By Emmanuel Aziken, Political Editor
President Muhammadu Buhari’s decision to appoint one of his most trusted allies, Mr. David Lawal as the Secretary to the Federal Government, SGF may have consolidated his political position in the All Progressives Congress, APC and weakened the hands of perceived political threats.
Especially weakened by the appointment of Mr. Lawal, party sources and insiders disclosed at the weekend, is former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar. Party insiders say that with the development, any possible move by the former vice-president for the chairmanship of the APC’s Board of Trustees, BoT would now be a more difficult challenge.
There were also indications at the weekend that the position of chairman, BoT may have been zoned to the Southwest with a powerful national leader of the party in good position to take the seat.
The thinking in the party is that the position of SGF and Chairman of the Board of Trustees should not come from the same zone and certainly not from the same state. Lawal and Atiku are from the same Adamawa State and have soldiered on different political platforms until now.
The downside for Atiku it was learned, followed perceptions in the president’s camp that he actively collaborated with Senate President Bukola Saraki in the latter’s successful uprising against the permutation of party leaders for the emergence of Senator Ahmad Lawan as Senate President.
The appointment of Lawal it was gathered could now bolster the president’s hand in the Northeast especially in the light of perceived speculations of Atiku having an eye for the chairmanship of the BoT. Besides, there are speculations that Atiku could again be preparing grounds for a 2019 run.
Atiku and Lawal are from the same Adamawa State and have since 2003 been political rivals. Lawal has since the evolvement of his political career in 2003 consistently sided with Buhari and had reportedly on account of him received boos from some sections of the Northern Christian community who frowned at his assertions that Buhari was not a religious bigot as his political rivals sought to portray.
Even still as the National Vice-Chairman Northeast of the APC, Lawal was known by many party partisans to have championed the campaign for Buhari in the contest between Atiku, Buhari, Saraki and others for the presidential ticket of the APC.
Buhari’s defeat of Atiku in Adamawa and the former vice-president’s Northeast region ably convinced the Buhari camp that their man, Lawal, had come of reckoning. Atiku’s problem at home was compounded by his alleged initial preference for Ibrahm Mijinyawa, a former chairman of Yola North local government area to be governor on the ticket of the APC.
Even though a steadfast loyalist of Atiku, Mijinyawa, however, did not have the kind of political clout and support for the governorship, a fact that Senator Bindo Jibrilla took advantage of to claim the ticket over Atiku’s choice.
It was no surprise that even though Lawal and Jibrilla were reportedly not much of political buddies, both forces, however, came together to support Buhari in the presidential primaries resulting in Buhari having the upper hand among the delegates from the state over the homeboy, Atiku that was in the contest.
After Jibrilla emerged as governorship candidate at the end of last year, Atiku, however, forged unity with him and reportedly helped him with resources that ensured that Jibrilla defeated the candidate of the former ruling party, Peoples Democratic Party, PDP in the governorship polls.
For whatever support Atiku offered Jibrilla after the makeup, it is noteworthy that Atiku’s ‘boy’ Mijinyawa, his daughter, Dr. Fatima Abubakar and another close associate of Atiku were named into the cabinet that was recently constituted by Governor Jibrilla.
His re-strategising at home nonetheless, the former vice-president’s prospects on the national plain is, however, bound to be challenged with the emergence of Lawal as SGF.
Remarkably, while Governor Jibrilla was quick to congratulate Lawal the day after he was appointed, Atiku as at press time yesterday was yet to make a public pronouncement on the issue.
The former vice-president is also bound to be challenged by increasing claims by party chieftains that the office of chairman of BoT may have been zoned to the Southwest. The election or selection of the chairman of the BoT, party insiders tell Vanguard would take place any moment from now depending on the time that would be convenient for the president.
These moves by Buhari, some party figures allege, could be another way of the president expressing his beef over the alleged collaboration between Atiku and Saraki that led to the emergence of the latter as Senate President and Senator Ike Ekweremadu as deputy Senate President.