All is not well in the camp of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, National Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Independent has learnt.
According to reliable sources in the party, the crisis which began since the formation of the APC further escalated during President Muhammadu Buhari’s search for ministers who will constitute his cabinet in 2015.
According to findings, some of Tinubu’s boys who have severed relationship with him include Babatunde Fashola, former governor of Lagos State who is now the Minister of Power, Works and Housing; Kayode Fayemi, Minister of Mines and Steel Development; Opeyemi Bamidele, a former Commissioner in Lagos State and Muiz Banire, the National Legal Adviser of the party.
Sources said the most surprising is the alleged rift between Tinubu and Alhaji Lai Mohammed, Minister of Information and Culture, who was Tinubu’s former Chief of Staff between 1999 and 2002.
“The decision of Governor Akinwunmi Ambode to retire from Lagos State civil service in 2012 was not of his volition.
Many believed it was Fashola that mandated him to throw in the towel or be shown the way out. In fact, Fashola, being a no-nonsense governor wanted to sack Ambode, it took the intervention of key leaders and monarchs in the state before it was converted to resignation
“While we are not really sure what went wrong between the two, it is widely believed that it borders on financial impropriety on the part Ambode which greatly angered Fashola. Despite Tinubu’s intervention, Fashola insisted that Ambode must go which culminated in his resignation in 2012.
“Tinubu, who is the godfather of Lagos State politics then said whether Fashola likes it or not, Ambode will succeed him as governor. And ever since Ambode left public service in 2012, Tinubu began grooming him on the task ahead. The rest is now history”.
It was learnt that Fashola’s grouse with Tinubu was basically due to the Jagaban’s (as Tinubu is popularly called) domineering attitude and total control of the party’s machineries in Lagos which totally handicapped Fashola and made it impossible for him to have a vibrant political structure in the state.
At the expiration of Fashola’s two-term tenure in 2015, despite his efforts to install a successor, the plan failed as Tinubu’s choice, Akinwunmi Ambode, clinched the ticket of his party and is now the governor of Lagos.
A source further added that Fayemi’s grouse with Tinubu has to do with his second term ambition in Ekiti. It was alleged that Tinubu had instructed Opeyemi Bamidele to also contest in the race against Fayemi.
This greatly affected Fayemi’s chances in the polls as he had to wage a two-war battle against internal forces led by Bamidele, who had then defected to Labour Party (LP) and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) which had Ayodele Fayose as its flagbearer.
“When Tinubu later asked Bamidele to withdraw from the governorship race and support Fayemi, he refused saying he had already gone far in the race and will not withdraw for anybody. That was the genesis of their crisis”.
A source said Tinubu never nominated both Fayemi and Fashola as ministers but the president insisted on having them in his team.
While one could not figure the actual cause of Banire’s grouse with Tinubu, our source said it dated far back as 2007 when the latter decided to install Fashola, his then Chief of Staff as his successor, a position Banire and other Tinubu loyalists such as Tokunbo Afikuyomi, Ganiyu Solomon, Femi Pedro and others were eyeing.
On Lai Mohammed’s alleged frosty relationship with Tinubu, it was gathered that it began during President Buhari’s search for ministers to fill his cabinet.
The president, it was learnt, had conceded the position of minister of information to Tinubu. The former Lagos State governor then nominated Dele Alake, a former commissioner for information during his tenure as governor.
Alake was also the Director of Strategic Communications of the APC’s Presidential Campaign Organisation in the 2015 election.
A source also said the president, however, disagreed with Tinubu over the choice of Alake instead of Lai Mohammed.
According to him, “When Buhari was scouting for the man who will manage the affairs of the Information Ministry, Tinubu submitted the name of Dele Alake who had served under him as commissioner for information during his tenure as Lagos state governor, but the president also ignored him on that and settled for Alhaji Lai Mohammed
“The reason the president gave was that given the major role Lai Mohammed played in the electoral campaign that brought him into office, he should be given a higher responsibility to serve in the government rather than being asked to remain as the National Publicity Secretary of the party.
Even though he also acknowledged Alake’s role as the Director of Strategic Communications of the party’s Presidential Campaign Organisation”.
Tinubu’s decision to settle for Alake was said to have angered Lai Mohammed, who was said to have switched his allegiance to the president for believing in him.
What further angered Tinubu was the rumour that Lai Mohammed had allegedly paid a thank you visit to Senate President Bukola Saraki following his confirmation as a minister by the Senate.
It was obvious that the voice of those against the Kwara State ministerial nominee (Lai Mohammed) was far above those in support, yet the Senate president went ahead to confirm him.
Information reaching Tinubu later showed that Lai Mohammed paid Saraki a thank you solidarity visit in his home. This greatly angered Tinubu who was still embittered over the manner Saraki went against the wishes of the party to emerge Senate president”, he said.
When contacted, Tunde Rahman, Tinubu’s Special Adviser on Media, said there is no rift between his principal and Lai Mohammed.
Also speaking with reporter, the minister said his relationship with Tinubu is very cordial. In a text message sent to a correspondent, he said,
“There is absolutely and emphatically no rift between me and my leader and boss, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu. And Insha Allah, there will never be any”.