BY ADEBAYO OBAJEMU
‘The real victory’, says Hannibal the famous Carthaginian general, ‘is the ability to have one’s way after the battle has been won and lost’. This may apply to the contentious power sharing debacle that has enveloped the victorious All Progressives Congress over the sharing of offices at National Assembly and cabinet slots in the incoming General Muhammadu Buhari regime . It was easy for different interests and tendencies within the party to close political ranks in order to defeat the incumbent Jonathan, but the share of political offices that comes with victory is yet another contentious issue that if not wellhandled, could tear the cohesiveness of the party.
On the front burner now is the issue of the National leader of the party and its major financier, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, who is said to have tabled a lot of demands in respect of choice appointments for his allies, but surprisingly some of the names the public believe Asiwaju would push for ministerial slots are missing in Asiwaju’s list sent to General Buhari. It was learnt that Babatunde Raji Fashola, Lagos State governor is one person the spartan General respects a lot for his sterling performnance in Lagos, and he had wanted him to run with him as vice-president but Tinubu and the political exigencies of the time made that option impossible.Same goes for Kayode Fayemi, former Ekiti State governor who successfully conducted the APC Convention to the satisfaction of stakeholders across tendencies within the party. President-elect , according to insiders had earlier mooted the idea of a ministerial job for Fayemi to shore up the intellectual base of his in-coming administration , but the Lion of Bourdillion as National Leader of the party, Asiwaju Tinubu is called opposed his nomination.
For many, this development is intriquing , but a close watcher of the unfolding drama may not find it difficult to properly situate the trend. It was learnt that though they are all his political children, Fayemi, Fashola and Oshiomoile do not enjoy same relationship with Tinubu as Aregbesola does given a streak of stubborn independent-mindedness that runs through the political triumvirates. As Ekiti State governor, it was learnt that Tinubu did not have much gravitas and leverage on what transpired on account of cool aloofness perched certain intellectual coldness of Fayemi, and in case of Fashola, there are many issues that were said to have created a wedge of suspicion and break down of trust. All this was said to have made Tinubu, a master of the game to be wary of thrusting ministerial job for these ”rebellios children” of his who in the end may wield enormous power as ministers at the centre to begin to challenge his political empire in the Southwest.
Already this has started generating ripples, and heat of leadership is already being felt by the President-elect, General Muhammadu Buhari from Tinubu that Fashola and Fayemi should not be appointed ministers. This is even as further s pressure from different quarters mount over ministerial nominations from party leaders and state governors from across the 36 states of the federation. Prior to his election, Buhari had vowed to prune the cabinet, insisting that 42 man cabinet as operated by the Goodluck Jonathan administration is not to the best interest of the nation. Buhari also said his cabinet will not be for patronage, as only people of integrity and with professional backgrounds will be considered.
Just barely a month to the inauguration of the All Progressives Congress, APC, government on May 29, Buhari is now being beleaguered with pressure by notable political leaders, who aided his victory and are now hoping to reap where they sown. The party had requested three nominees per each state for Buhari to make final choice but it appears that the request is being spurned by some of the leaders who are insisting on hand picking their nominees.
Party sources told Halmark that the 22 APC governors have told the party leadership to hand off the ministerial nomination matter as it concerns their respective states.
According to the source, who is a member of the National Executive Committee of the APC, “At the beginning when it was suggested that state executive should send the list of three nominees for assessment, the governors appeared not to have issues with that, but everything has changed and they are now insisting that they submit their sole recommendation for possible ratification.
“The governors are insisting that they want to avoid unnecessary rancour from the onset as sending three names will generated heated politicking that may end up causing more crisis in their state chapters.”
Top on the list of nominees that may form the government include the former Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) governor, Professor Charles Soludo, who is being considered for the Ministry of Finance. Soludo, according to source is ex-president Obasanjo’s nominee. Soludo was a member of the economic team in the Obasanjo government prior to becoming the governor of the CBN. Many APC leaders are however said to be opposed to his nomination. One of the reasons is that Soludo remains a card-carrying member of the All Progressive Grand Alliance, APGA. Whereas, the former Lagos State Governor, Bola Tinubu, is likely to be at loggerhead with Obasanjo’s recommendation.
Prior to the APC victory, it is believed that Buhari and Tinubu may have entered into an agreement to cede some top ministerial positions including Petroleum, FINANCE, Works, Federal Capital Territory and Interior to him.
Also being considered to make the cabinet is Prof. Bath Nnaji from Enugu State, who is expected to pair with Prof Tam David -West as an Adviser to supervise the Petroleum Ministry. Both men had headed the ministry in the past and Nigeria recorded modest achievements in the sector under their watch. Tinubu is said to be pushing for Finance Ministry for Wale Edun, his former Finance Commissioner and long time ally.
Knowlegeable insiders have said that Bukola Saraki, Fayemi, Fashola, Amaechi and Oshiomoile may have been used to shot down the ambition of Tinubu to be vice-president through subtle prompting from Buhari, who is said not to be comfortable with Tinubu as his vice.