The ruling All Progressives Congress is embroiled yet in another leadership crisis as Former Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and former interim national chairman of the the party, Chief Bisi Akande jostles to occupy the seat of Chairman, Board of Trustee of APC.
The quest for the control of the party is causing disquiet among leaders of the APC. The leadership of the party is embroiled in a suppressed cold war over the chairmanship of its Board of Trustees (BoT). “Our adversaries thought we will be broken, but here we are; even the next battle about the issue of BoT that is coming, we will overcome,” a chieftain of the party told our source at the weekend.
There are two contending groups – one led by Tinubu who is pushing for the party’s former Interim National Chairman, Chief Bisi Akande and the other is the camp of Atiku. Curiously, both had played key roles in the race for the National Assembly leadership until last week.While Tinubu preferred Lawan as Senate president and Gbajabiamila as House speaker, Atiku had backed Saraki and Dogara for same positions. Atiku’s official residence was the first point of call of Saraki, shortly after he emerged as Senate president.
According to an APC leader, who is a member of the party’s National Caucus, prior to the emergence of Saraki and Dogara, it was assumed that Atiku was merely going to be endorsed as Tinubu had already given him support for the position. “We don’t see what is happening as new in politics; as soon as the election of the National Assembly leadership took place Tuesday last week, it got to a point that some of our leaders even received anonymous text messages and calls taunting them that that was the end. “Our adversaries thought we will be broken, but here we are; we have been able to navigate and as military men would say, manoeuvre around the situation and see what the national chairman has said; has it not put paid to the issue? “That is the spirit of the APC, the same spirit that bounded us together to this level will continue as far as some of us are concerned; and it is only one major battle for space that we are expecting and that is battle about the issue of BoT that is coming. “We already know the various tendencies; we know that some who do not wish us well are already preparing for the ugly side of the contest to fill the position of the BoT; but we shall overcome as soon as it comes just like that of the Senate president and House speaker that just passed away now,” the source said. New Telegraph gathered that Tinubu’s sudden change of mind on supporting Atiku for the chairmanship of the BoT was as a result of the former vice-president’s suspected role in Saraki and Dogara’s emergence.
“I think what might have influenced his fresh thinking is perhaps the role played by the Turaki Adamawa (as Atiku is fondly called) last week to install the leadership of the National Assembly. “The man wanted the thing for him, he had even supported him on the ground that both the national chairman and BoT chairmanship should not come from the same region; but with the two leaders of the parliament from the same part of the country, he is now pushing for Chief Akande who piloted the affairs of the party to fruition,” he said. Tinubu’s media aide, Sunday Dare, could not be reached on phone as his mobile line was switched off when our correspondent tried to get his reaction. A text message sent to him was yet to be responded to as at the time of this report. However, the former vice-president who spoke through the Head of the Atiku Media Office, Mr. Paul Ibe, said although he was unaware that the party has thrown the BoT race open, he has the qualities to occupy the slot.
“We are not aware that the APC has thrown open the race for the chairmanship of the party’s BoT. But if in the wisdom of the party, it elects to appoint Abubakar as the Chairman of its BoT, the Turaki Adamawa will be amenable and well disposed to it because he is eminently qualified to offer his services to the party at that level. “However, since we are unaware about the BoT Chairmanship race of the APC being thrown up, that presupposes that we cannot be aware of any forces being opposed to it,” Ibe said in a reply to an email from our correspondent. It was gathered that already, the former vicepresident has been meeting stakeholders to ensure that the position is zoned to the North-East. A member of the NWC told New Telegraph that they would block Atiku from becoming the BoT chairman. He said for fairness, the position should go to the South so that the party won’t be accused of turning the party into “Northern party”.
“We will definitely prevent Atiku from becoming the party’s BoT chair. Mr. President is from the North. So also the Senate president (Bukola Saraki) and Speaker of the House of Representatives (Yakubu Dogara). Does it mean the other parts of the country don’t have a stake in the party? “The speaker is from the North-East, the same as Atiku.
There is no way he can emerge as the BoT chair. That is the argument of the party leadership. Don’t forget that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) had accused us of being a northern party, so allowing Atiku to get the BoT seat is confirming the accusation of the opposition party,” the source said. National publicity secretary of the APC referred New Telegraph to Odigie- Oyegun for comments on the brewing crisis over the BoT chairmanship. “I can’t talk to you on that, please talk to the national chairman on that issue,” he said.
However, it was learnt that President Muhammadu Buhari, Saraki and Dogara as well as the APC NWC were likely to meet within the week to further find a way on how to douse tension in the party over the National Assembly leadership crisis. Our correspondent could not confirm if other party leaders would be in attendance at the meeting tentatively fixed for either Wednesday or Thursday.
Although the reasons for the planned meeting could not be independently confirmed, it is expected that the meeting, the first of such since the emergence of the National Assembly leaders, might discuss the fallout of the elections of Saraki and Dogara. Among such issues to be discussed according to findings was the need to properly integrate the Senator Lawan-led Unity Group in the Senate in the distribution of committees in the Red Chamber of the National Assembly.
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