Key players to watch

FOLLOWING the victories of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) at the 2019 presidential election, its second since emerging on the nation’s political scene in 2014, the party has been struggling to rid itself of the menace of intra party squabbles.

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Troubles brewed in many state chapters of the party before, during and after the last primary elections to nominate candidates for various positions across the country.

The party lost a number of executive and parliamentary positions in a number of states as a result of litigations arising from some of the intra party disagreements.

A year after the elections, the party is yet to find genuine peace. If anything, the confusion within the ruling party has taken a queer dimension with its national chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, now battling to save his job in a new twist that pundits claim is a very serious threat to the party’s survival.

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Analysts have predicted that the party will disintegrate after Buhari’s tenure in 2023 but it seems the disintegration may take place while he is still in office. If that happens, it will say a lot about his legacy.

Following a plethora of court injunctions and pronouncements amidst allegations and counter allegations between the warring factions involved in the damaging face-off, the gladiators are currently divided over the constitutionality of a National Executive Committee (NEC) emergency meeting summoned by the acting National Secretary of the party, Victor Giadom, for Tuesday.

And as things stand today, it is obvious that the actions and inactions of some people will determine what will become of both Oshiomhole and the ruling APC.

Top on the list of the key players to watch out for as the crises play out are President Muhammadu Buhari, who is the leader of the party, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the national leader of the party, the embattled national chairman himself, Oshiomhole as well as other members of the National Working Committee (NWC) who are currently divided into pro and anti-Oshiomhole factions in the struggle for the control of the party.

Others are the Edo State governor, Godwin Obaseki, his Ekiti State counterpart, Kayode Fayemi, Kaduna State’s governor, Nasir El-Rufai, Governor Abdullai Ganduje of Kano state, the leadership of the APC caucuses in the National Assembly as well as some cabinet members of the Buhari-led Federal Executive Council (FEC).

Also to watch out for are the zonal executive committees of the state, the chairmen of the state chapters of the troubled party, among many others.

 

MUHAMMADU BUHARI

Since the power struggle between Governor Obaseki and his estranged godfather, Oshiomhole, broke out, many people, within and outside the APC have been expecting the President to wade in and keep the two erstwhile allies in check, if not for anything, for the sanity of the party.

But mum has been the word from President Buhari on the crisis which has assumed diverse dimensions, dragging in more and more players by the day and threatening the peace and the future of the President’s party.

But following the suspension saga and the impending litigations over it, it appears Buhari may finally be ready to act on the matter.

To start with, his presence or absence at Tuesday’s planned NEC meeting of the anti-Oshiomhole group will say a lot about what he thinks of the crisis and the people involved. If Buhari shows up at the meeting, the end may just be near for Oshiomhole’s chairmanship of the APC.

But if the President keeps away from the meeting, then Oshiomhole may just have survived the putsch against him once again. As things stand now, most party functionaries are eager to know the President’s position on Tuesday’s NEC meeting.

Whatever he does will have a direct impact on the attendance at the meeting as well as on the outcome of the meeting.

Also, going forward, if Buhari hearkens to the many call on him to intervene in the crisis, it is most likely he will be able to rein in the contenders as his advices and or positions on the matters in dispute will go far in curtailing the excesses of the gladiators which are now threatening to tear the party into shreds ahead of the 2023 general elections.

It is also a fact that once the President expresses his support for any of the factions, the number of people willing to stick out their necks for the other side will reduce drastically and the feud will gradually thin out.

 

BOLA TINUBU

Although it is widely believed that the former Lagos state governor is solidly behind Oshiomhole, he has not for once openly taken side in the ongoing crisis.

On many occasions, he had either attempted to reconcile the warring factions or had been called upon by the party or the presidency, to help end the rifts.

A lot of people still see him as one of the few people who can successfully intervene and end the crises if given the needed support by all organs of the party and other stakeholders.

And as the battle assumes a new dimension with the alleged suspension of the national chairman, it is unlikely that Tinubu will watch and allow the house he laboured to build to crumble.

He is a stickler for order, due process and party discipline. He will never be a party to judicial ambush.  Whichever group he supports will not be a pushover in the melee that is likely to ensue should the crisis defy a solution in days to come.

Given the followership he enjoys among party chieftains across the country, and his acclaimed political wizardry, whichever camp he gives his support will feel his impact in the struggle ahead.

But many observers of happenings within the APC are of the opinion that he may likely remain on the side of a prompt resolution of the differences and the warring factions in the overall interest of the party.

“Asiwaju is a democrat who will do anything to ensure that the party survives. He abhors factionalisation and has been in the forefront of the call for unity in APC before, during and after the 2019 general elections.

I don’t really see him changing that position except he is pushed to,” a party leader from the Southeast, said on Friday.

 

ADAMS OSHIOMHOLE

Though the embattled national chairman of the APC is surely one of the men to watch in the ongoing crisis, his fate is obviously not in his hands anymore at this stage of the confusion.

He will have to wait on others to determine what becomes of his position in the party. However, whatever he does or fails to do after Tuesday will have direct bearing on the future of the party.

His willingness or otherwise to allow for speedy reconciliation of the warring factions is key to the return of peace to APC.

At the center of his current face-off with those seeking his sack is the APC gubernatorial ticket in Edo state for this year’s governorship election in the state. Governor Obaseki is seeking re-election but it appears he will not get the nod of Oshiomhole’s supporters during the party’s shadow election.

No doubt, this is a major reason the anti-Oshiomhole group wants to change the national chairman before the Edo guber primary election.

When the peace talks start, before or after Tuesday, Oshiomhole’s position on the Edo crisis will go a long way in determining the outcome of negotiations.

His willingness to give and take in the resolution of the knotty matters creating chaos in his home state will go a long way in making reconciliation easy or strenuous.

The embattled national chairman’s disposition towards fellow members of the NWC who took side against him will also determine how fast peace will return to the party should he remain chairman after Tuesday.

 

GODWIN OBASEKI

The governor of Edo State, Godwin Obaseki, no doubt is one of the main gladiators in the ongoing crisis in the ruling party.

A former political godson of Oshiomhole , he has allegedly being in the forefront of moves to unseat the embattled national chairman following disagreements between them over the control of the Edo state chapter of the party and the state’s House of Assembly.

Several peace moves by the national leadership of the party has been rejected by Obaseki and his camp, citing bias on the part of Oshiomhole as reason.

Oshiomhole evèn chose Goveŕnor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti and his Kebbi State counterpart Atiku Bagudu to intervene in the crisis not knowing that they were working against him.

That was the height of treachery on the part of Fayemi and Bagudu.  Emboldened by his predecessor’s current travail, the Edo governor called a meeting of South-South APC leaders.

The meeting was boycotted by Deputy Senate President Omo-Agege, Godswill Akpabio, Timipre Sylva, among others but attended by Rotimi Amaechi, Festus Keyamo and others.

Amaechi and his group resolved that Oshiomhole should remain suspended while Giadom takes his position in acting capacity.

The willingness of Obaseki to make peace with Oshiomhole and accept interventions into the feud, especially not that he appears to be having sounder footings, will go a long way in determining what will happen before and after the controversial NEC meeting of Tuesday.

His ability to also rein in his supporters back home in Edo, especially members of his cabinet who are poised for a showdown with the Oshiomhole camp will also be a key factor as events unfold.

 

VICTOR GIADOM

Victor Giadom is the Deputy General Secretary of the APC who insists he is the Acting National Secretary of the party, and as such, the rightful person to act as national chairman following the purported suspension of Oshiomhole by the court.

Hitherto little-known before the suspension saga, the Rivers state born politician has been talking tough since the new twist in the APC crisis. But many observers say he is Amaechi’s errand boy.

Back home in Rivers he is nobody politically. His principal, Amaechi, is a floating politician, an Abuja based warlord without relevance back home.

 

ROTIMI AMAECHI

His sudden emergence as a leading figure in the anti-Oshiomhole camp came as a surprise to many observers. But those who should know claim he has been displeased with the APC national chairman over his handling of the crisis that cost the Rivers state APC a place on the list of parties that contested the 2019 governorship election in the state.

“Amaechi felt Oshiomhole didn’t accord him enough regard as the leader of the party in Rivers State and a national leader of the APC in the way he handled the face-off with Senator Magnus Abe’s camp,” a source said on Friday.

And with his devoted disciple Giadom in charge of the party following Oshiomhole’s suspension, Amaechi appears to be the man calling the shots from the rear.

Whatever he feels about Oshiomhole’s chairmanship will surely rub off greatly on the way things will turn out. His presence at the meeting called by Obaseki has definitely strengthened the camp of anti-Oshiomhole campaigners within the party. Many analysts are even interpreting the move as an indication of where President Buhari’s sympathy lies.

 

NASIR EL-RUFAI

Kaduna State Governor, Malam Nasir El-Rufai, will surely play a role in the unfolding drama over Oshiomhole’s fate.

Long rumoured to be unfavourably disposed towards the APC national chairman, El-Rufai’s clout in the party cannot be overemphasized, especially among party leaders in the Northwest zone. Should he remain opposed to the return of the national chairman, the anti-Oshiomhole push will receive a boost.

Also, close allies of the Kaduna governor are of the opinion that he is not likely to openly take a position that will run contrary to the stance of President Buhari on any issue.

“Malam is a loyalist of the President to the core. He will align with the position of the president on this matter. Whatever he does eventually should tell you what to expect from Buhari. That will explain why he is not too loud over the matter just yet,” a state official of the APC in Kaduna said.

 

ABDULLAHI GANDUJE

Governor Abdullai Umar Ganduje of Kano State is one APC big wig that is most likely to stand with Oshiomhole till the last moment in the ongoing crisis rocking the leadership of the party.

He is currently the arrowhead of a group of APC governors fighting for Oshiomhole to continue as the national chairman of the ruling party.

“Only a direct instruction from President Buhari can make Ganduje dump Oshiomhole. He is an unrepentant fan of the national chairman,’ a close ally of the governor said on Saturday.

Ganduje’s support for Oshiomhole and opposition to those seeking his removal has damaged his relationship with his erstwhile friend, Governor Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi State, who sources claim, has tried unsuccessfully to have the Kano governor back the removal of Oshiomhole.

“Ganduje is the most prominent northern governor backing Oshiomhole and this is a big headache for Bagudu and other anti-Oshiomhole campaigners in the north,” a source said at the weekend.

Some observers within the party insist that Ganduje’s support for Oshiomhole is of great importance as it has left anti-Oshiomhole elements confused about the position of President Buhari on the matter.

“Ganduje is believed to be close to Buhari and he is known to always support whatever the President favours. His support for Oshiomhole casts serious uncertainty on the feelers that the presidency wants Oshiomhole out of office,’ a national officer of the APC said.

Not a few have traced the restraining order secured from a Federal High Court in Kano by Oshiomhole to stop the execution of his suspension to the support he enjoys from Ganduje.

The failure of the forum of APC governors to agree on what to in spite of efforts by Bagudu and Fayemi is also credited to the group of governors led by Ganduje. The position of the Kano governor in the days ahead is crucial to the final outcome of the entire political drama.

 

KAYODE FAYEMI

Governor Kayode Fayemi, chairman of the Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF) is one of the APC governors supporting the anti-Oshiomhole camp.

Many say his opposition to Oshiomhole is traceable to the way the former Edo State governor emerged as the chairman of the party following the unceremonious ouster of former chairman, John Odigie Oyegun, himself a former governor of Edo State. Fayemi, a known supporter of Oyegun, worked hard with others to save him from being sacked.

Given his current position as chairman of NGF, his opinion on any matter affecting the ruling party cannot be easily ignored.

Last December, he was fingered as the arrowhead of a move by some APC governors to enlist the support of President Buhari in their putsch against Oshiomhole. Fayemi and Bagudu had allegedly led some governors on a secret mission to get Buhari’s nod against the APC national chairman.

Although the mission failed when the visit was interrupted by a couple of uninvited governors, Fayemi is still believed to be in support of Oshiomhole’s sack.

But of late, close aides of the Ekiti governor have been denying his involvement in the moves against Oshiomhole. According to one of his allies who is a former party official in Lagos State, Fayemi stands to gain nothing by working against Oshiomhole.

“He is not involved. People are just insinuating giving his position as the leader of all the governors in Nigeria,” our source explained.

This is, however, just as the Ekiti chapter of the APC under governor Fayemi has faulted Oshiomhole on the recent appointment of former Governor Abiola Ajimobi of Oyo state as the deputy national chairman of the APC.

Whatever Fayemi does between now and Tuesday, and even beyond, will of course affect the outcome of the jousting for Oshiomhole’s job.

 

ATIKU BAGUDU

Kebbi State Governor, Atiku Bagudu, is one APC governor who is known to be opposed to the continued stay in office of Oshiomhole. He is the chairman of Progressives Governors Forum (PGF) made up of all the governors elected on the platform of the ruling APC.

While the cause of his opposition to Oshiomhole may not be ascertained yet, some party sources claim he is dissatisfied with the way the national chairman allegedly keeps governors out of party decision making processes.

It has also been claimed in some quarters that Oshiomhole’s handling of the APC crisis in Zamfara State is another reason Bagudu fell out with the embattled national chairman of his party. “Bagudu and former Governor Abdulaziz Yari of Zamfara State are very close.

During the crisis in Zamfara APC, the Kebbi governor tried to prevail on Oshiomhole to give Yari more support than he did then.

The refusal of the national chairman to hearken to his request infuriated him and other governors greatly,” a source also claimed on Saturday.

It was gathered that the duo have had reasons to disagree vehemently on some occasions on what should be the roles of APC governors in some party affairs.

While the likes of Governors Ganduje, Zulum and others are urging their colleagues to shun Tuesday’s NEC meeting, Bagudu is said to be preparing to lead APC governors to the parley in readiness for a change in the leadership of the party.

 

BABAGANA ZULUM

Last December, it took the swift intervention of Borno State Governor Babagana Zulum to kill an alleged plot to enlist the support of President Buhari in a scheme by some governors to get Oshiomhole sacked as the national chairman of APC.

It was reportedly at a meeting the President agreed to after being told that the governors wanted to see him on an issue of national importance.

Although they were said to be uninvited at the meeting, Zulum and a number of other governors got wind of the parley and attended.

The Borno governor was said to have spilled the beans when he saw that the quartet wanted to use the other governors to get the President’s backing for Oshiomhole’s removal.

Reports claimed he told the President that El-Rufai, Fayemi, Bagudu and others want to hijack the party leadership because they want one of them to be president in 2023.

The quartet, he claimed, see Oshiomhole as an obstacle to the project. Zulum revealed that Bagudu once pleaded with him to support their plan to replace Oshiomhole with Yari.

The Bornu governor, according to party sources, has left nobody in doubt of where he stands on the current leadership crisis rocking the party.

“He is against the removal of Oshiomhole and he is saying so very loudly. He says his position is based on principles. And if you know Zulum well enough, you will know he hardly change whatever he supports based on principles. He is a very principled man.

It is very certain that he will remain with the pro-Oshiomhole group beyond Tuesday,’ a close ally of the governor who is a former commissioner in the state, said.

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