Amosun, Fashola, Fayemi, Shittu top list
Buhari boys can’t decimate Tinubu – Igbokwe, Lagos APC spokesman
No rift with Tinubu – Presidency
BY TAIWO AMODU
The admonition from every sitting Nigerian president immediately after his victory in an election is that politics should be relegated to the background for governance to take the central stage. It is however, a refrain that is observed in the breach, as power game towards a second term commences almost immediately after formal inauguration. Former president Olusegun Obasanjo was reported to have told a confidant and chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in year 2000 that his challenge was not a fresh mandate in 2003, but retaining power in 2007- that was three years to the full exercise of his first term mandate and seven years before his controversial tenure elongation plot became full blown. Nigerians would also not forget in a hurry that Dr Goodluck Jonathan commenced his plot for a single term of six years, few months after he won the 2011 presidential election.
The Muhammadu Buhari presidency is no exception going by furtive politicking, nocturnal meetings and the body language of the main protagonist. His wife, Aishat Buhari, let the cat out of the bag, recently, albeit inadvertently , while expressing her frustration over a certain cabal she alleged had hijacked her husband’s administration. In the interview, published by the British Broadcasting Corporation, (BBC) Hausa Service, she threatened not to support her husband for second term , if the alienation of those who made the rare feat of dethroning an incumbent in 2015 general elections persists.
One of those credited with making the historic feat of ouster of a sitting president possible in Nigeria was former Lagos State governor and leader of the All Progressives Congress, (APC) Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu. Politics is about party patronage but after the historic feat, Saturday Sun gathered that none of Tinubu’s nominees made the ministerial list. Having been shut out of the corridor of power and its appurtenances in Abuja, Tinubu is not likely to throw his weight behind a fresh mandate for Buhari.
To checkmate ‘political insurgents’ in the Northern flank of the APC ahead of 2019 is no headache for President Buhari as he has vigilant commanders in the likes of Nasir El- Rufai and Abdul Umar Ganduje, governors of Kaduna and Kano states respectively. They are to contain Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and Rabiu Kwankwaso,- former vice president and former Kano State governor, respectively who had not shown any pretence about their dreams to occupy Aso Rock presidential villa.
Tinubu, an acknowledged mobiliser and strategist is not nursing any presidential ambition. But from his Bourdillon base in Ikoyi, Lagos, he can decide, who gets what, when and how. Like the other two, he needs to be checkmated having been marked as someone with capacity to do collateral damage to Buhari’s bid for a fresh mandate in 2019.
Having lost out in the recent power game in Ondo State where his anointed and candidate of the Alliance for Democracy, Olusola Oke put up a dismal performance, APC’s Rotimi Akeredolu’s feat made possible by Buhari’s foot soldiers in the zone may have emboldened the presidency that the ubiquitous former Lagos State governor, is after all, dispensable in the politics of the Southwest . Ahead of 2019, a new power bloc, a creation of the presidency is gradually unfolding in the volatile zone. But who are the forces behind the unnerving plot to supplant Tinubu? Saturday Sun unveils the new power brokers, who (with exception of one) incidentally are political godsons of the beleaguered former Lagos governor.
IBIKUNLE AMOSUN: The incumbent governor of Ogun State represented Ogun Central senatorial district in the red chamber of the National Assembly, between 2003 and 2007. Amosun was the governorship candidate of the defunct All Nigeria Peoples Party, (ANPP) in the 2007 election, one of the political parties that metamorphosed into the All Progressives Congress, (APC). His fraternity with Buhari dates back to their days in the defunct party. Saturday Sun gathered that the Ogun State governor has since leveraged on his relationship with Buhari, which has been misconstrued as supremacy battle with the leader of the party in the zone, Bola Tinubu. During the uncertain days of nomination of ministerial nominees, Amosun’s candidate for the plum position of Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun made the final list while Wale Edun, Tinubu’s candidate for the same position was dropped. Governor Amosun had also reaped from the cold war between the Oyo state governor, Abiola Ajimobi and the Minister of Communications, Bayo Shittu. A party source revealed that Barrister Adebisi Adegbuyi was nominated for the office of Post Master-General of NIPOST by Governor Amosun while his Oyo state counterpart and Bayo Shittu were still pushing for their separate nominees from Oyo state.
Tinubu and Amosun’s cosy relationship went awry following the open acceptance of Amosun’s estranged benefactor, Chief Segun Osoba’s return to the party. Osoba, who played a prominent role in the formation of the APC had defected to the SDP in 2015 as soon as he lost the battle for the control of the APC structures in Ogun State to Amosun. Saturday Sungathered that the former Ogun State governor lost out as a result of the understanding between the national secretariat of the party and the governors that the party structures be conceded to the governors in their respective states in the wake of the formation of the party .
At Tinubu’s residence last April to resolve the lingering crisis in Ogun State chapter of the party and welcome Osoba back to the fold were the governors of Osun and Oyo states, Rauf Aregbesola and Abiola
Ajimobi while Lagos state governor, Akinwunmi Ambode was represented by his deputy, Dr. (Mrs.) Oluranti Adebule. Also present were former national Chairman of the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), Chief Bisi Akande and former Ekiti state governor, Niyi Adebayo. Governor Amosun shunned the rapprochement meeting and he did not send any representative.
Commenting on why Amosun was not at the meeting, Tinubu said: “Nobody is left out, it is all progressive and no one is left out, no matter your insinuation. Amosun is with us, we can excuse people. The governor of Ogun State was elected on the platform of the APC and we can vouch for him…. Leaders of the party identified with us and it is clear we are all one, including Amosun. Who told you we are fighting?”
Despite claim of existing camaraderie by Tinubu, the ‘peace’ in Ogun State APC can be likened to that in the graveyard . Osoba, according to a party source, “is no longer seen as an asset by Amosun’s followers and his return into the Ogun State chapter was not to strengthen the APC, but a sinister motive to distract Amosun in his traditional political turf.’’ It has since worsened the already tense relationship between Amosun and Tinubu as the former joined forces with the presidency to antagonize the Lagos strong man.
At the grand finale rally held for Akeredolu, penultimate weekend in Akure which had President Buhari in attendance, only Amosun was in attendance as other APC governors in the zone shunned the rally. A Saturday Sun source revealed that a recent meeting of the APC governors in Southwest held in Abeokuta before the Ondo governorship election ended in a deadlock as the host governor, Ibikunle Amosun and Tinubu’s Man Friday, Rauf Aregbesola, disagreed on the candidate to back in the last Saturday governorship election.
BABATUNDE FASHOLA: the Minister of Power, Works and Housing was a two-term Lagos State governor. Before his emergence as governor in 2007, Fashola was Chief-Of-Staff while Tinubu held forte as governor. His endorsement as successor by his political godfather created a crack in the defunct Action Congress, but Tinubu was able to weather the storm. His stewardship has been rated very high as the finest moment of the Centre of Excellence in terms of rapid transformation of social infrastructures in the State. During the formation of the APC, Fashola’s outstanding achievements were flaunted as reference point of what the electorate should expect in states under the control of the emerging party.
His godfather equally relished his performance. “He served as my trusted chief of staff, performing excellently in that role. Due to his leadership qualities and diligent work ethic, I endorsed him for governor notwithstanding the stiff and vocal opposition of many. I am not ashamed of backing him. I believe the progress the state made under his administration has more than vindicated my endorsement’’, Tinubu had boasted.
But politics of succession was to set them on collision path. While his godfather anointed Akinwunmi Ambode, Fashola joined forces with Supo Sasore, who was eventually trounced at the party primary by the awesome Tinubu machinery. He was to stay away at the formal inauguration of his successor.
Within weeks of his exit from Alausa, allegations of financial impropriety against Fashola began to surface. An anti-corruption group, the Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders (CACOL) forwarded eight petitions to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission, (ICPC) detailing the allegations against Fashola. CACOL’s executive director, Debo Adeniran had said that the Lagos State government under Fashola indulged in “frivolous spending on white elephant projects, lacked due process in budget implementation as well as inflation of costs in contract awards.” The group’s petition came on the heels of the outrage that greeted the revelation by analytic firm, BudgIT, that Fashola approved numerous “inflated contracts” before he left office.
The Minister dismissed the claims as “distorted allegations without evidence” while he also offered a refrain: “When you wrestle with a pig, the pig gets happy and you get dirty.”
The sordid allegations, coming few months after the party’s victory and formal inauguration of Buhari was seen as part of an orchestrated plot by Tinubu to ensure that his godson did not make Buhari’s ministerial list. Tinubu was to dismiss his alleged involvement in the mind boggling revelations.
He said: ‘’an attack against the performance of Governor Fashola is indirectly an attack against me and the edifice of achievement we have constructed in leading Lagos state out of a protracted time of stagnation and into an era of sustained progress and development.
“I for one will not bend to the artificial provocation of those seeking to tear at what we have painstakingly built over the years. In my mind, Governor Fashola and I are and shall always be political allies and fellow travelers on a vital journey; that alliance is unshakable and our journey must not be interrupted. I would no more attack his character or his administration than I would attack myself. I am proud to say that I played an instrumental role in bringing Governor Fashola into politics in the first instance.”
His explanation was however taken with a pinch of salt, as the decision by the Akinwunmi Ambode administration to publish the details of the contracts awarded by Fashola on the state’s procurement agency website, fueled speculations that Ambode was carrying out the bidding of his godfather.
The relationship between Tinubu and Fashola has been everything but warm in recent times. A party source revealed that the Minister of Works, has however, been circumspect, in order not to be seen as ostracizing Tinubu. ‘’He maintains his usual visit to Bourdillon, the Ikoyi residence of Tinubu, but Fashola has refused to defer to him on matters that he ordinarily will seek Tinubu’s opinion’’, the source added.
The party source cited the appointment of a former permanent secretary in Lagos State, Onikepo Animashaun as General Manager, Legal, at Nigerian Petroleum Development Company, (NPDC) which he noted had the backing of Fashola but without Tinubu’s approval.
KAYODE FAYEMI: Former Ekiti State governor is the Minister for Solid Minerals Development. His attempt at securing a second term in Ekiti State in 2014 suffered a setback as he lost to the incumbent governor, Ayodele Fayose of the PDP, who won overwhelmingly in all the 16 local councils of the state.
That election was the genesis of his cold war with Tinubu. Saturday Sun gathered that before the 2014 election, Tinubu sent an independent team, twice to Ekiti to assess Fayemi’s popularity and acceptability to the electorate. On the two instances, the report was not favourable to Fayemi.
Tinubu reluctantly conceded the ticket to Fayemi, following intense pressures from other governors on the party’s platform in the zone.
The duo of Fashola and Fayemi were also nominated as ministers by President Buhari himself who pointedly asked them to meet with Tinubu and seek for his forgiveness.
The message was not lost and Fayemi has since been taking his pound of flesh. It has been alleged that the trio of Babachir Lawal, Rotimi Amaechi and Kayode Fayemi, Secretary to the Government of the Federation, the Minister of Transportation and Minister for Solid Minerals Development, respectively worked against Tinubu’s candidate, Segun Abraham and ensured victory for the presidency anointed candidate and governor- elect, Rotimi Akeredolu in the controversial party primary held last September.
Fayemi also played visible role in the electoral success of Akeredolu, as his aides were on ground in Ondo to do the needful.
BAYO SHITTU : Former Attorney General of Oyo State in the cabinet of former governor, Rasheed Ladoja, he was the candidate of the defunct Congress for Progressive Change, (CPC) in the 2011 governorship Election in the pacesetter state. Shittu was picked as ministerial nominee by Buhari but his nomination was met with stiff opposition by the Oyo state governor, Isiaka Ajimobi. Shittu as CPC candidate in the election where Aji
mobi emerged victorious had teamed up with other candidates to challenge the latter’s mandate at the election petition tribunal. Saturday Sun gathered that it took the personal intervention of President Buhari before Ajimobi conceded the state slot to Shittu.
The Minister of Communication has since been leveraging on his new status in Abuja to galvanise support for his governorship ambition and that may again pitch him against Ajimobi who is smarting to install his successor. But to the average APC faithful in Oyo State and by extension Southwest, Shittu is a creation of the presidency which explains why Tinubu camp, sees him as a light weight; he is not seen as an influential politician to ruffle any political feather as he has no visible structure in his home state.
Tinubu: Road to self-immolation?
The presidency is not in a hurry to make up with Tinubu, even as it sustains denial of a rift with the former Lagos governor. In a statement last weekend, it dismissed media reports of a rift between Tinubu, the party leadership and presidency. Presidential media aide, Mallam Garba Shehu said any suggestion that the president and the party machinery were working to destroy Tinubu had no foundation in truth or any credibility, explaining that the president was impressed by Tinubu’s assurance to the party not to work against APC in Ondo. He further claimed that the estranged national leader honoured his pledge. Shehu also explained that Buhari regards Tinubu as a “priceless political asset to the party whose immeasurable contributions to the development and progress of the ruling party are known to all.’’
Saturday Sun however gathered that the weekend press statement was a mere subterfuge to conceal its real motive: the total displacement of Tinubu in the southwest, using the new power bloc.
The Buhari administration was bidding its time and was not willing for an open confrontation with Tinubu. A presidency source revealed that government was peeved with Tinubu over his attempts to draw it out for an open verbal war . The source cited the attacks on the Minister of State for Petroleum, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu last March during the agonizing fuel scarcity which he noted was an indirect attack on the Buhari administration by Tinubu. He also expressed reservation over Tinubu’s recent attack on the national chairman of the party, Odigie Oyegun, whom he accused of shoddy handling of the outcome of the Ondo primary.
Nobody can decimate Tinubu- Igbokwe, Lagos APC publicity scribe
Speaking with Saturday Sun on phone, Joe Igbokwe, the publicity secretary of the APC in Lagos state said the attempt by the emerging power bloc, which he derided as the Buhari boys to decimate the former Lagos governor would fail, as he noted that Tinubu is already a movement. Igbokwe said what happened in Ondo was not enough to conclude that Tinubu has lost out in the zone.
“After the Ondo guber elections last Saturday November 26, 2016 many commentators began to celebrate the so-called Buhari boys in Abuja who they said outsmarted Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu. I saw a calculated attempt to whittle down the well-deserved honour and glory the man has recorded even from his days at Mobil Producing Nigeria. Many half a penny commentators said that this may be the beginning of the end of the Asiwaju BAT’s phenomenon. Some said that BAT has been bruised.
“But I know enough history to conclude that success is not an event. I know that nobody makes it to the World Series overnight. I know the champions do not become heroes overnight. Throughout history I have known that history is not drawn on a straight line. This is the reason I feel that those who tried to use the outcome of Ondo elections to get at Asiwaju BAT miss the point. They know nothing about Asiwaju BAT as a massive movement.’’ Igbokwe further argued that those who were used in the past to supplant genuine leaders in Yoruba land ultimately regret their actions.
His words “Being successful isn’t an event. Remember during the Sani Abacha regime, the genuine Yoruba leaders said they weren’t going to attend the constitutional conference; the Yoruba leaders didn’t go but General Oladipo Diya raised new set of ‘leaders’. Diya picked the Yoruba leaders and I remember the late Bola Ige said leaders don’t emerge overnight.
“So, it is difficult for anybody to crush Asiwaju. It is difficult to decimate him, I don’t think it is going to work.’