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Rivers Governor Nyesome Wike alleges that some unnamed persons in the Presidency are backing the presidential candidate of the main opposition PDP, Atiku Abubakar, against the candidate of the ruling APC, Bola Tinubu

Recent comments by Governor Nyesome Wike of Rivers State that some unnamed persons in the Presidency are backing the presidential candidate of the main opposition PDP, Atiku Abubakar, has once again sparked speculation of conspiracy against Bola Tinubu by some persons at the Presidential Villa in Abuja.

“Why are they being so arrogant? I can tell you, they are arrogant because they believe somebody at the presidency is backing them. But what they don’t understand is that the same person at the presidency backed someone during the APC presidential primary and the person failed. I will tell Nigerians at the appropriate time who that person at the presidency that is backing them and making them arrogant,” he said.

While the remarks may be viewed as the usual outbursts that characterise political campaigns, however, the events of the past eight months tend to give some credence to the comments.

In the build-up to the APC presidential primaries, speculations were rife of a plot to stop Mr Tinubu by some persons at the presidency. The speculations dominated public discourse until the counting of votes at the APC national convention at Eagle Square on June 9.

The decision of Mr Wike to bring in Mr Tinubu into the ongoing turbulence in the main opposition party appears to be in continuation of the London talks. Last month, Mr Wike’s camp and Mr Tinubu held a meeting in the UK capital.

Messrs Wike and Tinubu appear to agree on a power shift to the south. The former has even given his party conditions that it may not be able to meet.

He insisted that PDP national chairman, Iyorchia Ayu, must resign as a condition for reconciliation talks.

Mr Wike, alongside Governors Seyi Makinde of Oyo State, Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State and Simeon Ortom of Benue State have anchored their grievances with the party on the need for inclusion. They have even rejected overtures from the party with resignations of the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the PDP, Jibrin Wali and Chairman of the PDP Governors’ Forum, Aminu Tambuwal.

Eight months of plots: From Emefiele to Jonathan to Lawan

Many of the aspirants for the APC presidential ticket were close to President Muhammadu Buhari. Some of them reportedly claimed to be the president’s preferred candidate and the aloofness of Mr Buhari encouraged the speculation up to the very last moment.

Among the aspirants tipped as the candidate of the presidency was the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele. Despite the laws discouraging his office from participation in partisan politics, Mr Emefiele’s name was paraded as the “anointed candidate”. The refusal of Mr Buhari to call the CBN boss to order fuelled the perception that he had the backing of the president.

The decision of Mr Emefiele to approach the court to allow him to participate and several comments credited to him further enraged Nigerians. Amidst the controversy, all that the world heard from the presidency was a graveyard silence.

One other name that popped up in the period was former President Goodluck Jonathan. Like Mr Emefiele, some groups procured the APC N100 million nomination and expression of interest forms for the former president, even though he is not a member of the ruling party.

For months, the speculation that Mr Jonthan was the candidate of the Villa was rife. Even after he failed to show up at the screening of the aspirants, the speculation did not stop.

Immediately after Atiku Abubakar emerged as the candidate of the PDP, many within the party urged the APC to nominate a Northern candidate to square up with the former Vice President. Once again, the speculation of a “Villa candidate” turned to Senate President Ahmad Lawan.

PREMIUM TIMES had reported that the issue of selecting a candidate for many months engaged the APC Governors’ Forum. It would be recalled that President Buhari had thrown the challenge of picking a consensus candidate to the governors before departing the country on May 31.

A bombshell dropped by the National Chairman of the party, Abdullahi Adamu, in announcing Mr Lawan as the consensus candidate to members of the National Working Committee of the party almost shattered the APC. However, the position of the APC governors that the presidency should be zoned to the south killed the idea of a northern candidate.

Many also speculated that Mr Buhari would back his loyal deputy of seven years, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, as his successor. Mr Buhari refused to endorse a candidate, rather, he adopted five names recommended by the APC governors.

The Abeokuta outburst of Mr Tinubu that birthed the “emi lokan’ slogan was believed to have been spurred by these ‘plots’ to outwit him in the race. Mr Tinubu while speaking to Ogun State delegates, claimed that President Buhari would not have emerged if not for his support.

Joe Igbokwe, an ally of Mr Tinubu, told PREMIUM TIMES that because the APC is focused on power shift to the south, the speculation of some unnamed persons in the presidency backing Atiku is untenable. He argued that the rotation of the presidency along north and south has been established as a result of the June 12 struggle.

To him, any support for Atiku from the presidency is like an attempt to put “a knife on the things” that hold the country together.

“One thing you should know is that the presidency is zoned to the south. If we go by the rules set down as consequences of the June 12 crisis that led to the death of so many people, we agreed as a nation that power will continue to rotate between North and South until we have learnt our lessons and do things properly.

“Let nobody put this (rotation) asunder. For the sake of peace and prosperity, I can tell you the presidency will come from the South. Atiku is not on the ballot. His intervention is like putting a knife on the things that hold us together as a nation and we cannot go back to Egypt. We have left Egypt, we are not going back. He is not supposed to be on the ballot.

“The battle is between Asiwaju and other candidates from the south.

“Anybody coming from the North is a violation of the agreement. For the sake of peace in the country, it has been an agreement since 1999. The death of Yar’Adua almost distorted it, but it has been restored. We are still maintaining it. Atiku is not on the ballot. We cannot sacrifice the nation for the ambition of one man. Even the northerners, it is in their own interest to ask Atiku to step down,” he said.

Mr Tinubu may want to distance himself from the North-South dichotomy because he is counting on votes from the North.

He is counting on states, some governed by the APC, in the North-east, North-west, and North-central to battle Atiku and Rabiu Kwankwaso of the New Nigerian People’s Party.

Tinubu denies rift with Adamu, visits APC headquarters

Last week, Mr Tinubu, after a meeting with the National Working Committee of the APC, denied speculation of friction between him and the National Chairman of the APC, Mr Adamu, who almost foisted Mr Lawan on the party as the consensus candidate.

“To the rumour manufacturers, I read in some papers about a disagreement between myself and the chairman – that is a big lie. They did not know that we have come a long way. The big masquerade dances not in the cage but in the market square. And that is what Adamu used to be, full of wisdom. We were governors together before God put us together on this project again. He is going to deliver as the chairman of the party for me to become the president of Nigeria, and I am very confident of that,’ he said.

This perhaps will address the speculation that there is a plot to remove Mr Adamu as the chairman of the party.

Tinubu’s documentary and push back from Lagos APC chieftain

On Sunday, the team of the APC presidential candidate released a 30-minute documentary tagged ‘Tinubu Unveiled: ‘Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu: The Pathfinder of New Lagos’. The video aired on some television stations.

In it, Mr Tinubu made a number of claims on different issues, particularly on the condition of Lagos State before his emergence as governor of the state in 1999. He described the Lagos he inherited as “a jungle”.

“When we came in as a democratic government in May 1999, the situation was precarious. We came into a jungle and an uncivilised environment. There were mountains of refuse all over Lagos; schools without roofs; no single ambulance to save lives. You can imagine where we had hospitals without single oxygen to save lives. Civil service environment was chaotic. The state was in total chaos and disorganisation,” Mr Tinubu said.

He further claimed that Ozumba Mbadiwe Road, a prime real estate corridor, was a refuse dump before he converted it to an asset.

“I have converted the liabilities confronting Lagos to assets of great value. Along Ozumba Mbadiwe, we used to pick dead bodies. People have forgotten truck pushers along that corridor. That corridor used to be the dirtiest, all through the Lekki Corridor. I brought private investors to turn many refuse dumps to gold mines, which created an economic recovery path for Lagos,” he said.

Instantly, the documentary generated mixed reactions from different quarters. Interestingly, a chieftain of the APC, Tunde Bank-Anthony, countered some of the claims made by Mr Tinubu in the interview.

“The people that succeeded Asiwaju (Tinubu), Babatunde Fashola succeeded him and his eight years was more visible than Bola Tinubu’s eight years…He (Tinubu) cannot claim glory for what they did; it’s not possible,” Mr Bank-Anthony said.

Bakare Majeed wrote in Premium Times