Since the July 6 arrest, detention and subsequent suspension of the Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu over alleged corruption leveled against him by the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice Abubakar Malami, a new and perhaps invidious political twists have been exposed on the real intentions behind Magu’s travails.
Although Magu has been released on bail, from police custody, on Wednesday, July 15, the permutations over who will succeed Buhari in 2023 appears to have been deeply rooted in the controversy and confusion surrounding Magu’s corruption allegations as power blocs within the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) appear to be jockeying to outwit and outfox one another for the control of the party’s structures.
It is public knowledge that former Lagos State Governor Bola Ahmed Tinubu is nursing the ambition to succeed Buhari as President in 2023 and is said to have amassed massive structures and mobilising support to clinch the ticket of the APC once power shifts to the south. Although the Jagaban of Borgu, recently denied any ambition for 2023, pundits believe the momentary denial was to reduce the alleged suspicion by the Buhari administration said to be uncomfortable with power shift and especially to Tinubu.
Public Affairs analyst, Katch Ononuju told BDSUNDAY at the weekend that the dismantling of Magu over multiple allegations of re-looting recovered assets, insubordination and misconduct leveled against him by Abubakar Malami “is a recalibration of the internal in-fighting of factions in the ruling coalition of the All Progressives Congress (APC) ahead of the 2023 election.”
The public intellectual said that Magu belongs to the Action Congress of Nigeria (A.C.N), the faction of the APC that has former Lagos State Governor, Bola Ahmed Tinubu as its arrowhead. He noted that Magu allowed himself to be used by President Buhari as a recruitment tool of the APC apparently referring to Magu’s alleged aggression against opponents of the Buhari government using the anti-corruption fight to intimidate many people into joining the APC to avoid being investigated.
He added that now that the 2019 elections are over the Congress of Progressive Change (CPC) faction led by President Buhari with Malami as the chief enforcer of their agenda has started to strategise to emasculate any threat within.
Malami is also said to be tackling Magu in order to shield himself from the deluge of corruption allegations leveled against him by Magu, especially on the issue of selling recovered assets particularly crude oil vessels without recourse to the relevant provisions of the 2004 EFCC Act. Therefore, he struck Magu first.
Ononuju also referred to the recent debacle of the former National Chairman of the APC, Adams Oshiomhole, a key member of the ACN faction and how he was made irrelevant, downgraded and humiliated out of office after being used to catapult President Buhari to power for a second term.
Ononuju explained that Oshiomhole provided the Buhari faction with the perfect timing and warned that the Buhari group is sly, adding that in the next six months the most powerful man in the ACN faction, Tinubu, might be dragged to the political guillotine.
“Magu is a Tinubu man and they have to remove him for them to find a part to get at Tinubu. They are going after his (Tinubu’s) people and by the time they are through in the next six months, a lot of things would have taken care of themselves.
“The new EFCC chairman will be given instruction on what to do,” Ononuju said, stressing that Malami and his group would have succeeded in emasculating their opponents in the coming months.
Oshiomhole is particularly in deeper trouble as the new Acting chairman of the EFCC, Mohammed Umar is said to have received instructions from the Presidency to investigate the former APC national chairman as documents linking him to massive corruption were found in Magu’s house when it was searched by security agents.
When asked about the alleged desperation of the Buhari government to destroy any opposition from within and without, Ononuju said that Buhari is planning to protect alleged ‘Fulani-centric’ policies and programmes that he had implemented in the last five years and is afraid that power shift to the South will reverse his legacies.
“The only way to save these legacies is to put a pro-Fulani candidate as the President in 2023. But it looks like a very difficult business knowing full well that the north by 2023 would have done eight years and if they try to force it, the APC dies as an alliance,’’ he warned.
Contributing, the President of the Middle Belt Forum, Pogu Bitrus, did not share the idea about Magu’s connection to Tinubu, even though he agreed that Magu has been a pawn in the chess game being played by the Buhari administration.
He however, said that with regards to 2023, he has no doubts that President Buhari would want somebody of his type to take over from him whether the person is from the north or from the south, adding that Buhari will not give power to somebody outside of his own circle.
He expressed concern that Buhari may not sign the amended Electoral bill into law and will retain the current electoral system as he did before the 2019 election so that he can do whatever he wants to do in 2023.
“The issue is the way the country is constituted. The way the electoral system is constituted the President can install whoever he wants with the electoral law in operation with the kind of INEC that we have. Unless votes are transmitted electronically by changing the electoral law, there is nothing we can do about it. Buhari will install whoever he wants using the system on ground.
“So, even if Tinubu contests and Buhari does not want him, they will use this electoral law to shift power to who they want,” he said.
Bitrus further said that the clamour for power shift to the south is in order in a diverse society like Nigeria, but warned that Buhari and his men have the machinery to stop any body they don’t want.
“The political parties have an unwritten constitution that power should rotate between the north and south, I know that of the PDP, and I believe the APC has something similar, especially as power has stayed in the north now for eight years and is supposed to shift to the south.
“However, unless the electoral system changes these same people in APC could field a northerner on PDP platform and they will all shift to PDP and even if you give Tinubu the APC ticket he will go nowhere,” he said.