There have been rising concerns over the mode of relationship President Muhammadu Buhari has sustained with notable state and political actors in the South West Nigeria who have been having latent battle and cold war overtime in the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).
The South West APC leaders had since the tenure of the former National Chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, been having subtle running battles involving the national leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, and his team, and Governor Ibikunle Amosun on whose side queues Governor Rotimi Akeredolu, Governor Kayode Fayemi and few others.
The recent recruit into the Amosun camp appears to be Governor Akinwumi Ambode of Lagos State who was denied the APC governorship ticket for a second term re-election in the 2019 General Elections.
The APC conflicts in the south west became pronounced in the crisis over the governorship election in Ondo State in which Tinubu had public outburst with Oyegun over perceived manipulation of the APC primary election in the state.
Amosun was alleged to have sponsored the Ondo governorship election won by Akeredolu; and thereafter, the Ekiti State governorship election won by Fayemi.
In the build up to the 2019 general elections, Amosun and Tinubu were perceived to be at each other’s throat over APC governorship candidate in Ogun State. This time, APC National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, is believed to be an unalloyed loyalist of Tinubu who sponsored his emergence as the party leader.
The APC primary election triggered internal conflicts but at the end, the candidate believed to be sponsored by Tinubu carried the day; leading to the sponsorship of a governorship candidate on the platform of another party by Amosun.
At the APC campaign in Ogun State attended also by President Buhari, some party supporters were aggressive to the APC national leader, Tinubu, at the venue.
President Buhari appeared to have given leverage to the warring leaders when he said that APC members can vote any candidate of their choice at a campaign where two governorship candidates were in attendance while APC was mobilizing support for its candidates.
In the Ogun crisis during the elections, the President was playing host to both Tinubu and Amosun leading the respective governorship candidate each was sponsoring.
On different occasions, President Buhari hosted Tinubu, visiting the State House with Prince Dapo Abiodun, APC governorship candidate; then, Governor Amosun presenting Adekunle Akinlade to President Buhari. There were no interventions or mediation by the President for reconciliation.
In other instances, the President will host Tinubu, former APC interim National Chairman, Chief Bisi Akande, sometimes Chief Segun Osoba, on consultation meetings at the State House, Abuja.
In another instance the President hosts Amosun, Akeredolu and Fayemi on similar consultative meeting; all south west APC leaders. The house continues to be divided, the cracks within the party deepens.
Most of the federal appointments were perceived to be made from the group seemingly in opposition to the status quo ante in the South West. At a point, there were reports of Tinubu’s dynasty under siege.
The recent one day working visit of the President to Lagos State where he was solely hosted by Governor Akinwumi Ambode seemed to have added to the deepening cracks in the South West APC.
Again, the co-hosts of the President during the one day working visit to Lagos State mainly included Governors Amosun of Ogun State, Akeredolu of Ondo State, Fayemi of Ekiti State, etc; the APC national leader, Tinubu, and other APC allies of the national leader in the South West were excluded from the hosts. Yet, no question was raised.
Several other APC leaders in Lagos State also stayed away, many insinuating that the Lagos Governor used the president’s visit for personal gains of getting closer to President Buhari.
The dust of bitterness or subtle ‘acrimony’ over the denial of APC governorship ticket to Ambode in the 2019 general elections is still hovering in the political clime of the state.
Several APC stakeholders were of the view that Governor Ambode may have joined the Amosun group which many construe as comprising the leftist in South West APC.
The stakeholders also expressed concerns that the President appears to be closer to the leftist APC than the dominant party spectrum loyal to Tinubu.