Vice President Yemi Osinbajo
By Clifford Ndujihe, Omeiza Ajayi & Olayinka Ajayi
After weeks of dilly-dallying, the Tinubu Campaign Organization has finally unveiled a 422-member Campaign Council ahead of next year’s presidential election.
Some of those on the list are Chief Bisi Akande, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, Chief Olusegun Osoba, Alhaji Tanko Yakassai, Zainab Asipita Ogundana and 69 others named as Campaign Patrons.
The list, released in the early hours of yesterday, consists of several presidential aspirants who had slugged it out with the standard bearer of the party, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, at the June Special Presidential Convention of the party.
Curiously, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, who also contested for the APC ticket despite being a close associate of Tinubu, is missing from the list, deepening long-held suspicions of a cold war between him and his erstwhile political godfather, Tinubu.
But the Campaign Organisation, later yesterday, tried to douse the suspicions when it said Osinbajo’s name’s omission on the list was done on the instruction of President Muhammadu Buhari.
The list also consists of state governors, ex-military generals, Nollywood creatives and several members of the Senator Abdullahi Adamu-led National Working Committee, NWC, of the party who had before now protested against perceived exclusion from the Council.
In the list, Buhari retains his position as Chairman of the Campaign Council; while Tinubu is Deputy Chairman and party leader, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, Deputy Chairman II.
Tinubu’s running mate, Senator Kashim Shettima, was named Vice Chairman while Plateau State Governor, Simon Bako Lalong, is Director General.
Others are Comrade Adams Oshiomhole (Deputy Director General, Operations); Hadiza Bala Usman (Deputy Director General, Administration); and Hon. James Faleke Secretary.
Some of the presidential aspirants named into the Council are Senator Godswill Akpabio (Vice Chairman, South-South); Uju Kennedy Ohanenye (Vice Chairperson, South-East); Governor Abubakar Badaru (Regional Coordinator, North/Jigawa State Coordinator); Gov. Dave Umahi ( Regional Coordinator, South/Ebonyi State Coordinator); Cross River State Governor, Prof. Ben Ayade (Zonal Coordinator, South-South/Rivers State Coordinator); Gov. Yahaya Bello (Kogi State Coordinator/National Youth Coordinator); Dr Nicolas Felix (Deputy National Youth Coordinator); and, Gov. Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti State Coordinator/ Adviser, Foreign Affairs).
Other presidential aspirants listed in the Council are Senate President Ahmad Lawan (Senior Adviser, Strategic Planning); Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi (Adviser, Infrastructure); Senator Ibikunle Amosun (Adviser, Contact and Mobilization); Dr Ogbonnaya Onu, Senator Ken Nnamani and Chief Ikeobasi Mokelu as Campaign Patrons; while Senators Rochas Okorocha and Ahmad Zani Yarima are members of the Local Government Directorate.
Some Nollywood creatives on the list are Baba Ahmed, Zack Orji, Jide Kosoko, Folu Daramola, Gentle Jack, Saheed Balogun, Remi Oshodi and Bimbo Akintola among others.
While most of the state governors and governorship candidates of the APC were named as State Coordinators in their various states, it was gathered that each state would also have a handful of other appointees who shall be reporting to their various State Coordinators.
In all, the Council has 32 Directorates including finance, fundraising, security and intelligence.
Meanwhile, the Campaign Council has said the decision not to include Osinbajo and Secretary to Government of the Federation, SGF, Boss Mustapha, in the team was done on the instruction of Buhari.
It said the action wasn’t a result of internal wrangling in the APC.
A statement by the Director of Public Affairs and Chief Spokesperson, Tinubu/Shettima Presidential Campaign Council, Mr Festus Keyamo, said the President urged that they be left out to concentrate on state matters.
His words: “Nothing can be farther from the facts. For the avoidance of doubt, President Muhammadu Buhari is the Chairman of the Campaign Council. As a result, the President specifically directed that the Vice-President and the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr Boss Mustapha should be left out of the Campaign Council to concentrate on the governance of the country and administration of government. As a responsible party and government, all the key functionaries of government cannot abandon their positions for electioneering campaigns. “The APC has the mandate of the Nigerian people to administer the country on their behalf at least till May 29, 2023, and this we intend to do with all sense of responsibility.
“Our candidates and the leadership of the APC have also indicated that the list is not sacrosanct as there may be periodic review of it as circumstances dictate.
“We will not toe the path of those who irresponsibly governed the country before us and our party is not in total disarray like those who wish to ‘rescue’ the country, but cannot simply manage their internal affairs.”
The Council also admitted an error in announcing a former Governor of Enugu State, Senator Chimaroke Nnamani, as a member.
The person who should have been listed is a former Senate President, Senator Ken Nnamani, and the Director of Media and Publicity of the Campaign Council, Mr Bayo Onanuga, clarified in a chat with Sunday Vanguard.
Chimaroke Nnamani is a Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, chieftain, a senator representing Enugu East and a supporter of the PDP presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar.
The senator’s name was number 350 on the 422-member Campaign Council and listed as a member of the Local Government Directorate.
Chimaroke Nnamani had, last month, described Tinubu as a strong politician but said he would vote for his own party’s candidate.
Lamenting the mix-up, Onanuga said the mistake could have arisen from the fact that Chimaroke shares a surname with Ken who is also a prominent politician from Enugu.
“It is an error. It should be Ken Nnamani,” he said.
Before the clarification, an aide to Chimaroke Nnamani said the announcement should be ignored.
“Chimaroke is a PDP Senator. He has a PDP re-election ticket. How can he be in Tinubu’s campaign council? Please, ignore it, “ he said.
‘Ohanifere’: Campaign hits Adebanjo for supporting Peter Obi
In a related development, the APC Presidential Campaign Council, yesterday, slammed Afenifere leader, Pa Ayo Adebanjo, “for attempting to turn the group into his personal estate and using same to canvass support for the Labour Party, presidential candidate, Mr Peter Obi.”
Onanuga, in a statement, titled: ‘Our reaction to Baba Ayo Adebanjo and his new Ohanifere Venture’, said “Papa Adebanjo does not speak for Afenifere”.
According to him, Adebanjo is free as an individual to support anyone he likes, in furtherance of his democratic rights.
“We know for a fact that Baba has turned Afenifere into his personal estate as Acting Leader. We are also certain that there was nowhere Afenifere, as we know it, met and took a decision to adopt Mr. Peter Obi as a candidate for the 2023 presidential election”, the Campaign Director said.
“We respect the age of Baba Adebanjo but he cannot turn Afenifere into his personal franchise for any political alliance.
“We are very much aware that Baba Reuben Fasoranti, the real leader of Afenifere, had stated clearly that Pa Adebanjo has always been speaking for himself on many national issues using the name of the group.
“It is our well-considered position that Pa Adebanjo cannot appropriate Afenifere. Baba is just an individual who is free to support any politician of his choice. As an individual, he cannot equate himself with the socio-cultural and socio-political organization”.