It was supposed to be a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari, but some All Progressives Congress (APC) governors had other plans – the removal of National Chairman Adams Oshiomhole.
It took the swift intervention of Borno State Governor Babagana Zulum to kill the plot hatched by Governors Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti), Nasir El-Rufai (Kaduna), Abubakar Badaru (Jigawa) and Atiku Bagudu (Kebbi).
Zulum was said to have spilled the beans when he saw that the quartet wanted to use the other governors to get the President’s backing for Oshiomhole’s removal, The Nation learnt on Sunday.
Sources said he told the President that El-Rufai, Fayemi, Bagudu and Badaru, among others, want to hijack the party leadership because they want one of them to be president in 2023. The quartet see Oshiomhole as an obstacle to the project.
”It is all about 2023. They want a pliant person as chairman, someone they can manipulate. That is why they want Oshiomhole out”, he told a stunned President Buhari, adding: ”They want to hijack the APC for selfish reason”. The President agreed to the meeting after being told by the El-Rufai group that the governors wanted to see him on an issue of national importance.
The four governors told their colleagues that the President wanted to see them penultimate Thursday. They informed them about the meeting late on Wednesday, ostensibly to make it difficult for them to attend. Apparently wary of the quartet’s motive, the pro-Oshiomhole governors shelved other state matters and travelled to Abuja.
At the meeting, the President sought to know the governors’ mission.
El-Rufai responded that the governors have resolved that Oshiomhole should go because he is not running the party well. He said they came to inform the President about their plan.
Zulum and other pro-Oshiomhole governors were stunned by the disclosure. Other pro-Oshiomhole governors at the meeting were Babajide Sanwo-Olu (Lagos), Dapo Abiodun (Ogun) and Gboyega Oyetola (Osun). Zulum countered: ”Who are the APC governors with you? Where and when did we meet to agree that the national chairman should resign?” he asked El-Rufai.
He told the President that the governors were told he wanted to compare notes with them. Zulum said they were shocked to hear that El-Rufai and those with him asked for the meeting.
A source privy to the meeting and how it went said Zulum told the President to be wary of the four governors.
He told the President that El-Rufai and his collaborators had sinister motive. Zulum revealed that Bagudu once pleaded with him to support former Zamfara State Governor Abdulazeez Yari in his (Yari) bid to replace Oshiomhole. He challenged Bagudu to deny it.
Oyetola told the President that what El-Rufai said was a figment of his imagination. ”No APC governors meeting took place where it was resolved that Oshiomhole should be replaced”, he said.
The source also quoted Zulum as saying: “Mr. President, you see all these governors seeking the removal of Oshiomhole are doing so because they are aspiring to be President in 2023. This is why they are calling a dog a bad name in order to hang it. Must we destroy the party because of presidential ambition? I think we should be careful.
“I believe our National Chairman is a fair and equitable leader. I have never met him, yet he allowed due process in the party which made me to emerge as the governorship candidate of the APC in Borno State. He knew me during the presidential campaign in our state. He has never asked me for a favour.”
It was gathered that Zulum enjoyed the backing of Oyetola, Abiodun and Sanwo-Olu.
“The anti-Oshiomhole governors were glued to their seats as the President left”, the source added.