Report indicates that the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, the camp of President Muhammadu Buhari, has been torn apart over the defection move of some key party Leaders.
They are: Senate President, Bukola Saraki; House of Representatives Speaker, Yakubu Dogara; Sokoto State Governor, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal; ex-Governor Musa Rabiu Kwankwaso; ex-Governor Aliyu Wammako; ex-Governor Danjuma Goje; ex-Governor Ahmed Sani Yerima, among others.
Authoritative party sources disclosed that the Leaders are yet to endorse Buhari for a second term, because they are weighing their own options on the way forward.
A few of them have a strong political relationship with ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo, who wrote a toxic letter to the President, last week.
Obasanjo had called for the formation of what he called the ‘Third Force’, to wrestle power from the APC in 2019.
Prominent politicians across party divide are said to be already lining up to join the ‘Third Force’.
The presidency is worried by what sources termed the “silence and cold attitude” of these Leaders to Buhari’s second term bid.
Although, some of the Leaders believe it is too early now to start politicking, some APC Leaders and Buhari’s strategists are suspicious of such position.
The closeness of some of them to ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo, has compounded the fears of those in Buhari’s camp.
It was learnt that a few of them, including some APC Senators and Members of the House of Representatives, have practically abandoned the party.
According to findings, the development accounted for the series of dinners being organised by the President to interact with these Leaders, to gauge their mood and indirectly seek their support.
The President has already dined with Senators and Members of the House of Representatives.
The last dinner he had was with a group comprising of ex-Senate President, Ken Nnamani, ex-Governor Orji UzorKalu, ex-National Chairman of the PDP, Abubakar Kawu Baraje, and others.
A top source in Buhari’s camp said: “Most of these top Leaders have not been forthcoming on the second term aspiration of President Muhammadu Buhari.
“Some of these Leaders are too silent to trust. Look, the loyalists of Buhari are also not taking things for granted at all.
“Virtually everyday, consultations and negotiation are going on with Leaders of the political groups across the six geopolitical zones.
“While some are weighing options, we are also suspecting that some of them are behind the Coalition for Nigeria (CN) campaign by ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo, because they do not want to come out; they do not want a direct confrontation with Buhari.
“We are however, giving some of them the benefit of the doubt, because the political climate might be unpredictable in their States, and they may have no option than to remain in the APC with Buhari.”
However, a source who had attended some dinners with Buhari, said: “I think the President is also watching his steps, because he has not come out categorically that he is interested in a second term.
“For instance, at the last dinner with ex-Governor Kalu and others, he only ate with us. In spite of the fact that ex-Governor Rabiu Kwankwaso was at the session, Buhari did not tell us he would seek a second term ticket.
“He gave us so much to eat and did the talking alone. The President’s handlers did not allow him to have any feedback from us.
“Such a dinner would have been a golden opportunity to speak our minds and forge a new rapprochement.”
A source in Tambuwal’s camp, who spoke in confidence, said: “You should know better that the Governor does not pretend.
“When he was the Speaker of the House of Representatives, it was obvious to all Nigerians that his heart was with the APC. I can tell you that by now if he has an alternative plan, you would have known.
“I think some Leaders in the party are suspicious of Tambuwal, because he has refused to commit himself to the Seven Governors spearheading the second term aspiration of the President. Oga has repeatedly told them that the mood of this country is not for politics now. He has always said during politics, we will play politics.
“However, some of these Governors are in the forefront of second term agitation, because their political fate is tied to Buhari, because they have not performed in an office.”
A source in Saraki’s camp said: “The President of the Senate has cooperated with this Government, and he is focusing on governance. The truth is that as a politician, he prefers tactical manoeuvring to doing the talking. And do not forget that his office is too strategic to be politically flippant.
“I know we are already using an airline (APC), but we do not know yet if we will stick to the airline or book another flight. One thing is sure; we will get a boarding pass at the end of the day. We are watching the lips of our Leader, although our dilemma is that it is difficult to read his body language on this type of issue.
“You cannot rule out consultations and weighing of options by Saraki and others.”
A close strategist of Kwankwaso said: “If the President is seeking re-election on the platform of APC, you should not expect that Kwankwaso with the Presidential aspiration to remain in the same party. But if Buhari is not contesting, Kwankwaso will remain in APC. This is a straightforward matter and it is discernible.”
Asked about the next move, the source added: “Once Buhari declares an interest in running for second term, Kwankwaso may join a stronger party, after weighing options and consulting widely.”
A source in Dogara’s camp said: “I have not really discussed the issue with him. I will find out and get back to you.”
Another source said: “Those Leaders from the North are keeping their game plan to their chest, because of the consequences of early opposition to Buhari’s second term ambition by some of his blind loyalists who can start hurling missiles at every occasion.
“Some of those in this group include a few Northern Governors who are not keen on Buhari project.”