Prior to the now unforgettable general elections in Nigeria in year 2015, Nigerians had expressed fear over the looming crisis then, especially as the United States of America had predicted that the country would break on or before 2015.
But events leading to the elections were as interesting as they come. There were massive political re-alignment, cross- carpeting, formation of new parties, strategizing from all fronts and several political moves that were beyond popular political theories.
One of these alignments and re-alignments was the coming together of heavy political gladiators from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), All Nigerian Peoples Party (ANPP) and few others.
The arrow head of the amalgamation was a former governor of Lagos State, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and the end result of the coming together of these big wigs was the formation of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
The rest is now history as the party went ahead to defeat the then ruling PDP and showed former president Goodluck Jonatahn the way out of Aso Rock in an unprecedented manner.
Three years after, it appears the party is no longer the same as it was, when it got to power, and there have been a lot of divisions that are threatening the existence of the party in recent times.
It will be recalled that cracks started appearing on the wall of the party shortly after the swearing-in of President Muhammadu Buhari, when leaders of the National Assembly emerged in a manner some senior members of the party felt was a ‘coup.’
For the likes of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the current Majority Leader of the Senate, Senator Ahmed Lawan should be the Senate President, while Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila had been penciled down as the Speaker of the Federal House of Representatives.
But this was not to be as Senator BukolaSaraki emerged the Senate President, while Hon. Yakubu Dogara emerged the Speaker of the House of Representatives.
This was the beginning of factions in the party, especially when a member of the PDP, Senator Ike Ekweremadu was chosen as the Deputy Senate President as against the practice, where the ruling party produces all the top principal officers of the Assembly.
As if that was not enough, the party was also divided along the lines of those who belong to President Buhari and those loyal to Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.
Some of those seeing as ‘Buhari Boys’ are the likes of Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola, Minister of Mines and Mineral Resources, Mr. Kayode Fayemi, Governor Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun State, Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State, Minister of Transport, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi , National Legal Adviser of the Party, Dr. Muiz Banire and the likes.
‘Tinubu Boys’ include Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, Information Minister, Mr. Lai Mohammed, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, Governor Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos, Hon. Abiodun Faleke, Governor Rauf Aregbesola of Osun State amongst others.
As it were, the party started moving from one crisis to the other to the extent that organizing a convention or congress is a herculean task.
While some party members are supporting President Buhari for a second term, others within the party are rooting for another candidate to take over from him.
This must have emboldened President Buhari to rise up to the occasion and appointed Asiwaju Bola Tinubu as the
leader of the reconciliation party’s committee team with a view of calming frayed nerves and ensuring unity in the party ahead of the 2019 general elections.
The appointment was contained in a two-paragraph statement issued by the president’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mallam Shehu Garba in Abuja last week Tuesday.
According to the presidential aide, the assignment will involve resolving disagreements among party members, party leadership and political office holders in some states of the federation.
The Kano State APC crisis involving supporters of former Governor Rabiu Kwakwanso and the serving Governor, Abdullahi Ganduje, is one of the tasks of the Tinubu reconciliation committee.
It will be recalled that the Presidency on January 29, summoned Governor Ganduje and Kwakwanso over the aborted January 30 visit of the former governor to Kano to avert breakdown of law and order in the state.
The governor, accompanied by two serving senators and two members of the House of Representatives from the state, met with the Chief of Staff to the President, Mallam Abba Kyari at the Presidential Villa.
Ganduje, however, declined to speak to State House correspondents after the closed door meeting.
The Tinubu Committee is also expected to reconcile other APC members in Kaduna, Zamfara, Oyo, Kogi, Lagos, Ogun and other states of the federation.
To some observers, the job has been given to the right man as Tinubu was the arrowhead of the formation of the APC, which led to the success of President Muhammadu Buhari at the polls after attempting to be president on three occasions in 2003, 2007 and 2011 all to no avail.
It is interesting to recall that following the inauguration of the current government, there were allegations of misgivings in the way the administration carved out its policies and appointments.
There were claims that those who had fallen out with Tinubu in the Southwest were given prime positions in the Buhari cabinet, apparently with the intention of whittling down the influence of the Jagaban of Borgu.
Tinubu was also said to have been displeased with the bumps and controversies that shadowed the affairs of the new administration.
One of the many issues in the relationship between Tinubu and the administration was in May 2016, when Buhari cancelled a much-advertised visit to Lagos after months of preparation on the claim that he was unwell.
To rub it for Tinubu, was the fact that the same day that he cancelled the visit, the state House in Abuja gave out pictures of the president in a relaxed encounter with Governor Ibikunle Amosun in the Presidential Villa.
Given insinuations of the rivalry between Governor Amosun and Tinubu, it was not difficult for their photograph to irritate Tinubu’s men in Lagos.
Later in 2016, the rift between Tinubu and the party sunk to the lowest low, when the former Lagos State governor published an open letter of rebuke to the Party Chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, who incidentally got to office reportedly through the influence of Tinubu.
Tinubu was unhappy over the conduct of the Ondo State primaries, which produced Chief Rotimi Akeredolu. Though a one-time political protégée of Tinubu, he had before the election fallen out with the latter leading to open media attacks following the open claim that Tinubu was backing arrival aspirant.
Tinubu accused the National Chairman of the party of twisting the facts of the primaries and reportedly vowed not to sit with Odigie-Oyegun on any issue again.
Following that, Tinubu was hardly seen around Abuja and party activities. Aides and associates said he had become pre-occupied with his business concerns in the West African sub-region.
The turning point was on November 16, 2017 at the launch of a book written on Buhari in Abuja. It was an occasion that brought together several of the warring party leaders and many internally displaced politicians in the party.
It was also the first time that Tinubu and Odigie-Oyegun were seen together since the Ondo primary debacle that occurred more than a year earlier.
Following that, Buhari seemed to have turned his charm on Tinubu, when he invited him to fly with him to a summit of African leaders in Ivory Coast the same month.
Since then, news of a gulf between the South West leader and the president seems to have quenched as they seem to have rediscovered their political chemistry.
To achieve reconciliation however, Tinubu would have to get close to the likes of the Senate President, BukolaSaraki, who sees his trial by the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) as a political trial and who is said to be planning to contest the presidential primaries with the president.
Of course, Tinubu himself is said not to be in good terms with Senator Sarakiafter his emergence as the Senate President.
Also, in Kaduna State, the party is divided between an APC faction, which claim to be reform minded and the party establishment, which is firmly in the grip of Governor Nasir El-Rufai. The division in the state chapter of the party has seen Governor El-Rufai and his traducers notably, Senator Shehu Sani in open media warfare.
In Katsina State, the APC is divided between the establishment, which is in the grip of Governor Aminu Masari and some elements. These elements include some respected party members including Dr. Usman Bugaje and others, who have related with Tinubu in the past and he is expected to know how to engage them.
In Oyo State, the main crisis is between the minister representing the state, Alhaji Adebayo Shittu and Governor Abiola Ajimobi, who is not eligible to seek a third term, but the out-going governor seems to be putting his eyes elsewhere for a successor. Shittu had been one of Buhari’s allies in the South West in the days of the CPC.
In Plateau State, Governor Simon Lalung and the Minister from the state, Barrister Solomon Dalung, who is also from the old CPC block have been said to be on the war path for long. Though they claim not to be at odds in public, there is no love lost among their supporters.
In Benue State, Asiwaju might find a strong resistance to his mission as the citizenry appears to have come out in unison against alleged killings by herdsmen.
They appear not to be happy with the way the presidency is handling the killings of their people by suspected Fulani herdsmen.
What of Kogi State, where Governor Yahaya Bello is battling Senator Dino Melaiye on one hand and a member of the Federal House of Representatives from the state, Hon. Abiodun Faleke on another hand.
These three gladiators are certainly not on the same page as far as the control of the party machineries in the state are concerned and only time will tell how Tinubu would reconcile them in this new task.
Lagos is not free as the likes of Dr. Muiz Banire are not in good terms with Asiwaju Tinubu himself.
While some people are blaming Banire for apparently biting the fingers that fed him, others believe that he should be carried along in the scheme of things in the state as the National Legal Adviser of the party.
One of the grouse of Banire is the kind of primaries the party is organizing in the state. He believes that candidates for the various elective posts such as governorship, senate, House of Representatives, state house of assembly members, local governments and local council development areas should be emerge through free and fair primaries rather than being ‘selected’ for the elections.
Many however, believe that Banire is not in a position to criticize Tinubu over imposition as they said that he was also imposed on the people, when he became a member of the state’s cabinet in 1999 at the age of 33, when Tinubu emerged as governor of the state.
In Ogun State, Governor Ibikunle Amosun is not taking chances with a Tinubu Boy, Senator Solomon Adeola Olamilekan aka Yayi, who is nursing a governorship ambition in the state after serving as a member of the Lagos State House of Assembly, House of Reps member and now a serving senator from Lagos State.
All things being equal, Tinubu is having a herculean task on his hands and he is expected to perform the duty judiciously so that the party could return to power at the federal level and win as many states as possible in the fast approaching General Elections in 2019.