THERE are emerging indicators that the leadership of the All Progressives Congress (APC) is at a critical stage of bargaining and tradeoffs towards the post-election sharing of “political profits.” A reliable source from the top hierarchy of the opposition APC revealed to this Reporter that a National Leader of the party and former Governor of Lagos State, Asiwaju
Bola Ahmed Tinubu, is purportedly negotiating with the APC Presidential candidate, General Muhammadu Buhari, for allocation of oil wells in the Niger Delta as compensation for his support and huge financial commitment into the party from the stage of negotiations for merger and registration as a political party to the electioneering campaigns into the general elections. The party source, who sought anonymity but disclosed that he is a close political associate of the APC Presidential candidate, alleged that the two national leaders of the leading opposition party have been involved in secret meetings on the issues of allocation of oil wells and sharing of political offices, expressing optimism that the opposition party will win the February 14 Presidential election.
The party source emphasised that the former Lagos State Governor may have been using the enormous wealth at his disposal, his political influence in the South West, to force the negotiation on Buhari and compel him to seal a deal as pre-condition for his total support for the former Head of State in the presidential election coming up in three weeks’ time. The former governor was said to have allegedly demanded for about three oil wells license rights as compensation to him for the persistent support he has been giving to the party’s presidential candidate and aiding him in scheming out other presidential contenders who were considered to be at advantage of having more funds and would have picked the APC ticket if he had not supported him at the National Convention and in mobilizing other party members for that cause.
The APC stalwart revealed that both national leaders of the party have resolved that after winning the presidential election, immediately the APC assumes office in May, the APC-Federal Government will revoke all existing licenses of people allocated oil blocs in the Niger Delta, then, open bidding for new allocations. That is the process Tinubu was alleged to anticipate giving himself the advantage to acquire the license for oil wells allocation.
The party source observed that the party’s candidate, whom he often referred to as his principal, considered the negotiation on oil wells allocation a difficult bargaining to concede to Tinubu but that Buhari has been under pressure to succumb in order not to lose the South West votes which he overwhelmingly relies on Tinubu to mobilize. The APC presidential candidate was, however, said not to have given his word on the oil wells allocation demand but solicited for little time to make consultations before they would reach final conclusion, though, Tinubu was alleged to be opposed to such consultations, and had purportedly told the former head of state to “either concede to his demand or forget the votes of the South West.” It was alleged that the APC presidential candidate decision is expected to be made as soon as possible, before the February polls.
There was an insinuation that Tinubu allegedly made similar request in 2011 when he was negotiating with President Goodluck Jonathan for the South West support in the presidential race. It was gathered that he was promised both money and oil wells but was first compensated with money and told to wait for the oil well allocation later. It was disclosed that he did not get the oil well allocation, thereafter, and has since then, not been happy with President Jonathan for that disappointment.
Other issues said to be placed on the table in the secret negotiations between the two APC leaders were indicated to include the sharing of political offices at the federal level. They were said to have both agreed on the Senate President being zoned to the North Central, reserving that position for Senator Bukola Saraki, former Governor of Kwara State. Tinubu was, however, alleged to have demanded that the Speaker of the House of Representatives be zoned to the South West, or in alternative the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, to augment the Vice President, who he considered does not have constitutional powers but may be playing nominal roles in government as may be delegated to him by the President. The former governor was further alleged to have also put on the negotiation table to be given the power to influence certain ministerial appointments. He was purported to have shown interests in influencing the appointment of the Minister of Finance, Minister of Petroleum, Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice as well as Minister of Aviation, which he was alleged to be further requesting to be given to his political camp. The former Governor of Ekiti State, Dr. Kayode John Fayemi, was alleged to be considered for either the Finance or Aviation portfolio by the APC national leader in the South West.
Tinubu, it was disclosed, assured Buhari that given these demands, he will do everything possible to ensure victory for him in the presidential election not only in the South West but also in several parts of the South-South and the South East.
The demands made in the secret negotiation was further said to have placed Buhari in dilemma because he has at all-time vowed to stamp out corruption from the system and, therefore, found himself at a crossroad of bribing a party member for support to win election. “The issues of insecurity, unemployment, economic slide, corruption and others will be tackled with all sincerity…,” Buhari had repeatedly declared in his campaign.
Buhari, it was disclosed, had been reminiscing on what former President Olusegun Obasanjo told him at Ota, Ogun State that, “a political party is like a microcosm of a nation, which would consist of near saints, devils, rapists, and armed robbers;” and how Obasanjo admonished him that he may use rapists or robbers for the purpose of electioneering campaign but that when the party wants to go into government after the elections, it must look for men and women of integrity. The former President had further stated that people of integrity make things better for a government, the country and the citizenry.
The APC presidential candidate’s associate also told our Reporter that his principal, as he called Buhari repeatedly, is having the big problem of discussing such personal demands with the entire leadership of the party, particularly, the northern caucus of the APC, who he said are expected to play different roles in the nomination or appointment of party members into various political offices after the elections. He added that in all, Buhari acknowledges the immense contributions of Tinubu, in terms of funding, making himself available at all times, committing his political structures in the South West to the APC set goals, mobilizing other party members for common cause and personal interventions to minimize conflicts in the party.