Fresh crisis is rocking the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) over the alleged rift between Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, and Governor Mai Mala Buni of Yobe State, who is also the Chairman, Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Committee of the party.
Credible sources said the desire of both men to succeed President Muhammadu Buhari in 2023 was responsible for the strained relationship between the two gladiators who are both from Yobe State.
Daily Independent had earlier reported that Lawan, who represents Yobe North Senatorial District in the Senate, nominated Buni, a former National Secretary of APC, for the position of Caretaker Chairman after the dissolution of the Adams Oshiomhole-led National Working Committee (NWC) by the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the party.
It was gathered then that Lawan, by virtue of his position as the president of the 9th Senate, is interested in succeeding President Buhari in 2023 if the APC decides to zone the ticket to the North as being canvassed in some quarters.
Sources also said that Buni’s nomination as the caretaker committee chairman has put Lawan in a strong position as one of the major contenders for the presidential ticket of the APC. Lawan, however, denied that he was interested in the presidency but focused on his role as Nigeria’s number three citizen.
A leading figure in the party told Daily Independent on Tuesday that both men are not on speaking terms owing to Buni’s interest in the presidential race.
According to him, Lawan is peeved that Buni is using his position as the APC Caretaker Chairman to garner support for himself ahead of the presidential primary of the party.
“Yes, like I informed you earlier, Lawan nominated Buni, the governor of his state, for the chairmanship position of the APC with the hope that it will give him an edge if the party zones the ticket to the North. But now, both men are not on speaking terms because the Senate President has realised that Buni is also interested in the presidency.
“There is a general belief that Buni is also eyeing the presidency in 2023 and he has been using his position as the caretaker chairman to his advantage. I think that is why some northern powerbrokers are talking of throwing the ticket open for all intending aspirants instead of zoning it to the South”, he said.
When contacted, an aide of Buni, who asked not to be named, said the rumour of a rift between his principal and the Senate President is the handiwork of detractors who are seeking to cause confusion in the APC in order to advance their selfish agenda.
According to him, the two leaders have been working harmoniously and were together in Kano and Sokoto on condolence visits to the Emir of Kano, Aminu Ado Bayero, on the death of his mother, Hajiya Maryam Ado Bayero, and the Magajin Garin Sokoto, Alhaji Hassan Danbaba, over the demise of his mother, Hajiya Aishatu Ahmadu Bello.
“Kindly disregard the report. There is no crisis between Governor Buni and Dr. Lawan. The report is just the handiwork of mischief makers who are unhappy with the peaceful atmosphere in the APC and are spreading false news, crying wolf where there is none.
“Both men went on condolence visits to Kano and Sokoto last week from Abuja. I was at the airport and I saw them chatting together before they departed. Can they do that if they were not on speaking terms as they claimed?” he asked.