October 11, 2022

Same-faith ticket: Dogara, ex-SGF, others are impostors — APC


By Clifford Ndujihe, Dapo Akinrefon, Henry Umoru, Johnbosco Agbakwuru & Omeiza Ajayi, LAGOS

Presidential candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, has described former House of Representatives Speaker, Yakubu Dogara, and ex-Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, Mr Babachir Lawal, and the group they represent as a band of impostors.

He also declared that Dogara is no longer a member of the APC and cannot be said to be speaking for any group of APC members.

Tinubu was reacting to the outcome of a meeting convened by Dogara and Lawal at the weekend with some Northern Muslim groups wherein the former speaker said they had resolved to work with their Muslim counterparts in the North to adopt one of the other presidential candidates in a bid to defeat APC’s Muslim-Muslim ticket.

Tinubu spoke as President Muhammadu Buhari while inaugurating the women’s campaign team of the party, yesterday, said there is no alternative to the APC next year as National Chairman, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, said the APC presents new hope to Nigerians.

This happened on a day of fresh facts on the reason Tinubu did not choose either Dogara or Lawal as his running mate emerged.

also read

‘Dogara bitter over rejection of him for VP slot’

Director, of Media and Publicity at the Tinubu-Shettima Presidential Campaign Council, Mr Bayo Onanuga, declared that “Dogara has apparently lost his mind since he could not realise his self-imposed ambition to be on the presidential ticket of the APC.”

On account of this, Tinubu said the former speaker has certainly become a reprobate and demagogue, delivering hate speeches and whipping up emotions, with the aim of setting our country ablaze.

“The Tinubu-Shettima Presidential Campaign Council is therefore not surprised by media reports about a meeting of some so-called Northern Christian leaders, who claimed to be members of our All Progressives Congress that was championed by Dogara and his ilk. The claim was totally fraudulent.

Dogara has left APC

“Yakubu Dogara, the peripatetic and politically unstable politician who organised the meeting left our party officially and unceremoniously weeks ago. And those who attended the meeting were representing themselves, their selfish agenda, not Northern Christians.

“Before then, the former speaker had spearheaded a campaign of vitriol and hate against our party, using religion as camouflage, after he lost the vice-presidential candidacy to a better qualified Senator Kashim Shettima,” he added.

Tinubu noted that a  careful reading of the people who attended the “unholy meeting” he called also showed that they were all PDP members masquerading as APC members.

“Among the politicians at the unholy consultative meeting were Mukhar Shagari, Boni Haruna, Abdulfattah Ahmed; Damishi Sango; Senator Idris Ahmed Umar; and two former deputy governors of Kogi State, Yomi Awoniyi and Simon Achuba. They are all PDP members working for the presidential ambition of Atiku Abubakar. “We were not surprised by the resolutions adopted. Our surprise was that the media failed to read through their smokescreen.

“The APC PCC wondered how the assembly of strange bedfellows hoped to foster unity and cohesion in our country when their candidate represents the antithesis of the goal, having emerged the greatest divider of our polity between the North and South.

“All Nigerians are aware that Atiku’s emergence as the PDP presidential candidate grossly violated a power rotation code between the North and the South. His insistence on snatching and retaining what rightly belongs to another political region has triggered a crisis within his party, making him run from Port Harcourt to London to mend fences.

“We want to assure Dogara and his co-travellers fanning hate campaign against our Presidential candidate, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, and his running mate, that they will fail spectacularly at the polls.

“From the engagements our leaders have had with men of all faiths, bigotry will not win next February election. What will prevail are the track records of our candidates and the solution-driven and all-inclusive progressive programmes the candidates offer Nigerians.

“Asiwaju Tinubu and Senator Shettima are going into this campaign with clear objectives to engage Nigerians across the socio-economic brackets on policy actions that will make their lives better. Our candidates will not exploit our country’s fault lines to win election and sell religion as Kool Aid,” he added.

On Saturday, a group of Northern Christian leaders led by Dogara and Lawal held a consultative meeting and dialogue with Northern APC Christian leaders and Northern Muslim political leaders at NAF Conference Centre, Kado, Abuja and resolved not to vote for Tinubu over the same faith ticket of the APC. It resolved to work with its Muslim counterparts in the North to adopt one of the other 17 presidential candidates.

A communique issued at the end of the meeting, on Sunday, said those in attendance agreed not to support the Tinubu/Shettima ticket, but to work together and jointly adopt a pan-Nigerian political platform that would engender unity, inclusiveness and a sense of belonging among Nigerian citizens.

The communique was jointly signed by Yakubu Dogara and former deputy governor of Sokoto State, and Minister of Water Resources, Alhaji Mukhari Shagari.

It read in parts: “Conscious of the multi-ethnic, multi-religious and multi-cultural configuration of Nigeria we believe a same faith ticket and voting along religious lines may trigger dangerous dimensions of negative consequences among our disparate peoples in ways that will hamper nation building.

“Consequently, we have agreed to channel our energies on matters that unite us more as a people instead of encouraging attacks on sensitive issues bordering on religion in the name of politics. In view of the above, we have agreed to set up a committee with the mandate to fashion out strategies for advancing the objectives set forth in this resolution.”

Why Tinubu dropped ex-SGF, Reps Speaker as running mate

Meanwhile, fresh facts have emerged on why Bola Tinubu refused to pick either Babachir Lawal or Yakubu Dogara as his running mate.

Multiple sources told Vanguard that both Dogara and Lawal were dropped by Tinubu for not having “political influence and political value” in their respective states.

While Lawal hails from Adamawa State, Dogara is from Bauchi State.

A source, familiar with the workings of the APC and how Tinubu settled for former Borno State Governor, Senator Kashim Shettima, as his running mate, disclosed that both Lawal and Dogara failed to deliver for the APC in 2019 when President Buhari contested for a second term.

The source said: “You know that Babachir Lawal is from Adamawa State and Atiku Abubakar is also from the same state. In 2019, when Atiku contested against Buhari, in Lawal’s local government area, the APC got 20, 471 votes while the PDP polled 23, 039 votes. Yakubu Dogara, who is from Bauchi State led the APC to score 5,284 votes, while the PDP had 23,664 votes.

“Now, these two individuals are angry with Tinubu because they wanted to become Tinubu’s running mate and you and I know that election is about winning. You must strategise on how best to win and in doing that, you must also carry along people who you know have tremendous political influence that can swing the votes in your favour.

“Do they think Atiku just nominated Ifeanyi Okowa as his running mate? He knows that in Delta State, where Okowa comes from, the governor will deliver a large chunk of votes. Atiku also knows that Okowa, an Igbo Deltan, his being on the ticket may likely influence some Igbo people to also vote for him. These are the thinking while choosing a running mate.

“Tinubu could not have picked a Babachir Lawal that does not have political influence or political value in the state where he comes from. His (Lawal) claim to influence is all because he is a Christian and you and I know that any individual that flaunts his ethnic or religious identity as credentials is empty.

“Go to Maiduguri where Kashim Shettima comes from, in 2019 the APC polled 146, 181 to PDP’s a little over 9000 votes. So, if you are the candidate and you are presented with these facts, who would you choose, among these people?”

Another source told Vanguard that both Tinubu and the APC are not moved by the opposition to the same-faith ticket. 

The source said: “So, APC is not going to lose sleep over their (Lawal and Dogara) endorsement of a presidential candidate but I tell you that by the grace of God, they will come back to regret their actions because, by God’s grace, the election is going to be in favour of the APC.

Greedy NWC members fueling conflict between Tinubu, Adamu

The source also threw more light on the frosty relationship between Tinubu and the National Chairman of the APC, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, saying that some selfish members of the National Working Committee, NWC, are using the chairman to settle scores.

“The chairman is not against Asiwaju; some NWC members are the ones using the chairman as cover to achieve their selfish interests. Some NWC members are just greedy and it is unfortunate that the secretary of the party is one of them. Asides from being the secretary of the party, he still wants to be the secretary of the PCC. The work of being the National Secretary is enormous enough and he now wants to add another task to it.

“So, it is not about Abdullahi Adamu. If you listen to Governor Nasir el-Rufai’s comment recently and other governors, they are on the same page with Tinubu and I am sure, the re-jigging of the PCC list will go down well with them. Of course, there are plans to re-jig the PCC list and they will accommodate additional interests. That was the basis of the meeting they held last week.”

Asked when the campaign will be flagged off, the source said: “All things being equal, they are supposed to inaugurate the PCC this week. Already, the campaign has started, you saw the walk-in Lagos and the women’s gathering, which means the campaign has started. There will be a formal timetable for rallies and others.”

No alternative to APC’s victory —Buhari

Indeed, President Buhari, on Monday, told APC members that there will not be any alternative to the party’s victory in the 2023 general elections.

President Buhari, who is the Chairman of the APC Presidential Campaign Council, PCC, also advised party faithful to reduce gathering in Abuja and take their campaigns to the over 8000 electoral wards and 774 local government areas across the country

While inaugurating the Tinubu-Shettima Women Campaign Team at the Old Banquet Hall, Presidential Villa, Abuja, President Buhari said the women’s team is the most crucial component of APC’s 2023 campaign. 

He said: “I call on all members of this committee to take up this great responsibility as a testament to your selfless service to the APC. I strongly believe that this committee will take the APC to greater heights by developing and implementing a collective and inclusive party strategy to ensure APC victory in the 2023 election because there is no alternative to our victory.”

President Buhari, who was represented by his Chief of Staff, Professor Ibrahim Gambari, further said: “Considering the strategic role women have played in APC’s victories, we call on you once again to begin organizing and mobilizing vigorously the electorate at all levels for APC victory at the 2023 polls through the committee in an inclusive and cooperative manner.”

While lauding the APC Women Campaign Team led by his wife, Aisha, he commended the leadership of the party “for showcasing the value and importance of our women and youth from all the geo-political zones of our great nation to the political process through the establishment of the committee.”

He also said: “I am proud of the exemplary role that the First Lady has played as a strong pillar of support and voice for our women as well as our youth. Her unwavering commitment to mobilizing women significantly influenced our party’s victories in the 2015 and 2019 presidential elections…

“It is also very important that I take some time on portraits that give credibility and importance as to why we are gathered here today at the launch of such a critical organ of our party as we look forward to the 2023 general elections.

“In the 2015 general elections, about 3.6 million housewives voted in the presidential election. And this figure ranks third next to about 4.4 million students in the 2019 general elections. 

“Women accounted for 47 per cent, almost 40 million of the 84 million registered voters throughout the nation. We must continuously co-opt and make significant inroads into these demographic and voting segments.

“The Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) recently made a projection that Nigeria’s voting population could be as much as 95 million for the 2023 general elections. For statisticians in the room, you can imagine what that means in terms of potential votes that women could bring to the table…

“As this launch is being hosted in Abuja, we must remember that the real war lies in far-flung places away from Abuja. The task ahead lies in over 8000 wards and 774 local governments across the country, where party faithful will have to make a case before fellow citizens on our party’s candidate articulating the vision and the programme for the country. “The campaign, therefore, should resist the temptation for it to be turned into an Abuja-centric activity but establish the connection between the voting public and our presidential candidate, and for other candidates for offices throughout Nigeria, that should be the ultimate objective.”

President Buhari said throughout his political journey and his tenure as President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, women have remained the most loyal and supportive group in his mission for a better Nigeria despite the challenges. 

“They should extend this same support to our presidential candidate, Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu, and Vice Presidential candidate, Senator Kashim Shettima,” he advised.

PDP is a party of termites —Tinubu

Speaking at the same event, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu described the main opposition PDP as a political party of termites that should not be allowed to return to power.

The former Lagos State Governor described himself and the APC as a new hope for the country, saying: “They (PDP) are a political party of termites. They are in the village of lunacy. A nation is not just built on abusive language; 16 years of nothingness, rudderlessness, and digging the hole of indebtedness. Never again shall they come back. A new hope is here. “To you women, who are gathered here today. I’m so proud of you. You have chosen to vote for us and to give us a new Nigeria, thank you.”

Also speaking, the Director-General of the APC Presidential Campaign Council, and Governor of Plateau State, Simon Lalong, urged the women to avoid character assassination, hate speech and propaganda and to carry out issues-based campaigns.

“Leave that (character assassination, hate speech and propaganda) to the opposition and stay with the achievements of our party in women empowerment and also tell them that under the presidency of Bola Tinubu, Nigerian women and their children will have an even better deal.”

He urged the women’s team to “go all over Nigeria, particularly into the grassroots, and sell the agenda and vision of Tinubu and his running mate Shettima whose pedigree for women empowerment is widely known.”

The APC National Chairman, Abdullahi Adamu, said if the women who are of greater number follow through with their avowed support, the APC is ready to tap from their potential and ultimately deliver victory to Tinubu and his running mate, Shettima, during the presidential election.

Wife of the APC presidential candidate and Senator representing Lagos Central Senatorial District, Senator Oluremi Tinubu, said that a Tinubu-Shettima presidency will be the “best option” for Nigerian women. 

According to her, “the track records of both men (Bola Tinubu and Kashim Shettima) are gender sensitive.” 

She called on the over 1,250 women in attendance to mobilise votes for the APC flag bearer in their various constituencies.   In attendance were Senator Kashim Shettima; First Lady Aisha Buhari; wives of the candidate and his running mate, Senator Remi Tinubu and Mrs Nana Shettima.

Others are Governors Hope Uzodinma of Imo State, Yahaya Bello of Kogi State, Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano State; Women Leader of the APC, Dr Beta Edu; other leaders of the party; National Assembly members and others. Also in attendance was veteran Nollywood actress, Mrs Joke Silva, whose public support for the APC presidential candidate attracted mixed reactions from Nigerians on social media recently.

Tinubu has no health challenge, he is hale, hearty, says Nnamani

Meanwhile, ahead of next year’s Presidential and general elections, Chairman of, Senate Committee on Cooperation and Integration in Africa/NEPAD, Senator Chimaroke Nnamani (PDP, Enugu East) has said that Tinubu has no health challenge, and is hale and hearty.

In a statement yesterday, Senator Nnamani, a medical doctor and surgeon said that the former Lagos State governor’s health is not encumbered in any way.

The former Enugu State governor, who welcomed Tinubu back to Nigeria, saluted Tinubu’s political deftness and sagacity.

Nnamani, who is listed as one of the 422-member APC presidential Campaign Council, said:   “I join millions of our people in welcoming Tinubu home. It is to God’s Glory that he returned to superb health.

“I continue to strongly condemn those who wallow in ignorance in celebration of real and fantom infirmities. Rather I lend my voice in celebration of his giant strides in governance, reforms and locality administration in all its spheres. I salute his political deftness and sagacity.

“As a medical professional, with honour, I attest to his good health and capacity. Tinubu has a robust general system, and acute awareness of his holistic environment, political and in all ramifications. Engaging him clearly demonstrates good health, energy and readiness to rumble.”

He noted his acquaintance with Tinubu over the years, but without prejudice to his current political commitments.