Onyebuchi Ezigbo and Olaseni Durojaiye in Abuja
There is rising discontent within the All Progressives Congress (APC) over the composition of its presidential campaign council billed to be inaugurated tomorrow by President Muhammadu Buhari, THISDAY has learnt.
A statement issued by Director, Strategic Communications, APC Presidential Campaign Council, Mr. Festus Keyamo, said the inauguration would take place at the International Conference Centre, Abuja.
But some prominent members of the party are frowning on the composition of the council, which they allege is populated mainly by people believed to be loyal to the National Leader of APC, Bola Tinubu. This has created intense disaffection among stakeholders.
Keyamo’s statement said Buhari was expected to conduct the inauguration in his capacity as chairman of the campaign council.
Three major elements are said to have influenced the composition of the campaign council. They are the Bola Tinubu factor, issue of the alleged cabal within the Buhari government, and the Rotimi Amaechi factor. But the other tendencies are believed to have been dwarfed by the Tinubu factor.
Besides Tinubu’s prevailing influence, the structure of the council is believed to be too unwieldy to facilitate the achievement of the expected results. For example, some members of the party are said to be questioning the need for two chairmen – Buhari and Tinubu – in a presidential campaign council, calling it undue duplication.
The same argument is being pushed against the choice of two secretaries for the council, in the persons of Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, and a former Commissioner for Information and Strategy in Lagos State, Mr. Dele Alake.
Some prominent APC members are worried that Tinubu could secure such a strategic position while the vice president, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, and the national chairman of the party, Adams Oshiomhole, are appointed deputies.
There are issues, too, with the zonal coordination of the campaign, which is practically taken away from the governors. This is a departure from what obtained in 2015, when the governors not only coordinated, but also agreed among themselves who should lead each zone. Many aggrieved members say the governors have been practically excluded from any role in the election, since looking after their states is a responsibility that comes naturally for them in any election.
Besides, persons appointed to coordinate in the zones are suspected to have been chosen to either work at cross-purposes with the governors or serve as counterforces for certain persons in the respective zones. This development is creating crisis in the party.
The appointment of Olusola Oke, a former governorship candidate in Ondo State, for instance, as the coordinator for South-west is said to have been done without consultation with the state governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, let alone other governors from the zone. The implication is that he is not likely to work well with governors in the zone, more so as he is believed to have been put in that position by Tinubu, essentially to rival Akeredolu and his allies.
A similar situation is said to be playing out in the North-west with the appointment of a former governor of Sokoto State, Aliyu Wamakko, as coordinator, to the dissatisfaction of Governors Mohammed Badaru of Jigawa and Nasir el-Rufai of Kaduna State.
In the South-east, the appointment of Sharon Ikeazor has also not gone down well with many leaders in the zone, including Minister of Labour Chris Ngige, who are said to see her choice as sheer disrespect for their place as leaders in the zone.
The choice of a former Akwa Ibom State governor, Godswill Akpabio, as the South-south coordinator is being interpreted in many quarters to mean the creation of a counterforce in the zone against the influence of the Director-General of the campaign and Minister of Transportation, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi.
Many aggrieved leaders of the party also believe that not giving an important role in the campaign to a person like the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, means that the composition is not properly thought out.
In fact, the vice president is alleged to be running his show privately with one of his aides, independent of the campaign council, a development the aggrieved members are interpreting to mean poor composition and coordination of the campaign council.