Ahead of the September 28 commencement of campaigns, chairmen of at least three of the political parties are enmeshed in one conflict or the other.
There are fresh efforts to ensure that the national chairmen of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC; People Democratic Party, PDP; and African Democratic Congress, ADC, do not lead the parties’ quest to produce President Muhammadu Buhari’s successor.
The dust raised by the decision of the APC to settle for a Muslim-Muslim presidential ticket are yet to settle as there are plots to get the National Chairman, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, out of the way for a Christian to lead the party.
In the PDP, supporters of Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, are insisting on resignation of National Chairman, Senator Iyorchia Ayu, as one of the conditions to back the party’s presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar.
In the ADC, there is a pitched battle for the soul of the party between forces loyal to the National Chairman, Chief Ralphs Okey Nwosu, and the presidential candidate, Mr. Dumebi Kachikwu.
While Kachikwu argued that the tenure of the ADC National Working Committee, NWC, led by Nwosu, expired on August 28, 2022, the NWC in a statement by Dr Bamidele Ajadi, Deputy National Chairman (Politics), said Kachikwu had been suspended for making defamatory statements impugning the integrity of the party.
The developments are hurting full composition of the campaign councils of the three parties.
This came as fresh facts on the reason the parley of presidential aspirants of the APC, scheduled for last Wednesday, was botched.
Moves to oust Adamu
As the APC and its presidential candidate, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu close ranks on the composition of its presidential campaign council, strategists within the party are working on ensuring ethno-religious balancing in its membership.
On this score, some critical stakeholders and governors are said to be still opposed to the idea of having Senator Adamu steer the affairs of the party through the general election.
One of the influential governors of the party from the North-West was said to have proposed to have Adamu return to the Senate where he was before he became party chairman.
“That was before the window for the Independent National Electoral Commission substitution of candidates, closed,” said a party source.
The source continued: “As we head to the campaigns, we want to ensure ethno-religious harmony in the APC. We want to ensure deliberate inclusion of all divides and tendencies. We want to approach the campaigns and the election proper with a united front. With a Muslim-Muslim presidential ticket, we want a Christian to lead the APC. This will complement the Campaign Council led by Governor Simon Lalong of Plateau, who is a Christian,” the source said.
However, Vanguard gathered that those pushing for Adamu’s ouster have a tough nut to crack.
“They must get the buy-in of President Buhari, APC governors and critical stakeholders. It may be difficult because the election is six months away and the move will affect other NWC positions,” a party source said.
Wike’s camp in fight-to-finish with Ayu
Wike came second in the PDP presidential primaries. He was top among the three names a selection committee raised by Atiku recommended for the vice presidential slot.
However, Atiku chose Delta State Governor Ifeanyi Okowa, as his running mate. Ever since, an aggrieved Wike, who felt maltreated, has with the backing of Governors Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia, Samuel Ortom of Benue and Seyi Makinde of Oyo and other supporters, held the party by the jugular.
They have held meetings with Atiku, Bola Tinubu of the APC, Peter Obi of the Labour Party and former President Olusegun Obasanjo among others in London sending dangerous signals to the PDP hierarchy.
Last week, Ayu blasted Wike, saying he would not resign, adding that those asking him to resign were children, who were not there when he teamed up with other leaders to found the PDP in 1998.
Ayu’s remarks elicited a sharp response from Wike, who said Ayu through his arrogance wanted the PDP to lose the 2023 presidential poll and “we will help them lose.”
Why APC presidential aspirants’s parley was botched
The APC is still struggling to get its candidate, Asiwaju Ahmed Tinubu and his opponents who lost in the presidential primary on the same page.
Attempts to broker a meeting between them have so far been futile.
A meeting initiated by Mr. Nicolas Felix, one of the aspirants who stepped down for Tinubu at the APC presidential primaries, was postponed indefinitely “when it became clear the aspirants will not attend,” a source told Vanguard, weekend.
A source added: “If Tinubu was the one inviting the aspirants for the parley, it would have made more sense. It is not Felix that should be talking to aggrieved aspirants. Up till now, most of them have not declared their support for Tinubu. Is it Felix that will be talking to people like Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, Chief Rotimi Amaechi, Dr Ogbonnaya Onu, Governor Dave Umahi, Governor Yahaya Bello, and Dr Tunde Bakare?
“Getting these big politicians, some of whom are really aggrieved, to work for Tinubu with all their hearts is not a child’s play. I think Tinubu should be the one initiating the process.’’
Although the ruling APC has continually denied it, disputes over composition of the campaign council has stalled an announcement of the list of members for the national campaign.
Trouble started for the party when the National Chairman, Abdullahi Adamu, and a handful of members of the inner cycle of President Buhari, tried but failed to foist Senate President, Ahmad Lawan as the “consensus presidential candidate” of the party for the 2023 elections.
When the plot failed, and Tinubu emerged as standard bearer, the race for a running mate became the rallying point for those who lost in the primary.
It took most aspirants and party members by surprise when Tinubu settled for former Borno State governor, Kashim Shettima, a fellow Muslim, as running mate.
In defence of his choice, Tinubu has told those who cared to listen that he chose “competence over sentiments.” He, however, promised to appoint Christians into “sensitive positions” if he wins and becomes president.
Other party leaders simply chose to lampoon all those who complained about his choice. A scandal soon broke out during the unveiling of Shettima as running mate. A group of persons dressed in clerical robes made an appearance and were announced as “Bishops” who were at the ceremony to give their blessings to the decision. What began as murmurings by some party members who are of the Christian faith, soon snowballed into open denunciation.
Former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir Lawal and former speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, both Tinubu loyalists have publicly denounced this decision.
Lawal who would have none of it, said the Muslim-Muslim ticket is part of a long-term political strategy by the Muslim North to exclude Christians from political power.
He said: “All this talk of competence as the reason for the choice of the Muslim VP is balderdash and diversionary. This is a calculated anti-Christian exclusion agenda that is being implemented.”
Lawal equally wondered why his party choose to ignore the opposition of some members and why the party “hired fake bishops to further embarrass the church.
“Christians all over the country see this ticket as a deliberate and premeditated attempt to introduce and firmly entrench religion into the politics of the country, which could lead to further disharmony,” he added.
Some other party members who felt strongly about the issue resigned their membership to seek their political fortunes elsewhere.
One of such members is Daniel Bwala, an Abuja-based legal practitioner and legislative aide to Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege.
He announced that he could not in good conscience justify the decision of the party to jettison the age-long practice of inclusion which ensures sensitivity to religious persuasions.
The party has been struggling to compensate for this with the choice of the Plateau State Governor, Simon Lalong, as Director-General of the Presidential Campaign.
This, has however, failed to assuage the feelings of some party members who insist the party should do better.
They argue that it was illogical that the party’s presidential candidate and running mate, and National Chairman of the party all belong to the same faith to the exclusion of others.
The agitation for the replacement of the party’s National Chairman, Abdullahi Adamu, is getting louder by the day.