Despite the frantic intervention of President Muhammadu Buhari, about 10 0f the 17 All Progressives Congress (APC) governors have returned to the trenches in a renewed determined effort to oust the party’s national chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, zeroing in on the former Zamfara governor, Abdulaziz Yari, as his replacement, Huhuonline.com has learnt from sources at the Progressive Governors’ Forum, familiar with the matter.
At the recently ended meeting of the party’s National Executive Committee (NEC) three weeks ago, President Buhari had staved off attempts by the governors to unseat Oshiomhole; believing that fences could still be mended between Oshiomhole and his traducers. Pressure from the governors had forced Oshiomhole to summon the NEC meeting, having not been held since August last year contrary to the provisions of the party’s constitution, which mandates a quarterly meeting.
Preceding the NEC meeting was the National Caucus, where the president was said to have provided Oshiomhole with a lifeline, requesting all the combatants to sheath their swords and recommended that a reconciliation committee be set up to douse the raging inferno he warned could consume the party.
But at the NEC meeting, Oshiomhole’s opponents still drew daggers after the president left. He was, however, saved by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, who called the attention of the meeting to Buhari’s proposal for reconciliation and pleaded that the process be allowed to run its course. The meeting ended in uproar and chaos.
APC sources told Huhuonline.com that weeks after the lifeline NEC meeting, nothing has been heard about the promised reconciliation committee as it now appears the governors had been outplayed and out-maneuvered; a development that has irked the governors who have now returned to the trenches.
To which end, about 10 of the party’s 17 governors met last night in a secret meeting in Abuja and vowed to deepen their push against the national chairman, who has been under intense pressure to resign over sundry accusations, including his style of leadership, which his traducers claim has left the APC more divided than ever.
Huhuonline.com gathered that the arrowhead of the roll call of the antagonistic governors was the chairman of the Progressive Governors’ Forum, Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi State. With him in the trenches sharpening their strategy to oust Oshiomhole are: Dr. Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti), Nasir el-Rufai (Kaduna), Ibrahim Badaru (Jigawa), Mai Mala Buni (Yobe), Inuwa Yahaya (Gombe), Abdullahi Sule (Nasarawa), Abdulrahman Abdulrazak (Kwara), Simon Lalong (Plateau) and Godwin Obaseki (Edo).
In his defense, sources said Oshiomhole can count on the support of governors Babajide Sanwo-Olu (Lagos), Dapo Abiodun (Ogun), Gboyega Oyetola (Osun) and Babagana Zulum (Borno). Those on the fence are: Bello Masari (Katsina), Abdullahi Ganduje (Kano) and Oluwarotimi Akeredolu (Ondo), who were said to have abstained from the recent meeting of the governors called to discuss the issue.
Sources at the APC National Working Committee (NWC) told Huhuonline.com that the president had bent over backwards to plead with the irate governors to give Oshiomhole another chance to retrace his steps by reconciling with aggrieved party members, most notably the APC national vice chairman (North-west), Inuwa Abdulkadir, who had been suspended by his Sokoto State chapter of the party as well as Governors Akeredolu and Obaseki and former governors Rochas Okorocha and Ibikunle Amosun.
Buhari was also said to have personally directed Oshiomhole to sort out the schism between himself and his successor, Edo State Governor, Obaseki because the optics reflected badly on the national chairman as it paints the picture of a governing party that cannot even self-govern.
But weeks after the lifeline NEC meeting, Oshiomhole believes he has weathered the storm and has begun to stealthily move against his opponents, having secured the backing of two newly elected APC governors from Rivers and Kogi states. Oshiomhole was quoted by close aides as boasting that there was no cause for alarm as he was certain he has survived the plot to unseat him.
“It is true that some of the governors have issues with the national chairman, but they have an uphill task achieving their objective of removing him,” the source said, adding: “They don’t have the numbers.” According to him, “Let them get a majority among themselves first. Then we shall see if they get the required number at the NEC. I doubt if they can.”
According to sources, Oshiomhole’s renewed confidence apparently derives from the support he enjoys from APC state chairmen, who dominate the critical NEC. With majority of this caucus coming from non-APC states that are immune from the influence of APC governors, the source explained that all the national chairman needs is the continued support of the APC national leader, Bola Tinubu, who handpicked him to be party chairman in the first place and is believed to be pulling the strings from behind as the intrigues and horse-trading ahead of the 2023 elections continue to play out.
Oshiomhole was also quoted as berating the antagonistic governors for naiveté and lacking in political sophistication, saying their strategy of proposing former Zamfara governor, Abdulaziz Yari as his replacement, was dead on arrival because although the APC has no official zoning policy, pragmatic politics dictates that the president and the national chairman could not both be Northerners, talk less of the hailing from the same North-west geo-political zone.
It remains to be seen whether the president will read the riot act to the errant governors, especially at a time when the presidency is embroiled in several turf battles between the so-called Cabal and the vice-president; with another front recently opened by the First Lady, Aisha Buhari.