A number of weeks ago, I had posted a very brief analysis of the on-going struggle for power within the Nigeria’s rapacious political elite on my Facebook page. In the brief but cold analysis, I had put aside my dislike for Senator Bukola Saraki and noted that from information this writer is able to garner and from the way things have been unfolding and one’s understanding of how people who want power would likely behave, predicted with a caveat that Senator Saraki may win this battle. It is the only way to do it hoping that coming to terms with this reality will cause truly positive forces to checkmate him.
I had explained that a battle is just a face of a war. There are still so many battles to be fought before 2019. But as Saraki continues to win battle after battle, it would be foolhardy to dismiss the possibility of him winning the war. Winning the war may be that he would be the decider of the eventual president in 2019 or he might go for it himself. Whichever would be the case remains to be seen. But this is how things currently stand.
The APC is currently divided into four warring camps as follows:
a) The Aso Rock Cabal Camp (ARC)
b) The Buhari Political Friends Camp (BPF)
c) The Bola Ahmed Tinubu Camp (BAT)
d) The Bukola Saraki Camp (BS)
a) The Aso Rock Cabal Camp (ARC) currently is about the most powerful of all the four camps. The reason this camp is the most powerful is that they are the family members of the President. The President is loyal to them 120%. The President would rather die than question their decisions. They determine who sees the President and who gets the favours of and from the President. This group is led by Mamman Daura, the invisible visible hand who is actually doing the governing of this country in practical terms.
Other members include the Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari who was raised by Mamman Daura. He would defend Daura with his blood. In this inner circle is the boss of Directorate of State Security (DSS) Lawal Daura. They are so powerful that they sent out the First Lady, Hajia Aisha Buhari out of United Kingdom, away from her sickly husband and she could not bat an eyelid. They did it and nothing happened and President Buhari was very happy about it. It is being suspected that General Yusuf Buratai and Minister of Internal Affairs, retired General Dambazzau are members of this camp.
For the ARC, the fear of Bola Tinubu is the beginning of wisdom. This camp lives in perpetual fear of Bola Tinubu and is ready to go to any length to emasculate him. The members believe that Tinubu has to be rendered ineffectual by all means, especially with eyes on 2019. For this reason, they are keeping more than an eye on Vice President Yemi Osinbajo. They are praying that President Buhari does not give up the ghost for obvious reasons.
The ARC has made an alliance with Senator Bukola Saraki. And they bent on convincing the President to come out for him and support him publicly regardless of the cost to the faked integrity of the President. President trusts the ARC more than any group. The DSS already told Nigerians that Senator Saraki is “not corrupt.” The ARC hates Ibrahim Magu, the acting chairman of the EFFC, with passion. That passion could only be matched by Senator Saraki who has been humiliated repeatedly by Magu. They have common interest to see that Magu never emerges as the de facto and de jure chair of the EFCC.
Read also: The False Binary Between Saraki and Buhari
The need to keep Bola Tinubu ineffectual is another common interest between the ARC and the BS camp. More on this issue later.
b) The Buhari Political Friends Camp (BPF). These are political friends of Buhari who are considered no threat to the control of the presidency by the ARC. They are largely tolerated and allowed their space to do what they wanted to do as long as they understood their boundaries. This group have no influence whatsoever on the President. The president does not show any dislike for them but he is in no way committed to any of them. He has not expressed any form of lack of confidence in them but has not expressly showed any form of confidence in them. Members of these group include Ministers such as Kayode Fayemi, Rotimi Amaechi, Babatunde Fashola and their ilk.
Some of them are not antagonistic to the Bukola Saraki camp. Though, they have not shown openly their loyalty to Bukola Saraki. This group is secretly interested in clipping the wings of BAT camp but is not openly expressing that desire. This has put them in the good book of the ARC. For those of them that are of Yoruba extraction, they are in a quandary. They have no choice but to tread carefully because the Yoruba consensus now is that Bola Tinubu should not be allowed to be humiliated by the ARC and others gunning for him.
It is not clear if this current protective support of Bola Tinubu by the Yoruba leadership would translate to votes in 2019 across Yoruba land, but it would be better to allow time to tell, as things continue to unravel.
c) The Bola Ahmed Tinubu Camp is arguably the smartest but currently the weakest of all the groups. This camp has been suffering from lack of vision and proper planning and is paying dearly for it. In the days leading to the election, the leadership of the group failed to pay attention to a lot of pointers showing them that the group could be at risk in a Buhari administration.
Right now, the leadership of the group is playing “good boy” to the administration as much as it could. It recognizes the threat of ARC and it is not willing to dare the cabal. This group is compelled to show its loyalty to the President at all times even in absurd situations such as the killing of the Yoruba people in Ile-Ife in Osun State. Even when one of the leading members of this group, Senator Ali Ndume was suspended from the Senate by the Saraki camp, there was not a whimper from any other member of the group or its leadership. The leadership of this group is busy trying to save itself and its political relevance rather than worry excessively about a member suffering “only suspension” for six months.
This group has been on a losing spree since Buhari took over power despite its enormous contribution to installing this administration. It lost the Senate Presidency to its rival Saraki camp that described the Vice President Osinbajo as an “ordinary commissioner.” It lost many of the principal positions in the Senate and has been reduced to spectators in the body.
The group also suffered the same fate in the Lower House as all its candidates were left in the rain soaked without recourse. It won some negligible principal positions in the lower chamber and that was it. The lower house is more loyal to the Saraki camp without any question and the leadership of that arm of the government is working with the ARC too as an extended arm of the Saraki camp.
Even in the appointment of Ministers, many nominees of the group often hit the swimming pool with their clothes on. They could not be considered seriously because of the stance of ARC against the leader of this group.
This group also seems to have become an albatross on the neck of Ibrahim Magu because of its support for the EFCC acting chairman. The Saraki camp and the ARC seemed to believe that Magu is a pawn in the playbook of Bola Tinubu and are determined to frustrate him.
It is however believed that this group could bounce back in 2019. How this would turn out is not clear yet as Bola Tinubu has been going around begging for forgiveness for disrespecting the Afenifere leadership and some Yoruba Obas. Indications are that he has been listened to in order to save him from humiliation by the ARC. Whether this forgiveness would lead to votes from the suffering Yoruba people who are now asking themselves whether Tinubu’s judgment could be trusted, remained to be seen.
d) The Bukola Saraki camp in comparison to the ARC may not appear to be the strongest of all the groups, but without any question, it seems to be the most formidable of all. It is the only camp that has a leg in every group except the BAT camp. It is amazing that despite the media war against him, he has been able to survive, resurge, recalibrate and realign his forces to become more formidable than he was at the beginning of Buhari administration.
A major factor for his survival is his ability to plan ahead, unlike the BAT camp that keeps exuding embarrassing naivety about politics. This is because, the BAT camp believed their own lies that Buhari has “integrity” and is “incorruptible.” Hmmmmmm! But Saraki camp did not give and still does not give a damn about any stupid “war on corruption.” He probably knows that Buhari is a pretender as this writer has been pointing out for years. He must have recognized that Buhari is a dedicated and committed member of the family of the corrupt political leadership and went for the jugular. He was right. And Buhari, the “Mr. Integrity” has his DSS come out to endorse Saraki publicly, insisting that the Senator “is not corrupt.”
While the BAT camp engaged in media war against Bukola Saraki, the latter knowing the truth about Buhari allied with him with the help of the ARC. From that point, he had an excuse made for him as the DSS provided the template for him and his ilk to refuse to confirm Magu as the EFCC chair. Other members of the Senate who see themselves in their leader, Saraki, became blindly loyal to him. They worship him. They adore him. They daily seek his footsteps and walked in them. They banded with him and fought back Magu and the media which they concluded were biased against them.
With Saraki firmly in control of the Senate, he has the power to do a few things to Buhari. But he did not. Rather he went for the soft spot of Buhari and hemmed in. He came out with an alliance with ARC. Meanwhile, he was carrying the Speaker of the House along with him and they became a formidable force together. The members of the BPF, mostly Ministers, would not do anything to antagonize the Senate leader otherwise the budget of their Ministries could be in jeopardy. They know where their bread is buttered so they could also help themselves while the parody lasts.
Other variables in the staying power of Saraki, is the silent but very effective and strong support of the Northern Emirs across the board. They do not consider him corrupt. He takes care of them. They had supported him from the beginning and were instrumental to his becoming the Senate president. There are also other party big wigs silent but in active support of Saraki. They are operating from behind the scenes. The way Saraki has been able to hold everything together, so far, explains why he has been so strong in Kwara state for so long.
It is difficult to place former Vice President, Abubakar Atiku. Available information shows that the ARC does not see him as an enemy. In fact he has kept communication with the President and they speak not infrequently. He is also reported not to be unfriendly with the Saraki camp. The BAT camp is playing hide and seek with him. And some members of the BPF are friendly with him as with some powerful members of the Northern establishment.
Nasir El Rufai is a loser all round in this. He shot himself in the foot with that secret memo to President Buhari. The ARC is gunning for him. He has also stupidly engaged in open fight with Vice President Atiku. The Saraki camp has no love lost for him. The Emirs are also not very impressed with him the way he has handled the Southern Kaduna imbroglio in which he has shown flagrant and dangerous zealotry. Senator Shehu Sani has also done his own damage to Rufai’s fragile reputation.
While the BAT group still has the loyalty of some Northern political big wigs, it is difficult to gauge their political value as of now. Things would become clearer as events unfold. Many believe that it would be unwise to write off the BAT group as a factor in 2019. .
Time, as usual, always tell!
Opinion article by Remi Oyeyemi
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