them, they want to deploy their influence and resources to hijack and have a firmer grip on the structures of the party. So, everybody is positioning their own members and protecting their interests,” another source said.
The source warned that the outcome of the ongoing power struggle “is predictable, depending on how President Muhammadu Buhari handles the planned convention of the party,” adding, “The stakeholders are so confused that to even pick a date for the convention is a problem.
“The two blocs are desperately seeking the attention of Buhari. One bloc is pro-Tinubu; the other one is anti-Tinubu. In the anti-Tinubu group, there are about three camps. A former governor from one of the states in the South-West is the alter ego of the one camp; a serving governor from the zone is the rallying force for the second camp, while the loyalist of a top functionary in the presidency form the third flank.
“The pro-Tinubu group appears homogenous except that there are two camps: there is a group that comprises people insisting that it is either Tinubu for 2023 presidency or nobody; the other comprises those who are trying to rise on the crest of Tinubu to achieve their personal agenda. So in all, there are five distinct groups involved in the power structure to control the APC machinery.”
According to the sources, most of the ministers are also at loggerheads with their governors, with Lagos State having a peculiar situation.
“In Lagos, the situation is unique. The president personally nominated former Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola as minister. When he nominated Dr Olorunnimbe Mamora, the Lagos caucus opposed his nomination for second term as minister of state for health. But, Buhari said the nomination was for the South-West, even though nominee could be a politician based in Lagos. He told them that he nominated Mamora to represent the South-West, and not Lagos State. So, most of the people that are from Lagos State, including those in the presidency are not part of the local political equation. And the Lagos State Governor’s Advisory Committee (GAAC) does not see them as members of the local political equation. So, Lagos is a complicated issue.
“Other sources said the local government and state congresses were technically delayed in order to allow the president to return back to the country from his medical trip to the United Kingdom since the vice president could not report to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, except to the president only. Therefore, it was reportedly agreed that since the president would return within days around the congress activities, the party should hold on further action until the vice president had briefed the president on the realities of the issues involved.
“The president is back, and probably all the issues involved will be presented to him, and hopefully better decisions taken to avoid the present illegality which may threaten and harm the party in future,” the source said.