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Author Topic: Atiku, Tinubu Fight To Control Apc- punch  (Read 142 times)

June 13, 2015, 10:38:50 AM

Offline Benosky1

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There are strong indications that two
power blocs within the All Progressives
Congress are now engaged in a fierce
battle for the soul of the party.



Saturday PUNCH’s investigations on
Friday revealed that the battle
between the two power blocs to
control the party: one led by Asiwaju
Ahmed Tinubu and the other led by
former Vice President Atiku Abubakar,
played out during Tuesday’s National
Assembly leadership elections.
The ruling party’s preferred candidates
in both the Senate and the House of
Representatives were defeated by
party members who contested the
elections against the wishes of the
party.

The battle for supremacy between the
two power blocs led to the emergence
of the opposition Peoples Democratic
Party’s candidate, Ike Ekweremadu, as
the Deputy Senate President.
Saturday PUNCH learnt that both Atiku
and Tinubu were desperate to have
maximum control over the party
structure so that party decisions could favour them at all times.

It was learnt that the two blocs wanted
their candidates to emerge principal
officers of the National Assembly since that would automatically qualify their candidates to become members of the party’s National Executive Committee,
which is the highest decision arm of
the party.

Senator Bukola Saraki emerged the
President of the Senate at a time when
leading figures of the party including
Tinubu, Chief Bisi Akande and APC
Senators as well as members of the
House of Representatives were waiting
for President Muhammadu Buhari at
the International Conference Centre
for a crucial meeting.

The party’s NWC earlier held a shadow
election in which Senators Ahmad
Lawan and George Akume emerged as
the party’s candidates for Senate
President and Deputy Senate President respectively.

But, Atiku, Saturday PUNCH learnt that
Atiku was never in support of the mock election believed to be spearheaded by the APC national leader as the former Vice President was bent on breaking Tinubu’s influence on the party’s NWC.

As things stand, most of the current
members of the APC’s National
Working Committee are Tinubu’s
loyalists.

With the outcome of the National
Assembly leadership elections, there
are strong indications that the Tinubu
camp, which many agree, boasts of the
likes of Lawan and Akume are not
prepared to let the matter rest.
Sources said the Tinubu camp, though
still jolted by its initial ‘defeat’ would
likely spring a surprise in the days
ahead.

It was gathered that members of the
Senators Unity Forum, who supported
the party’s candidates are queuing
behind Tinubu and are likely to
continue to do so in the days to come.
It was learnt that in supporting the
aspirations of Saraki and Dogara, Atiku
had argued that democracy could
better be served when the principle of
internal democracy is respected.
It was further learnt that Saraki’s
publicised visit to Atiku’s residence a
few hours after his emergence, was
part of the power play.

By virtue of their new positions as
Senate President and Speaker of the
House of Representatives, Saraki and
Dogara, have become automatic
members of the National Executive
Committee, the highest decision
making body of the party.

Their positions also confer on them
automatic membership of the party’s
Board of Trustees and National
Executive Committee.

A leading member of the party’s NWC,
who confided in Saturday PUNCH,
explained that the unfolding scenario
is likely to open up new frontiers in the
power struggle within the party.
According to him, decisions at NEC
from now on will be keenly contested
by the two power blocs.

Saturday PUNCH learnt that the
outcome of the National Assembly
elections would likely affect decisions
to be taken on ministerial nominees as
some of the candidates in Tinubu’s
camp may be rejected during screening
by the Saraki/Atiku group.

He said, “It is obvious that with what
happened on Tuesday at the National
Assembly, two (dominant) power
blocks have emerged in the party.
“We hope to heal the wounds created
by the contests, but there is mutual
suspicion between the two groups.”
When contacted, the Director-General
of the Atiku Media Office, Mazi Paul
Ibe, said, “Atiku did not orchestrate the
emergence of the new leadership in
the National Assembly and insinuating
that amounts to nothing but political
mischief, as he had refused to leave
the party or work for the PDP even
when the then President Jonathan was
desperate for Atiku’s support.

“The visits of politicians and APC
leaders including that of the Senate
President are common political rituals
in Atiku’s Asokoro residence. For the
purposes of emphasis, the President
has confidence in him and that
explains why he had drafted him as an
envoy of sorts in the race leading up to
the emergence of a Nigerian President
of African Development Bank.
“It is baseless and unfounded to
suggest that Atiku conspired with the
PDP or Saraki to ‘sabotage’ the APC. He
would have congratulated Senator
Ahmed Lawan (or any other leader) if
he had won. It is simplistic to attribute
conspiratorial agenda to an innocuous
congratulatory visit.

“Atiku’s loyalty to his party is
indisputable. He remains a loyal party
member. He, in fact, threw his political
assets behind the Buhari presidential
campaign. Any suggestion that he
conspired with Saraki or anybody is the
figment of someone’s imagination.”
Attempts to get a reaction from
Tinubu’s Spokesperson, Mr. Sunday
Dare, were unsuccessful.

Calls to his mobile phone at 5:21pm
and at 7:14pm were neither picked nor
returned. A response to a text message
was still being awaited as of the time
of filing this report at 7:24pm.
But, a member of Saraki’s Like Minds
group of Senators, Rafiu Ibrahim
(Kwara South), said Saraki’s
emergence, has no negative
implication for party cohesion.
He said, “We are already reaching out
to everyone. At the leadership level,
we are reaching out to individuals.
“The Senate President is a very
generous Nigerian with a very large
heart. He has already extended his
hands of fellowship to every senator
and he has assured us all that he
would carry everybody along. It is not
going to be a case of winner-takes-all.”
Also, a member of the Senate Unity
Forum, Senator Kabiru Marafa
(Zamfara Central), said the party
leadership is currently working
tirelessly to ensure that the party
remains a formidable and united
entity.

The South East Zonal Spokesperson for
the APC, Osita Okechukwu, said the
party was seeking ways of moving
forward.

According to him, it will be futile to
begin to apportion blame and look for
scapegoats because doing so will
provide an avenue for those who do
not wish the APC well to cash in.
He said party leaders deserve the
respect of all party members, adding
that if the wise counsel of President
Muhammadu Buhari for non-
interference in National Assembly
issues was adhered to, the party would
not have found itself in this situation.
He, however, said it was time to move
on.

Okechukwu said, “It is the desire of our
opponents for there to be a rift but
there is no rift. As a party, the only
thing we need now, more than ever
before, is unity.

“We need to unite especially in the
National Assembly to be able to deliver
on our promises to the Nigerian
people. I dare say, we also need bi-
partisan support if we are to get things
done because we need each other.




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