The conspicuous absence of the National Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and former Lagos State Governor, Bola Tinubu, at the one-day working visit of President Muhammadu Buhari to commission various projects in Lagos State is deepening the conflict between the camps of both political actors ahead of 2023.
SaharaReporters learnt that the Presidency, against its usual custom, did not extend an invitation to Tinubu ahead of the visit which should make him feel welcome at the ceremony.
The camp of the APC leader felt embarrassed by the Presidency’s action.
Top sources also revealed that Tinubu did not feel comfortable to stay in Lagos during the Presidential visit in order to hide the growing battle between the two from public glare and he instead decided to embark on a journey.
A political analyst, who is also versed on happenings in the Presidency, Farooq Kperogi, said on his Twitter page on Sunday, “I learned a while ago that Aso Rock didn’t formally invite Tinubu to Buhari’s official functions in Lagos. So, Tinubu jetted off to God knows where (someone said London) to escape public humiliation.
“Appearing there without being invited could cause humiliation and being in Lagos but absent from Buhari’s commissioning ceremonies would make it obvious that there’s hell in APC paradise. What to do? Run out of town.
“Recall that Buhari said during his recent interview that Tinubu couldn’t dictate APC’s zoning from Lagos. This is getting more and more interesting.”
On Thursday night, the President's spokesman, Garba Shehu, had tried to downplay the obvious rift between the two leaders and their camps, saying the interview the President granted to Arise Interview where he mentioned Lagos was not in reference to Buhari.
“You cannot sit there in Lagos, for instance, and decide on the fate of APC on zoning,” Buhari had said while responding to a question during the interview.
“The hope of this administration is to see APC last beyond it. Therefore we should allow the party to decide. The restructuring of the party has begun from the bottom to the top with the membership card registration. Every member of the party must be involved. We will soon conduct our convention. No single member of the party will be allowed to go against the wish of the party.”
Shehu had maintained that there was no rift between the two leaders and the reference to Lagos was not about Tinubu.
“But that is not true. Tinubu’s camp is already all over the South-west drumming support for Jagaban. Buhari’s statement has only created a wider gulf. Even people who are politically naïve know that the number one APC figure in Lagos is not Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu but the leader, Bola Tinubu.
“His not being invited to the commissioning of the 157 kilometres Lagos-Ibadan standard gauge railway for commercial operations at the Mobolaji Johnson Station in Ebute Metta and the Integrated National Security and Waterways Protection Infrastructure in Nigeria (also called the Deep Blue Project) at the ENL Terminal, Apapa Port smells of a deep rift between Buhari and Tinubu as well as their camps,” one of the top sources stated.
The last time Tinubu and Buhari met briefly at the Aso Villa was after the deaths of Lt Gen Ibrahim Attahiru, and some military personnel in an air crash.