Prominent politicians in the North, most of whom are serving ministers and chieftains of the All Progressives Congress (APC), have accused those campaigning for President Muhammadu Buhari’s re-election in the North and the South-West especially, of “jumping the gun.”
They were of the view that the president and other party leaders must first reconcile all aggrieved party “state actors” before talking about campaign and opening of offices, whether state or zonal, if the party was indeed desirous of winning next year’s presidential contest.
This is even as Second Republic federal lawmaker, Dr. Junaid Mohammed, noted that, at present, no northern or southern political heavyweight was backing Buhari.
He said the tragedy of the president’s second term bid was that “there is no politician of consequence from the either the North or South-West who is around him and who could reach out on his own to the leaders in the South-West and even in the North to canvass for support.”
Specifically, the chieftains of the party, all of whom are northerners and who are either serving ministers or national party executives told Daily Sun at the weekend that majority of Buhari’s aides, especially some of the ministers who have no “political base” are misinforming the president about happenings around him, insisting that the same pattern that led to former president Goodluck Jonathan’s fall, appeared to be rearing its head around Buhari.
“Jonathan was looking at election, he did nothing to reconcile with key leaders of the party who later became his albatross and who eventually plotted his fall. I can see the same pattern emerging. But I pray Buhari does not end up like Jonathan.
“We have been saying it; some of us have met him in private to discuss some of these issues. But there are some of his close aides and ministers who are still misinforming him about the state of affairs in the country. And these people lack political capital, they have no political base.
“So, if you ask me, and that is the consensus of majority of us, let’s stop the campaign for now, put our house in order, reach out to aggrieved persons, then we can now talk about campaign,” one of the sources told Daily Sun.
Although, most of them admitted that some of them have had cause to raise some of the issues with the president in private, they could not come out in the open to say certain things they believed should be put in place before going out to seek support of the electorate for Buhari’s re-election.
Some of them were, however, quick to endorse the position of former Abia State governor and chieftain of the party from the South-East, Chief Orji Uzor Kalu, on the need to resolve crisis within the party before the presidential contest next year.
Kalu, had in Ibadan, Oyo State, at the weekend as the guest speaker at the inauguration of the South-West zone office of the Muhammadu Buhari Osinbajo (MBO) Dynamic Support Group, called on Buhari and the APC leadership to intervene in the feud between Governor Abiola Ajimobi and the Minister of Communications, Mr. Adebayo Shittu.
The former governor said the governor and the minister were supposed to be best of friends, saying that if the rift between them was not addressed, it could affect the chances of the party in the 2019 general elections.
Another APC chieftain from the North, who is a serving minister said, “what Kalu said, is the truth. But you expect me to say so in the public? No! It will be misconstrued.
“Look at this way, you are unveiling an office that is so strategic to the president’s re-election, and the governor of the state is not involved. No governor from the South-West is involved, no known leader from the zone is involved and you think such a project will go far?
“If the Ameachis of this world and the Shittus of this world believe that it was their efforts in the campaign directorate that won APC the election in 2015, good luck to them.
“Activities of state actors like the Tinubus, Sarakis and the Kwankwasos actually gave us the edge we needed over the PDP. And the high time we realised this notorious fact, the better for us and the party.
“The only man who can do this job of bringing other party leaders together is Asiwaju. I hope the president and those around him realise this fact and do the needful. We no longer have the luxury of time,” the minister said.
On his part, Mohammed, a strong critic of Buhari’s re-election bid, while insisting that his contribution to the issue at stake should be mistaken for his endorsement of Buhari’s second term said: “We all supported the emergence of APC in 2014. But we had thought they would build the party into a strong force after winning the election, unfortunately they have failed in that regard and Nigerians now know better.
“Having said that, I agree with what Kalu said, you cannot be working for Buhari’s re-election in the South West when the leaders of the zone are not on the same page with you.
“People who imagine themselves as being smart, often take themselves out of power. Buhari is aware that the relationship between Ajimobi and Shittu has been bad. What did he do to rein them in?
“He (Buhari) can’t afford to lose the North West and the South West, because already South South is hostile to him for whatever reason. North West may not be too keen to give him the number of votes he got in 2015. The votes of the North East are not too certain. So he can’t afford to joke with the South West.
“One of the tragedies of being alone in the presidency is that nobody of consequence in his circles from the North can reach out on his own to anyone in the North to canvass support for him.
“But Chief Bisi Akande can reach out on his own outside Tinubu to the people in the South West. That is the difference. But are Akande and Buhari too on the same page? I leave you and the readers with the response,” Mohammed said.
Kalu had in Ibadan at the weekend said: “For us, we are students of preaching peace and unity. We are students who say the truth. We are students who are not afraid of telling people what we feel that is not right.
“Everybody in this hall will agree with us that there is a break in communication between our governor (Ajimobi) and the minister (Shittu). We don’t want that to continue.
“If anybody inside this house today says it is good for these two elephants to continue quarrelling, I and my senior brother, (Ken) Nnamani, would disagree on that.
“We have decided to take the case upon ourselves and see that it is resolved. We call on the president, vice-president and national leaders of our party to intervene.”