As the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) awaits the return to the country of the president-elect, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, there are strong indications that, in his immediate political enclave, his close allies are enmeshed in a cold war over conflict of interest.
The conflict, it was gathered, stems from the squabble for positions as well as preferences as scheming for prominence gains momentum ahead of the inauguration of the incoming administration.
According to an impeccable source, the issue came to the fore last week when pseudo campaigners heightened their game for the secretary of the APC Presidential Campaign Council, James Faleke, to be appointed the chief of staff to Tinubu.
Before now, there had been unrefuted speculations that the speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, had been positioned for the plum job currently occupied by Professor Ibrahim Gambari.
The struggle for the CoS position between the duo, according to the source, has also snowballed to colour the race for the speaker of the 10th House of Representatives.
Aside Gbajabiamila and Faleke, other close allies of the president-elect who have stepped up efforts are the current minister of special duties and inter-governmental affairs, George Akume, and the outgoing governor of Kaduna State, Nasir El-Rufai. Both are in the race for the position of secretary to the government of the federation (SGF), according to the source.
“The issues around positions are too numerous to mention to the public because all those involved are just playing to the gallery and deceiving their followers as if all is well among those of us who are close to the president-elect.
“As we speak, there is no love lost between Gbajabiamila and Faleke because both are deeply involved in the race to be chief of staff. If you observe, both were playing the game quietly initially.
“But when Faleke saw that Gbajabiamila was already seeing himself as chief of staff in waiting, Faleke had to up his game, too. Lately, you can see that he has been sponsoring some groups to also canvass for him.
“Not only that, they have taken the fight to the issue of speakership in the forthcoming 10th House of Representatives. Even though he has denied it on the surface, everyone knows that Gbaja is supporting and canvassing for Tajudeen Abbas.
“And as a counter-force, Faleke has cleverly refrained from openly supporting any aspirant but waiting for the party to zone so that he can use his supporters to go against whoever Gbaja supports. So, it is a waiting game for the two of them and it will be very interesting unless the leader wades in,” the source said.
Meanwhile, a convener of one of the campaign pressure groups, National Consciousness Movement, Ibrahim Gidado, has vowed to mobilise House of Representatives members to vote against Abbas whom he described as “a tool for Gbajabiamila”.
Gidado said the speaker’s move is being anchored by the chairman, House Committee on Defence, Jimi Benson, and his counterpart in the NDDC Committee, Bunmi Tunji Ojo.
Gidado dismissed last week’s meeting between the speaker and all speakership aspirants as ‘a ruse and smokescreen’.
The aspirants who held the in-house meeting with Gbajabiamila were Deputy Speaker Idris Wase; chairman, House Committee on Appropriation, Aliyu Betara; chairman, Committee on Navy, Yusuf Gagdi; chairman, Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Benjamin Kalu; chairman, Committee on Land Transport, Tajudeen Abbas; chairman, Committee on Disaster Preparedness, Abdulraheem Olawuyi; chairman, Committee on Water Resources, Sada Soli; and Makki Yalleman and Sani Jaji.
Gidado believes Gbajabiamila is playing a behind-the-scene scheme to control the lower chamber.
“How can the outgoing speaker insist he must install someone as speaker as his stooge? Does he want to have another term? As far as the north is concerned, the current speaker will not be allowed to install his choice on us because that will be an insult.
“What is most painful is that the speaker has been calling some freshers, telling them that they must go with Tajudeen Abbas as speaker and that they must leave whoever they are working for. This is uncalled for as a leader. There are several members who are qualified to lead the House, not only Abbas.
“We know that he has stationed his cronies to be the arrowheads of the Abbas campaign. Is that not enough? Why is he now demarketing others because he wants to have total control of the House even after his tenure as speaker?
“As we watch events, those of us from the north are of the opinion that in the next one or two weeks, we should call a meeting and explore means to stop Gbaja from imposing a speaker in us. We have many options at hand and we will unleash them once he comes out openly from his hiding place,” he said.