A major crisis is brewing in the All Progressives Congress as two major power blocs in the party are at daggers drawn over the soul of the ruling party.
The battle is between forces in the party loyal to former Lagos state governor, Asiwaju Ahmed Tinubu and supporters of the former vice president Atiku Abubakar.
The recent National Assembly leadership elections further polarised the party with the Atiku group having the upper hand.
Both Atiku and Tinubu are seeking to gain control over the party structure so that party decisions would always favour them.
The two powerful blocs wanted their candidates to emerge principal officers of the National Assembly as it would automatically qualify their candidates to become members of the APC’s National Working Committee (NWC) which is the highest decision arm of the party.
Atiku, it was learnt, never supported the NWC’s decison to conduct a mock election within the APC’s senators and House of Representatives members before the actual elections on the floor of both Houses. The mock election was Tinubu’s idea. Atiku then moved to hijack the process by supporting the Saraki and Dogara camp in order to reduce the influence of Tinubu on the party.
This is because most of the current members of the APC’s national working committee are Tinubu’s loyalists. Reports say the Tinubu camp have not given up on the fight to control the National Assembly as they are likely to spring a surprise in the days ahead.
A member of the party’s NWC recently told The Punch that, the brewing crisis is likely to divide the APC as the decisions of the NWC will be keenly contested by both camps.
The Atiku group is also said to be taking the battle to the ministerial nominees list as they have perfected plans to frustrate nominees from Tinubu’s camp.
The member said: “It is obvious that with what happened on Tuesday at the National Assembly, two (dominant) power blocks have emerged in the party.
“We hope to heal the wounds created by the contests, but there is mutual suspicion between the two groups.”
Paul Ibe, Atiku’s spokesman, said: “Atiku did not orchestrate the emergence of the new leadership in the National Assembly and insinuating that amounts to nothing but political mischief, as he had refused to leave the party or work for the PDP even when the then President Jonathan was desperate for Atiku’s support.
“The visits of politicians and APC leaders including that of the Senate President are common political rituals in Atiku’s Asokoro residence. For the purposes of emphasis, the President has confidence in him and that explains why he had drafted him as an envoy of sorts in the race leading up to the emergence of a Nigerian President of African Development Bank.
“It is baseless and unfounded to suggest that Atiku conspired with the PDP or Saraki to ‘sabotage’ the APC. He would have congratulated Senator Ahmed Lawan (or any other leader) if he had won. It is simplistic to attribute conspiratorial agenda to an innocuous congratulatory visit.
“Atiku’s loyalty to his party is indisputable. He remains a loyal party member. He, in fact, threw his political assets behind the Buhari presidential campaign. Any suggestion that he conspired with Saraki or anybody is the figment of someone’s imagination.”
Attempts to get a reaction from Tinubu’s spokesperson, Sunday Dare, were unsuccessful.
Meanwhile, the APC has finally accepted the outcome of the election that produced Senator Bukola Saraki as the Senate president.