By Olalekan Bilesanmi
The National Assembly and the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) appear to have emerged as the new battlegrounds for high profile politicians jostling for the 2019 presidential contest.
The politicians bid, Sunday Vanguard learnt, is predicated on the assumption that President Muhammadu Buhari, on account of age (he is 72), may not run for second term at the next general elections.
Sources at the weekend linked the politicians ambition to the National Assembly leadership crisis.
The National Assembly came into the calculations because in the absence of a sitting President who is interested in seeking re-election and a Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, who is a technocrat, leaders of the National Assembly are in vantage position to use their offices to mobilize support and gain political visibility.
The politicians, including governors, it was learnt, were, therefore, wary of allowing senators and Representatives with vast experience, huge resources, wide network and political visibility to emerge as Senate President, Speaker or occupy other principal offices.
Yusuf Dogara, House of Reps speaker and Bukola Saraki, Senate President
The attacks launched by a North-West governor on the Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, and Mr. Yakubu Dogara, Speaker of the House of Representatives, are believed to be tied to the 2019 presidential race.
Analysts say the governor’s fear is that Saraki and Dogara, who are both northerners, may use their offices to traverse the country and build political network that may encourage them to seek the office of the President in 2019.
The governor is said to be using his closeness to Buhari to unsettle the political system, including the sharp division he allegedly caused in the NGF and the Northern Governors Forum.
Apart from staying away from the meetings of the NGF, sources said he has also refused to recognise the group’s leadership of Governor Abdulaziz Yari Abubakar of Zamfara State. In the same way, it was gathered that he has made it known that he has nothing to do with the Northern Governors Forum led by the Governor of Borno State, Alhaji Kashim Shettima.
Instead, the particular governor has reportedly encouraged the emergence of a group made up of himself and his counterparts in Katsina and Nasarawa States, Aminu Bello Masari and Umaru Tanko Al-Makura respectively. The trio are said to have labelled themselves as Buhari’s favourite governors.
Meanwhile, sources said the governor has been openly boasting that he has Buhari’s word to help him with his presidential ambition in 2019.