The All Progressives Congress presidential candidate, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu is planning to include an additional 2,000 members in the newly constituted Presidential Campaign Council of the party.
This, The PUNCH gathered, was to pacify APC National Working Committee members and state governors who were dissatisfied with the 422-member campaign council.
The development came against the backdrop of a letter purportedly written by the National Chairman of the APC, Abdullahi Adamu, accusing Tinubu of running a one-man show over the selection of members of the PCC, among others.
Tinubu had last Friday unveiled a 422-man committee comprising political heavyweights and other notable members to pilot the various sub-committees of the campaign council.
The list of members released by Secretary of the Presidential Campaign Council, James Faleke, in Abuja, followed a series of postponements and conjectures about those who would be saddled with the task of leading the ruling party’s bid to retain power at the federal level.
The campaign council chaired by the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), has Tinubu and the APC national chairman, Adamu, as co-deputy chairman.
Also on the PCC are APC governors, ministers, lawmakers, ambassadors as well as serving and past public office holders.
Zonal and state coordinators, advisers, campaign patrons, directors, deputy directors and secretaries of directorates were also named.
The sub-committees include media and publicity; support group coordination; national youth mobilisation; parliamentarian; trade and economic; agriculturists/commodities; campaign planning; civil societies; Diaspora directorate; election planning and monitoring; finance; fundraising; and humanitarian/social.
Others on the list are ICT/data management; intelligence and security; labour; logistics and support service; medicals; policy research and strategy; protocol and events, and others.
However, the composition of the PCC did not reportedly go down well with some APC governors, especially Governors Ben Ayade of Cross River and AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq of Kwara State.
The governors were said to have expressed shock over the exclusion of their nominees after the painstaking efforts they took to identify potential candidates who could mobilise support and deliver votes for the party in the 2023 polls.
They were said to have tabled their grievances with the Chairman of the Progressive Governors Forum and Governor of Kebbi State, Atiku Bagudu and the national chairman of the APC, Adamu.
Members of the NWC also disowned the PCC list, saying the presidential candidate did not allow them to properly vet the names before he made the premature announcement.
While arguing that the composition of a presidential campaign council is something that ought to be done jointly by the candidate and the party, the aggrieved NWC members maintained that the list contains certain names that shouldn’t have been added because they have little or no electoral value.
New appointees underway
When contacted on steps the party and its candidate are taking to address the grievances, the spokesperson for the APC Presidential Campaign Council, Festus Keyamo, confirmed that the list released on Friday was inconclusive.
Keyamo disclosed that the earlier published list contained names of leaders in each directorate, adding that a supplementary list of over 2,000 ‘membership cadre’ is on the way.
He said, “All their nominees will be included. The list was released in two parts. The one we released was the first one. In the coming days, more than 2,000 additional names will be released.”
On the difference between the membership cadre and the first, he said the first list contained the heads of each directorate.
He stated, “For instance, in my directorate which is ‘public affairs’, you will see only three names. And, of course, you know only three persons cannot run my department for the whole country.
“Even under Bayo Onanuga in media and publicity, there are only three or four names there. That also cannot run a whole campaign.
“Now, what we are saying is that with the release of the membership cadre, we will now have more than 100 people under each directorate, including mine.
“That’s why I said there is absolutely nothing to fear. The 422-member list is not all the people nominated for our campaign. You know we are more organised than those other people who are falling every day. So, don’t worry.’’
On concerns raised by the APC NWC members that they were not permitted to properly vet the list before it was unveiled to the public, the Senior Advocate of Nigeria noted that there was no iota of truth in the report.
Keyamo added, “They were allowed to scrutinise it. There was a proper synergy between the candidate and the NWC. Beyond the second batch, we still have the governors and governorship candidates who will attend to their state campaign councils.’’
“We are to further review their names to be on the nominees’ list. I am talking about the campaign council members at the state level. That one is still coming. Here, we will have chairman, deputy chairman, media publicity for different states. You can see the first list is nothing compared to the remaining ones we have compiled. I am sure by the time we unveil all the membership lists, the other political parties will run away,” he noted.
Adamu accuses Tinubu
Meanwhile, a leaked letter allegedly written by the APC national chairman accusing Tinubu, who is still on vacation in London, of running a one-man show on Thursday caused a stir as party officials scrambled to douse the tension created by the allegations levelled against the party’s flag bearer.
Adamu in the letter alleged that Tinubu deliberately sidelined the NWC in the composition of his presidential campaign council.
The viral letter stated that the newly constituted council membership list was not a true representation of the three-man committee set up to harmonise it.
The three-member committee comprised the National Organising Secretary, National Legal Adviser and Deputy Women Leader of the party.
The letter read in part, “On behalf of the National Working Committee of the All Progressives Congress, I present my compliments to Your Excellency, and have the honour to convey to you, in truth and respect, the committee’s opinion and position, regarding the above-mentioned subject matter, with a view to having a clear understanding about the respective roles and responsibilities of the principal organs of the party charged with the duties of conducting the campaigns in the forth-coming general elections.
“This correspondence has become necessary in view of developments that took place over the last few days around the purported appointments into the Presidential Campaign Council that was announced precipitately by officials of the council, without making recourse to the NWC for approval.’’
Continuing, it further said, ‘’All along, the NWC had been disposed towards the campaign in a cooperative spirit that is driven by the overall interest of the party and the singular desire of victory for our candidates, in the persons of your esteemed self and your running mate.
“It is against this background that the NWC received with astonishment and regret, the press release by the PCC on 23rd September 2022, in which a purported list of appointees was announced, which effectively served as the approved roster of participants in the party’s Presidential Campaign Council.
“The purported list not only came as a complete surprise to the NWC and the party’s leadership, but also contravened the principles and purposes of the arrangements that you and I had led towards the adoption of the organogram of the PCC, and its principal officials.
“Perhaps, it has become necessary owing to the passage of time, that I should draw Your Excellency’s attention to the agreements that we reached in principle around the final adoption of the PCC list, based on the understanding that it was a work in progress, until such a time that the Joint NWC/PCC Committee that was established to formalise the structure and populate the list, submits its report.
“Your Excellency will no doubt recall our meetings in my office and also at the NWC conference room at the party’s National Secretariat, on Wednesday, 7th September 2022, during which we discussed the details of the organogram of the PCC and its composition, as a collaborative project between the two entities.
‘’Our recollection of those meetings clearly leaves us in no doubt that a breach of agreement has occurred, and that a return to the principles of cooperation and respect for each other is required.’’
APC denies letter
Hours after it went viral, the party distanced itself from the scathing letter.
A statement issued in Abuja by the National Publicity Secretary of the APC, Felix Morka, stated that the letter did not emanate from the party.
The statement read, “Our attention has been drawn to a “Draft” letter in circulation purportedly written by His Excellency, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, the National Chairman of our great Party, addressed to His Excellency, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the presidential candidate of our great party, expressing dissatisfaction over the recently released list of the Presidential Campaign Council.
“To be clear, the “Draft” letter did not emanate from the party. An unsigned letter that marks itself as a ‘DRAFT’ cannot and should not be attributed to its purported author.
“The National Chairman of our Party and our Presidential Candidate maintain cordial and effective communication channels, and enjoy full liberty of open and frank conversations on matters of interest to the party and our Presidential Campaign. As such, an unsigned “DRAFT” letter of the kind in circulation is patently unnecessary and of no qualitative value to engagement between the Party and the PCC.
“We will not be distracted by the wishes and actions of detractors that wait gleefully, but in vain for some kind of crisis to erupt between the party and the PCC.
“We stand united, as a party, in our resolve and commitment to execute a focused and issue-driven campaign to persuade Nigerians to renew our mandate in next year’s general election.”
When asked for reaction on Thursday, Director of Media and Communications for Tinubu-Shettima Presidential Campaign Council, Bayo Onanuga, stated that there was nothing to discuss since the party has dismissed it.
He said, “Number one, it is a draft. Two, it is not signed or dated. Besides, it is supposed to be a private letter from the party to the candidate.
“As far as I am concerned, that letter doesn’t exist. Anybody could have written that letter. After all, it is not signed.”
When reminded that the tone and context of the letter has further exposed the crack in the party over Tinubu’s handling of his campaign, Onanuga disagreed.
“As far as the APC is concerned, there is no rancour between the candidate and the party. The concerns that the NWC raised has been taken care of.
“That’s why the PCC list has been taken back to the drawing board to harmonise it to accommodate everybody. It is going to be a bulky list. But the truth remains that not everybody can be a member of the PCC,” he said.
Onanuga however disclosed that the October 8 earlier slated for the campaign inauguration was no longer feasible.
According to the PCC media director, all things have been put on hold until the presidential candidate returns from his vacation either on Sunday or Monday.
Tinubu to return
As the PCC list continues to raise dust, a source at the secretariat confirmed that until the presidential candidate gives the nod, the additional fresh nominations for the campaign council cannot be released.
Tinubu is expected to return from his vacation in London, United Kingdom, on October 3.
The source also fingered Adamu and another NWC member as the brain behind the aborted letter.
The official stated, “That draft or whatever name they call it was not the position of the entire NWC. Those who know Adamu well enough will confirm that the tone of that letter reflects his expression; always wanting to be in control of everything.
“Whether the APC denied the letter or not, Adamu has achieved his aim by indirectly using the media to pass his message. It is quite clear. Tinubu may however accept to dance to the new tune or call their bluff.’’
Shittu defend Tinubu
But the Director-General of Asiwaju Tinubu-Shettima Coalition for Good Governance, Adebayo Shittu, believed the matter is an internal issue that would soon be resolved by the candidate and relevant stakeholders in the party.
“I am confident that the issue will be sorted out. As I used to say, political parties are an association of free joiners and free leavers. To me, I don’t see it as a big deal. It will be sorted,” he said.
PCC membership alluring
The APC National Publicity Secretary, Felix Morka, averred that it is no secret that many party members are asking to be included in the campaign council.
Morka made the clarification when he appeared on ‘Politics Today’, a programme on Channels television on Thursday night.
The party’s image-maker noted that, unlike the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, the APC is striving to manage and keep the numbers within a good limit.
He said, “As for the presidential campaign council, we have a good problem which is that many of our members are eager to sell on the campaign council and they are asking to be included.”