The founder and pioneer national chairman of the defunct Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), Senator Rufai Hanga, has said there was “implied agreement” President Muhammadu Buhari would hand over power to the national leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and former governor of Lagos State, Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu in 2023.
Hanga, who chaired one of the parties which collapsed to form the APC in 2014, told Daily Trust the agreement was the reason why Tinubu remained in the APC after Buhari’s first term.
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“This is an open secret. There was an implied agreement. Even in law, there is implied and expressed act. If something is expressed, there are no two ways about it. There was an implied agreement that he would take over. That is why he didn’t back out after the first tenure. If Tinubu knew that he would not benefit, he would have backed out during Buhari’s first tenure. But he knows there was an agreement,” he said.
Hanga however expressed doubt that the APC will give its ticket to Tinubu, predicting a fight ahead, with power blocs among governors and some forces in the Presidency.
The former lawmaker said though the two major parties had their crises, Nigerians may in the end prefer the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) because of what he described as a woeful performance of the APC government under Buhari.
Presidency, APC mum
Daily Trust could not get reactions from the Presidency and the APC headquarters on Hanga’s allegations.
A presidential spokesperson, Garba Shehu, declined comment when contacted by our reporter.
Also, the secretary of the APC Caretaker/Extraordinary National Convention Planning Committee, Senator John James Akpanudoedehe and the party’s deputy national publicity secretary, Yekini Nabena, did not respond to phone calls.
A member of the caretaker committee and former Senate president, Ken Nnamani, simply said, “I was not in the party then”.
‘Tinubu can’t bank on any agreement’
But in a telephone interview with Daily Trust, a chieftain of the party and former presidential candidate, Chief Chekwas Okorie, said the purported agreement should not be a basis for transfer of power, insisting that President Buhari lacks the power as an individual to appoint Tinubu a presidential candidate because it does not exist in the constitution of the APC.
He said Tinubu should lobby, just like any other aspirant in the party.
“If there was such agreement, it was gentlemanly. It does not exist in the APC constitution or any democratic norm. It does not exist in the Nigerian constitution.
“If there was such agreement, it wouldn’t have been when Buhari was sworn in as president. And it wouldn’t have been written.
“It was a gamble, as far as I am concerned. So I will say that if Asiwaju is relying on that agreement, he sold ‘the market’ on credit. That is the basic political description of what he did.
“Will President Buhari tell the party not to observe all the necessary processes that would lead to the election of a presidential candidate and simply foist Asiwaju on us? That one will not be democratic, and it is not possible. It will be a sure way of leading the party to defeat in 2023. And I know that President Buhari would want to see the party continue after him.
“That type of agreement does not affect all of us in the party,” Okorie said
Buhari couldn’t have entered into agreement
On his part, a chieftain of the APC and associate of the president, Osita Okechukwu, said Buhari hardly entered into any written agreement with people.
Asked whether he was aware of any agreement between Buhari and Tinubu to hand over power to the latter after his tenure, Okechukwu said, “I can reasonably confirm that he appreciates the contribution of Asiwaju Tinubu to his victory.
“But I am not sure of any formal agreement. I am not aware of that. Mr President doesn’t enter into any agreement with anybody, but he appreciates good deeds.
“Most importantly, don’t forget that Mr President said he had become a democrat, and under democratic tenets, there is no way he can help anybody.”
By Clement Adeyi, Muideen Olaniyi & Saawua Terzungwe