‘Seun Ibukun-Oni, Abuja

Crises rock APC, PDP as LP momentum surges

Three Major Presidential Aspirants

• Adamu, governors in pent-up anger over Campaign Council List

• Wike’s camp sustains Ayu-must-go campaign

• LP holds mass rally across major cities

The official kick-off of electioneering campaigns ahead of the 2023 general election by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on September 28, 2022 has caught the two dominant political parties, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and All Progressives Congress (APC) in crisis mode.

The ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, who had been enmeshed in intractable crisis since assuming the reins of leadership more than seven years ago but had been managing its fault lines from implosion couldn’t get the public launch of its President Campaign Council off the tarmac.

Early on Wednesday, September 28, a leaked letter from the APC National Chairman, Abdullahi Adamu, accusing the presidential candidate, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, of running a one-man campaign show, after having filled the council with names without any input from the party as agreed. He therefore demanded the list be revisited to engender mutual trust going into the 2023 elections.

The letter read, in part, “Without further admonishment or complaints, I wish hereby to call upon Your Excellency to restrain the PCC (Presidential Campaign Council) from undertaking solo projects of this nature, and agree to work with all stakeholders towards taking our party to victory.

“It suffices for me to convey the general and overwhelming sentiment of the NWC, with regard to the ill-timed and unfortunate release of the PCC list, which confounded rather than pleased the members and whose withdrawal will assure the NWC of Your Excellency’s respect and disposition towards the Party, as well as the magnanimous spirit of cooperation towards achieving victory together with the NWC.”

As the chairman’s statement trends, the party, in a statement by its spokesperson, Felix Morka denied that any such ‘draft’ letter titled, ‘Release of the Tinubu-Shettima Presidential Campaign Council List,” ever emanated from the office of the party chairman.

According to Morka, “the DRAFT letter did not emanate from the party. An unsigned letter that marked itself as a ‘DRAFT’ cannot and should not be attributed to its purported author. 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.”

DAILY COURIER investigation revealed that some governors have protested the exclusion of their political allies from the 422-membership. Top among the protesting governors were: former caretaker chairman and Yobe governor, Mai Mala Buni, Cross River’s, Prof Ben Ayade, Kwara’s Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq and Ogun’s Dapo Abiodun.

To douse the tension, on Thursday, Tinubu responded to the controversy over the PCC. Confirming reports of a rift between the PCC and the party Exco, he said he would expand the council from its current 422-membership to 2,000 to accommodate aggrieved stakeholders, who the Director-General of the PCC, Governor Simon Lalong of Plateau State, said had complained about its composition.

Similarly, wives of the governors who felt left out have been given zonal roles in the newly constituted Women Presidential Campaign Council chaired by the first lady, Aisha Buhari. The first lady of Kwara State, Olufolake Abdulrazaq, will coordinate efforts in the North-Central.

The First Lady of Imo State, Chioma Ikeaka-Uzodinma, will also coordinate the South-East, while Linda Ayade, wife of the Cross River state governor, will spearhead the women’s campaign in the South-South.

Wike’s camp sustains Ayu-must-go campaign

The main opposition PDP got off to what was supposedly a distinct start with the public launch of three new books by its presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, and the inauguration of a 600-member Presidential Campaign Council on that date.

Later in the evening, one of the spokespersons of the party, Dr Daniel Bwala, hurriedly sent out a statement warning that a member of the party’s National Executive Committee, Chief Chinemerem Madu, had alerted the Atiku/Okowa Campaign Council to an alleged plan by some persons within and outside the party to conduct a press conference or issue a press release calling for the removal or resignation of the National Chairman, Iyorchia Ayu.

Bwala said, “Whatever the plans may be, they are intended, in the statement of Chief Chinemerem Madu, to create a distraction from the collective efforts by the party and its members to execute a Rescue Nigeria project.”

He added, “Our campaign council members were inaugurated today, Wednesday, during the launching of books about our flag bearer, His Excellency Atiku Abubakar. For all intent and purposes, we are set to commence our campaigns from today (Wednesday), hence the alleged plan to destabilise our efforts.”

Before the end of the following day, which was Thursday, Atiku’s fears were confirmed.

Four members of the National Working Committee (NWC) who are loyal to the Wike led camp released letters addressed to the National Chairman, Senator Iyorchia Ayu, stating their intention to return sums of money, totaling N128.8 million paid by the party into their bank accounts for purposes that were unclear to them.

The NWC members, namely, Prof Stella Effah-Attoe, the National Woman Leader of the party, got N36 million; Chief Dan Orbih, National Vice Chairman, South- South, received N28.8 million; Ambassador Taofeek Arapaja, Deputy National Chairman, South-West, got N36 million and Olasoji Adagunodo, National Vice Chairman, South-West, received N28 million.

For the PDP, the return of N128.8 million by the four NCW members to the coffers of the party actually raised the question of timing and transparency.

Prof Effah-Attoe’s letter showed that the money was paid into the accounts of the quartet on September 14, 2022, for “two years’ house rent,” yet it took all of them up to 15 days to return the money. Why 15 days?

According to a dependable party source, who chose to remain anonymous, the “show by the four NCW members was calculated to inflict damage on the credibility of the party at the launch of the its presidential campaign council. They are known as Wike’s group allies. It is not by coincidence that they are all from the South.”

The Media Adviser to Governor Wike, Kelvin Ebiri, declined to answer a call put to his phone line.

The National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Debo Ologunaba, who sent a statement rather than take direct questions from Daily Courier, said the “Housing Allowance being referred to,” in reports alleging the payment was a bribe, “went through the due process of the party in line with the conditions of service and the entitlement of the staff and principal officers of the party.”

He added: “If any individual, for any reason, decides to return the money duly approved and paid, such does not in any way suggest that the money was paid as bribe or indicate that it was illegitimate or unlawfully paid.”

A member of the PCC, and one-time NWC member of the party, Kola Ologbodinya, told this newspaper that the matter was a “distraction” that would not damage the party and affect its campaign.

Recounting his experience, Ologbodinya said: “Since the NWC members do not depend on monthly salaries, imprest and allowances are paid to them and because they are often paid when funds are available, the money often comes in bulk. Secondly, every NCW member submits their account numbers to the treasurer immediately the body is inaugurated and I know that everyone knows through meetings what to expect as a member. That was what happened when I was National Publicity Secretary of the party.”

He refused to be drawn into the argument that it was another opening in the ongoing battle by the Wike group, which is calling for Ayu’s resignation in the interest of peace in the party.

“It may take time, but the so-called crisis in the party would be resolved before the election,” he said with optimism, adding that the wrong public perception of the affairs of the PDP arose from the tendency to always look at the bigger picture and personalities.

“At the public presentation of three books by our candidate, Atiku Abubakar, before the inauguration, people were looking out for governors only, whereas representatives came from all over the states. For example, Governor Samuel Ortom was absent, but former Senate President, David Mark and many party leaders from Benue were present.

“People may wonder why Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State who received Abubakar during a visit to the state the previous day, was absent, but many leaders from Enugu were present, like Chief Jim Nwobodo. Ambassador Toafeek Arapaja from Oyo was there and so on.”

LP holds mass rally across major cities

For the Labour Party, it is time for a show of strength to send a clear signal to the major political parties in the country that have accused them of not having structure. The mega rallies which have characterised the Labour Party, LP movement since the emergence of its presidential candidate, Peter Obi took any dimension lately.

To commemorate Independence Day celebration on October 1, rallies where held across major cities. In Lagos, supporters of Obi also refer to as ‘Obidents’ turned out in numbers. One of the Obidents and one of the Psquare fame during the rally said: “One thing that is sure is that we are the structure. We the youths and people of Nigeria are the structure and we will mobilize all the support to ensure the victory of Peter Obi.”

Elsewhere in Kaduna, Enugu, Ado Ekiti, Bauchi, Ibadan and some other cities, similar rallies were held to show the popularity of the Labour Party.

A political analyst, Barth Owei said that the growing momentum in the LP movement is good owing to the disaffections in the major political parties warning that the momentum may grow from light to heavy weight if the established political actors take them for granted.

A former spokesperson of the PDP, Ologbodiyan said, “We still have over 100 days to go before the election. The party is deploying all its machinery to resolve its crisis, but even so I can tell you that the campaign will deliver our candidate as the next President.”

Tinubu appoints Masari, Wamako as campaign Senior Advisers

Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, All Progressives Congress (APC) 2023 Presidential Candidate has appointed Gov. Aminu Masari of Kastina State as Campaign Senior Adviser on Administration and Government.

The former two-term Lagos State governor, also appointed former governor of Sokoto State, Sen. Aliyu Wamakko as Senior Adviser on Special Duties.

According to the letters of appointment made available to newsmen on Sunday in Abuja and signed by Tinubu, both men are to serve in the APC Presidential Campaign Council (PCC).

The letters said both Masari and Wamakko’s impressive political achievements and the exemplary leadership demonstrated as governor and senator, respectively in their states and as party members qualified them for the responsibility.

The letter to Gov. Masari read: “By way of this letter we are pleased to formally convey your appointment as the Special Adviser on Administration and Government of the Tinubu/Shettima Presidential Campaign Council.

“This appointment is fitting and appropriate given your impressive political achievement and the exemplary leadership you have demonstrated as governor of your state and as a party member.

Tinubu said the appointments were fitting and appropriate given the impressive political achievement and exemplary leadership both men demonstrated in different capacities and as a party members.

He prayed for guidance for the new appointees.