Buhari, Tinubu Cold War deepens over Ambode’s ministerial appointment

June 29, 2019
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There are emerging indications that the seeming Cold War between President Muhammadu Buahri and the national leader of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), is deepening over the innuendo that the president shortlisted the former Governor of Lagos State, Akinwumi Ambode, for ministerial appointment. National Daily inquiry revealed that President Buhari already has his ministerial nominee list handy and only waiting for the resumption of the National Assembly in the first week of July to send the nominees to the Senate for screening and confirmation.

National Daily learned that the president compiled the list without consultation with party leaders. Also, majority of former ministers were said to be retained in the new ministerial appointments, only few new entrants were said to be included. Essentially, the new entrants into the federal cabinet were identified to be on the president’s compensatory list for those who suffered political misfortunes in their respective states during the 2019 general elections. Former Governor Ambode was identified to be a principal beneficiary of the latter consideration in the ministerial nominees list.
Though, some political actors have expressed skepticism if Lagos can have two slots for ministerial appointment, considering that former Governor Babatunde Fashola was Minister of Power, Works and Housing and is anticiapted to be among the returninng minsters for the president’s
second tenure. Others, however, acknowledged that the decision is at the discretion of the president, noting that, though, both nominees may not go ministerial appointment.
Further investigation by National Daily revealed that the President has good reasons to co-opt the former Lagos State into the Federal Executive Council. Presidency sources disclosed to National Daily that President was deeply disappointed that his intervention in the APC conflicts in Lagos State and appeal to party leaders, including his meeting with Tinubu were ignored and could not persuade Tinubu and the State APC leaders to allow Ambode get the party governorship ticket to contest the 2019 elections for a second term.

Also, sources from the Tinubu camp complained that the president has been making appointments from Lagos State and other parts of the south west since 2015 without carrying their leader along. In virtually all the appointments, they accused the president of recruiting party stakeholders who are in disagreement with Tinubu in the state and the zone, offering them federal appointments and empowering them to pull down the Tinubu dynasty with the federal might. The appointees were alleged to form coalitions and alliances with other political interests in other states of the south west against the APC national leader in the south west sub-region.

Apart from the Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Babatunde Fowler, the Tinubu loyalists protested that the president had made appointments in the past to hunt their principal. They noted that when the former Lagos Governor, Babatunde Fashola and Muiz Banire, were nominated by the president for federal appointments, attempts were made to block the appointments but failed. Though, the plot to frustrate Banire’s appointment as AMCON Managing Director was successful before the issue was resolved during the coalition against Ambode. The petition or information leakage of alleged website extravagant spending, among other misappropriation allegations from Lagos State did not attract the interest of the President or the EFCC for any investigation or suspension of Fashola’s confirmation by the Senate.

While President Buhari has been perceived to be adamant on Ambode’s ministerial appointment, counter moves to frustrate the process were revealed by sources close to the APC national leader.

The three senators representing Lagos were said to have been directed to, in consensus, oppose Ambode’s nomination on the floor of the Senate when the screening commences. The action was said to be a potent means of stopping the appointment since the Senate rule requires the support of at least two senators from the home state for the nominees of the President for federal appointments before confirmation would be given by the senators.

National Daily recalls that the three senators from Lagos State had in consensus opposed the nomination of Muiz Banire which temporarily stalled his confirmation as AMCON MD by the Upper Chamber of the National Assembly. The rejection of the nomination was later withdrawn after Banire supported the moves to stop Ambode from second in the build up to the 2019 general elections. After the APC direct primary election in Lagos where Banire mobilized his supporters against Ambode, the Lagos senators returned to support his nomination on the directive of their godfather before Banire’s appointment was confirmed.

Other strategies being considered, according to State Party sources which in the party leaders evaluation may not be as effective as the rejection of the nominee by the three senators representing Lagos in the National Assembly, include petition to EFCC, State Government urgent investigation and release of White Paper indicting the former governor.

Presidency sources, however, told National Daily that President Buhari is not sleeping on his appointments and would not want to be disgraced by party leaders who are involved in power tussle than joining forces to promote good governance for the party government in developing the country.

The Presidency sources disclosed that the party leadership and the presiding and principal officers have been directed to ensure there is unity among APC senators during the screening and confirmation of ministerial nominees. They have been warned to resist internal opposition from the party members in the senate. Invariably, every party leader is working ahead of time while actions and counter actions are building up as the president awaits the resumption of the National Assembly on July 2.

Some loyalists of the national leader have expressed the fear that Ambode may tear Buhari and Tinubu apart. But some others expressed the optimism that Tinubu is smart not to engage the president in intractable conflict or extremist dispute, not after his immense contributions to building the APC to what the party is today.

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