December 31, 2022

Inside G-5 Governors’ deal with Tinubu: We’re unfazed, focused on campaign — Atiku

Tinubu in US court

*It’s still work in progress – APC source 

By John Alechenu, Abuja

The Presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress, Asiwaju Ahmed Tinubu apparently holds the aces in the deal being worked out with the Governor Nyesom Wike-led G-5 Peoples Democratic Party Governors ahead of the 2023 general elections.

However, opinion remains divided over whether or not a concrete agreement has been reached. 

Some claim a lot more work is still being done before an announcement can be made by either party. 

Saturday Vanguard gathered on Friday that the APC candidate whose election comes first, has agreed to the deal in principle. 

A reliable source confided in Vanguard that acting on the confidence of APC’s structure and geo-political spread, the APC candidate’s deal with the G-5, insulates him from making any financial commitment to either the G-5 or APC candidates whose positions are to be sacrificed to accommodate them. 

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The usually reliable source said “having considered the odds, the G5 are casting their lot with Asiwaju. 

“The Agreement is signed, sealed and waiting for delivery. As part of the deal, Asiwaju is to deflate his party’s campaign in the respective states to accommodate the interests of the G5. We all know that Asiwaju is APC, and APC is Asiwaju. The APC is to concede positions of G5 interests as follows: Rivers- Governorship seat; Abia- Abia South Senate; Enugu-Gov Ugwuanyi’s Senate seat; Benue- Gov Ortom’s Senate seat and Oyo- Governorship seat for Makinde”.

The source noted that to the uninitiated, the case of Oyo State is complex and appears untenable but that the situation on the ground points to its simplicity.

According to the source, “The APC candidate is expected to simply withhold finance and moral support for the guber candidate in order to reduce the intensity of the campaign against Makinde. This is further simplified by the fact that as of today, there are effectively three APC factions in the state. Sen. Teslim Folarin, who is the party’s candidate controls one, remnants of the Accord Party loyal to Rasheed Ladoja, which collapsed into the APC are on their own and the legacy parties: Action Congress of Nigeria, Congress for Progressives Change and the All Nigeria Peoples Party that came together to form APC, which consider Folarin a usurper and are determined to fight him.”

The source further said, “it is not for nothing that aside from Tinubu’s open instruction to Folarin to reconcile aggrieved members sometime in June this year, neither the party nor the Presidential candidate has made any serious effort to reconcile them.”

Asked whether the issue of the state campaign being starved of funds will not be counterproductive, the source said, “Of course, there will be complimentary funds from the national body but it will be channelled through Makinde‘s allies within APC ranks who will know when and how to deploy. In politics as in war, timing is a key component of the strategy.”

However, another source within the camp ruled out a blanket endorsement saying “as at last night, there was no clear-cut agreement on this issue.  It’s not a case of one shoe size fits all because the dynamics vary from state to state. 

“Take Benue for example. The APC Governorship candidate is strong. The same cannot be said of the Senatorial candidate in Benue South where Sen. Abba Moro still enjoys the support of former Senate President, David Mark and the entire PDP structure. 

“Ortom could have a fighting chance being an incumbent.   You also have a former Governor,   Gabriel Suswam who is seeking to return to the Senate, he is not a pushover. Besides, Ortom has not hidden his preference for Peter Obi as Presidential candidate.”

However, a source in Tinubu’s camp dismissed claims of any agreement with the G-5.

The source said, “This is campaign season. People can say and believe anything as long as it suits their parochial interests. It stands to reason on the head for Asiwaju who is the beautiful bride in this case, to accept to work against his own party. Like it or not, he is a major player in the political history of this country at least, since 1999.

“He was the only governor in the class of 1999 that held on to his state Lagos even when other Alliance for Democracy states were hoodwinked into going into the ill-fated alliance with the PDP in 2003.

“How can the same man who used the years afterwards to build bridges and political capital submit himself to people who are at the twilight of their political careers?

“Except for maybe Rivers where the   PDP brand remains strong, I don’t see him in desperate need of the G-5 to the point of throwing those who worked with him to build the APC under the bus. 

“In fact, most of those in the G-5 need Asiwaju more than he needs them because their actions and utterances over the last few months have effectively weakened the PDP brand.  They are certainly not negotiating from the position of strength, we’ve done our homework.”

When contacted, the Special Assistant (Public Communications) to the PDP Campaign, Mr. Phrank Shaibu, said the campaign remains unfazed in the face of the threats by G-5 to dump the PDP candidate, Atiku Abubakar.

He explained that the candidate has been even-handed in dealing with issues concerning aggrieved members of the party.  Shaibu said, “As I have always said, whether or not the cock crows the sun will rise, the same way, I dare say, by the grace of God, Atiku Abubakar will be President of Nigeria come May 29, 2023. 

“No human being can play the role Almighty God plays in the affairs of men; no man enjoys such powers, there have been gang-ups against him in the past he survived, this one too shall pass. We are confident that Nigerians know our candidate stands heads above shoulders over those contesting this election. 

“We are not taking the support of Nigerians for granted that is why our candidate has been campaigning to Nigerians, making promises and asking Nigerians for votes in line with the best global democratic practice.”