BY BENEDICT NWACHUKWU, ABUJA
The intra party squabbles in the ruling All Progressives Congress is getting messier by the day with members of the National Working Committee at daggers drawn to undo each other.
The crisis has risen to an unbelievable height as the National Chairman, Abdullahi Adamu and the National Secretary, Iyiola Omisore are attacking the National Vice Chairman, North West, Saliu Lukman.
Days after the National Chairman had described Lukman as an unstable character whose antecedents speaks volumes of his personality, the National Secretary claimed that the Kaduna politician is still harbouring bitterness of his sack as the Director General of the Progressives Governors Forum.
The duo argued that Lukman had no useful point in his claims adding that he is out to pull down the party he claims to be a key member.
Adamu emphatically said that Lukman has no reason to act the way he has been acting since the NWC under his leadership came on board.
The former governor of Nasarawa State also wondered how a member of the NWC should drag the body to court for whatever reason when there are internal mechanisms to settle whatever differences that came up in the course of running the affairs of the party.
“He took the NWC to court. Some members pressed it on him to withdraw the case and apologize which he did yet he has remained unrepentant fighting hard to bring crisis in the party. That is his antecedent. But we are not distracted. We remain focused even with his unfounded allegations,” Adamu said.
On his part, Omisore had labeled Lukman as a ‘loose cannon’ and ‘black sheep’ of the party. He also described the National Vice Chairman for the North West as a gas lighter who likes crying wolf where there is none.
Reacting to what he described as vituperations by the two party leaders, Lukman, on Wednesday, said “no matter how bad my past or antecedents speak, I have not been associated with murder or witches.”
“They should please sheathe their swords. No matter what, we should not wash our dirty linens in public. We are the ruling party that alone should encourage every one of us to embrace peace. Whatever that is happening at the headquarters has a way of affecting the states negatively. We should learn from the mistakes of the PDP. For now, we should be consolidating, not tearing the party apart”
He disclosed that the APC did not give President Bola Tinubu, governors and other candidates who contested the 2023 general elections ‘a dime’ to fund the electioneering.
The former Director General of the Progressives Governors Forum stated that, unlike former President Muhammadu Buhari who was fortunate to have people mobilise money for his election, the former Lagos governor singlehandedly funded his presidential rallies.
“He (Tinubu) didn’t get a dime from the party. I challenge them. I’m making this public. Let them contradict me. Let them show evidence that that is not the case,” he said.
Lukman who made the revelation in a television programme in Abuja to clear the allegation leveled against him by both Adamu and Omisore, maintained that the non-availability of funds to the president and all candidates of the party in the build-up to the 2023 general elections was anomalous claiming that even the Osun State election that was disastrous to the party was well funded.
Lukman argued that the party had no money in 2015 yet it funded the elections of the presidential and governorship candidates but regretted that after amassing over N32 billion from selling of forms in the recently concluded elections, the party could not contribute a dime to its candidates’ campaigns.
He said, “Look in 2015, the APC was truly a model party. In fact, it was a party to really copy. President Buhari doesn’t have money. There were people who were assigned the responsibility to raise money. It’s not like Asiwaju that people said has money. So there were people assigned with the responsibility of mobilising money for the party.
“If anything was done in 2023 based on that, it would have been the initiative of Asiwaju. I am not aware of it as a party. If you remember, in-between we were busy causing distractions about what should be our roles in the APC Presidential Campaign Council.”
Lukman warned that unless the NWC members are humble and honest to admit that these are things that ordinarily shouldn’t have happened and admit they need to correct these errors and reshape the relationship between them and the government that emerge, the problem will continue to linger.
A prominent member of the NWC who preferred anonymity told The Point in a chat that the squabbles between the National Vice Chairman North West and both the National Chairman and the National Secretary are robbing mud on the party’s image.
He decried the utterances of both parties on national televisions, saying, “They should please sheathe their swords. No matter what, we should not wash our dirty linens in public. We are the ruling party that alone should encourage every one of us to embrace peace.
Whatever that is happening at the headquarters has a way of affecting the states negatively. We should learn from the mistakes of the PDP. For now, we should be consolidating, not tearing the party apart.”
The NWC member further stated that telling the whole world that the party did not support President Tinubu is rather portraying the party in a bad light.
“When a member of the NWC said we (APC NWC) did not support our presidential candidate and the governors, he was only trying to cause divisions in the party. If you noticed such during the campaign, all you needed to do is get across to the members that you noticed this and that and demand explanations not indulging in blanket condemnation of the party. Does he know whether the candidate did not need the party’s finances? There was no place President Tinubu campaigned that the National Chairman and the NWC members were not conspicuously present and active. My take is that we don’t need these quarrels now. They must be mature,” our source pleaded.
The National Deputy Women Leader, Zainab Abubakar Ibrahim told The Point in a telephone conversation that what is happening between the warring parties negates the principles of the party.
She said, “They should settle their problems in-house. It’s a family affair. As a body any problem that arises becomes a family problem and should be settled in-house. You don’t take family problems outside. The symbol of our party is broom and broom connotes unity, so we must live up to our symbol. We must be united as a party to progress.”
Speaking further, Zainab Ibrahim said, “We have confidence in our leadership. Whatever anybody says, we have full confidence in our leadership and if there’s any problem we are going to solve it within ourselves but my call to anybody that is aggrieved is to try and settle the crisis within the party. Nobody should wash his dirty linens outside for outsiders to see the dirt. That’s my sincere advice.”
In a telephone interview with The Point, the APC Chairman of Kogi State, Abdullahi Bello, said he was not aware of any crisis in the NWC. He said the forum of APC states chairmen paid a visit to the NWC at the Buhari house national headquarters in Abuja last week and there was no sign of crisis because they had a full house.
“I am not aware of any crisis in the NWC. Just last week, the forum of state chairmen had a meeting with the NWC and I can tell you we had a full house, so you are the one telling me about the crisis. I didn’t watch the television programmes you are talking about, until I am able to watch it, I can’t speak on it but I want to assure you that the NWC is intact, our party is intact. We have no crisis.”
“The Forum Chairman and all of us including the FCT Chairman were there in Abuja and all seems to be well. There was no sign of wrangling in the party’s NWC. Though I didn’t carry out a head count of the NWC members at the meeting, all I can say is that about 90 per cent of the NWC members were there and we made our presentations. Like I said, I was not privileged to watch the television programmes where you said they attacked themselves.”
Another party chieftain who wouldn’t want his name in print said what is playing out between the NWC members is a game plan to have a new leadership in the party.
The chieftain stated that the party bigwigs do not want the Adamu-led NWC to continue because they are not comfortable with him.
“All the allegations against the National Chairman are orchestrated to remove him because of “the role he played during the presidential primary” where it was clear he never supported the aspirations of President Tinubu. However, it might not be the President who wants him removed, you know politics, those who want to curry the favour of the president can go to any length to uncover the ‘sins’ of others to please the powers that be. In any case, the handwriting on the wall is showing that Senator Adamu is on his way out. And if you ask me, I will tell you that no Jupiter will stop that.”
Uncertainty over Adamu’s fate as APC NEC meets
However, ahead of the National Caucus and National Executive Committee meeting of the APC scheduled for July 18 and 19, an air of uncertainty is hovering over Adamu.
Adamu, who emerged as APC National Chairman during a national convention organized by the Buni-led caretaker committee at the Eagles Square in Abuja in March 2022, has been under pressure to relinquish his position over allegations of financial impropriety.
A former governor of Nasarawa State, Adamu was former President Muhammadu Buhari’s preferred candidate, and by virtue of this, other contenders for the position of national chairman were asked to step down for him.
But the prospect of exhausting his first tenure of four years in office has been hanging in the balance as some party stakeholders have called for his resignation for the balance of power along religious lines.
Amidst fears that the NEC, which is the second highest decision-making organ of the party, might show him the exit route following financial and other allegations, Adamu last week met with state chairmen of the party in Abuja.
The meeting, which took place at the APC national headquarters, was part of efforts by the party’s helmsman to lobby state chairmen ahead of the National Caucus and NEC meetings.
Recall that state chairmen of the APC are members of the NEC and can pass a vote of no confidence on the chairman.
A member of the APC National Caucus who craved anonymity said, “Nobody is sure of what is going to happen.
“There are people who don’t like Adamu’s style of leadership, and there are those who are fanning the embers of chaos and disunity.
“That time, Adamu didn’t support Tinubu, but we have put that behind us, because we have won the election and it is time to unite the party; it is time to unite the country.
“Tinubu is not thinking of sacking Adamu now because it’s too early in the day. Adamu can on his own resign if he is not comfortable.
“If Tinubu can control the party, Adamu cannot do anything. If Tinubu decides to exert full control of the party, Adamu can only take orders from him. So there won’t be a crisis as to removing Adamu.”
Another source said if Adamu was to be removed, Tinubu wouldn’t have appointed a former governor of Benue State, Senator George Akume as Secretary to the Government of the Federation.
He explained that Akume’s appointment was an indication that Adamu would not be removed any time soon.
He said, “Politics is about calculations. Sometimes it’s clear and sometimes it’s dark.
“Let it be on notice that Akume wouldn’t have been appointed SGF. He would have been reserved for the position of APC national chairman if Adamu was to be sacked during NEC.
“Remember, only Mr. President can trigger his sack or resignation. If Mr. President doesn’t want him out, he will prevail on NEC members not to pass a vote of no confidence on him.”
NO CRISIS IN NWC
Addressing newsmen after the meeting with Adamu, Cross River State chairman and acting secretary of the forum of APC chairmen, Alphonsus Oga, said they were invited by the National Working Committee for the meeting.
He, however, denied any form of crisis in the party as a reason for the postponement of the NEC meeting.
He said, “As you are all aware, since after the election we won and won so well, we have not had the opportunity of meeting our leaders, the national chairman, and members of NWC.
“The opportunity of the planned NEC meeting brought us together on the invitation of the NWC to meet with them and we are happy to announce that it became an opportunity for the forum of APC state chairmen to congratulate the winning chairman of our party, his Excellency, Senator Abdullahi Adamu and his hardworking team of the NWC.”
Asked if the NEC meeting was postponed due to the crisis, Oga said, “This is a moment where rumours and blackmail can thrive, but as a party, there is only one APC, and we came again in solidarity to say we are strongly behind our national chairman and the NWC.
“That is a complete rumour because whatever you might have heard about board membership, those letters were addressed to state chairmen, and every state chairman is loyal to his state governor and where there is no governor, they are loyal to the stakeholders.
Speaking during the opening session, Adamu asked President Tinubu to strengthen the party.
He said, “It is our hope and prayers that Mr. President will come along with us in that regard and strengthen the relationship of the party in the states and at the national level to enjoy some level of patronage in the new government.
“Those are the key issues that we do hope to share with you in the course of this meeting.
“We thought that having a meeting with you as chairmen who bear the brunt, of course, the governors are the heads of our party in the states, but you run the party daily and a good blend of understanding between you and the governors and members of the NWC will go more than the ordinary way in enhancing the kind of leadership that we want to have for the party.”
Adamu also expressed optimism that the party would win the Bayelsa, Kogi and Imo states’ governorship elections slated for November.
On the nomination of ministers, Adamu said, “The president has just started and he is doing his extensive consultations before coming up with his nominees.”
Adamu also denied the existence of any rift between him and President Tinubu over the management of the affairs of the ruling party.
News about a crack in the leadership of the party gathered momentum after the appointment of presiding officers for the National Assembly by the Senate President, Godwills Akpabio, and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Tajudeen Abbas.
“It might not be the President who wants him removed, you know politics, those who want to curry the favour of the president can go to any length to uncover the ‘sins’ of others to please the powers that be. In any case, the handwriting on the wall is showing that Senator Adamu is on his way out. And if you ask me, I will tell you that no Jupiter will stop that”
Some reports carried the story that Adamu, with the backing of members of the NWC, had mandated the leadership of the federal legislative house to send their full list for approval to the NWC of the APC, which unfortunately was not heeded to. An action some aggrieved members of the ruling party saw as a confrontation by the house leadership on the party.
However, it was learnt that before the presidential primary of the APC, Adamu had declared his support for former Senate President Ahmad Lawan, an action that many saw as a direct confrontation with the ambition of Tinubu and grouse for what is happening in the party.
Adamu appeared on a television programme on Tuesday, denying any rift between himself and President Tinubu.
He accused the media and those unhappy with his style of leadership of the party of pushing this falsehood.
“It is true that at the time when I made the presentation to the National Working Committee, yes, before the convention, I presented the name of the former Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, for the presidency,” Adamu said, not denying the fact that he actually didn’t support the ambition of President Tinubu.
“So many things took place before the convention, and once he was nominated, I led the committee as chairman of the party to his residence at Asokoro.
“We assured him of our support; we assured him that this mandate given to him is sold properly to the Nigerian populace and electorate. Something that we did so well.”
The National Chairman added that his entire team aggressively supported the president by not only accompanying him to campaign rallies across the country but also mobilising enough grassroots support to ensure his victory.
“I was privileged to lead the party up to the election, and we delivered the election in favour of our great party,” he exclaimed.
Adamu, angry at how naysayers and political opponents have gone about trashing his Excos effort at ensuring victory at the polls for the president, said that it is unfortunate that they have “vilified” their effort.
“They complained that it is now that they say they want the accounts,” he said.
He added that, for anything, he expects all Nigerians to acknowledge and appreciate the effort his Excos made to ensure victory for his candidate and party at the general elections.
“I have not had any misunderstandings with him since the convention and when he was elected,” he said about the friendly relationship between him and President Tinubu.
Adamu added that for those wishing to continue spreading lies about a crack in the relationship between him and the president, he and the president will continue to enjoy a good working relationship.