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Why Tinubu committee went silent

‘Where is the Jagaban?’ This is the raging question of recent over the whereabouts of the National Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC) amidst…

‘Where is the Jagaban?’ This is the raging question of recent over the whereabouts of the National Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC) amidst suggestions that he has lost power and influence, evidenced in the way he seems to have abandoned the task given to him by President Buhari to reconcile aggrieved members of party. So, why the loud silence? Daily Trust on Saturday takes a look.


Many sensed danger the very day President Muhammadu Buhari appointed Chief Bola Ahmed Tinubu to lead the APC’s Consultation, Reconciliation and Confidence Building efforts toward improving cohesion within the party. This was on February 6 this year. 

A terse two-paragraph statement signed by Buhari’s Senior Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu, said the assignment will involve resolving disagreements among party members, party leadership, and political office holders in some states. 

Many had expected a more elaborate explanation on the terms of reference for the committee, the members Tinubu would work with, and the timeframe within which they would complete their assignments. But this was not to be.

Why Tinubu committee went silent 

Till date, nobody knows who other members of the committee are, or what has been achieved. The only thing the public has heard is that Tinubu was in Sokoto on February 17 where he conferred with Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, and ex-governor Aliyu Wamakko over crisis in the party.

Tinubu, who was accompanied by Alhaji Idi Farouk, held a two-hour closed-door meeting with his hosts at both the Government House in Sokoto, and at Wamakko’s residence in the metropolis. 

The meeting was later expanded to include the Deputy Governor of Sokoto State, Ahmed Aliyu, and the National Vice Chairman of APC (North West), Malam Inuwa Abdulkadir. Nothing was heard about the outcome, beside Tinubu’s claim that “We had a family talk, on the future of our country, and our ruling APC.”

At the time of Tinubu’s appointment, the contentious issue in the party was the acrimony between some governors and members of the National Assembly from their states. These included, but not limited to Kano, Jigawa, Bauchi, Kaduna, Kano, Kogi and Imo.

Another issue then, important but not potent enough to cripple the party, was complaints by members and Buhari support groups that they had been ‘used and dumped’ without recognition in form of appointments into boards and parastatals. 

However, the situation is now different, as the APC is engulfed in many crises, including moves by nPDP members led by Alhaji Kawu Baraje, the leadership of both chambers of the National Assembly, ex-governors, and others all trying to move out of the party en bloc. 

“The APC is now in complete chaos, and anarchy,” said Mr Gbenga Olawepo-Hashim, an activist who served as Deputy National Publicity of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) at its formative stage.

Hashim, who had since left the PDP, said there is the urgent need for an alternative, saying there is a lot of anger in the land because the APC which got massive support from Nigerians who collectively passed a referendum against ex- President Goodluck Jonathan could not fare any better.

“While the PDP battles absolute moral deficit till date, the APC is not yet a political party. It’s high time we have something else. If we don’t get it right in 2019, I assure you that more than 60 per cent of the voters would not turn out in 2013,” he said.

Sources told Daily Trust that current happenings within the APC have rendered the reconciliation assignment given to Tinubu “ineffectual.” The party, according to analysts, has never been more disunited and fragmented, with chieftains and leaders of the party working at cross purposes.

Presidency yet to see report

Sources in the Presidency revealed that the Tinubu-led committee has not submitted its report to President Buhari. One of the sources said such a report could not have been submitted to the president secretly. Another source, who also said there was no such report on Buhari’s table, however, added that the possibility that Tinubu had briefed the president on the activities of his committee could not be ruled out.

Daily Trust has observed that since Tinubu was assigned to lead the reconciliation committee, he was sighted only once at the Aso Rock Presidential Villa in Abuja. 

The APC national leader met behind closed-doors with President Buhari at the Presidential Villa on February 13, accompanied by a former interim national chairman of the party, Chief Bisi Akande.

Why Tinubu committee went silent 

Tinubu was conspicuously absent at the APC’s caucus meeting presided over by the president at Aso Rock on March 26. There had been speculations that he might present the interim report of his committee at that meeting but he was nowhere to be found.

Tinubu and Buhari also met behind closed doors in London on April 15 at the time the president was on an official visit. 

Asked to confirm if the Tinubu-led committee had presented its report to Buhari or briefed him, Malam Garba Shehu declined comment, and asked Daily Trust to find out from “Tinubu’s people”. Another sources said Tinubu might have abandoned the task even before getting halfway. 

A source in the APC said the crises in the party are overwhelming, saying Tinubu himself needs to be reconciled with others, who would in turn coalesce into a strong force to work for peace in the party. “It’s only the president that can do this; he must spearhead the peace deal,” the source said.

Fire in Tinubu’s home base

Wise men say charity begins at home, and if this is anything to go by, Tinubu has lost grounds, and he has to start rebuilding the collapse structure from the South-West, his home base. The recent congresses of the party from ward, local government and state levels have exposed the deep fissures within the APC family as chieftains struggle for control of party machinery across various states. 

In the South-West where the APC had a strong showing in 2015 following the historic merger which birthed the party, things seem to have fallen apart and Asiwaju appears to be in a fix as the crisis deteriorates. He is virtually the face of APC in the South-West, and as the National Leader of the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), he smoothly coordinated the merger of his party with other parties which were part of the coalition. He also mobilized massively for President Buhari in the 2015 election culminating in the successes the party recorded in the geopolitical zone.

Apart from winning the presidency, the APC won governorship in states like Lagos, Ogun and Oyo, and substantial legislative seats in both chambers of the National Assembly. However, unity of purpose and cohesion which propelled the party to victory seems to be evaporating everywhere, including the South-West.

The congresses conducted in Lagos, Ogun, Ondo, and Oyo have widened the gulf among chieftains agitating for control of the party’s machineries. There were parallel congresses in the four states while congresses did not hold in Ekiti and Osun because of the forthcoming governorship elections there. 

In Lagos, for instance, while the congress was taking place at the party secretariat along Acme Road where the executive led by Tunde Balogun, a former commissioner emerged, another faction believed to be backed by what sources tagged ‘Abuja-based politicians’ was conducting a parallel congress. A former chairman of the party in Lagos Central, Mr Fouad Oki emerged as the chairman of the faction.

And in a decision that shocked the APC leadership in the state under Tinubu, a caveat was placed on the congress conducted at the recognized party’s secretariat. Though the National Working Committee of the party was equally tactical in its decision by not also recognizing the other faction, though it said the congress conducted by Oki had the full backing of the law.

In reference to the congress in Lagos, APC National Publicity Secretary, Malam Bolaji Abdullahi, had said the faction loyal to Tinubu conducted its congress on the basis of 57 councils and not the 20 recognized by the constitution. “We could not have discountenanced those who conducted in 20 councils because that is constitutional. The issue in Lagos is about legality and constitutionality,” Abdullahi was quoted as saying.

A source in Lagos APC said the action of the APC NWC was seen as an affront on the leadership of the party in Lagos. “The Oyegun-led executive has not forgiven Tinubu for vehemently opposing tenure elongation,” the source said.

Already, the leadership of the party is instituting a suit against the NWC, describing its action as ‘mischievous’, as the Supreme Court has recognized the state’s 57 councils comprising 20 LGAs and 37 local council development areas.

And in the event the decision of the NWC stands, it means Tinubu has been edged out of the scheme of things, as far as APC leadership is concerned in Lagos.

In Ogun State, the executive loyal to Governor Ibikunle Amosun retained its decision shutting out other chieftains like the governorship aspirant and senator representing Lagos West, Olamilekan Adeola, who is a known Tinubu loyalist. This is also seen as another setback for the Jagaban Borgu.

The scenario in Oyo State is also not different as chieftains are at loggerheads over the outcome of the congress. After the executive loyal to Governor Abiola Ajimobi was recognized, the other faction comprising of mainly the Minister of Communication, Adebayo Shittu has cried out over alleged moves to destroy the party in the state.

These, and more, analysts point out, prove that the reconciliation assignment of Tinubu is on ice. 

Tinubu still working, say aides

However, a Lagos APC official who pleaded anonymity, said the former governor has achieved a lot, but admitted that some elements within the party have become impediments to his assignment. “When we get Oshiomhole in the saddle by 23rd of June, then this thing would be put behind us. Since Tinubu said they won’t have an interim executive to go on with the convention, he has entered into enemy territory,” he said.

Another source told Daily Trust Saturday that if not for the ongoing surreptitious peaceful moves of the Tinubu committee, the ruling party would have witnessed a life threatening revolt from aggrieved members who had to give the APC a second chance after the Jagaban was appointed by President Buhari.

A source said: “The Tinubu committee is working despite the seeming silence. The party would have scattered if not for the role being played by the committee. They are meeting the key stakeholders, including aggrieved nPDP. However, the committee is ready for any action to be taken by nPDP, including likely defection. Tinubu knows that some nPDP members have already left the APC despite their physical presence. The souls of some nPDP members are out of the party. That’s why President Buhari may not meet them personally to discuss their grievances. Vice President Yemi Osinbajo will continue to engage the nPDP members before the anticipated defection.”

Why Tinubu lost grip

Senators have identified two reasons as to why Tinubu lost grip as national leader of the APC. A cross-section of senators blamed a sustained plot by a section of the presidency to whittle down the Jagaban’s influence in the party. 

“They want to cage him and cut him to size ahead of 2019. One of the strategies is the parallel congress held in Lagos state. They started the plot against Tinubu long ago, shortly after the inauguration,” a lawmaker said.

A source close to the leadership of the Senate claims Tinubu failed in the reconciliation assignment given to him by the president “because he himself is aggrieved.” 

“In fact, we were told that when someone asked Tinubu, he told him that he should be the first person to be reconciled with the Senate President. So, if he can say this, what reconciliation are we talking about?” the source posed. 

The source added that Tinubu only met with Senate President Bukola Saraki once, adding that it was after the assignment was given to the Jagaban that the party crises deteriorated. 

“With all the troubles they have exposed the Saraki to, do you think a brief meeting between him and Tinubu would address it?  An hour-long meeting cannot resolve the issues at stake,” he said.

On the reconciliation, Saraki’s media aide, Yusuph Olaniyonu, told Daily Trust that only his boss could answer. “I don’t have any permission or directive for this. We have not even discussed that issue with him,” he said. 

Party leaders keep mum

Daily Trust Saturday discovered that the Chief Oyegun-led NWC is no longer fully involved in the job of the committee, especially after the nasty feud between Tinubu and the APC national chairman.

When contacted to explain the role Asiwaju committee was playing in the ongoing effort to reconcile the aggrieved in the party, the APC National Publicity Secretary, Malam Bolaji Abdullahi, said “You may need to talk to him (Tinubu). I speak only for the party.”

But when asked whether the committee made any effort to brief the party on its task, Bolaji said, “We’ve not had an opportunity to be briefed on whatever reconciliation effort is going on.”

It would be recalled that Tinubu’s first reconciliation move was his Valentine’s Day visit to the APC NWC members, led by Chief Odigie-Oyegun with whom he has been feuding, to demonstrate readiness to pursue settlement.

Tinubu had told party leaders that he had come to meet them for “consultations” in his remarks before the closed-door meeting that lasted for hours. The APC national chairman said the NWC would give the needed assistance to the Tinubu-led committee.

But despite Oyegun’s promise, the APC national leader later accused the party national chairman of positioning himself in active opposition to the goal of resuscitating the party. After the intervention of President Buhari, the APC national chairman promised to work with the Tinubu-led committee.

However, Tinubu’s peace envoy task seemed to have hit the wall on February 27, 2018, the day the party’s National Executive Committee (NEC) took a divisive decision to extend the tenure of party executives across all levels whose current term of office ends on June 30 this year. Tinubu remained silent since the decision was announced. But as soon as it was reversed, he swung into action, again.

Tinubu’s spokesman, Mr. Tunde Rahman, could not be reached for comment on the reconciliation mission. He earlier said the reconciliatory assignment was on course, and that his principal would soon submit an interim report to the president. And the entire political landscape waits, with bated breath.

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