Oshiomhole: How northern APC elite trigger last crisis APC won’t survive

May 29, 2019
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North gang-up against Tinubu, Oshiomhole

APC National Vice Chairman Lawal Shuaibu has made known his beef against his boss Adams Oshiomhole in a classic you-can’t-do-nothing manner. He pointed out the chairman’s incompetence, high-handedness, and immaturity in a letter that got leaked to the press on Tuesday.

Shuaibu then demanded he resign.

Many political pundits have foreseen this, and are readying post mortems they will give when the ruling APC expires—in 2023 along with President Muhammadu Buhari’s second term.

The death won’t be about the raft of iniquities Shuaibu listed against Oshiomhole; it will be the consequence of the power play between the north and southwest for the presidency in 2023. The chairman is just a collateral target; the main target is APC’ s national leader Bola Tinubu. And the architect many readily finger for the brewing crisis is Kaduna Gov Nasir el Rufai.

Former Sen. Shehu Sani just revealed the subterranean forces at work.

“There is a calculated plot to deny the Southwest or even the Southern part of the country rotation of power in 2023,” he told the Guardian an interview.

“And the best way to ensure that that materialize is by getting into fisticuffs, into political combat between the northern top ranks of the APC and the southwestern top ranks of the party.”

The governor gave himself away when he drew the first blood weeks ago. He came to Lagos weeks ago to teach Lagosians how to end godfatherism with N2bn—the way he ended it in Kaduna.

Many analysts that know El-Rufai say he thrives in controversies, and this time the negative vibes he’s spreading against Tinubu is for a reason: the 2023 presidency which the governor is eyeballing.

Tinubu, too, has outed, saying he has been under pressure to contest the next presidency. Many wouldn’t believe the “under pressure” yarn, though.

They know the APC national leader doesn’t fire at half-cock. It is an ambition he has been nursing and watering for a while.

Sen. President Bukola Saraki blew Tinubu’s cover last year when he revealed the strong man of Lagos politics wanted to run as Buhari’s vice president in 2014. So it would have just been easy-peasy for Tinubu to step into the presidential race come 2023—because all the odds would be in his favour as vice president and next big thing from the southwest.

(The party’s presidential candidacy will rotate to the region in 2023.)

But when a Muslim-Muslim ticket was rejected in 2014, Tinubu was stopped cold turkey. He rested that move, but not the ambition.

According to Saraki, in the height of the APC crisis in 2017, when Buhari appointed Tinubu to reconcile the fractured party, the national leader hinted the reason he was supporting Buhari despite the hard times the presidency gave him too after the party’s victory in 2014.

The support for Buhari’s 2018 presidency was not about fence-mending.

“Tinubu expressed a strong opininion–“that he would rather ‘support a Buhari on the hospital stretcher’ to get a second term because in 2023, power will shift to the South-west,” said Saraki.

So as certain as it seems now that the ruling APC will yield the presidential ticket to the southwest, Tinubu is rejigging his political machinery, starting from the party’s national level where he helped put his man Oshiomhole in 2018.

The northern elements, including el-Rufai, don’t buy the idea of power rotation. They believe Tinubu is just being lionized in the southwest. Buhari or any northerner could have won the election without Tinubu’s or the southwest support.

Now that they have demystified Tinubu and spotted his ambition, the Kaduna governor and his cohorts are in fight mode now.

As early as after the Feb presidential election victory, state-owned radio station began thrashing Tinubu in Hausa. Then a while later, el-Rufai took the battle to Lagos, at the gathering of Tinubu’s estranged godsons, and indirectly jibed at the national leader.

Then a little while later, a party chieftain from the north central took Tinubu down a peg. He admitted weeks ago the former governor has contributed immensely to the success of the party. But that doesn’t matter. “Honestly he is not the kind of president Nigeria needs in 2023,’ Adamu Kuta, APC-Niger, said.

“Nigerians need someone that can continue with the achievements and the foundation that Buhari has laid.”

And, now, in a personal letter, a member of the party’s national committee blindsided Tinubu’s plant at the national level, asking him to step down.

“I have nothing personal, except that I love this party and cannot keep quiet seeing it being brutally murdered,” Shuaibu said.

Apart from the embarrassment the leakage of the letter to the media might have caused Oshiomhole and the APC, not more damage has been done.

It remains a personal beef between the chairman and his deputy. But it has potential for spiralling into a national crisis any time soon.

And if Buhari lets things slide as he always does, the party might not even make it to 2023, many believe, because the APC was built around his personae.

Even if the president wades in, and makes his body language endorse Tinubu for 2023, some analysts say the president will still have el-Rufai to contest with. The governor’s loyalty to Buhari now doesn’t matter.

After all, el-Rufai used to be loyal to ex-Vice President Atiku Abubakar who many believed gave el-Rufai a leg-up from being an accidental civil servant to a politician of note.

For whom Oshiomhole is—a Marxist and strong-arm democrat—one will expect el-Rufai and other northern conspirators to get as much as they give in this looming war. Problem is: the scale has been tilted against him. He has a corruption allegation dangling on his neck. It’s a weapon the adversaries can persuade the Aso Rock cabal, believed to be micro-managing Buhari, to use against the party chairman.

Even Tinubu, many say, won’t dare to put up a fight. He is too smart to fight a federal might.

So the waves of crisis may continue until the APC is swept away before its eighth birthday.

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