•As ANPP, APGA boycott talks
•Sanusi, el-Rufai may be dragged into presidential race
Written by Olawale Rasheed, Abuja Sunday, 10 June 2012
The ongoing merger talks between the Congress for Progressive Change [CPC] and the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) may soon run into troubled waters as forces opposed to the plan are reported to have finalised plans to abort the exercise. Sunday Tribune findings showed that those working against the merger are from various sources, including the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and elements within the CPC who still believe the party should not dilute its character by merging with the ACN.
While the opposition leaders within the two parties are pushing to make the merger come to fruition, three other political parties have turned down invitation to join the coalition designed to wrest power from the ruling party in 2015.
Findings revealed that while the top echelon of the PDP does not take the merger plan as a threat, some influential members of the party within the recently-constituted advisory committee under former Vice President Alex Ekwueme are urging action before it is too late.
Those pushing for action were said to have cited reports that the opposition leaders are working in alliance with a shadowy group within the PDP which is reportedly waiting in the wing to ditch the ruling party if President Goodluck Jonathan secures the party‘s presidential ticket for 2015.
Many within the ruling party were also reportedly alarmed by unconfirmed reports that the opposition merger effort is receiving logistic and technical support of some foreign governments through democracy promotion organisations operating in the country.
A core group within the ruling party is reported to have raised a containment agenda meant to checkmate the emerging alliance which is reported to be targeting a North/South-West alliance against the South-East and South-South in the 2015 general elections.
Part of the agenda which leaked to an opposition member in the North includes what the source called immediate revival of the many court cases against most chieftains of the ruling party such as Mallam Nasir el-Rufai and three other former ministers within the fold of the CPC.
It was gathered that many opposition chieftains, especially within the CPC, were once part of the ruling party and have cases filed against them by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) pending before various courts.
Another plan ongoing is said to be the return into the PDP of old members of the party who had defected to the CPC and other opposition parties through various offers and concessions.
This option is reported to be under implementation as some members of CPC are already returning to the PDP as was the case in Taraba, Gombe and Kebbi states, while more are being wooed to return to the party since the emergence of Alhaji Bamanga Tukur as the party chairman.
While the PDP has denied any involvement, Sunday Tribune was also told that some PDP strategists have launched a divisive campaign against the CPC resulting in the recent surge in conflict within the party.
A faction recently announced the suspension of the Tony Momoh-led executive of the CPC, an action that is linked to the many leadership crises that have been rocking the party since the 2011 elections.
This offensive, however, suffered a setback recently as the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has denounced the suspension of the Momoh-led executive, describing the action of the faction as contrary to the constitution of the CPC.
While those working against the merger appear to see no compromise with the CPC, reports indicate that some elements within the PDP still believe the Presidency can strike another deal with the ACN leadership to wean Senator Bola Tinubu and his people away from the CPC.
The calculation, it was learnt, was that the CPC should be denied any alliance with the South-West as that may pose serious electoral challenge to the PDP in 2015.
Sunday Tribune findings showed that the South-West, and particularly the Tinubu-led ACN leadership, has become a beautiful bride with both the Presidency and the Buhari team lobbying to secure their allegiance, a situation that is raising eyebrow within the South-West PDP.
Many within presidential caucus in Abuja are said to be in support of granting concessions to Senator Tinubu, a development South-West leaders of the PDP see as a continuity of ACN’s domination of South-West politics.
Senator Tinubu and his team are, however, said to be hesitant even though a sizeable segment of the ACN are reported to be open to such concessions that will see the party retaining its hold on the South-West.
APGA, ANPP reject merger invitations
Meanwhile, both the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) and the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) are said to have rejected invitation to join the grand coalition being planned by the ACN and CPC.
A source within the CPC confessed that the ANPP has not responded to the offer, citing the old frosty relationship with the CPC national leader, General Muhammadu Buhari.
The ANPP, which is still strong in many parts of the North, had in the past joined the PDP-led unity government even as it still controls two core Northern states of Borno and Yobe.
ANPP leaders were reported to have described the alliance as a coalition of strange bedfellows that may not be strong enough to defeat the PDP. It was, however, not clear whether the ANPP will join the PDP ahead of the 2015 polls.
APGA is said to have also shunned invitation from merger partners, a decision said to be unconnected with the close relationship between APGA’s leadership and the PDP-led government at the federal level.
Reports indicated that Governor Peter Obi and his Imo State counterpart, Owelle Rochas Okorocha, are very close to the PDP-led Federal Government even as Governor Okorocha was a strong member of the PDP before his defection to APGA.
The appointment of the widow of the late Emeka Oduemgwu Ojukwu, Bianca, as an ambassador was said to have strengthened APGA‘s link with the Presidency even as reports noted that Governor Obi is a personal friend of President Goodluck Jonathan.
A CPC chieftain from Enugu State, Osita Osichukwu, however, noted that the merger was targeting all opposition political parties, adding that APGA and other parties were also being consulted.
Sanusi, el-Rufai may be dragged into presidential race
Even as the merger plan is unfolding, Sunday Tribune has gathered that surreptitious moves are ongoing within the Northern caucus of the CPC over who should finally be presented as the new party‘s presidential standardbearer.
Insiders within the party revealed that the candidature of General Muhammdau Buhari being canvassed in some quarters was just a smokescreen before the unfolding of new entrants into the presidential race.
According to the source, former minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Nasir el-Rufai, was considered an alternate candidate for Presidency in place of General Buhari until recent developments which allegedly saw the names of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) governor, Sanusi Lamido, being dragged into contention.
Those who supported the Buhari candidacy are said to be uncomfortable with the aspiration of Mallam el-Rufai who they see as an extention of the PDP, having served in many capacities under former President Olusegun Obasanjo.
Reports said it was those hardliners behind Buhari who are said to be reaching out to the CBN governor to join and run for Presidency under the new party being worked upon.
Findings showed that these conservative wings of the CPC see in Lamido many traits of General Buhari such as what was described as his opposition to the status quo even to the detriment of his current position as the head of CBN.
Supporters of el-Rufai are also said to be aware of the new move in favour of Sanusi.
The two have of recent intensified their defence of the North in the face of many challenges with Sanusi’s royal connections coming handy.
While el-Rufai has been very loud in defense of the North, Sanusi, on the other hand, laid the foundation for the Northern revolt against the current revenue sharing formula.
Close associates of the CBN governor are, however, quick to deny that he is nurturing presidential ambition, noting instead that his life ambition is to become the Emir of Kano.
Events of recent weeks, however, tend to increase speculations of a presidential agenda as the recent turbanning of the CBN governor by the Emir of Kano was described by those who attended as beyond chieftaincy inauguration.
The CBN governor is not a card-carrying member of the ruling PDP, reports also indicated.
New York Times
Advertise with us
Rules And Regulations