- Sets up think-tank to polarise VP, Tinubu
- ‘Plan to pacify Igbo’
With the economy floundering and in dire need of attention from the Presidency, investigations by The Point have revealed that the President Muhammadu Buhari camp may be busy with the power game building up ahead of 2019.
The latest in the series of actions being lined up by the Presidency as part of the grand plan to stand up to the national leader of the All Progressives Congress, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and his cohighly dependable source, who pleaded anonymity, said. He revealed that there were pockets of camps within the Presidency, one of which reportedly argued that “since Osinbajo is not only a Yoruba man from the South West, but a core Tinubu apostle, his loyalty to Tinubu, either in or out of APC, remains sacrosanct.”
Tinubu was said to have single handedly nominated Osinbajo for the position of Vice President in 2015. Another pressure group is said to be headed by the President’s cousin, who is also the Director General of the Department of State Sets up think-tank to polarise VP, Tinubu ‘Plan to pacify Igbo’ travellers in their alleged effort to seize power from the Buhari administration, is the move to woo a former governor of Abia State, Orji Uzor Kalu, as a possible replacement for Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo in the next general elections.
Dependable sources close to the seat of power told The Point that the Buhari camp, sensing a potential loss of support and electoral votes from the South West, in the event of the Tinubu forces pulling out, is tinkering with options to win over the South East and perhaps South South blocs. “With many gladiators, who joined forces to see APC through to victory during the last elections already fingered in the movement to form a new mega party, there is intense calculation being done to get a crowd-puller from the South East geo-political zone. This is to garner substantial votes from the region to shore up what may be lost should the South West go with Tinubu,” one of the sources revealed. The source, who is considered a force to reckon with in the current political environment, also said that the latest move suggested that the political romance between President Buhari and his Vice, Osinbajo, might be heading for the rocks.
Although, President Buhari has not come out openly to declare his intention to stay in power beyond 2019, his body language, analysts said, seemed to point in that direction, “as a lot of pressure groups want him to continue doing the good work he has started, especially in the fight against corruption.”
“The choice of Kalu is part of the current political strategies that will put President Buhari in a vantage position, especially now that Tinubu appears not to be in the same ship with him,” another highly dependable source, who pleaded anonymity, said. He revealed that there were pockets of camps within the Presidency, one of which reportedly argued that “since Osinbajo is not only a Yoruba man from the South West, but a core Tinubu apostle, his loyalty to Tinubu, either in or out of APC, remains sacrosanct.” Tinubu was said to have singlehandedly nominated Osinbajo for the position of Vice President in 2015.
Another pressure group is said to be headed by the President’s cousin, who is also the DirectorGeneral of the Department of State Security Services, Mamman Daura, who reportedly declared that the choice of a vice presidential candidate would be more desirable, if he came from the SouthEast geo-political zone.
And while a lot of stakeholders and commentators, who spoke with The Point on the new plot have yet to come to terms with Presidency’s choice of Kalu, a team of thought-leaders and power-brokers, drawn from the South East and South South, have been constituted and have begun work on actualising the Kalu Vice Presidency project.
Indeed, a prominent leader of the South South, who was close to the last administration of President Goodluck Jonathan and a respected former governor from the South East region, are key members of the team, which has also been saddled with planning and holding broad-based consultations across the two geo-political zones with a view to winning massive support for Kalu’s candidacy.
In its last two editions, The Point had reported authoritatively, that there were fresh facts linking former President Olusegun Obasanjo, Tinubu, former Senate President, Ken Nnamani, former governor of Cross River State, Donald Duke, Senator Rabiu Kwankwaso and other bigwigs to a major political realignment that would birth a new mega party to wrest power from the Buhari-led administration come 2019.
It also reported that the Presidency had began orchestrating a broad plan to cut Tinubu to size, what with his alleged involvement as a central figure in the formation of the new mega-party.
And in the aftermath, over the last 20 days, there have been a number of developments in the polity confirming The Point’s reportage of happenings in the political space, the most recent being the criticisms, during the week, of the Buhari-led government by former President Olusegun Obasanjo.
The Point gathered that the lastest move to puncture Tinubu’s perceived stronghold was to ensure that Tinubu’s group did not have any edge over the ruling political party in 2019.
Recall that Orji Kalu decamped to the ruling APC on Wednesday, November 16. “Kalu is said to have the money, the political sagacity and the charisma, and his choice as the Vice President would mean that APC or any other political party for that matter that would have the incumbent as its presidential candidate, would garner much support and votes,” our source added.
Another source, who also pleaded anonymity, told The Point, “Kalu is not even a rookie. He is grounded in the type of politics we play in this part of the world. He knows how to play the power game. Mind you, the last time a vice presidential candidate was picked from the South East, in the person of Dr. Alex Ekwueme, was between 1979 and 1983, when Shehu Shagari, was the President. “The idea now is that the Igbos, who have been shouting marginalisation, would once again be pacified by the gesture.”
But a former governor of old Anambra State and former Minister of Sports, Jim Nwobodo, said such moves would bring no positive result.
“How will such happen? I don’t want to comment on the development. But I have my strong reasons for saying it will not fly,” he said.
One of The Point’s reliable sources further revealed that a political think-tank within the Presidency, which was lately constituted with a view to exploring different ways of garnering votes from the South-Eastern part of the country, had commenced work in earnest.
Part of the brief of the think-tank is to fashion out a way to further polarise the knit relationship between Osinbajo and Tinubu.
Recall that President Buhari’s biographer, Prof. John Paden, had written in his book, ‘Muhammadu Buhari: The Challenge of Leadership,’ that Tinubu was not the person who nominated Osinbajo, after all, for the vice presidency.
But The Point gathered that amidst all the political permutations, “Osinbajo keeps mute and indifferent, perhaps trying to avoid being labelled a traitor. In all his doings, he has been able to measure his utterances.”
Meanwhile, as the underground political shenanigan within the Presidency rages, the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola (SAN), was recently told to liaise with the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, in ensuring that all contractors handling some federal projects, especially road projects, across the country were promptly paid.
The idea behind this directive, according to an impeccable source, “is to allow for total grassroots participation in the 2019 Buhari Project.”
“Beyond this, some core elders in both the South South and South East, respectively, are being consulted by the Aso Rock political think-tank, preparatory to 2019, which some people think is still quite far,” he added.
For now, a lot of political jobbers have been reportedly planted within the inner circles of the Aso Rock Villa to act as the ear of the President.
“Almost all of them report directly to Daura, who is a loyal cousin of Mr. President and one of the powers behind the throne,” the source pointed out.
However, many stakeholders in the Nigerian Project, who spoke with The Point, disagreed with the possibility of the Kalu plan working out.
They hinged their disagreement on Kalu’s antecedent and the many allegations of corrupt practices hanging around his neck.
A major stakeholder in the South-East, who pleaded anonymity, told The Point that if the Buhari camp was serious about winning over the South-East come 2019, the immediate past governor of Anambra State, Peter Obi, would have been a better option.
He said, “Orji Uzor Kalu for Vice President? That is not possible. If the Buhari camp wants to win the South-East, Obi is a better option. Kalu is a rather bigger liability to the APC than an asset. “So, if Buhari is serious about courting the South-East and winning the zone over, Kalu is not the choice. He is not as popular in the South-East as he is making people to believe and would add no political value to the Buhari 2019 Project.”
Reacting to the development, the senator representing Ondo North in the upper legislative chamber of the National Assembly, Senator Robert Ajayi Boroffice, expressed surprise at such a move.
He said it would surely have ripple effects on the polity, adding, “In politics, everything goes. If this is true, then I see it as one of the ploys to shut out the South West geo-political zone and that will have far reaching effects on the polity. But it is difficult to believe that such a move will be contemplated.”
On his part, a top politician from Ikorodu, Lagos, Basorun Olorunfemi, said, “That move is not possible. How can Buhari, who is an anti-corruption crusader, root for someone like that? “Apart from that, Kalu just joined APC and I don’t think the party will root for such candidate with Buhari. What credential is he bringing to the table?”
However, a staunch Buharist, who had been a member of his team since the Congress for Progressive Change days, said nobody ever thought President Buhari could align with Tinubu in the build-up to 2015.
“Didn’t Tinubu also have similar situations of past corruption on his neck? But the alignment with him brought us where we are now. So, anything is possible in the power game,” he argued.
Meanwhile, a special adviser to Orji Kalu, Mr. Kunle Oyewumi, in a reaction, said there was no such plan to prepare his principal as possible replacement for Vice President Osinbajo.
He said, “For now, Kalu is not looking forward to replacing the VP. He did not join the APC because of any ambition. He did because of pressure from friends and political associates, with an overarching objective to drive development in the region.”
Oyewumi added that besides, Kalu is a close friend to President Buhari and Tinubu, and as such, will rather be an agent of reconciliation than pitch tent with anyone.
Additional reports by Olajide Omojolomoju