Sunday, 23 February 2014

APC Presidential Ticket: Atiku, Buhari, Others Go Head-to-Head

Politicians who hoped to clinch the party’s tickets had begun to lobby and reach out to various interests in the party. Prominent among such aspirants


are: former military Head of State, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (retd.); former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar; Governor of Kano State, Rabiu Kwankwaso; and Publisher of Leadership newspaper, Sam Nda-Isaiah.
Some interest groups are also pushing for Nuhu Ribadu or the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal, to contest.

As this jockeying gathers steam, the party hierarchy is weighing the strengths and weaknesses of each of them while it’s considering president/vice-presidential pairing options.
According to PUNCH, the battle for the presidential ticket intensified following the recent release of the 2015 general elections timetable by the INEC. While the party has said it is leaving all positions open to members from all the country’s geopolitical zones, the latest political manoeuvrings within the party indicate that the APC presidential candidate may emerge from the North while the vice-presidential candidate may come from the South-West, South-South or South-East.

Those linked with the vice-presidential race in the party are Lagos State Governor, Babatunde Fashola; Ekiti Governor, Kayode Fayemi; Rivers Governor, Rotimi Amaechi; Edo Governor, Adams Oshiomhole; and Imo Governor, Rochas Okorocha.

Below is how the candidates stand…

Buhari is known to have a large number of supporters and a cult following among the northern Muslim population. He got about 12 million votes in the 2011 presidential election. However, he has been unable to enjoy similar popularity among northern Christians and the generality of voters in the South-West, South-East and South-South.

A senior APC member, told Punch that Buhari might be difficult to sell to the party members. The party would only consider a Buhari candidature if he had a Christian running mate.

“Christians in the North won’t vote for Buhari and you can also add regions where he is not very popular, like the South. A Christian deputy may solve this problem but it may still not get APC the votes of northern Christians which are a significant number,” he said.

Buhari has not said he will contest in 2015, there has been speculations that he might. Speaking on Friday, his spokesman, Rotimi Fashakin, said the former Head of State is still in the race unless the party say no.
Fashakin believes that Buhari is one of the few Nigerians that could beat Jonathan on APC platform in the 2015 presidential election.

He said, “We’ve always told all who cared to listen that at this time of our country’s evolution, where looting and plundering of the nation’s resources by Peoples Democratic Party has reached a crescendo under this administration, a Buhari administration is imperative in this country.”

Analysts say what Atiku has in his favour is the huge campaign war chest that is said to be at his disposal. He is currently seen as one of the richest members of the APC. However, Atiku, who joined the party barely two weeks ago, is widely viewed as incapable of delivering the number of Northern votes Buhari could deliver.
Anyway, Atiku has said he did not join APC because of his ambition to be President.

Kwankwaso is a known Buhari loyalist and has many followers in Kano, one of the most populous states in the country. He may emerge as a dark horse going by the permutations in the APC. Those in the know say Kano governor could be adopted by the party’s power brokers if Buhari drops his ambition to contest.

“Many in APC believe that Kwankwaso is a better sell than Buhari, especially to northern Christians and southerners. He is getting more popular and he is not resented in the South. He may not be as popular as Buhari and Atiku but if these two men support him, together with a strong deputy who is a Christian, they will make a good combination,” the source said.

Nda-Isaiah is a Christian from Niger State and reportedly has the support of the rich former Chief of Army Staff, Gen. Theophilus Danjuma (retd.), and some other bigwigs in the North. Danjuma’s reported support for him is a big boost because Danjuma is a very successful businessman. Nda-Isaiah is also seen as an aspirant who may win considerable number of votes in the Middle-Belt region. Already he is moving around different parts of the country and holding meetings with groups to actualise his ambition.

Though famous due to his role as the pioneer Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, the last election showed that Ribadu may not be able to bring sufficient votes to the table.
The very reliable source said, “He won’t get sufficient votes in the North. He is even more popular in the South than in the North. The alternative will be to make him a vice-presidential candidate but the presidential ticket would most likely go to the North.”

For Tambuwal, though he is still a member of the PDP, barring last-minute changes, he is expected to defect to the APC before 2015. But just like Ribadu, the Speaker of the House of Reps is not seen as a candidate that can attract the votes that Buhari will attract in the North.

Of all the prospects for the vice-presidential slot, Governor Fayemi off Ekiti State is seen as favourite because he is the only Christian among the prospects from the South-West.
Party leaders are also said to be reluctant to support a Buhari/Tinubu ticket or Kwankwaso/Fashola ticket because both Tinubu and Fashola are Muslims just like Buhari and Kwankwaso.

Amaechi and Oshiomhole come from the South-South geopolitical zone, the political stronghold of President Goodluck Jonathan, who is expected to be the PDP candidate in February 14, 2015 presidential election.

Sources say APC may adopt the MKO Abiola “method” in order to win the presidential election in 2015.
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