The Presidency was, yesterday, mute as verbal warfare broke out between the leadership of the All Progressives Congress, APC and Professor Itse Sagay, one of the key aides directing President Muhammadu Buhari's anti-corruption fight.
In attacking Prof. Sagay, who the National Working Committee, NWC, of the APC described as a 'rogue elephant', the party also warned all appointees of President Buhari to show respect and decorum to the party which won the victory that made them occupy the offices they hold.
While normal Presidency sources kept mum on the issue, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, described the in-fighting in the APC as a manifestation of the lack of common ideology by its adherents who were only joined by a desperation to take power without having a programme for the country.
Former Minister of Special Duties in the Goodluck Jonathan administration, Kabiru Taminu, said: "No comment, na dem dem."
The assertion by the APC NWC was, however, countered by the party's Deputy National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Timi Frank, who said he agreed with Sagay in his claims that the party was weak, saying if it were not so, Sagay, an appointee of the government would not have had the guts to criticise the party and its agents in government.
The party in a strongly worded statement issued by the National Publicity Secretary, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi, castigated Sagay as a 'rogue elephant' determined to wreak maximum havoc on the party, insisting that he had nothing constructive to offer the President and the nation.
What Sagay said
The attack on Sagay, chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption, PACAC, followed assertions by Sagay in a national newspaper, last weekend, in which he dismissed the APC leadership as lily-livered, weak and incompetent.
Sagay had said: "As for the leadership of the APC, I think they are the most unprincipled group of people. They are lily-livered, weak, and cannot run any organisation.
"The whole party is collapsing under them. They cannot control anybody. Because they cannot control anybody, they're now, in fact, encouraging and accepting 'rogues.' When I say rogues, I don't mean stealing. In literature, when you say someone is a rogue elephant, it means people who are running riot and destroying the party.
APC fires back
Responding yesterday, the APC said: "The Webster dictionary defines 'rogue elephant' as "one whose behaviour resembles that of a rogue elephant in being aberrant or independent.
"Clearly, if we have today, anyone in our government or, by extension, the party who feels accountable only to his own ego; who does not feel the need to bridle his tongue for the sake of anything that is higher than himself; who feels independent of everyone and every institution; that person is Professor Sagay."
Continuing, the party said: "Asked by the interviewer if he would stop speaking if the President asks him to stop speaking, he said: "Yes, he is my employer. If he tells me to stop talking, I'll stop talking. But I have certain rights too that I can exercise in addition to that because I'm not going to be in a position where I am impotent. So, I must obey him, but I can go beyond that and obey myself too. That's it."
"Framed in another way, what Sagay is saying here is that, no matter what is at stake, he would rather resign than obey the President if the President tries to restrain him. This is the quintessential rogue elephant behaviour.
"In his sheer arrogance, he forgets that it is impossible for him to call out the leadership of the party as "weak" and "unprincipled" without indicting the President, who is the leader of the party and has the fundamental responsibility to build the party.
"If Sagay had any iota of respect for the man who dug him back from inevitable oblivion and put him in a position in which he now feels superior to everyone, he would channel his opinions and advice to the President on how to make the party stronger and more principled. It appears, however, that Sagay does not have anything constructive to say about anything. He only knows how to tear down and assault everyone and everything.
"We want to remind Sagay and all other appointees of our government that the only reason they occupy their current position today is because the APC won the election. "There is, therefore, a matter of honour to show decorum and respect for the party and its leadership. You cannot love the fruit and hate the tree that produced it."
Sagay who has had a stormy relationship with political allies of the President, including the National Assembly, was, yesterday, unavailable to react to the latest salvo from APC.
While normally reliable Presidency officials excused themselves from speaking on the matter, the PDP was not shy on the issue.
It shows total confusion in APC -- PDP
PDP spokesman, Prince Dayo Adeyeye, while affirming a confusion in the ruling party and government, said: "This shows total confusion in the party, both in its officials and appointees in government. The government is in disarray, the party is in disarray, there is no common position between the party and the government and that is why nothing seems to be moving in the country.
"That is why their run has been that of dismal failure; whether in the area of the economy or any other sector. That is what happens when a party comes to power without a clear agenda, without a genuine interest in the affairs of the people.
"The APC desperately came to power just to take power for the sake of it, not to do anything and what is manifesting now is total confusion; because if there was a programme, all of them could have seen where they were headed. That is why everyone has his own different approach to issues.
"All these things are happening at the expense of the development and even the unity of the country which is unfortunate. The APC enlisted the likes of Itse Sagay because of his capacity for rabble rousing just to attack PDP. I see more of these coming ahead of 2019."
APC's Timi Frank backs Sagay
On his part, Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the APC, Comrade Timi Frank, said Sagay's position on the state of the party cannot be faulted.
"For me, I think Professor Itse Sagay said the truth. For the first time, I agree with him. He has spoken the truth. Whatever he has said, he is not the first person to say it. If the party is not weak, Sagay won't have the guts to harass it but the chairman, Oyegun, is weak.
"This is the party that kept quiet when Sagay was harassing the National Assembly and the number three man, the Senate President, they kept quiet. The party didn't sanction him. Sagay is 100 per cent correct. If the party under Oyegun is not weak, why have they not held a convention and other meetings? Oyegun should take a bow and stop reacting. He has not been able to resolve any crisis even in the state chapters. For me, I commend Prof. Sagay for his position on this particular issue even though I have not always agreed with him on many other issues in the past."