The seed of controversies hitting the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) is not sown today and may continue to sprout except the actors in the game beat a retreat.
That a party of the pedigree of the APC, which was on the line for years as opposition can slide progressively into crises is not the issue. What is at stake is the role being played by top members of the party in the plot to destroy the party when it is well positioned to clinch the trophy in 2023.
It is no longer secret that there are cracks, deep ones at that, in the party.
The concern by watchers of the party is, if the party will be able to cover the cracks and manage it to victory in 2023.
At the center of the intrigues plaguing party is ‘The Gang of Four’ or group referred to by some as the quartet.
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Today, the soul of the governing party is being held by a group of powerful four, herein referred to as the ‘Gang of Four.’ The team comprises of the Chairman, Caretaker/Extraordinary National Convention Planning Committee of the All Progressives Congress (APC) who is also the Yobe State governor, Mai Mala Buni; his counterpart in Kebbi and Jigawa states, Senator Abubakar Atiku Bagudu and Muhammad Badaru Abubakar as well as the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami.
It is not a rumour how these powerful party men designed, supervised and implemented the exit of the erstwhile chairman of the party, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, using the Minister of Transport, Rt. Hon. Rotimi Amaechi as a tool. The former Rivers state governor, reportedly financed the plot in collaboration with the Edo State deputy governor while still in the party then, Philip Shaibu and with the support of Hon. Victor Giadom. They successfully got Oshiomhole expelled from his ward which he shares with Shaibu.
It was Giadom that was procured to suspend Comrade Oshiomhole from the party as National Chairman before perfecting the plot to bring in Mala Buni and his team to power. Unfortunately Giadom himself was dispensed off immediately after being used. With Giadom, Amaechi had thought he will have control of the party and build it in his own image. He never foresaw that he could be blindsided in his bid by the ‘Gang of Four.’
The Amaechi, Keyamo, Lalong’s Involvement
To further limit the influence of Rotimi Amaechi, the Minister of Transport, ‘The Gang of Four’ reached out to his political foe, Senator Magnus Abbe. Through the Minister of State for Petroleum Timipre Sylvia, they first made Abbey a member of the board of NNPC. Now they have concluded plan to hand over the APC structure in Rivers State to Abbey to the disappointment and anger of Amaechi and his group. Sen Abbey’s response to the Supreme Court pronouncements on Buni’s leadership of the party is informed by this new romance with the ‘Gang of Four.’ It is believed that he will soon be dispensed with as well, like Amaechi.
Plateau State governor, Simon Lalong belongs to the Amaechi Group. He is disaffected by the sidelining of Amaechi and believed to be threatening fire and brimstone.
The two party stalwarts are now being treated like outsiders on party matters by Buni and his team. Amaechi’s anger at the development has no bound and it has driven him into looking at options which include dumping APC. The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is however not an alternative considering the fact that Governor Wike, his nemesis holds sway in PDP not only in Rivers but nationally. For now, Buni has poured salt in the engine of Amaechi’s Presidential bid vehicle and cranking the vehicle to take off has become burdensome.
In Delta, of course everyone is in the know that the Minister of State, Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo, SAN was also a major player in the Oshiomhole’s exit as party chairman. He is also an ally of Amaechi. Same treatment was handed down the activist-turned politician when the group surprisingly contrived to empower the Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege, senator representing Delta State Central. ‘The Gang of Four’ has promised to hand over the structure of Delta State APC to Omo- Agege and also make him governor of Delta State in 2023.
Keyamo is today lamenting and his cohorts and team can be seen instituting legal proceedings against the Buni-led leadership of the party from Delta State. It is suspected that Keyamo’s quick intervention in advocating for the sack of the Mai Mala Buni’s committee aftermath of the Supreme Court’s minority judgement in the Ondo State governorship battle that was slightly won by Arakunrin Rotimi Akeredolu of the APC was a spin of his being dumped by The Gang.
Dr Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State and Chairman of the Governors’ Forum is also a minor player in the crisis. He is however seen as pun in the chess game being played by The Gang. He initially was promised support for his Presidential bid. With this, he collaborated with them to remove Oshiomhole and to sideline Amaechi. It is dawning on him now, according to sources, that he been used to rubbish his erstwhile godfather Bola Ahmed Tinubu, his friends Comrade Oshiomhole and Rotimi Amaechi.
The intrepid governor of Kaduna State, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai who was part of the plan to shove out Tinubu and Oshiomhole out of the party’s sphere of influence has also been sidelined. His aides however disagreed. They argued he was disgusted with the ‘Gang of Four’ and has therefore chosen to distance himself.
Osun State governor, Isiaka Oyetola is tagging along with The Gang despite the fact that they have and continued to rubbish his elder brother and political godfather, Bola Ahmed Tinubu. He is maintaining this stance because he wants a second term in Osun and he believes The Gang could pour sand in his millet flour.
Governor Akeredolu of Ondo State who was initially dragged into the conspiracy to remove Oshiomhole by Dr. Kayode Fayemi, his political godfather had since backed out. He was said to have been betrayed by them when it was reported that The Gang gave maximum support to Mr. Eyitayo Jegede of the PDP in the Supreme Court. Jegede was said to have reached out to them with the promise to decamp to APC if he wins. With this promise, they had gone out to lobby for him. Akeredolu almost lost 5 votes to 2 but for the last minute support rallied for him by Tinubu from his temporary base in London. Since Akeredolu won, he has not hidden his hatred for The Gang while Fayemi continue to play along.
The Ogun and Lagos State governors are also not rocking the boat because of their second term ticket which they believe ‘The Gang’ could influence either way.
The Parting Point
However, the thread holding The Gang is said to be tenuous as all the four are known to be very ambitious and their ambition may clash.
Although they appear to be united on a mission to gain full control of the party, but each of Malami, Badaru, Bagudu and Buni have clear ambition to serve as vice president to whoever they individually plot, and of course, separately support to emerge as president.
To Malami, the search for his presidential candidate appeared to have been narrowed down to the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele. Buni is thinking of himself as President or Vice to another candidate. Aside from him, the rest three are also out sniffing from among the presidential hopefuls within the APC, who will best serve their interests to be VP in the unfolding game.
Atiku Bagudu, the governor is said to be desperate for a higher office that will assure him immunity in the next dispensation. He too is shopping for his Presidential candidate.
Already, the game has reached the pitching point with each camp trying everything to swell their camps to the point that overtures are being made to moneybags and heavyweights from the opposition, including those having days at different courts over allegations bothering on mindboggling corruption cases and mindless looting of public funds to come to their camps for funding and chances.
Dead or ailing politicians across the country are being resurrected as tools in their calculations. They have been to Ogun State to pick up former Governor Gbenga Daniel, former Speaker Dimeji Bankole and his dad. From Ogun, they moved to Oyo and tapped on former Governor Adewolu Ladoja. They went to the East and picked Stella Oduah. Oduah has a humongous corruption case in court and ACJ learnt they have assured her they will help her fix it.
Earlier, their net had caught the performing Governor of Ebonyi State, Dave Umahi and they have promised him the Presidential ticket.
Former President Goodluck Jonathan who they also promised a return to Aso Rock is still dilly-dallying with them. An associate of his told ACJ that Jonathan has seen through them and may be stepping back.
They have gone to Bayelsa State and threatened former Governor Seriake Dickson of PDP with arrest and trial. He too is considering leaving his party to pacify them.
With this development, the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, is carefully standing aloof, monitoring and examining the events. Same for the governor of Kano, Dr Abdulahi Ganduje , the governor of Borno, Prof Babagana Zulum, Gov Bello Masari of Katsina State and Gov Mohammed Inuwa Yahaya of Gombe State.
With the exit of Oshiomhole, the national leader of the party, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu has been taken care of and taken out with dwindled influence in the APC. Largely, the majority party chieftains are mere onlookers who are waiting to see how things will unfold.
The Buhari’s Perspective
In the midst of all these, most party chieftains are concerned about the position of President Muhammadu Buhari in all these scheming. Many are of the opinion that it is either the president is himself a pawn in the game or if he indeed is the big masquerade calling the shots underneath by using The Gang as the ultimate pawn in the game of 2023.