Adamu vs Tinubu: NWC’s outrage reopens APC’s fault lines
Jolt for Tinubu/Shettima campaign
The fault lines had always been there. It started from the very day the All Progressives Congress (APC) bulldozed General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd) through what could have been a very contentious and life-threatening presidential primary in Lagos. It also featured after President Buhari mounted the saddle and recruited his aides.
However, resolved to ensure the elimination of the common enemy – the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its leader, then President Goodluck Jonathan – the promoters patched up the cracks. The be-of-good-behaviour treaty administered on the presidential aspirants that included the former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, then governors, Rabiu Kwankwaso, and Rochas Okorocha; helped to bottle up whatever misgivings that propped up.
Ever since, APC was held together by the singular fact of President Buhari’s mandate and the political aspiration of many of its stalwarts, who needed the platform to ventilate their future elective offices.
However, unlike the December 2014 special convention and presidential primary, which threw up Buhari, the June 8, 2022 exercise, which Asiwaju Bola Tinubu clinched, failed to throw a leash not only on aspirants but also on party leaders that had diverse expectations and interests.
Worse, as the winner of the presidential primary, the former Lagos State governor could not drop his beef against certain party chieftains and former underlings which made the ticket very expensive for him.
Many who attended the APC presidential primary at Eagle Square still recall Tinubu’s acceptance speech, which was an admixture of exultation and virulence. But, those who heard the words, ‘now you can go and lick your wounds,’ knew that the victor was tending towards victimisation and vendetta.
Either through the process of nominating his running mate or the telltale reports of what transpired behind the scene, before he won the presidential primary, Tinubu displayed signs of a field marshal preparing to do battle on two fronts: against internal opponents and taking control of his coming presidency.
It is against that hazy background that the imperatives of Senator Abdullahi Adamu’s recent statement to the APC presidential contender could be understood. Yet, there are many sides to the unfolding drama and infighting within the governing party, which has the inbuilt recriminations from the unfinished political contestations.
The party leadership is divided on whether what was sent to the APC presidential candidate, Tinubu, was a draft having not been ratified, or the authentic position of the National Working Committee (NWC) on the controversial 422-man Presidential Campaign Council (PCC).
But, the letter, which started making the rounds in the public domain early Thursday morning, exposed the acrimony between some members of the NWC opposed to Tinubu’s handling of campaign preparations and those who claim to be long-term allies of the presidential candidate.
In the strongly worded letter, the APC national chairman, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, had complained about the composition of the campaign council, which was signed off by the Secretary of the council, Hon James Faleke.
It could be recalled that the NWC had raised some issues about the membership of the council and selected three officials from among them, including the National Organising Secretary, the National Legal Adviser and Deputy Women Leader to harmonise the names with the presidential candidate.
In its position, the NWC proposed that Senator Adamu should serve as the Deputy Chairman of the campaign council, while Abubakar Kyari and Emmanuel Eneukwu, Deputy National Chairman of North and South, respectively should serve as Deputy Regional Coordinating Chairmen.
It was obvious from the list of names put forward by the NWC that the committee wanted to play crucial roles in the presidential campaign, even as it complained that the presidential candidate was taking unilateral decisions that suggested an inclination towards a winner-takes-it-all approach.
Insisting that it should be made the central clearing house for marketing the candidate, Adamu told Tinubu: “Perhaps it has become necessary owing to the passage of time, that I should draw Your Excellency’s attention to the agreements that we reached in principle around the final adoption of the PCC list, based on the understanding that it was a work in progress, until such a time that the Joint NWC/PCC Committee that was established to formalise the structure and populate the list, submits its report.”
While noting that the letter represented the NWC’s opinion and position, Adamu said it was being conveyed, “with a view to having a clear understanding about the respective roles and responsibilities of the principal organs of the party charged with the duties of conducting the campaigns in the forth-coming general elections.”
Watchers of APC politics, especially the build-up to the party’s convention could remember that the desire by the North to maintain control of the party structure prompted the conscription of Adamu into the chairmanship post.
Those who pushed for an Adamu chairmanship maintained that being a former governor from the class ’99 governors as Tinubu, the representative of Nasarawa Northcentral could not be intimidated by any of the then-presidential aspirants, particularly Tinubu.
That behind-the-scene power play was not lost in the tone of the disputed letter. For instance, Adamu stated: “This correspondence has become necessary in view of developments that took place over the last few days around the purported appointments into the PCC that was announced precipitately by officials of the council, without making recourse to the NWC for approval.
“All along, the NWC had been disposed towards the campaign in a cooperative spirit that is driven by the overall interest of the party and the singular desire of victory for our candidates, in the persons of your esteemed self and your running mate.
“It is against this background that the NWC received with astonishment and regret, the press release by the PCC on 23rd September 2022, in which a purported list of appointees was announced, which effectively served as the approved roster of participants in the Party’s Presidential Campaign Council.
“The purported list not only came as a complete surprise to the NWC and the party’s leadership, but also contravened the principles and purposes of the arrangements that you and I had led towards the adoption of the organogram of the PCC, and its principal officials.”
The national chairman took some lines to remind Tinubu of the several meetings they held in his office at the APC national secretariat, remarking that the organogram of the campaign council and its composition were thoroughly examined.
NWC and PCC, Adamu explained, were to serve as two entities on the collaborative project. “Our recollection of those meetings clearly leaves us in no doubt that a breach of agreement has occurred, and that a return to the principles of cooperation and respect for each other is required.
“In Your Excellency’s own words, which I take the liberty to quote here, which I also hold dearly, you stated that, “there is a burden on everyone’s shoulders towards delivering the elections to the party and the candidate”. This has been the view of the NWC and myself all along since Your Excellency’s emergence as our great party’s flagbearer.
“The NWC is striving under trying circumstances to keep faith with this vision, and to take our party and candidates to victory, not only in the presidential elections but in all others across the elective strata of offices.
“May I, therefore, point out to Your Excellency, that winning elections is a cooperative, as well as a collaborative effort, that is done in a transparent and disinterested manner by all parties concerned, by respecting established boundaries and acknowledging the contributions of everyone.
“The NWC believes that any sign of disarray in the party’s ranks will undermine the spirit and ethos of the campaign and give undue alarm to faithful members and followers of the party across the country. All the same, such a development would undoubtedly come as “Manna from Heaven” for the opposition parties, whose only desire when all else fails, is to see the introduction of rancour, division and disinclination in the leadership of our great party.
“I am sure Your Excellency will agree with me that this is an eventuality that we must do all in our power to prevent from happening. You will also agree that we owe it a duty as leaders to provide guidance by example to the rest of the party, including the PCC, to abide by agreements and adhere strictly to the work ethos that has been adopted by all of us. It is only by doing so that we will establish the premise for victory and gain the trust and confidence of our dear countrymen and women.
“Without further admonishment or complaints, I wish to hereby call upon Your Excellency to restrain the PCC from undertaking solo projects of this nature and agree to work with all stakeholders towards taking our party to victory. I shall not find it necessary to reiterate the importance of the party in the overall scheme of things in these campaigns, and the singular position of the NWC in driving the process towards our securing of victory in the polls.
“It suffices for me to convey the general and overwhelming sentiment of the NWC with regard to the ill-timed and unfortunate release of the PCC list, which confounded rather than pleased the members and whose withdrawal will assure the NWC of Your Excellency’s respect and disposition towards the party, as well as the magnanimous spirit of cooperation towards achieving victory together with the NWC.”
Many party faithful recall how the APC national chairman tried to reprimand Tinubu after his (Tinubu’s) Abeokuta infamous remarks and elaboration on how President Muhammadu Buhari bemoaned his serial electoral failures until he (Tinubu) came to provide the needed support for the eventual victory in 2015.
It is possible that either the infighting within APC is geared to rein in Tinubu and his supporters or some party leaders are determined to ensure that the former Lagos State governor experiences President Buhari’s triple falls.
However, the common sentiment within the party is that there should be inclusivity without Tinubu’s allies feeling that at last, their time has come to call the shorts. A founding member of the party, Mr Osita Okechukwu, said the time has come to show faith in the party.
Although the Congress for Progressives Congress (CPC), flank of the legacy parties that produced APC seems to be at the receiving end, Okechukwu declared: “My own is simply to appeal to some of us whose names didn’t appear in the Presidential Campaign Committee (PCC) list, to kindly place the interest of our great party above personal interest.
“There is no doubt that the membership of PCC is glamorous, and an important Adhoc Committee; however contrary to expectations, being a member doesn’t in realpolitik guarantee that one will automatically secure appointment post-victory.
“The fact that it doesn’t guarantee automatic appointment should teach us a lesson that it should not be or die struggle for membership of PCC, as if it is the ticket for ministerial slot or other juice appointments. It is not routed to Eldorado as many assume.”
Okechukwu, who is also the Director General of Voice of Nigeria (DG, VON), observed that a cursory glance at appointments in the past is not a witness to such assumptions. He recalled how people moved from PDP only to capture juicy offices after APC’s victory.
“The irony is that some of those migrants were the same people who were abusing us and calling us all sorts of names. Therefore, one will appeal that we first and foremost devote more attention to securing victory first, before splitting our ranks.
“The ancient maxim states that united we win and divided we fall. Let’s put all hands on the deck. This appeal for unity is especially so when the majority of electoral polls conducted so far by authentic pollsters are posting results, which are at variance with pundits’ traditional statistics of a two-man race. This means that His Excellency, Atiku Abubakar of PDP may after all not be our main challenger, but Peter Obi of the Labour Party. This is a wake-up call, which we cannot dismiss with a wave of the hand,” he noted.