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Disquiet in APC over composition of campaign team

By Saawua Terzungwe (Abuja) & Abiodun Alade (Lagos)  There is disquiet in the All Progressives Congress (APC) over the composition of the presidential campaign council…

By Saawua Terzungwe (Abuja) & Abiodun Alade (Lagos) 

There is disquiet in the All Progressives Congress (APC) over the composition of the presidential campaign council with governors and other chieftains complaining of exclusion, Daily Trust can report. 

Sources in the party told our correspondent on Monday in Abuja, that some governors were opposed to the composition of the list on grounds that they were not carried along in the scheme of things and their interests were not protected. 

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A list of members of the APC campaign council was released on Friday night by Secretary of the Council, James Faleke in Abuja ahead of the official flag-off of the campaign tomorrow, in accordance with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) 2023 election timetable. 

The 422-member council has President Muhammadu Buhari as Chairman, the APC presidential candidate, Bola Ahmed Tinubu and the party’s National Chairman, Abdullahi Adamu, as Deputy Chairman 1 and 2 respectively. 

Plateau State governor, Simon Lalong and a former governor of Edo State, Adams Oshiomhole are Director General and Deputy Director General while Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo (SAN), is the Campaign Spokesman. 

The council consists of governors, serving and former ministers, serving and former members of the National Assembly, former governors and other bigwigs in the party. 

But credible sources confided in our correspondent that many governors as well as some prominent Christians opposed to the Muslim/Muslim presidential ticket were aggrieved because they were not carried along. 

Sequel to the bickering and grievances of some governors, the Director, Media and Publicity of the APC Presidential Campaign Council, Bayo Onanuga in a statement on Monday appealed to the governors to be calm, stressing that their nominees would be included in the list. 

Onanuga explained that the list was a “partial list” adding that it contained only the directors, deputy directors, secretaries of directorates and key stakeholders. He, however, failed to state when the final list would be released. 

The omission of party bigwigs, many of whom have been at daggers-drawn with Tinubu or opposed to the party’s contentious Muslim-Muslim ticket is also generating ripples in the polity. 

They are Vice President Yemi Osinbajo;  former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara; former Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Babachir Lawal; former Minister of State for Education, Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba; Adebayo Shittu and many others. 

But Keyamo had in a statement said Osinbajo and the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, were excused from the campaigns on the orders of President Buhari.  

Dogara and Lawal had distanced themselves from the ruling party’s Muslim-Muslim ticket of Tinubu and Kashim Shettima.

Osinbajo, Amaechi’s silence raises dust 

The countenance of Osinbajo and another presidential aspirant, former Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, is also sending signals that all may not be well with the ruling party.  

Tinubu had defeated Amaechi, Osinbajo and thirteen others to pick the presidential ticket of the party. Eight of the thirteen aspirants stepped down and asked their supporters to vote for Tinubu, while one other aspirant asked his supporters to vote for Osinbajo. 

The two prominent contenders have not made any public statement in support of Tinubu since their defeat. Despite the candidate’s visit to their homes, they have not been seen around him in return. 

Daily Trust also observed that most loyalists of both Osinbajo and Amaechi were also omitted from the campaign list. 

APC’s cold war 

Repeated efforts by the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party to hold meetings with all the presidential aspirants that took part in the primary failed. One of such meeting was postponed in August over the failure of aspirants to communicate their readiness to attend, it was gathered. 

Although, Osinbajo congratulated Tinubu after the primary and also hosted the flagbearer at his Aguda residence in Abuja in what was seen as a pointer that both men have reconciled their differences after a bitter campaign leading to the primary, his silence on the controversy generated by the Muslim-Muslim ticket has made many to doubt his commitment to the campaign. 

“Osinbajo is not just the VP and a member of the APC, he is a respected pastor in one of the leading Pentecostal denominations in the country. He has never spoken in defence of the party, despite the opposition raised against the ticket by former SGF, Babachir Lawal and Speaker Yakubu Dogara,” a source in the APC said. 

Amaechi had also sent a congratulatory message to Tinubu after the primaries, assuring the former Lagos state governor of his commitment to the success of the party at the poll, however, his comment at the 60th birthday celebration of the General Overseer of Abundant Life Evangel Mission (ALEM), Eugene Ogu, in Port Harcourt, that some of the delegates, who voted at the special convention of the APC were now regretting their decisions, was seen as a direct attack on Tinubu, who was said to have outspent other aspirants. 

“Those who voted at the APC primaries, who are they? They are ordinary Nigerians. The small money they got solved their immediate problem, now they are saying they made a mistake, you are now hearing different things. 

“If you are praying for us, pray for the leadership of the country, but also pray for ordinary Nigerians to be able to choose the right president to govern the country,” he had said. 

Policy and Strategy expert, Prof. Okey Ikechukwu, said Amaechi has little relevance ahead of the 2023 poll. The Professor of Strategic Management and Human Capital Development said the former Minister of Transportation is yet to recover from the shock of losing the APC presidential ticket to Tinubu. 

Media scholar and development expert, Dr. Tunde Akanni, said there is no cause to worry over the non-inclusion of Osinbajo on the list. 

“If Osinbajo was included, it would make that list 423-member council, I don’t know how much political value Osinbajo has that 422 people cannot add to the campaign,” he said. 

However, a long-time ally of the former Rivers State governor, Chief Eze Chukwuemeka Eze, said Amaechi cannot beg for a position. He maintained that anyone that undermined Amaechi is doing so at his own loss. 

The erstwhile National Publicity Secretary of the defunct New Peoples Democratic Party (nPDP) and chieftain of APC in the South-South, said Amaechi’s assumed silence is another means of communication. He said the former governor has been holding meetings with members of APC in Rivers State and will speak when it becomes imperative to do so. 

But commenting on the issue, the Director, Media and Communications, Tinubu Campaign Organisation, Bayo Onanuga, said his principal is open to working with everybody to achieve success at the poll. He, however, said the former governor cannot force anyone to join him. 

The General Secretary of the pro-democracy organisation, the June 12 Coalition of Democratic Formations (J12CODEF), Nelson Ekujumi, said there is no need to read meanings to the omission of names on the list. He said the VP will work for the success of the party and its candidate as already stated by President Buhari. 

A Public Policy Expert, Dr Abimbola Oyarinu PhD, said it will be unfortunate if Tinubu decided to do away with Osinbajo because he contested against him, noting that the experience of the VP will be handy for the party and Tinubu.

A political ally of Tinubu and a former Minister of Works and Housing, Adeseye Ogunlewe, said there is no division in the party, noting that as stated by the council, the party will not create a vacuum in governance because of the election. He also noted that elections are not won by campaign councils as every loyal party member is expected to return to their polling unit and deliver victory. 

Repeated phone calls and short messages sent to the known telephone numbers of Ojudu as well as Osinbajo’s spokesperson, Laolu Akande were not responded to as of the time of filing this report. 

 

APC begins campaign with special prayers 

Meanwhile, the APC says it will commence its presidential campaign with a special prayer session and peace walk in Abuja on Wednesday. 

Onanuga disclosed this in a statement on Monday in Abuja. 

According to the statement, all members of the council are to participate in the prayer session after which there would be a peace walk marking the commencement of the 2023 campaign for the party’s presidential candidate, Bola Ahmed Tinubu and his running mate, Kashim Shettima.

 

Council fails to present letters to nominees 

The top echelon of the APC Presidential Campaign Council yesterday failed to issue letters of appointment to nominees. 

According to the list of 422 members released by Secretary of the Campaign Council, James Faleke on Friday night, the nominees were to receive their letters of appointment yesterday.  

But our correspondent reports that the exercise did not hold as officials attributed the failure to “logistics issues.” 

Meanwhile, the date for the official inauguration of the campaign council is yet to be announced as the party’s presidential candidate, Bola Ahmed Tinubu and his running mate, Kashim Shettima are said to be out of the country.