Ahead 2015 Elections: North Hijacks APC
•I'm not aware of intra-party struggle — Lai Mohammed•Tinubu, Atiku, Buhari, Kwakwanso lead power blocks •North backs Ikimi as National Chairman
The All Progressives Congress(APC) appeared to have been hit by internal struggle for power, which is threatening its very foundation ahead of the 2015 general election.
Investigations by Sunday Tribune confirmed that no fewer than four major blocks have emerged in the party ahead its national convention fixed for May 24, 2014.
It was learnt that the party is being haunted by the tag of a Janjaweed party placed on it by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and is desperately seeking ways to reverse the perception.
As a result of that, sources said that Northern leaders of the party have decided to ditch the Senator Bola Tinubu-led South-West caucus and pick a National Chairman from the South-South.
However, the interim National Publicity Secretary of the APC, Lai Mohammed, reacting through a text message, denied knowledge of any internal struggle within the party, saying: “I am not aware there was any altercation on account of recognition, neither am I aware of any intra-party struggle for control of the party by any group from any part of the country.”
It was leant that though Tinubu initially backed the idea of picking the National Chairman of the party from the South-South and was hoping to back former Edo State governor, Chief John Odigie- Oyegun, for the post, some developments have forced the Tinubu camp to drop the idea and revert to the idea of backing Chief Bisi Akande, the interim national chairman to retain his seat.
Sources said that the Northern caucus is being coordinated by former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar, who is supporting the emergence of former Foreign Minister, Chief Tom Ikimi as substantive national chairman.
It was learnt that Atiku's camp is being supported by party chiefs, including former National Chairman of the PDP, Chief Audu Ogbeh and former governor of Abia State, Chief Ogbonnaya Onu, as well as former governor of Borno State, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff, in the bid to produce Ikimi as national chairman.
It was, however, learnt that South-West leaders of the party were worried by the fact that the emergence of Ikimi would give Atiku an upper hand in the running of the party.
It was also gathered that the North had designed a way by which its agenda would always prevail in the APC by collating the number of wards in the region, which compeletly dwarfed all the wards from the South put together.
It was learnt that the North believes that it is in a comfortable position in the running of APC and that anytime the national convention holds, its candidate will surely emerge the national chairman.
It also emerged that the North did its homework and concluded that its favoured candidate will also emerge the presidential candidate of the party anytime the primaries are held.
In a related development, sources confirmed that a clash ensued between former governor of Lagos State, Senator Bola Tinubu and Sheriff during the last National Executive Committee meeting of the party last Monday.
The disagreement between the duo was said to have been ignited following plans by the Tinubu camp to initiate the selection of the National Convention Committee members, which was opposed by Sheriff.
A source at the NEC said: “A major area of conflict is on the membership of the APC National Convention Committee. That issue led to open disagreement between Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Senator Ali Modu Sheriff at the last NEC meeting of the party on the suspicion that Tinubu wanted to pick the members.
“I can confirm to you that, right now, some vested interests have divided the party. While the Atiku camp is being backed by Ikimi, Ogbeh and Onu, Governor Musa KwaKwanso of Kano is leading his other four PDP defectors in another camp. Naisr el-Rufai is leading the Buhari camp, while Tinubu is leading the South-West governors. That is why, before now, Tinubu was supporting the emergence of Chief Oyegun as the national chairman but he backed out to support Akande, with the North gunning for Ikimi.
“The Tinubu camp is afraid that should Ikimi emerge as the APC National Chairman, Atiku could secure the party's presidential ticket. That is why he turned round to back Akande.
“The Tinubu camp believes that for it to continue to have total grip on the affairs of the party, Akande must be made to continue. Thus, he believes that the decision to stop members of the Interim executive from contesting must be reversed,” the source explained.
2015: APC identifies presidential hopefuls
LAGOS state Governor, Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola has emerged the head of 2015 strategy team of the All Progressives Congress(APC), sources close to the party have said.
Sources stated that a meeting held last week by stakeholders in the party had also pencilled in members of the proposed 2015 presidential campaign team.
It was learnt that a strategic meeting held on March 22 identified at least two potential presidential campaign managers in each state of the federation.
Sources close to the party also said that the strategy committee believes in starting early, adding that the experience of 2011 should help the party in making an impact in 2015.
It was gathered that the party believes that engaging potential presidential campaign hopefuls in the party will ensure the visibility of its candidate whenever it emerges.
A source told the Nigerian Tribune that the Director General of the Progressives Governors Forum(PGF) read out a list of potential presidential campaign hopefuls of the party. He was also quoted as saying that the names were identified at a recent meeting in Abuja.
The names as given by sources include Chief Nkechi Emenike and Chief Anyim Nyerere Abia, while Adamawa state has
(a) Governor Murtala NYAKO;
(b) Brig General Buba Marwa;
(c) Abdulaziz NYAKO,•
(d) Boss MUSTAPHA;
(e) Nuhu RIBADU (Mal);
(f) Alhaji Abubakar Atiku and
(g) Sen. Bindowo JIBRILLA.