There was anxiety yesterday over alleged plot to disrupt the June 23 National Convention of the All Progressives Congress (APC) by some aggrieved leaders and members of the party.
One of the suspected brains behind the plot is a Minister from the South-West who is alleged to have had a midnight session with some party leaders from his state at the weekend in Abuja.
The said leaders were first camped in Gwagwalada Council Area but were later driven under the cover of darkness to Abuja Municipal Council for further briefing.
Authoritative party sources said yesterday that a massive plot was developing and urgent steps must be taken to calm frayed nerves and stop the alleged plan to frustrate and divide the APC during the convention.
Investigation showed that the plot is being hatched mainly by party members who are aggrieved by the conduct of the recent congresses; those who want to create a defection scene; those opposed to the defection of certain leaders from PDP to APC; a few others who are feeling marginalized by the government and the party leadership; and those allegedly being used by the opposition party to infiltrate APC.
One of the sources said that although the party leadership is looking forward to a hitch-free convention, “some leaders and members are plotting to scuttle it either through a court process or by creating a split in the party on June 23.”
“Those behind this plot have reneged on the agreement to make ex-Governor Adams Oshiomhole as the sole candidate of the party. They want to sponsor more candidates for the office of national chairman of APC,” the source said.
He added: “while some are plotting to defect from APC to another party on convention day, a few others want to form a parallel party organ in order to cause confusion.
“We also got privileged information of moves to supply placards to some APC members to embarrass top leaders of the party.”
One of those suspected of plotting to cause embarrassment is the Southwest minister.
The source said the minister “is just out to join forces to embarrass top APC leaders on the convention ground.”
The source added: “we are however being proactive to checkmate all these evil plans and have a stress-free gathering.”
Contest for National Secretary raises tempo
Sources identified the contest for the position of the party’s national secretary as one of the most contentious issues likely to face the party at the convention.
Northeast governors of the party are said to be resisting moves by some forces who are encouraging a former National Chairman of PDP, Sen. Ali Modu Sheriff to produce the next national secretary of the party.
Sheriff recently rejoined the party after flirting with the PDP.
Four contenders have emerged for the office of National Secretary of the party; the incumbent, Mallam Mai Mala Buni (Yobe); a cerebral politician, Kashim Imam (Borno); Buhari’s ardent loyalist, Waziri Bulama; and Dr. Haruna Yerima.
A Governors’ Forum source said: “Sheriff is backing Kashim Imam (Borno) but Governor Ibrahim Gaidam is pleading with his colleagues to retain the slot in Yobe since Borno State has cornered many juicy appointments.
“So far, Yobe, Borno, Adamawa, and I think leaders from Gombe and Taraba have agreed that Yobe should produce the party’s secretary. The governor of Bauchi State is being expected to tag along with his colleagues.”
“Some strategists of the President, party leaders and Sheriff prefer either Kashim Imam or Waziri Bulama from Buhari Support Organization.
“Although the governors have been extremely loyal to the President, they might not guarantee him success at the poll in 2019 if the party’s secretariat is handed over to Sheriff.”
When contacted, a member of the National Convention Committee said: “Some members of this committee have heard of plans to disrupt the convention but we cannot authoritatively confirm it.
“All I can tell you is that the Convention Committee will work round the clock to make it a successful one.”
Cracks in nPDP as leaders weigh defection options
It was also gathered that the leaders of the nPDP are no longer unanimous in their plan to dump the APC for the PDP.
Some of leaders are currently weighing options on whether to leave or not.
Sources said while some nPDP leaders have made up their minds to leave, a few others are yet undecided.
“Some of our leaders have concluded plans to leave APC for other parties, especially the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). But the time and the manner of exit are still being worked out,” one source said.
“Some nPDP leaders have opted for a fight-to-the-finish module in APC before quitting .Their plan is to make a mess of APC and leave it in tatters before their defection. They do not want APC to have its cake and eat it.”
Some of those likely to defect are Senate President Bukola Saraki, House of Representatives Speaker Yakubu Dogara, Senators and many House of Representatives members from Bauchi State; Sokoto State Governor Aminu Tambuwal, Kwara State Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed; ex-Kano State Governor Rabiu Kwankwaso, ex-Adamawa State Governor Murtala Nyako; Senator Barnabas Gemade and Senator Dino Melaye.
Some of those said to be non-committal at the moment are ex- Zamfara State Governor Sani Ahmed Yerima; ex-Gombe State Governor Danjuma Goje, ex-Sokoto State Governor Aliyu Wammako; ex-Kebbi State Governor Adamu Aliero; ex-House of Reps Deputy Speaker Bayero Nafada; among others.
Adamawa State Governor Jibrilla Bindo; Senator Adamu Abdullahi; Senator Kabiru Gaya; Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, all of whom belong to the nPDP are likely remain in APC.
A reliable source, who spoke in confidence, said local peculiarities and some exigencies have compelled some nPDP leaders to start weighing their options.
The source said: “Although Dr. Saraki has not provided a beacon of where he is headed in 2019 for his loyalists and followers, the dust raised by the Offa bank robbery saga may have ended his stay in APC.
“Even if he wants to remain in APC, his numerous supporters will not allow it. His most predictable destination will be PDP but those in the opposition in Kwara State, led by ex-Minister of National Planning, Prof. Abubakar Olanrewaju Suleiman might resist his defection. In the alternative, the PDP elements will shift base to APC. The party leadership has been asking Prof. Abubakar to put the interest of PDP above his personal ambition to be governor of the state.”
Ex-Benue State Governor Gabriel Suswam, who is a member of the PDP Contact and Mobilization Committee, is said to have had informal talks with some PDP leaders in Kwara State who registered their opposition to Saraki’s return to the party.
Continuing, the source said: “as a politician with a strong and solid political base, the national headquarters of PDP will, no doubt, ignore its present members in Kwara State and hand over the party structure to Saraki wholesale.
“It will be a repeat of what PDP did for Saraki in 2003 when ex-Governor Muhammed Lawal seized All Peoples Party (APP) from the late strongman of Kwara Politics, Dr. Abubakar Olusola Saraki.
“But Saraki may not leave APC without a fight for the soul of the party he co-founded with other chieftains. How it will play out will be determined by the coming convention.”
Speaker Yakubu Dogara is quoted as saying repeatedly that he can “no longer cohabit” with the APC which has sidelined him.
The source said: “With Dogara, three Senators and most members of the House of Representatives and members of the State House of Assembly, Bauchi State may witness massive defection than any APC controlled state.
“The recent visit of President Muhammadu Buhari to Bauchi State was a pointer that the governor has lost considerable goodwill because the stadium complex (the venue of the reception) was half-filled.”
On the situation in Gombe, the source said: “As for Goje, his moving is going to demystify him politically. He does not have the total control of the state and about 70 to 80 per cent of his supporters will not go with him. It is politically strategic for him to remain in APC.
“The scenario was also strange for Goje politically in 2015. Buhari got more votes in Gombe in 2011 when Goje was a sitting PDP governor than in 2015 after the ex-Governor had crossed to APC.
“And Goje was the only APC Senator who Buhari personally campaigned for in 2015 to win his senatorial ticket. He virtually prevailed on Buhari to campaign for him in all the local government areas in his district.
“The dynamics may have changed but it will be suicidal for Goje to defect to PDP because he is going to meet his match in Governor Hassan Dankwambo who is fully in control of his party’s structure.
“Already, Dankwambo has a swap alliance with ex-Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Sen. Bayero Nafada, who has fallen out with Goje. The alliance borders on the fact that while Nafada will succeed Dankwambo in 2019, the governor will pick his senatorial ticket if he is not elected as the presidential candidate of PDP.
“Nafada has also not defected because he is unsure if Dankwambo will keep to their gentleman (unwritten) agreement or not.”
Tambuwal targets PDP presidential ticket
Governor Tambuwal is one of those sure to return to the PDP, according to investigation, with his PDP presidential ticket as his target.
He is said to have made it clear to nPDP leaders that he will quit APC for PDP.
The source added: “It is an open secret to Buhari and others in APC that Tambuwal is returning to PDP. This is why he has been shut out of strategic issues in the party and in the presidency. “Only on Friday, one of his loyalists, ex-Rep Isa Ashiru defected in Kaduna from APC to PDP. This is the candidate that Tambuwal is backing to defeat Governor Nasir el-Rufai in Kaduna State.
“His greatest challenge is the readiness of loyalists of ex-President Goodluck Jonathan to stop him from being the PDP flag bearer. Although Jonathan is forgiving, his lieutenants are ready for a showdown with Tambuwal.”
A former minister said: “It can be any candidate in PDP but not Tambuwal. We want to prove a point that he cannot ride this party roughshod. He has state resources to spend; we will pool resources together to stop him.
“We are working with some PDP governors to campaign against Tambuwal during the presidential primaries in August. We will also show Governor Nyesom Wike that he cannot impose any presidential candidate on the party. This is the last political gamble Tambuwal will take.”
Ex-Governor Aliyu Wammako who is currently in Saudi Arabia for the Umrah is believed to have lost the party structure in the state to Tambuwal, his adopted political son.
The source reckoned that Wammako will remain in APC.
“I think for political relevance, it pays Wammako to remain in APC and allow Tambuwal to try his luck in PDP,” he said.
“Once Wammako is able to regain the control of APC structure, he can influence the choice of his candidate as APC governor and other elective positions.
“Wammako has not got a fair deal for ceding power to Tambuwal. Also, Wammako has an in-law of President Muhammadu Buhari as an intimate friend cum long-standing business partner. This same friend, who has the ears of the President, has been mounting pressure on Wammako not to dump APC. He has not decided on his next move.”
But a source in Sokoto said: “Another option is for Wammako to move with Tambuwal to PDP with the ex-governor allowed to be in charge of the party structure, nomination of candidates and others. They will have to contend with the weighty political influence of ex-Governor Attahiru Bafarawa who brought the two giants into politics.”
Regarding ex-Governor Adamu Aliero, his present political understanding and working alliance with Governor Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi State can earn him a re-election ticket in the Senate.
The top source said: “Feelers from Kebbi State have shown that Aliero appears not keen in defecting to either PDP or any party. In fact, when there was a crisis recently in Kebbi APC between Buhari-Bagudu Support Group (BBSG) and Four-Plus-Four (4+4) faction, the governor appointed Aliero to mediate.
“The ex-governor actually succeeded in reconciling the warring factions in APC in Kebbi State. The signs are not there that he is aggrieved like a few nPDP leaders. He might be attending nPDP meetings merely on the sideline.”
Kwankwaso’s destination yet unknown
Although ex-Governor Kwankwaso appears to have made up his mind to dump the APC, his destination remains unclear.
A source said it could be either PDP or SDP.
The hijack of the APC structure in Kano State by Governor Abdullahi Ganduje has left Kwankwaso’s prospect in the ruling party bleak.
A source said each time he is advised by his colleagues to remain in APC, his usual response is: “What else do you want me to do? Do you want me to remain where I am being maltreated?”
Whatever is his choice of party; Kwankwaso may walk alone because the two other Senators from the state, Kabiru Gaya and Jibrin Barau and many members of the House of Representatives may not follow him.
Kwankwaso’s media aide, Hajiya Binta Spikin however said: “My principal remains in APC, he has not given a hint of defecting to another party.”
A party source said: “In Kano, it is about individual survival. Some of us prefer to be with the governor to get our ticket back for re-election. The era of dying because of any politician is gone.”
A member of the House of Representatives said: “some of us from Kano have not decided because we want to give the incoming National Chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole a chance to redress some of the wrongs in the party and reinvent APC.
“You know the outgoing National Chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun ,was all his life a civil servant, he cannot negotiate. But as a trade unionist, Oshiomhole is a powerful negotiator and having been a governor for eight years, he knows what to do to reconcile all.”
Adamawa’s Bindo in tinder-box
The situation in Adamawa State has left Governor Jibrilla Bindo in a tinder-box. Ordinarily with his achievements, he does not need to vie for survival except for political miscalculations on his part.
The governor was earlier rumoured to be defecting from APC to PDP and SDP but the signal so far shows that he is still in APC.
A source said: “With ex-Vice President Atiku Abubakar and ex-Governor Murtala Nyako in PDP, the terrain will be tough for Bindo. If Bindo had been circumspect in his comments when Atiku defected, it would have been easier for him to leave APC for PDP. In one step, he is with Buhari, and when he takes another step, he likes Atiku.
“The seizure of APC structure and alienation of party chieftains like Marcus Gundiri, ex-Military Administrator of Lagos State, Gen. Buba Marwa, ex-SGF Babachir Lawal and ex-EFCC chairman, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu have made the political terrain difficult for the governor to navigate.
“Bindo’s saving grace will be the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr. Boss Mustapha, Sen. Binta Masi Garba and a beloved and crowd puller aspiring senator, Aishat Dahiru Modibbo Binani.
“Yet he needs to appease the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and Christians in the state. “Out of 20 appointments he made recently, there was no single Christian in a heterogeneous state like Adamawa. Bindo has to be decisive on his political future.”
PDP bids time over defection of APC chieftains, extends tenure of Imoke committee
In anticipation of mass defection from APC and realignment of forces, the PDP has technically extended the timeline of its Contact and Mobilization Committee which is headed by ex-Governor Liyel Imoke.
Other members of the committee are former governors Babangida Aliyu (Niger), Sule Lamido (Jigawa), and Gabriel Suswam (Benue); former Aviation Minister Kema Chikwe, ex-Defence Minister, Haliru Bello, a former Director General, National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Paul Orhii, among others.
In setting up the committee, party chair, Prince Uche Secondus charged it to “help open the space and allow into our party, all those whose union with us can help in rescuing this country.”
A PDP source said: “For exigency, the PDP leadership has again extended the timeframe of the committee. I think it was technically done to accommodate the fallout from the National Convention of APC on June 23.
“It is too early to close our doors to defectors. The implosion is already evident in APC, we also want to benefit from it. They fuelled the crisis in PDP in 2014; we will allow their internal wrangling to fester for our own gain too.”