Senator Rabiu Kwankwanso was dressed in a flowing white gown with the red Kwankwansiya cap to match this past Monday evening. His posture was far from a rattle snake about to limp for prey as he sat down to a session with newsmen in his Maitama Abuja residence.
However, after about an 80 minute session with newsmen that evening, he had sufficiently rattled his party in a way only a rattle snake could have done on a prey. The APC was, however, not Kwankwanso’s immediate prey that evening.
“It is sad that the party did not get it right; it is unfortunate and I can tell you categorically that the party is divided, but it is not too late to correct many things and that is what I think the party should be doing right now”.
The president of the Senate, Senator Bukola Saraki and his deputy, Ike Ekweremadu were the immediate preys of Senator Kwankwanso who warned Saraki not to destroy their party, with his alleged ambitions.
Senator Kwankwanso did not hide his objection to the emergence of Saraki as the President of the Senate and Yakubu Dogara as Speaker of the House of Representatives. Indeed, in the perspective of a key associate of Dogara, Senator Kwakwanso did more damage more than anyone else to stop the emergence of Dogara as speaker and it was said that if not for him, Dogara and as such, Saraki would have easily emerged as speaker.
When the former governor cautioned Saraki about his ambition, it inevitably brought to fore the flowing issue of the 2019 ambitions of the separate leaders of the APC which their critics in the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP had for long argued would be the ruin of the new ruling party.
Saraki’s alleged 2019 presidential ambition, as has been generally reported, was the basis of the opposition several party leaders had against his emergence. Kwankwanso who teamed up with the Bola Tinubu camp in opposing Saraki’s Senate Presidency quest is also reported to be interested in the 2019 pie having been deputy speaker, governor, minister and now, senator.
Remarkably, Kwankwanso and Saraki were central leaders of the G7 or new Peoples Democratic Party, PDP group who left the then ruling party in November 2013.
In his session with newsmen, an emboldened Kwankwanso who probably only defers to President Olusegun Obasanjo, confessed that he supported Senator George Akume in the Senate leadership contest and switched on to Senator Ahmad Lawan when Akume stepped down for Lawan.
His reason for supporting Akume ahead of his fellow nPDP co-leader some said was simply in view of 2019 given that Akume is not in the permutations for the presidency.
If Kwankwanso was restrained in his vituperations against Saraki, the outbursts the same day, of the deputy national publicity secretary of the party, Comrade Timi Frank against the national chairman and working committee simply went overboard.
Frank, in another session with newsmen in Abuja demanded the resignation of Chief John Odigie-Oyegun as national chairman. He even took on the party icon and his immediate boss,, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, charging him with misdemeanour in the discharge of his duties. Those who contacted Mohammed on the issue said the party spokesman was in a state of shock over the issue.
Noting that his party was slacking in its promise of change, Frank said faulted the party’s decision to present a set of nominees for the National Assembly leadership contests saying that the decision of the leadership had shown the party to be out of touch with its base.
“If my party could not keep to the promise of change, then we must correct them to keep to that. I have no fear or favour than to say that the current leadership of the party has practically failed. With this incident alone, the chairman should resign from his position after taking a position against the people and the people’s position has finally come to stay.
“In the Western world, by today the party’s national chairman would have resigned honourably. Not just the national chairman but the entire leadership that took this decision of conducting mock election against the outcry of the larger members of the party. Against the bigger picture of Nigerians. A hand-full of the party leadership came to take a decision, and by today the people have shown that the voice of the people is the voice of God.
“You could see the way the party including the national chairman was speaking before the NASS leadership elections; it showed clearly that the chairman had totally taken sides which wasn’t meant to be. I understand, he took some of those decisions based on pressure. In this century, APC as a party does not need a chairman that will be under pressure.
“And the party’s national chairman caused it because times without number some leaders told him to come up with a zoning formula from the beginning. He was asked to take a decision and let people follow that but he didn’t do that. They were playing hide and seek with the issue until the last minute when they saw the danger, and they wanted to play hanky-panky, which led us to lose one position at the Senate.”
Frank’s call immediately echoed the sound of war from the leadership contest. Frank is a well known associate of former Vice President Atiku Abubakar and even though he didn’t claim to be speaking on his behalf, few would doubt that he resounded the opinion of Atiku on the National Assembly leadership contest.
Atiku had backed Saraki and Dogara against the desire of Kwankwanso, Tinubu and others and the reason was easily because the duo did not back his own presidential aspiration last year.
There is also the growing perception that Atiku has joined the school of thought which believes that Tinubu’s wings in the party should be clipped.
It was as such not surprising that his Man Friday, Frank in the same outburst questioned the alleged claim by his party boss, Lai Mohammed that President Muhammadu Buhari is not the party leader.
“Let’s go back and ask Lai Mohammed who the leader of the party is. If he does not recognise the president as the leader. In my own view, If Lai Mohammed that is my direct boss could come up to tell Nigerians that the president is only a product of the party and not the national leader of the party, then he should have been able to tell us who the leader of the party is.
“We have seen that even in then PDP, former President Goodluck Jonathan was the leader of the party. If in our own case the President cannot be the leader of the party, he should tell us who the leader is then,” Frank averred.
Against the call by the likes of Kwankwanso that Ekweremadu should resign his position as Deputy Senate President, Frank dug in saying, “those that are calling for the deputy senate president to resign are anti-people, and I will campaign against it. I will continue to support Bukola Saraki and Ike Ekweremadu and every progressive Nigerian should support this mission as it will take Nigeria to the next phase because failure to do this will disrupt democracy.”