AS PART of its winning strategy in next year’s presidential election, the opposition All Progressives Congress, APC, is believed to have conceded its presidential ticket to a northern Moslem. In its wisdom, only a northern Moslem would be able to give incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan a good run in the 2015 presidential race. For this reason, the party’s search for that able hand has been limited to the three geo-political zones of the north. So far, those who are known to have shown interest in the APC presidential ticket include retired General Muhammadu Buhari, former military head of state, Atiku Abubakar, former vice-president, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, current speaker, House of Representatives, Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, incumbent governor of Kano State, and Sam Nda-Isaiah, publisher of Abuja-based Leadership Newspapers. Of the five known aspirants, only Buhari and Abubakar can be said to be formidable. This feeling has renewed the political rivalry between the two. Ahead of the party’s presidential primary election scheduled for later this year, supporters of the two political heavyweights have already hit the road in a bid to upstage their opponents. But supporters of Abubakar seem to have set the stage for the intense political rivalry.
A few days ago, a group under the umbrella of Northern Youth Voters’ Forum, NYVF, made a passionate appeal to Buhari to drop his presidential ambition and support Abubakar. According to the group, Abubakar has the political muscle and capacity to send President Jonathan and the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, packing in next year’s general elections. It said the role Abubakar played to forestall the third-term political ambition of former President Olusegun Obasanjo, singled him out as a man who has the political muscle and capacity to wrest power from the PDP next year. On Sunday, August 4, Idris Ibrahim, national coordinator of the group, told newsmen that only Abubakar had the wherewithal to defeat whoever the PDP would put forward as its presidential candidate in 2015.
Apart from the NYVF, there is another group known as Atiku Abubakar Restore Nigeria, AARN, also rooting for Abubakar’s presidency. Like the NYVF, the group has appealed to Buhari to drop his presidential ambition in favour of Abubakar’s. Oluwasegun Ola-Jones, its national leader, said in a statement in Abuja recently, that the only hope left for the restoration of human dignity and abolition of poverty in Nigeria is for Abubakar to take over from President Jonathan next year. Ola-Jones believes that Abubakar’s emergence as president next year would restore hope to the common man as well as provide jobs for unemployed youths. There is also the The Turaki Vanguard, TTV, led by N’dua Wakado. Like the others, it is also mounting pressure on Buhari to clear the way for Abubakar. Said Wakado: “Abubakar is most suited for the plum job. He is a detribalized, visionary, courageous leader and an unrivalled philanthropist. He deserves the ticket of the party and the exalted seat of the president.”
From all indications, the campaign has failed to dissuade Buhari to drop his presidential ambition going by the reactions of some of his supporters. One of them is Osita Okechukwu, a chieftain of the APC from the South-East. According to Okechukwu, “Buhari has an edge over other eminently qualified presidential aspirants in the party and would be the de-facto candidate of the opposition for the 2015 presidential election.” He may be right. Already, Buhari is said to be working with Bola Ahmed Tinubu, former governor of Lagos State, and a national leader of the APC. Tinubu is believed to be nursing an ambition to be vice-president and to realize that ambition, he prefers to be on Buhari’s joint presidential ticket. If that comes to pass, it would translate into a Muslim-Muslim ticket. Can it work for APC? And can such pairing guarantee Buhari the presidential ticket? Will it go down well with other chieftains of the party? These and other issues are examined in our cover story for this week entitled “Scheming for APC Ticket: Buhari vs Abubakar.” It was ably crafted by Olu Ojewale, general editor.
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— Aug. 18, 2014 @ 01:00 GMT