Saturday Sun gathered that fresh concerns were being raised following last Tuesday’s sack of the former Director-General of the DSS, Lawal Daura.
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Ismail Omipidan and Romanus Ugwu, Abuja
The last seems not to have been heard about the internal insurrection within the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).
For long, members of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) bloc within the party have tried to suppress their “anger” because according to them, they do not want “outsiders” to take advantage of the situation.
But as their “elimination” from the government they consider their own continues, they appear not to be willing to keep quiet anymore. They are now raising fresh concerns about the state of affairs within the party and the government.
Saturday Sun gathered that the fresh concerns were being raised following last Tuesday’s sack of the former Director-General of the Department of State Service (DSS), Lawal Daura.
Daura is seen largely by some of President Muhammadu Buhari’s loyalists as the “enforcement face of the cabal.”
Although, there are still some core Buhari men like the Comptroller-General of Customs, Col. Hammed Ali (rtd), Education Minister, Mallam Adamu Adamu, Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Justice minister, Abubakar Malami and Water Resources Minister, Suleiman Adamu, in government, the CPC bloc, Saturday Sun gathered, still feels a sense of loss, with the sacking of Daura.
Before Daura’s sack, the CPC bloc saw the sacked Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Babachir Lawal as one of its most senior persons in government. Incidentally, after Lawal’s sack by the acting President, Yemi Osinbajo, he was replaced by someone from the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) bloc of the party, Boss Mustapha.
Although Daura’s replacement at the moment appears not to have any link whatsoever with either the ACN or CPC bloc within the party, that his sack was facilitated by Osinbajo, who is of the ACN bloc as acting president, the same man who facilitated the sack of Lawal , makes it more intriguing, with some members of the CPC bloc imputing politics into the whole game.
One of them told Saturday Sun that “there may not have been any agreement or understanding among top leaders of the ACN bloc to sack Daura, but my brother, we are politicians. What appears normal to you, may not to us. Has he not done worst things than that in the past, what about the police involvement in Benue State House of Assembly saga, why did head not roll then?
“There may not have been any disagreement between Baba (Buhari) and Osinbajo, but the presidency goes beyond the two of them. And if you agree with my line of thought, then your guess is as good as mine. We see the whole thing as a deliberate attempt to render us impotent in our own government,” the source said.
Saturday Sun can authoritatively reveal that complaints of marginalisation in government by the CPC bloc are not limited to the government at the centre. There are also complaints from the states too, just as others are aggrieved that the party structure too has been taken over from them.
For instance, in February this year, members of the bloc in Sokoto State complained of marginalisation and urged President Buhari to intervene.
Addressing a press conference at the time, spokesman of the aggrieved party members, Professor Muhammad Bashar said that only a position of Special Adviser was given to those who were members of the CPC bloc since the inception of the present administration, adding that it was a total negation of the merger agreement in the state.
“Out of 88 political appointments, only one was given to CPC even that one was given to a former PDP member who defected to the CPC.
“We are never consulted on any party matters and we have no representation at the national party level either. Therefore, we are effectively excommunicated from the party affairs.
“We are completely shut out of any of the party activities; we therefore request the presidential panel to mediate in this matter of injustice in order to address it.
“We commend our President for recognising the exigency to appoint a mediator, who is the national leader of the party, Bola Tinubu, to assist in salvaging the party from imminent disintegration and collapse.
“As such we resolved to take advantage of the committee to assist in salvaging the APC from imminent disintegration and ultimate collapse to lay our grievances,” Prof. Bashar declared.
If anyone thinks the complaints are limited to the north, wait for this: only last week, the CPC bloc from the South-West re-echoed the same complaints. They alleged that they were not considered for appointments into political offices by the APC-led administration at both the national and state levels.
Spokesperson of the aggrieved APC members in the zone is Banjo Olalekan, 2014 Osun State governorship candidate of the CPC and National Organising Secretary of the party. He alleged that members of the defunct CPC were treated as “second class people in the APC.”
Olalekan told Saturday Sun that the former members of the defunct CPC had, on several occasions, met with the minister of Communication, Mr. Adebayo Shittu over the issue, but to no avail, adding that with the exception of Shittu in the entire South-West, other members of the bloc from Oyo, Osun, Ogun and Lagos States were not given “deserved recognition.”
Names of members of the defunct CPC, he said, had been submitted to President Buhari for appointments into various political offices, but no positive response.
He lamented that the APC members, including members of the defunct CPC worked for the victory of President Buhari in the last general election, expressing worry over the alleged maltreatment meted to them. He also urged APC governors in the South-West to consider them for political appointments as they are all co-founders.
At the party level too, Saturday Sun gathered that the story is the same. According to one of the CPC stalwarts, 90 percent of the members of the APC’s National Working Committee (NWC) as at today are of the ACN bloc.
By this, it means that all those who have a say in the NWC are all from the ACN bloc, the source added.
“Our people are bitter over the development. As it is now, we have no input in government, our own government; we don’t know what goes on in the party. It is a sad development and the earlier, leaders of the party address this issue the better because if it is left unattended to, it may have a devastating impact on our party at the poll next year.”
Saturday Sun gathered that conscious efforts were made by the group to have a strong representation in the party at its just concluded national convention in Abuja.
Those familiar with the development further disclosed that it was the reason Waziri Bulama from Borno State showed interest in running for the position of the party’s national secretary, before he was brought under “tremendous pressure by the governors and Tinubu to step down.”
Incidentally, he stepped down for another member of the ACN bloc, Alhaji Mai Mala Buni from Yobe State, who later emerged the national secretary. Buni, Saturday Sun recall, was ACN’s chairman in Yobe and chairman of the Conference of Political Parties (CNPP) in the state. After the merger, he emerged as the APC chairman in the state, before emerging as the National Secretary of the party in June 2014, at a convention he had attended as a mere delegate with no ambition of running for any office at the time.
Former Borno governor, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff, Saturday Sun gathered, had positioned Kashim Imam for the position. Imam also enjoyed the support of Tinubu at the time. But when it became clear that there was need to “checkmate Sheriff’s influence in the party,” Tinubu was said to have dumped him and hurriedly embraced Buni.
In the end, all the Sheriff’s associates, Imam,Tom Ikimi and Umar Duhu were not considered “fit” for any position despite their earlier endorsement by party members and stakeholders.
Ikimi wanted to be the national chairman, while Duhu wanted to retain his position as the North-East vice chairman of the party. The development forced Sheriff out of the party in the build up to the 2015 general election.
Sheriff is back today in APC. But he is not from the CPC bloc. He is of the ANPP bloc. But since part of the reasons he made the move in 2014 to get his men into the party’s hierarchy was to checkmate the influence of the ACN bloc and in particular that of Tinubu in the party, with a view to advancing his own interest, he is likely to team up with the aggrieved members of the CPC bloc to battle the ACN bloc for the soul of the party. Sheriff has been appointed the Director-General of the Presidential Support Committee for Buhari in 2019.
Saturday Sun further gathered that, while Bulama had to step down at the last national convention, another of Buhari’s loyalists, Faruk Adamu Aliyu, who like Bulama was prompted to run for the office of the Deputy National chairman (North) to represent what they call the “ideological “ arm of the group, refused to step down despite appeals from party leaders.
But in the end, in spite of the fact that his candidature enjoyed tremendous support of the core Buhari men in government, like Chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kyari, Ali, Malami and the rest, he was roundly defeated by another member of the ACN bloc, Senator Lawal Shuaibu.
“Before our national convention, we were marginalised no doubt, but today what we have is total elimination. The National Chairman is ACN, National Secretary, ACN, Deputy National Chairman (North), ACN, Deputy National Chairman (South), ACN, National Legal Adviser, ACN, Financial Secretary, ACN, National Vice Chairman (South-South), ACN, I can go and on. “This is why I call it total elimination. We have been eliminated from the party. But if we must win 2019 convincingly, this issue has to be addressed before it is too late.
“Every time, they talk of 12million votes from the north for Buhari, is it Buhari alone that brings the votes? There are people working for him to bring about that feat. And these people have been around him since 2002. But suddenly, we have all been relegated.
“At inception, INEC shared the party positions on pro rata basis. We had 32 positions then, ACN 9, CPC 9, ANPP 9 and the remaining shared among the smaller parties who were part of the merger. Just after one term, they have jettisoned the sharing formula. It is a sad commentary.
“Look at the way we are struggling to win just a by-election in Katsina. If we were doing the right thing, we should not be struggling like this. The presidency should not be the one leading the campaign for a mere senatorial by –election. If we are struggling now, can you imagine what may happen in 2019 if these things are not addressed?
“If not for the personal love some of us have for Buhari, I would have also defected to another party to contest election. Buhari’s lackadaisical attitude towards the issue is not helping matter at all. Kwankwaso and his supporters were responsible for the 2 million votes we got in Kano. But when it was time for appointments, he was not consulted; they went and brought Kawu (Senior Special Assistant on National Assembly Matters) and Dambazau (Interior Affairs minister) from Kano. Is that how to play politics? Kwankwaso is not part of us in CPC, he came from nPDP, but his treatment is what most of us got.
“We have been managing the internal challenge because we don’t want outsiders to know. We don’t want them to take advantage of it. If it becomes open it will demoralise and affect loyalty of party men negatively, especially those who have been bringing the 12million votes consistently. But the point is, those who should know, are aware. Unfortunately, they are not doing anything about it. If we go into next year’s election like this, anything could happen,” a top leader of the CPC bloc and a core Buhari loyalist told Saturday Sun.
Another chieftain of the CPC bloc, who spoke to Saturday Sun in confidence, warned that they can no longer continue to watch the relegation of their members to the background.
“We find it difficult to believe that this neglect of our members could continue this way. We brought so much to the party but the ACN members have hijacked all the positions, relegating us to mere spectators. If there is no cautious effort to correct the situation, the few still remaining in the party might have no choice than to toe the line of other CPC members in the R-APC. We are not just happy with the treatment meted on us,” he said.
Yet another chieftain of the bloc and former SSA to Adams Oshiomhole, Comrade Ikonomwam Francis, said that the battle line has been drawn, warning that they will do everything within their capacity to stop President Buhari’s re-election bid.
Reacting to the marginalisation of CPC members, Ikonomwam said: “The truth is that the situation we face in the Buhari-led APC government is very pathetic. We laboured for him, we fought for him and brought him from nothing to something politically, we marketed him from a product no one in the south wants to buy to a big brand.
“We did all that to Mr President but he abandoned us. He rejected, abandoned, marginalized and oppressed us. Since 2003 he started contesting, we were solidly behind him especially during the CPC years yet the core CPC members have nothing to show for it. In fact, our situation deteriorated for the worse.
“Let me ask the pertinent question of where was El-Rufai those years we toiled with Buhari to build the CPC? You could remember that this same El-Rufai used derogatory languages on Buhari then but he is now in charge of things. Comrade Oshiomhole worked against Buhari in 2011. We sold our valuable property to support him, we put our lives on the line to ensure that he becomes the president. We are really angry with him.
“We were highly disappointed, we don’t need anything from him any longer because we no longer be pacified. We no longer need anything from him now. And even if he brings money or appointment, we are not ready to accept now.
“Many of us have already embraced the R-APC to take up the struggle against him. We want to ensure that he did not return in 2019. We will celebrate if he did not return in 2019. Our determination and resolution to work against him is unquestionabe. We don’t see how he is going to come back in 2019. It is not going to be possible and we will do everything to stop him,” he said.
However, the APC acting National Publicity Secretary, Yekini Nabena, dismissed their complaints, arguing that they have no reason to complain since Buhari, the leader of the defunct CPC is now the president.
“Let me put it on record that as far as APC is concerned, there is nothing like CPC again. Having merged into the alliance that produces the APC, CPC has seized to exist. The members have no reason to complain. The party is carrying every interest along from day one.
“If I may ask, what other thing do members of the CPC want when they have Mr President who is their leader in charge. For being the president, they ought to know that CPC benefitted even more than other parties that merged to form the APC. Any member of the CPC still complaining must be feeling that it must be him, not for general interest,” Nabena said.
Buhari has declared his intention to run. The party’s ticket is his for the taking. But if Buhari indeed wants to run and win, he must within the next remaining months, change his “lackadaisical attitude” towards his core loyalists within the party and other party members. President Buhari must also seek for better, credible and transparent funding strategies for the party, since he is opposed to using government funds to fund party activities and campaigns. The party is in crisis in most parts of the north and even in the South-West. He must therefore take personal interest in resolving them, including the ones that will follow after the party’s primaries, which begins next month.