Irrespective of concerns about President Muhammadu Buhari’s ill-health, plans for his second term are proceeding apace with rival groups in the All Progressives Congress, APC fighting to take the ascendancy in the hope the president recovers quick enough to make a bid for a second term.
Those hopes were at the weekend being fanned by leaked reports that the president who is presently receiving treatment in the United Kingdom had made a remarkable recovery.
However, back at home, two different groups Saturday Vanguard learnt, are now engaged in erecting structures for what they envisage to be a programmed campaign to return Buhari to power in 2019. The two groups working in parallel, multiple sources told Saturday Vanguard, also reflect the division and animosity that brewed following the victory of Buhari in the 2015 presidential campaign.
A senator from the Northwest who has had historic independent political affiliations with Buhari and who is also a close friend of an influential national leader of the party from the Southwest is the linchpin of one group. Though the senator was not very prominent in the 2015 presidential election campaign, high-level party sources say that the senator is presently in league with entrenched forces in the presidency to push Buhari for a second term.
The rival campaign machinery Saturday Vanguard learnt is being pushed by remnants of the 2015 Presidential Campaign Council and coordinators who were in the forefront of the campaign for Buhari’s landmark victory.
The bid by the 2015 group of coordinators to fight for reckoning, sources disclosed, flowed from mutterings of disaffection that many of them who were in the frontline of the 2015 campaigns have been systematically decimated or put aside from pushing the change agenda that they campaigned for having been denied appointments in the administration.
That feeling is compounded by assertions that appointments in many instances have been channeled to those who defected from the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP into the All Progressives Congress, APC just before or after the landmark presidential election.
Saturday Vanguard gathered that of the 37 coordinators that drove the presidential campaign in the 36 states and Abuja that only six of them have become visible in the Buhari administration with many of them licking and gasping that the victory that they worked for has been taken over by their one-time rivals in the PDP. In some instances, some of the APC chieftains have also become targets of the new entrants who have wasted no time to assert authority over the original APC members.
The lucky six state coordinators include Alhaji Abubakar Malami (Kebbi, Minister of Justice), Dr. Osagie Ehaniare (Edo, Minister of State, Health), Alhaji Mustapha Dankadai (Kano, director, Niger Delta Development Commission), Engr. Bello Suleiman, (Sokoto, chairman, Governing Council, Michael Okpara University), Engr. Ife Oyedele (Ondo, Executive Director, Niger Delta Power Holding Company) and late Barrister James Ocholi who was coordinator Kogi State and eventually became minister of state for Labour.
The state coordinators were supervised severally by Col. Hammed Ali, Buhari’s chief of staff until his inauguration, Mr. Babachir David Lawal, the suspended Secretary to the Government of the Federation, who was the initial campaign director before handing over to Chief Ikechi Emenike in January 2015, and Dr. Mohammed Mahmud, presently the Chairman of the Universal Basic Education Commission, UBEC, who was Emenike’s deputy.
Ahead of a possible 2019 run, Saturday Vanguard learnt that proxies of the powerful leaders in the Presidency have been sounding out possible coordinators for the states and notably bye-passing those who ran the campaign in 2015.
Saturday Vanguard learnt that on hearing of the development, those who ran the 2015 campaign themselves started mobilising with the intention of showing their relevance in the party and at the grassroots.
Lamenting the fate of the original supporters of Buhari, Senator John James Akpanudoedehe, a stalwart of the party who helped to birth the APC in Akwa Ibom State told Saturday Vanguard that the development in the APC was a very strange dimension to politics in which agents of a campaign are displaced and tormented by outsiders who originally opposed change.
“Where they get this wisdom from I don’t know? Nine appointments given in Akwa Ibom State, not one was given to anyone from any of the legacy parties, not one to anyone from ACN, CPC or ANPP, not one.
“The wisdom behind such politics I don’t know. It seems as if we are learning a new politics,” said Akpanudoedehe who left the PDP for the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN at the end of the last decade at a time he said it was very juicy to remain in the PDP.
“The enablers of the PDP decimation of the former opposition, those who fought us in the opposition, are now the beneficiaries of what we fought for. When we now see the people who didn’t want the future of the party (APC) being the beneficiaries, the only thing we can do is to leave it at the doorsteps of God,” he affirmed.