From Fred Itua, Abuja
The leadership of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) is making moves to appease aggrieved leaders of the party, specifically some former presidential aspirants who contested during the last primaries.
This is coming ahead of the announcement of Bola Ahmed Tinubu Presidential Campaign Organisation, expected anytime soon.
Those being wooed to take a more active interest in the party’s affairs include Vice President Yemi Osinbajo; President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan and former governor of Rivers State, Rotimi Amaechi, who were the key aspirants. They have been rather noncommittal towards the presidential bid of Tinubu, Saturday Sun has reliably gathered.
Tinubu emerged in June as the presidential candidate of APC, despite a strong opposition to his ambition by the national chairman of the party, Abdulahi Adamu.
Adamu, a few days before the primaries, claimed that President Muhammadu Buhari had endorsed Lawan as the consensus candidate of the party.
His announcement was rejected by the Northern APC governors, who insisted that a Southerner must be elected as the candidate of the party, in sharp opposition to Buhari’s alleged stance.
In an unexpected outcome, Tinubu won by a landslide, with Amaechi coming a distant second. Osinbajo and Lawan came third and fourth respectively.
Though Tinubu immediately reached out to the trio as soon as he emerged, Saturday Sun gathered from multiple party sources that the presidential candidate had yet to get their buy-in. One of the sources said Tinubu, since his emergence, has not consulted widely with key stakeholders, especially former presidential aspirants like Osinbajo, Lawan and Amaechi.
“Instead, he has been working closely with APC governors from the North, who also insisted that he must pick a Northern Muslim who is a governor as his running mate.
“Osinbajo, who is the highest political office holder from the South, was not consulted. Amaechi too was not consulted. It is the same thing with Lawan.
“These are key party leaders who still have their bases intact. They didn’t play any role. Some of his kitchen cabinet members said he didn’t consult Osinbajo because he knew he would not support a Muslim-Muslim ticket.
“Amaechi too who appears to be the favourite of Northern Christian minorities, has been ignored. Now that Tinubu and his men seem to have run into trouble with the choice of a Muslim-Muslim issue, they’re looking for who to assuage the Christian community,” an APC high-ranking member revealed.
Another source said some of Tinubu’s top foot soldiers had reached out to Osinbajo, as part of moves to help douse the tension created by the choice of Kashim Shettima, but the Vice President had allegedly been equivocal.
The source said the leadership of APC, led by Adamu, has been worried by the development. The party leadership, said the source, has stepped in and has started reaching out to aggrieved presidential aspirants.
He said while Lawan may not pose a serious problem, Osinbajo and Amaechi, might be hard nuts to crack. The APC chieftain said the duo are opposed to a Muslim-Muslim ticket and might not openly campaign for Tinubu.
“The APC NWC waited for Tinubu and his camp to kick start the reconciliation process. That didn’t happen. So, Adamu had to step in. They’ve been reaching out and trying to ensure that the party is united.
“The party has lost the majority of Christian leaders. It will be risky to go into a major election like this and still ignore aspirants. The party is running against time and they want to beat the deadline before campaigns start in September. It is not in my place to predict if they’ll succeed. But they’re very far from achieving that support they’re looking for. The coming days will tell if things will change. That’s our wish. The election will he a tough sell for APC,” the Northern APC leader said.
Confirming the reconciliation move, APC spokesman, Mr. Felix Morka, said the party has been working hard to reconcile all aggrieved members.
He said: “At the highest level, the leadership of APC has been working hard to reach out to aggrieved members and former presidential aspirants. They’re still doing that. But I’m not aware if there are plans to set up a reconciliation committee by the APC.”