More details are emerging on the plot to install an undemocratic Interim National Government (ING) and pre-empt Nigeria’s presidential election scheduled for later this month.
Informed sources disclosed over the weekend that a key element in the plot is the need to forestall a Buhari presidency, for which reason the schemers of the plot have tried to woo the former Lagos State Governor, Bola Tinubu, now a chieftain of the opposing All Progressives Congress (APC) with the offer of being the Vice President in the interim structure.
Even though there are now major obstacles to the plan, it is yet unclear if the schemers have completely set the idea aside.
If Tinubu accepts, then he will be expected to rally the South-West, while IBB would rally the North, and Jonathan the South-East and South-South to accept the idea of an interim administration. They will use the excuse that the present times are not good to hold elections in the country, especially because of what David Mark had already called a state of war with Boko Haram.
But it was Tinubu’s rejection of any form of compromise that now appears to be the greatest obstacle to the ING plot. Sources say this explains the recent outburst of Femi Fani-Kayode, the Goodluck Jonathan Campaign spokesperson alleging that the former Lagos State Governor intends to take over presidential power after the generally-awaited victory of the Buhari-Osinbajo campaign at the polls.
Fani-Kayode wildly alleged that Tinubu has entered into an oath to compel Osinbajo to relinquish the office of VP to him after the election, an allegation and scenario that watchers of the Nigerian polity simply dismiss as both untenable and unrealistic.
Investigations spanning over one week by Empowered Newswire on the interim government plot revealed that the two major schemers in the plot are the President himself, Dr. Jonathan, and former Military president Ibrahim Babangida.
IBB, as he is popularly known, has told close aides that he would have to leave Nigeria the day Buhari is declared winner of the presidential election, a prospect he is working hard to avoid by all means. Jonathan is also said to be under intense pressure to negotiate a soft landing for from power since handing over to Buhari would likely expose the intense corruption that he and the Petroleum Minister Diezani Maduekwe, among others, have perpetrated.
In fact the oil minister is said to be one of the hardest protagonists of a soft landing for the Jonathan presidency, mortally afraid of what a Buhari-Osinbajo ascendancy could mean for her.
Knowledgeable Empowered Newswire sources confirm that IBB held two meetings with Tinubu to discuss the issue of the Interim National Government. The first was held in Lagos before the Council of State meeting the week before the February 14 elections were postponed. The second took place in Abuja home of IBB’s son on the night of the said Council of State meeting.
The sources said that for the first meeting, IBB told Tinubu he had a wedding in Lagos and would like to use that opportunity to greet the former Lagos State Governor. Arriving with his son, he told Tinubu about the need to proceed with an interim government and forget about the election. Tinubu, who was shocked at the proposition, reportedly told IBB to forget the idea.
But on the night after the Council of State meeting in Abuja which considered the subject of the readiness of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to conduct the election, IBB again invited Tinubu to his son’s house in Abuja. At that meeting, former Head of State General Abdusalami was also present, and to the utter shock and annoyance of the former Lagos State Governor, President Jonathan showed up in a two-car convoy in the thick of the night.
It was at that meeting that IBB and Jonathan promised Tinubu the slot of the Vice President in the Interim government. The sources say Tinubu promptly repeated his rejection of the idea, insisting that the elections are the best and only viable option to choose Nigeria’s next president and vice president.
The interim government plan includes the cancellation of the elections and the imposition of a well-known Northerner as the head of the administration, with Tinubu as VP. The interim government will be put in place for two years, following which new elections would be conducted, with the definite exclusion of Buhari.
Another source revealed to Empowered Newswire that some of the names that have been mentioned as possible heads of the interim government include David Mark, the president of the Senate; General Aliyu Gusau, the current Defence Minister who has always wished to be president “even if for a day”; and Abdusalami Abubakar, also a former head of state.
All three are known allies of IBB. But the name of former president Olusegun Obasanjo was also thrown into the picture when a formal statement from the presidency signed by Dr. Ruben Abati said Obasanjo himself wanted to be head of the Interim govt.
Observers say that formal statement by the president’s spokesperson is the best confirmation that indeed interim governmentG plot is real. Said one source, “If the presidency is saying they know that Obasanjo wanted to be the head of the Interim government, that means the presidency is not only aware of such plans, but is also involved in such a plot.”
There had been previous attempts including monetary and other juicy offers to get Tinubu to prevent the emergence of Buhari in the primaries, and after that, to have Tinubu dump Buhari and enter into a deal with Jonathan to frustrate the potential emergence of Buhari as winner of the presidential polls.
Sources believe that the recent wild allegation from the Jonathan camp that Tinubu was planning to force Osinbajo to relinquish the office of VP after being sworn-in is merely an outcome of the frustration generated first by Tinubu’s insistence that the elections must go on; his rejection of the offer from Jonathan to be VP of an Interim government for two years; and finally his insistence never to dump Buhari.
It is believed that Prof Osinbajo, Buhari’s running mate, has actually never been asked to sign any undertaking or oath of any kind and that he accepted the party and Buhari’s offer to be VP unconditionally. Both he and the APC also over the weekend formally denied any such arrangements.
In the absence of a key figure in the South-West to support and sell the idea of an Interim government, sources said options left on the table is to ensure the elections are “decently rigged” in favor of Jonathan or a crisis precipitated that will lead to Jonathan handing over power to David Mark as the Senate President, as was the case in the First Republic when power devolved to Senator Nwafor Orizu in the absence of the then President Nnamdi Azikiwe. In that scenario, in 1966, the elected civilian leaders had to voluntarily hand over power to the military.
Speculations, backed by a comment by the Supervising Minister of Information Edem Duke, are rife that the INEC chairman, Professor Attahiru Jega, may be asked to proceed on terminal leave sometime this month in line with civil service rules. This option, sources say, would boost the plan to “decently rig the election” in the incumbent president’s favor.
But several legal opinions have been articulated that not only will such a move by the federal government to remove Jega be unconstitutional, it would also rubbish the credibility of the entire electoral process and will result in a definite tailspin into national and international crisis.