Despite the intervention of President Muhammadu Buhari, the All Progressives Congress (APC) governors have returned to the trenches in their bid to unseat the National Chairman, Mr. Adams Oshiomhole, zeroing in on the former governor of Zamfara State, Alhaji Abdulaziz Yari, as his replacement.
THISDAY learnt last night that about 10 of the party's 17 governors have resolved to deepen their push against the national chairman, who has been under intense pressure to stand down over sundry accusations, including his style of leadership, which his traducers claim has left the APC more divided than ever.
Pressure from the governors had forced Oshiomhole to summon the meeting of the National Executive Committee three weeks ago, having not been held since August last year contrary to the provision of the party's constitution, which mandates a quarterly meeting.
Preceding the NEC meeting was the National Caucus, where the president was said to have provided the national chairman with a lifeline, requesting all the combatants to sheath their swords and recommended that a reconciliation committee be set up to douse the raging inferno he warned could consume the party.
But at the NEC meeting, Oshiomhole's opponents still drew blood. He was, however, saved by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr. Boss Mustapha, who called the attention of the meeting to Buhari's proposal for reconciliation and pleaded that the process be allowed to run its course.
The president's thinking, according to THISDAY's sources at the meetings, was that the national chairman should be given another chance to retrace his steps by reconciling with aggrieved leading members, including in the party's National Vice Chairman (North-west), Alhaji Inuwa Abdulkadir, who had been suspended by his Sokoto State branch; Governors Rotimi Akeredolu and Godwin Obaseki as well as former governors Rochas Okorocha and Ibikunle Amosun.
Buhari was also said to believe that fences could still be mended between Oshiomhole and his Edo State Governor, Obaseki.
But weeks after the lifeline NEC meeting, the president has been slow in setting up the reconciliation committee, a development, THISDAY gathered, has displeased the national chairman's traducers, who have now returned to the trenches.
THISDAY gathered that the antagonistic governors led by the Progressive Governors' Forum, Alhaji Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi State were sharpening their strategy for the ousting of Oshiomhole. With him in trench, it was learnt, are Dr. Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti), Malam Nasir el-Rufai (Kaduna), Alhaji Ibrahim Badaru (Jigawa), Mai Mala Buni (Yobe), Alhaji Inuwa Yahaya (Gombe), Alhaji Abdullahi Sule (Nasarawa), Alhaji Abdulrahman Abdulrazak (Kwara), Mr. Simon Lalong (Plateau) and Obaseki.
Behind Oshiomhole are governors Babajide Sanwo-Olu (Lagos), Dapo Abiodun (Ogun), Gboyega Oyetola (Osun) and Babagana Zulum (Borno).
Those on the fence, preaching peace, THISDAY learnt, are Alhaji Bello Masari (Katsina), Alhaji Abdullahi Ganduje (Kano) and Akeredolu, who were said to have abstained from a recent meeting of the governors called to discuss the issue.
However, a member of the National Working Committee (NWC) told THISDAY last night that there was no cause for alarm as he was certain that the national chairman would survive the plot.
"It is true that some of the governors have issues with the national chairman, but they have an uphill task achieving their objective of removing him," he said, adding: "They don't have the numbers."
According to him, "Let them get a majority among themselves first. Then we shall see if they get the required number at the NEC. I doubt if they can."
His confidence apparently derives from the support Oshiomhole enjoys from the state chairmen of the party, who dominate the critical NEC. With majority of this caucus coming from non-APC states that are immune from the influence of APC governors, the source thinks, all the national chairman needs is the continued support of the National Leader, Senator Bola Tinubu, who is believed to be playing behind-the-scene to achieve reconciliation and maintain the status quo.
The source also doubts the viability of the opposing governors' strategy of proposing Yari as replacement, saying although the party has no zoning policy, practical politics dictates that the president and the national chairman could not possibly come from the North, talk less of the same North-west.