The northern political establishment working for the consolidation of the Presidency of General Muhammadu Buhari is set for a major alliance with the South East political class in a shift aimed at tackling the collapse of the North/South West alliance that brought him to power.
As a direct response to this development, a rally in support of the APC National Leader, Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu, holds in Lagos today, even as one of the organisers described the event as a “show of force” to send a message to the All Progressives Congress (APC) leadership about where the South West caucus of the party stands.
Incidentally, the third force agenda appears to be gaining ground also even outside APC as some leaders of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) met in Abuja, on Tuesday, to design clear ways by which an alliance can be struck with proponents of the Third Force.
Leaders of the PDP in the legislature and some key members of the party’s National Caretaker Committee were spotted at the meeting held in Transcorp Hilton, Abuja.
Sources told Saturday Tribune in Abuja that the pro-Buhari elements are working on the notion that the alliance with the South West has already collapsed and that the relationship with Senator Bola Tinubu, the perceived arrowhead of the political force in the zone and his political machinery cannot be revived.
The South West link
It was gathered that, to fill the void, the Buharists are already raising young elements in the South West, not only to replace Tinubu but also to essentially reduce the bloc votes from the zone and cut a piece for the Buhari camp in 2019.
Sources also told Saturday Tribune that, in line with that decision to look beyond the Tinubu camp, the Buhari loyalists are putting in place an arrangement with the South East.
It was learnt that a former presiding officer in the National Assembly is fast-tracking the relationship that would ensure that the South East replaces the South West in the political arrangement ahead of the 2019 elections.
The recent appointment of former Senate President Ken Nnamani, as the chairman of the Constitution and Electoral Reform Committee by the president is also believed to be in furtherance of the new friendship between political leaders in the zone and certain northern leaders.
Also, during the week, President Buhari met senators from the South East, led by Deputy Senate President Ike Ekeweremadu, for several hours in the Villa where the senators reportedly told him the grievances in their zone against the North and his presidency.
It was gathered that going forward into 2019, the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) section of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) would firm up its hold on the party against other power blocs.
“The plot is very simple and direct”, said a source who confirmed that the push is to ensure a conciliatory relationship between the Buhari camp and the South East, once the leaders of the South East are able to eke out some promises from the president, which would become the selling points for him in the zone ahead of the next election.
“But a major aspect of the deal is the push that could see the South East producing a key member of the next government, using a former lawmaker who is seen as having played a major democratic role in the past”, the source said.
It was learnt that the Buhari camp, having written off the possibility of making up with Tinubu, has decided to rest its hope of eking out something from the South West on politicians who hold positions in the government.
The three politicians from the South West who are said to be key to the planned incursion of the president to the South West reportedly include Governor Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun State, former Governor Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State, who is the serving Minister of Power, Works and Housing, and former Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State who presently serves as the Minister of Solid Minerals.
“We are aware of the political maneuverings from some governors who are playing the card of unity in the South West. Since the alliances they are working on won’t be able to get the zone into a one-way traffic, the reliance on the trio to gain some inroads in the South West is still valid. And that is where the alliance with another zone that can produce bulk votes becomes imperative”, another source said.
Sources also told Saturday Tribune that though the camp of former President Olusegun Obasanjo appears to be dissatisfied with the emerging trends in Abuja, it has so far decided to play the ‘siddon look’ game, while keenly watching the games from Abuja and Lagos.
The realignment of forces across geo-political zones has heightened in recent weeks, following the rapprochement between some political actors in the PDP and the APC, with some governors openly flaunting the new found unity.
Osun State governor, Mr Rauf Aregbesola and his Ekit State counterpart, Mr Ayodele Fayose of the PDP, have not been hiding their new-found friendship, even flaunting it in the media.
“The Obasanjo group regularly evaluates the state of the nation and, particularly, developments in the ruling party; members of the group, spread across the country, are watching events. However, they are not part of the arrangement put together by the South West faction led by Tinubu. The strategy of the Obasanjo camp for now is to watch how the government continues to treat them in the scheme of things”, a source close to the group told Saturday Tribune.
Indeed, the APC deputy national Chairman and a former governor of Ekiti State, Chief Segun Oni who is a leading light in the Obasanjo camp, may have shed light on the position of the camp in the ongoing alignment as he told Saturday Tribune in an interview, two weeks ago, that anybody working on a new party is on his or her own.
Oni, who said he was not aware of any meeting bothering on alignment, had said: “But let me say that right from day one, the losers in this scheme had always been talking of alignment. Don’t forget, right from when we started, they didn’t even wait for us to spend one year before they started talking of alignment.
“They didn’t even wait for us to spend one year before they started talking of alignment. That is always the mentality of losers. The losers would always look for a new thing; the winner would always try to promote continuity psychologically.”
Interestingly, Fayose visited Oni in his Ifaki Ekiti home with both sides refusing to disclose why the two sworn enemies met.
Loyalty walk for Tinubu in Lagos
Meanwhile, a group, “I Stand with Bola Tinubu,” has said hundreds of loyalists of Senator Tinubu, are set for a loyalty walk in honour of the politician, who recently got involved in a dispute with the national chairman of the party.
Speaking in an interview with Saturday Tribune, Media Team Chairman of the group, Comrade Tijani Oluwadamilare, said members of the group as well as other participants remained undaunted and were rearing to go simply because of the faith and love they had for the person of Tinubu.
Tijani pointed out that the group had chosen to organise the loyalty walk to show solidarity and support for Tinubu, and to send a message to everyone concerned that never again would Yoruba people stand and watch any of their respected leaders being ridiculed.
Tijani however further restated the group’s earlier stance that the walk is neither a protest nor an attempt to disparage the leadership of APC under any guise, but rather, to “show unwavering honour and respect to Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.”
He further noted that the walk would take participants through different parts of Ikeja to the final destination at the APC State Secretariat at ACME Road in Ogba area of Ikeja, where a letter would be submitted to the leadership of the party.
“At the APC Secretariat at ACME Road, a letter from the group which will,among other things, state our support for Asiwaju, will be submitted to the leadership of the party,” he noted.
Tijani debunked claims by another group that the walk was being sponsored by the Lagos State government with public fund, maintaining that rather, the group relied on money raised from individuals who had been approached before the event.
“If indeed we are being sponsored with public fund, would I be worried that less than 24 hours to the event, many things that ought to have been put in place are still not in place? As I am speaking with you, a lot of things are yet to be put in place as a result of lack of adequate fund, but we remain undaunted,” he stated.
It will be recalled that just a few hours to the commencement of the walk, another group, the Save Lagos Group, had raised the alarm that the walk was being sponsored by the Lagos state government with public fund, while also giving the indication that it would organise a counter walk of its own against the Tinubu Loyalty Walk.
Alliance against South West will fail
Speaking with Saturday Tribune on Friday, Comrade Amitolu Shittu, National Coordinator, Committee for Democracy and Rights of the People, said whatever alliance or alignment between the North and the South East against the South West would collapse because, as he put it, most of the political players in the North did not believe in righteousness.
He also said any attempt to rubbish the South West in the alignment would collapse like a pack of cards, noting that “whoever seeks to underestimate the Yoruba race would be doing so at his or her detriment. If they think they can underestimate the Yoruba race, they are joking.
“Yoruba elevated former President Goodluck Jonathan to become the president but when he started behaving funny, where did he end up? He saw the consequences. Those who ventured into attempting to rubbish the Yoruba lost out completely. If anybody now thinks in the same direction, they will also disgrace themselves at the end of the day. No region can entirely be on its own without the Yoruba. No region can dare it”.
Speaking further, Amitolu said the ruling party in the country would collapse because “the present leadership of the party is not honest at all. The APC leadership is naïve to the extent of supporting charlatans to destroy their home.
“Those who made election easy for Buhari in the South West in 2015 have been short-changed and the virus is spreading fast. The problem of the North is that they don’t consider national interest. Having lost power several years ago, they now see in the Buhari administration an opportunity to come into reckoning. No matter the marriage you have with them, such cannot last because they don’t believe in righteousness.
“I am not speaking for anybody and I am not in the Tinubu camp but the treatment meted out to Tinubu is very embarrassing. When you were struggling for power, you were able to mingle with them, but suddenly when you came to power, you discovered that your friends are not good and you want to isolate yourself from them. Why can’t you isolate yourself from them from the onset?’, he asked.