There are strong indications that the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Tinubu, might have sown the seed of the new crisis in his Presidential Campaign Council (PCC) by deliberate machination, after he allegedly overrode President Muhammadu Buhari, his party leadership and the progressive governors, in the composition of the council.
THISDAY gathered that the council, though a tripartite institution, structured around the presidential candidate, the party and the president, was originally designed to be driven by the governors, since they were expected to lead the campaigns in their respective states.
Thus, according to sources, Tinubu, the party and the progressive governors, had perfected the composition of an inclusive campaign council, before it was agreed amongst them that the list should be taken to the president for his input (if there’s any) as a mark of respect, an idea Buhari was said to have not only welcomed, but also did as expected of him by making a few inputs.
Unfortunately, a few days after the president had made his input, Tinubu, without recourse to any of the other parties, including Buhari, single-handedly reviewed the list, particularly, tampering with some critical areas that the president and the governors, had indicated interests and agreed with him.
For example, when the list was allegedly taken to Buhari, aside signing off on it, he was said to have indicated interest in Mrs. Margaret Okadigbo, wife of a former Senate President, whom he wanted as the regional coordinator for the South East, apparently deferring to his late friend and former running mate, Senator Chuba Okadigbo, while at the same time, factoring the interest of the South East into the council.
But Tinubu, although had earlier consented to the council’s composition before it was taken to the president, yanked off Mrs. Okadigbo’s name and in her place, put the sole female presidential aspirant of the party, Uju Ken Ohanenye, who stood down for him at the presidential primary in Abuja.
This, expectedly, raised concerns amongst other stakeholders.
Again, in the South West, the governors were said to have considered the Ekiti State Governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, as the PCC coordinator for the zone, but Tinubu opposed his choice and in his place, would rather the Ondo State Governor, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, SAN.
However, sensing what was playing out, sources, said Fayemi had immediately stepped in, saying since Akeredolu was the Chairman of the South West APC governors, he was a better choice and quietly acceded to the choice of the presidential aspirant without making a fuss of it.
But there was a particular one that eventually undid the campaign council and it was the choice of Hon. James Faleke, a member of the House of Representatives, from Ikeja in Lagos State, as Secretary of the campaign council.
The position of secretary of the council, sources told THISDAY, was reserved for the North Central, as part of moves to pacify the minority north. But because the Director-General of the PCC, Governor Simon Lalong, was from Plateau State, it was agreed that the secretary should be taken to Benue State, being a critical state in the middle belt.
Besides, with the controversy so far generated by the Muslim-Muslim preference of the presidential candidate, stakeholders believed picking a Christian from Benue State, would go a long way to quell the staggering opposition to the same faith ticket of the party.
Consequently, one of the governors from the North Central states, was allegedly detailed to reach out to a former governor of Benue State, Senator George Akume, to send in two names and their Curriculum Vitae, for Tinubu’s consideration for the position, which he allegedly did.
But Tinubu, again, allegedly turned down the two names from Benue and claimed since Kogi was part of North Central, he would rather Faleke, a man representing Lagos State in the lower chamber of the National Assembly, and without seeking the consent of other stakeholders, listed him as the secretary of the PCC.
These developments, THISDAY gathered, had angered Lalong, to the extent that he threatened to quit as DG of the PCC, but for the interventions of some people in the party, including a former deputy governor of Nasarawa State and other stakeholders, who appealed to him, not to throw the party into crisis by making such move at this time.
Added to these, Tinubu has been accused variously by members of allegedly appointing a handful of persons, either as directors or assistant directors to different places in the council, without consulting other stakeholders, a move many believed was intentional to create some form of control at the campaign secretariat, especially, with Faleke’s choice as the secretary.
While the president has refused to speak on the matter, other stakeholders, were said to have resolved to allow Tinubu make and take his decisions as the presidential candidate, since the input of the others did not matter to him or the cause they collectively sought.
Besides, a lot of the big names that were absent in the council to the shock of many people, THISDAY was reliably informed, was deliberate as those people claimed they would be unable to defend a Muslim-Muslim ticket.
Even more disturbing for the prospect of the campaign is that a majority of northern governors seem inconsolable over the way and manner Tinubu had managed things since he emerged the candidate, especially, with the allegations that a former chairman of the party, Adams Oshiomhole and Faleke, were being used to project a southern agenda, undermine Lalong, and by extension, the governors as a body.
There have also been reports of how Faleke, has been allegedly running the secretariat like a mafia, carrying out actions and giving instructions without formal communication with the governors and on some occasions, declined or refused to answer the governors’ calls.
For instance, while the Kebbi State Governor, Atiku Bagudu, is the chairman of progressive governors, Faleke allegedly jettisoned the list he submitted on behalf of the governors, and Tinubu, that the governors didn’t forward the list to him.
Things got to a head, when a few days to the proposed launch of the campaign and the governors had not been properly notified apart from the announcement flying around on different media platforms, particularly, with regards to the much-publicised “Prayer Walk”.
It was these unsavoury situations that were believed to have informed the cancellation of the campaign launch, even though a majority of the APC members believed the move was rather face-saving.