Obasanjo’s Move To Resolve APC Crisis Hits Brick Wall
Despite assurances by its National Chairman, Chief John Oyegun, that crisis rocking the All Progressives Congress (APC), would soon be resolved to enable her settle down to deliver its promises to Nigerians, it thus appear that the crisis of confidence in the party is far from over.
As a fallout of the crisis that rocked the party, following the election of Senator Bukola Saraki and Yakubu Dogara as the Senate President and Speaker of the House of Representatives respectively, Saraki last week went to Abeokuta to seek the former president Olusegun Obasanjo’s intervention, particularly to help APC leaders on his behalf.
The party leaders had initially rejected the election of Saraki who defied the party and formed an alliance with the former ruling party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and emerged as the senate president unopposed.
But while the party made a volte face and said it will work with Saraki, President Muhammadu Buhari, who is widely believed to have accepted the election of the principal officers as a fait accompli, is said to be unhappy with the leadership of the National Assembly, thus the reason why Saraki wanted Obasanjo to intervene on his behalf.
Sources however said the former president’s intervention has failed to yield the results desired by Saraki and his camp.
It was gathered that shortly after Saraki’s visit to the former president, Obasanjo made a telephone call to Buhari advising him to make up with Saraki. The former president had reportedly told the president to work with Saraki and let the party deal with all the disciplinary issues that the former governor of Kwara State had been accused of. However, the President was said to have been non-committal.
Sources privy to these happenings said that the telephone call initiated by Obasanjo was not the first time the former president would intervene in the matter. It was gathered that Obasanjo had met with Buhari in South Africa, last Sunday, and sought his help in resolving the crisis in the ruling party. Sources said that the former president, who was in Zambia for the 22nd annual general meeting of the African Export-Import Bank, had travelled from there to South Africa to meet with President Buhari.
But a source spoke on the condition of anonymity that the President’s response to pleas for his intervention had remained the same.
Sources said while Buhari was careful not to make his disappointment with Saraki public, he was very angry that the senate president led a rebellion against his party and also teamed up with the PDP to undermine it. One other reason the crisis has remained intractable, the source added, was the emergence of Senator Ike Ekweremadu as the Deputy Senate President.
“The President believes that Saraki earned the support of the PDP because of the deputy senate presidency he conceded to the opposition party. It is a treacherous thing to do to one’s party,” the source said.
Buhari had reportedly shunned all moves by Saraki to meet him before the senate president’s visit to Obasanjo.
However, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, said Buhari was not avoiding Saraki. Rather, he said, it was the Senate President who is yet to visit the presidency. When asked specifically when Saraki would be meeting with the President, Shehu said it was left for the President of the Senate to decide.
“There is no truth in the claims that the President does not want to meet with any of the National Assembly leaders. He has said that he respects institutions and that strong men build institutions,” Garba said.
Saraki may be reluctant to make an approach because he doesn’t want to be rebuffed. A prominent member of the Like Minds Senators, a group sympathetic to the senate president, confirmed that Saraki had not fixed an appointment with Buhari after meeting Obasanjo.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, he said, “After the meeting with Obasanjo, there has been no specific move on the part of the senate president to meet with Mr. President. They will meet at the appropriate time.”
“From all indications, all sides in the crisis are maintaining their hard-line positions on the crisis. It seems Saraki is not ready for reconciliation. His group is insisting on its position. The Lawan group has given its conditions for peace and the President believes that there must be party discipline,” a senior APC official said.