By Ohia Israel
As the Contest for the 2015 Presidential Election begins, the All Progressive Congress is gearing up for its party primaries which will bring out its flag bearer for the 2015 General election. There has been rancour, intense horse trading and power play going among the top aspirants.
As gathered by this paper, just as Atiku has said that he will declare on the 24th of this month, General Buhari is also gathered set to declare his presidential ambition. An associate of General Buhari, and former National Publicity Secretary of the defunct CPC, Rotimi Fashakin, who confirmed this to a National Daily not DESERTHERALD, Buhari was going to announce his decision to contest “very soon,” adding that the Buhari camp was confident that he is going to get the party’s nod to fly the party’s flag.
According to him, it would be a disservice for the APC if Buhari does not get the ticket. Fashakin said “General Buhari is the only living Nigerian who poses the greatest threat to President Jonathan’s ambition to rule Nigeria beyond 2015.
“As they say, the biggest masquerade is the one that comes out last. When he comes out even the smaller masquerades that have been out will move and watch what the bigger masquerade does.”
He also dismissed insinuations that the demand by some members of the party for a generational shift would adversely affect Buhari’s chances.
Fashakin said “We are going to have the South African model where Mandela came, rescued his nation from the oppressive apartheid rule.
“He did four years and left the scene for younger people. That is exactly what General Buhari is going to do.
“He will do four years and set the nation on the path of irreversible progress and then leave the scene for the younger generation. I say this without fear of equivocation. The younger people still have a chance.”
However, as the race to the 2015 Presidential election gathers momentum, General Buhari is said to be in fixed situation, as the odds may not favour him to win the party’s sole ticket for the APC primary election. The APC through its National Publicity Secretary, Lai Mohammed, recently declared the party’s modified delegate system to its National Convention for the election of the Presidential candidate. In the modified direct system, about 300,000 party members will participate at the convention to elect the Presidential candidate for the 2015 election.
The political machination of the APC seemingly revolves around four components of internal power blocs in the party having their nucleus from the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), APC Governors and the defected PDP members. Findings by this paper revealed that the defected PDP Governors have been assimilated into the APC Governors Forum that has become the knob of high degree of horse trading in the party.
It was also gathered from credible source within the party hierarchy, that Kano Governor, Rabi’u Musa Kwankwaso, has subtly permeated the party leaders in the South, a phenomenon, our source said, is altering the political dynamics of the APC into building a neo internal dominant alliance towards 2015. The emerging internal alliance was revealed to have begun to relegate Muhammadu Buhari, one of the national leaders of the APC, to secondary relevance in the race for the party’s presidential ticket. This was said to be the remote cause of the clash between supporters of Buhari and Kwankwaso a fortnight ago in Kano. Apparently, the power tussle is beginning to cause latent ripples as the APC prepares for its primaries between October and December. Meanwhile, it may be apposite at this juncture to highlight the spotlight on the APC Presidential aspirants.
As it is generally, Buhari wields enormous influence on the streets of most states in the North and has been influential in the APC. He has maintained very close relationship with Tinubu since the formation of APC, a relationship that gave the duo advantage in determining the national leadership of the party. The accelerated horse trading for the Presidential ticket of the party appears to be creating tentative gulf between the duo, particularly since it became clear that Buhari/Tinubu joint ticket is no longer tenable.
Even as Buhari known to be widely respected based on ethics and morality across the country appears to have a political deficit of financial capacity to fund electioneering campaigns, he is generally seen to have high political capital on popular support from the grassroots and consistently won the ticket of his party since 2003 but is seemingly disconnect with the ruling elite in the country. The former head of state demystified Rochas Okorocha’s power calculus in 2003 to pick the Presidential ticket of the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) in 2003 and thereafter, picked late Dr. Chuba Okadigbo, former Senate President, as his running mate. He left ANPP to form the CPC, creating a new platform for his presidential ambition, when the ANPP leadership disagreed with him on challenging the 2007 presidential election in court.
Meanwhile, Hon. Alhaji Kawu Sumaila, a lawmaker representing Takai Federal Constituency of Kano State, has said the All Progressives Congress (APC) would collapse if former Head of State, General Muhammadu Buhari, is not allowed to run as the presidential candidate of the party in 2015.
Sumaila, who spoke with newsmen in Kaduna, noted that attempt to bring any other member of the party to run for the presidency would spell doom for the party even at all levels of governance.
He said: “I am taking this position because I know that Buhari is tested and trusted, and so, I believe that only him can salvage the APC in 2015, and any attempt to field any other person may kill the party.
“By the special grace of God, APC will bring the positive change Nigerians are yearning for. I am calling on every member of the party to cooperate with our leader, Buhari, to contest and win the election.”
Meanwhile, a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Alhaji Umaru Dembo, has disclosed that General Buhari would soon make a public declaration to contest the 2015 presidential election.
Speaking recently during the inauguration of Hon. Isa Ashiru Campaign Team for Kaduna State gubernatorial seat under APC, the former minister said Buhari would make his intention known as soon as he returns from overseas trip.
“There have been speculations that Buhari will anoint Governor Rabiu Kwankwaso of Kano State as a preferred presidential candidate because he will not contest himself, having vied for the presidency on three previous elections.
As signal of the opposition that former Head of State, Alhaji Muhammadu Buhaari, is currently facing within the All Progressives Congress (APC), posters announcing his 2015 presidential bid, which were earlier pasted on walls and other strategic places in the ancient city of Kano, have been removed by unknown people.
It was also gathered that series of underground meetings were being held on how to convince General Buhari to step down and endorse one aspirant among Atiku, Tambuwal and Kwankwaso.
According to a source; “If he is adamant on contesting the presidential primary, the members will let him do so, but they may work against him at the APC presidential primary.
“In the end, Buhari may resolve to pull out of the APC and to contest the presidential election on the platform of another party, as he did during the 2011 presidential election build-up, when he pulled out from the defunct All Nigeria People’s Party (ANPP) and hurriedly formed the defunct Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) after being tactically edged out by the former presidential candidate of the defunct ANPP, Mallam Ibrahim Shekarau.
“A political Pandora’s Box will unfold from this month, but take it or leave it, Buhari will not get the ticket of the APC for the 2015 presidential election, and this will probably force his exit from the party.”
This, the source said, might cause crisis within the party and lead to mass exodus of highly notable members of the party and eventually affect the chance of the party at the polls.
This, he said, could pave the way for an easy ride by President Goodluck Jonathan in his effort to secure a second term of office.
However, Online News Website, TheCable reports that Rivers Governor Rotimi Amaechi is highly disposed to supporting Gen. Muhammadu Buhari in the presidential primary of the All Progressives Congress (APC), his political allies said.
APC’s flag bearer is expected to come from the north when the primary holds later in the year. Former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar and Kano Governor Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso are also thought to be interested in the ticket. Sources told TheCable that Amaechi is “very disposed” to Buhari’s candidature and will roll out his machinery to back the former military head of state who unsuccessfully ran in the 2003, 2007 and 2011 presidential elections.
“Amaechi said at a meeting with his political allies recently that even though APC has very good presidential materials, Buhari stands out. Electorally, he can deliver northern votes and get a significant number from the south. “More importantly, he thinks Buhari is the only candidate who can fight corruption in Nigeria because he has nothing to lose.
A lot of people need to be jailed to stop this impunity, and he believes Buhari will not go about setting up committees to achieve simple tasks. “He did not rule out supporting any other aspirant, but Buhari will be his first choice,” one of his associates told TheCable. Amaechi’s support is considered “vital” in the party because of his logistics capability.
Fears had been raised by Buhari’s supporters about the adoption of direct primary to pick the APC presidential candidate because of the enormous logistics needed to mobilise party members nationwide. Under the preferred method, party members will vote in their respective states rather than converge on a venue as it is done with delegates’ election. Amaechi’s support will go a long way in helping Buhari who is considered to be short in the finer details of winning a competitive party’s primary.
“He has nothing but absolute respect for Buhari who has proved to be honest, courageous and committed to the development of Nigeria. He will do everything necessary to help the general emerge as the candidate of the party,” the source said.
Amaechi was one of the governors who defected from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) last year after a crisis in the party. Although he supported President Goodluck Jonathan in 2011, their relationship deteriorated, leading to a public spat. Amaechi’s media aide, David Iyofor, neither confirmed nor denied the story that Amaechi will support Buhari. “The primary is still far away. It is too early to be talking about commitments. We will cross the bridge when we get there.”
Meanwhile, founding National Chairman of the defunct Congress for Progressive Change, Senator Rufai Hanga, has said the chances of a former head of State, Maj. Gen Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), flying the flag of the All Progressives Congress in 2015 are slim.
Hanga in an interview with reporters in Abuja recently said that intrigues within the opposition party were likely to frustrate the presidential ambition of Buhari, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar as well as Kano State governor, Rabiu Kwankwaso.
Hanga, who was removed from the CPC’s leadership in controversial circumstances, said his investigations currently revealed that Buhari appeared to be losing ground to Kwankwaso in the North West.
He said, “I can tell you that Buhari did not move to APC with the genuine CPC structure. All that CPC structure is with us and we went with it into the PYM.
“And that is why when we decided to put a stop to our relationship with the PDM, more than 15, 000 members brought back their membership cards and dumped the party.
“Unfortunately, I am not happy about it, but that is why Buhari is in deep trouble because he did not move to the APC with the real CPC structure. It is a naked fact that Buhari is greatly disadvantaged and no matter what anybody says, he will not win under a free and fair primary.”