The ruling All Progressives Congress’ (APC) confusing weekend of drama finally unravelled Tuesday, despite assurances that all was well. The head of the Presidential Campaign Council and Governor of Plateau State, Barrister Simon Lalong, had no choice but to announce the postponement of activities, including the inauguration of the 422-member Council following bitter complaints from stakeholders that included the powerful governors on the party’s platform.
His Tuesday statement reads “Recall that we had earlier earmarked a peace walk and prayers for Wednesday, September 28, 2022, to officially kick-off our campaigns for the 2023 Presidential Elections. We had also announced that the members of the Campaign Council report at the Campaign Headquarters on that day to collect their letters of appointments.
“However, due to the expansion of the list to accommodate more stakeholders and interests within the APC family, we have decided to adjust the time-table of these activities in order to ensure everyone is on board before activities officially commence. Consequently, the activities earlier announced for the 28th of September will no longer hold.
“As the ruling and most attractive party in Nigeria, we understand the sacrifices and understanding of our teeming members who are more than willing to volunteer themselves for this great task ahead. It also shows the enormous love that the party members have for our candidates.
“A new date and time-table of events will be announced soon”.
Meantime, trouble is said to be brewing for a Minister in President Muhammadu Buhari’s cabinet because his garrulous nature paints the seven year old administration in bad light.
A sample: invited to speak on the ruling All Progressives Congress’ (APC) campaign issues for the 2023 elections, Festus Keyamo SAN misfired. He said: “These are the kind of questions we want to see, the issues we want to remain on not Muslim-Muslim ticket. We have issues upon issues we want to talk about….
“Nigerians are hungry, they want to see how that hunger will be addressed, not how their Christian or Muslim faiths will be addressed.”
Political meaning: Buhari in the last seven years created hunger in the land, but Tinubu will fix the problem.
But after an online publication announced that President Buhari had asked for his removal, the presidency, through one of its spokespersons, Mr. Garba Shehu said it was fake news.
“The news that President Muhammadu Buhari has called for the removal of Festus Keyamo, SAN as a spokesperson of the APC Presidential Campaign Council is fake news.
“Both President Buhari and the Presidential Candidate, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu are happy with the job Keyamo doing, and with the general set up of the impending campaign, which has already become an example for other parties.
“We aware that conspiracy theories are being hatched with a ripple effect to defame our party leaders and hold back the campaign. Supporters of our candidates should not pay attention to “news” from these fountains of false narratives,” Shehu said.
Keyamo’s accident of speech comes amid another explanation he offered at the weekend for the mismanaged list of Tinubu’s Presidential Campaign Council (PCC) membership.
Reports have it that Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr. Boss Mustapha, may have declined to serve on the council for religious reasons, but Keyamo put a different spin to it.
His spin came as the embattled party tried on Monday to downplay internal grumbling over the composition of the council.
Many party stalwarts are said to be dissatisfied and disgruntled though only one, Joe Igbokwe, from Lagos is known to have gone public, criticising the make-up the Council. He lamented that the party reward system was poor. A post on his Facebook page said, ”All things considered APC Nigeria poor reward system in Nigeria worries me to the marrows.
”The party rewards idle people, hangers-on, layabouts, interlopers, cowards, onlookers etc.”
The controversial Muslim-Muslim ticket of the APC is believed to have turned off the Vice President and the SGF, both believed to have served the party loyally and diligently, but spurned when it mattered most. Osinbajo lost the party’s ticket to his former boss, Tinubu, who was Lagos State governor and appointed him as Attorney General and Commissioner of Justice.
It was gathered that Mustapha may have opted to go with the
APC Northern Christian Politicians Forum which is fighting the Muslim-Muslim ticket. It has former House of Representatives Speaker, Yakubu Dogara; and a strong ally of Mustapha, former SGF David Babachir Lawal, as prime movers. Lawal is believed to have recommended Mustapha to President Muhammadu Buhari as his replacement when the plum SGF job for alleged corruption.
The three men were understandably missing from the PCC list, what with the virulent criticisms of the Muslim-Muslim ticket by Dogara and Lawal.
Keyamo has said that President Buhari asked that Osinbajo be not saddled with extra responsibility because he needs him to concentrate on presidential duties, but a member of the Ondo State House of Assembly Read a different meaning when he disclosed in a tweet on micro-blog site, Twitter, that Osinbajo asked to be excused, because he could not in good conscience serve in the council.
The Ondo lawmaker, Peoples Democratic Party’s (PDP) Tomide Akinribido said, “Is it a coincidence that the top two Christians in the government and party hierarchy, Vice-President and SGF, are excluded from the campaign council of a rejected Muslim-Muslim ticket?
“The Christian community must stand in solidarity with Osinbajo and reject the disastrous APC Muslim-Muslim ticket.
“It takes enormous courage for him to decline participation in the Tinubu campaign council, he must be protected at all cost.
“VP Osinbajo was approached to play a prominent role in the APC campaign team, especially among the Christian community.
“He declined and stated that he cannot do such in good conscience. Whether Laolu Akande debunks this does not matter. Prof himself knows this is the truth”.
But Keyamo said, “Our attention has been drawn to some stories making the rounds that there may be something amiss within the family of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as the name of our own revered and respected Vice-President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, GCON, is not included in the list of the Tinubu/Shettima Presidential Campaign Council,” the statement reads.
“Nothing can be farther from the facts. For the avoidance of doubt, President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, is the chairman of the campaign council. As a result, Mr President has SPECIFICALLY directed that the Vice-President and the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, should be left out of the Campaign Council to concentrate on the governance of the country and administration of government.
“As a responsible party and government, all the key functionaries of government cannot abandon their positions for electioneering campaigns. The APC has the mandate of the Nigerian people to administer the country on their behalf at least till May 29, 2023, and this we intend to do with all sense of responsibility.
“Our candidates and the leadership of the APC have also indicated that the list is not sacrosanct as there may be periodic review of it as circumstances dictate.
“We will not toe the path of those who governed the country in an irresponsible manner before us, and our Party is not in total disarray like those who wish to ‘rescue’ the country but cannot simply manage their own internal affairs.”
In Abuja, a source close to the nation’s seat of power corroborated the Ondo lawmaker’s position, adding that “he (VP) does not want to be seen as endorsing a glaring ostracisation of persons of his faith from the North in a multi-ethnic and multi-religious entity like Nigeria.”
But there are those who will not buy his sudden love for the faith he allegedly undermined seven years ago when he sided with President Buhari, a known opponent.
The unfolding scenario is playing out as the campaign council cleared the air on the inclusion of Senator Chimaroke Nnamani of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on its list, stating it was not a mistake.
So far, Nnamani has not declined the offer amid growing anger in his state and constituency.
A political analyst in the state confirmed the anger, but said he doubted if he would lose the next election, because, as he put it, “Enugu people are a one-party minded people.”
He added, “They do not know how to play opposition, there is no opposition in Enugu politics, they do not have the guts to do it,I think they will vote Nnamani”, he added.
In its statement by the Director of Media and Publicity, Mr. Bayo Onanuga, the Council said, “The PCC will also want to clarify that the appearance of the name of HE Chimaroke Nnamani, a distinguished senator from Enugu State, was not a mistake.
“He is on the list in his own right as a supporter of our presidential candidate, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
“Distinguished Senator Chimaroke Nnamani, who is still away in the United States, is a very close friend of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
“He may not be on the field with us as a PDP senatorial candidate in Enugu East, but his presence is indicative that he may have chosen to give ‘moral support’ to his old-time friend and brother.
“In any case, the PCC cannot dictate the extent of Senator Nnamani’s support for his friend and brother. That is part of his fundamental human right which supersedes any provision in a Party Constitution. His position and allegiance to his party is self-defining and does not need any qualifying by us.
“Any explanation as to his status should be coming from the other party and not from us who are very proud to be associated with him.”
To assuage aggrieved and grumbling members, the council left the door open for more members. It clarified that the council, already with 422 members, contains only the directors, deputy directors, secretaries of directorates and key stakeholders.
Many observers doubt the spin, more so when the inauguration of the council was put off.
A source associated with the party said, “the governors are angry that the nominees were not put on the list, and some person who see this as an opportunity to eat out of the Tinubu largesse are not happy at all.”
But the the council, in its statement, assured governors that the secretariat of the council has not jettisoned the names submitted by them.
“Some of the nominees of our governors have emerged as part of the leadership, while others will soon emerge as members of the various directorates.
“No name is left out of the lists”, the PCC secretary, Hon. James Faleke, was quoted as saying.