2015: How APC Presidential Candidate Will Emerge; Buhari’s Camp Insist on Automatic Ticket
APC May settle for a consensus candidate
The opposition All Peoples Congress (APC) is in the process of taking a decision that would serve as a litmus-test for its quest to wrest power from the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in next year’s presidential poll. In a matter of weeks the party would decide on who would fly its presidential flag in the 2015 elections.
Expectedly several contenders have begun to declare their ambition to contest for the big prize. Given the controversial fall-out of the election of the opposition party’s leaders recently, with its attendant recriminations that saw some aggrieved chieftains jumping ship to the ruling PDP, not a few Nigerians are watching with keen interest to see how the APC would choose its presidential flag bearer. This is because many political observers are of the belief that the process and choice of who emerges as the APC presidential candidate would definitely determine the party’s future.
How APC presidential candidate will emerge
Though the party’s Constitution specifically state that the presidential candidate shall emerge through direct or indirect primary election, the APC NEC has, adopted indirect primary. This much was confirmed by APC’s National Organizing Secretary, Senator Osita Izunaso. Unlike the direct primary where every card carrying member of the party will determine the candidates, the statutory and elected ad-hoc delegates will choose the party’s candidates at all levels, including ward, local governments, state and national level.
Izunaso disclosed that the primary election would begin with the State House of Assembly election, adding that the primary election which would produce the APC presidential candidate would be the last exercise in either late November or early December this year.
He expressed hope that the indirect primary option would not create any crisis in as much as the exercise was conducted in a free and fair manner, stressing that if the process was real, realistic, and fair, everybody would be happy.
“The APC presidential primary as well as other primary elections of our party will be by indirect primaries; delegates primaries. The party has toyed with the idea of direct and indirect. In the last NEC meeting, we decided on indirect. This means that the delegates will be drawn from across the federation in line with the Constitution of our party that stipulates delegates to National Convention.
“We have chosen the methodology. We have also chosen the dates. We are going to have our Special Ad-hoc Congress to elect ad-hoc delegates to the Congresses and National Convention by first week of October. Our primaries will begin in November and end by first week of December. It has been worked out and we are going to publish it so that we will know the delegates. So, we are set for the primaries of 2015 general elections,” he said.
The APC National Organising Secretary stressed that the delegates who would elect the Party’s presidential flag bearer would be determined by the provision of Article 12 of the Party’s Constitution.
Article 12 of the APC Constitution, which focuses on the composition of party organs, states that the delegates to the national convention, where the presidential candidate will be elected, include members of the Board of Trustees; national chairman and all members of the NEC; serving and past Presidents and Vice Presidents who are members of the Party; serving and past Governors and Deputy Governors of States who are members of the Party; serving and past members of the National Assembly and Speakers and Deputy Speakers and Leaders of State Assemblies who are members of the Party; members of the State Working Committee (including that of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja) of the Party; all Party Chairmen and Secretaries of the Local Government Areas; all Local Government Area Council Chairmen who are members of the Party; as well as three elected delegates (at least one of whom must be a woman) from each Local Government Area in Nigeria.
Muhammadu Buhari: The retired Major General had served the country in different capacities including as Head of State, Minister of Petroleum, and member of the Supreme Military Council (SMC), Governor of North-Eastern State, and chairman of Petroleum (Special) Trust Fund (PTF) among others. He is widely regarded as the politician with the largest mass support in northern Nigeria and able to sustain the loyalty of millions of votes without spending any money. He is also regarded as being honest and incorruptible, disciplined and principled, with his modest lifestyle acknowledged even by his opponents.
At 71, some think he should give the younger generation a chance, while some said he should stick to comments credited to him that he was not keen to contest the 2015 Presidency but would support “a credible and acceptable candidate.” A chieftain of the APC and former deputy legal adviser of the defunct CPC, Barrister Okoi Obono-Obla said age is not a constitutional requirement to contest the Nigerian presidency. He said if a 100-year old man decides to contest for the office of the President of Nigeria; it is within his constitutional right.
He said: “The likes of late Chief Jeremiah Obafemi Awolowo (SAN) contested for the Nigerian presidency in 1983 at the age of 72 or there about; the Zik of Africa and Pan-Africanist, Dr. Benjamin Nnamdi Azikiwe contested for the Nigerian Presidency in 1983 when he was already 76 Years Old. So there is a Nigerian precedent; while the iconic Nelson Mandela contested for the Presidency of South Africa at the age of 71 Years in 1994 and Ronald Reagan of the United States of America was elected President at the age of 70 in 1981 and also re-elected again in 1985 at the age of 74 remained President until 1989 when he was 78.”
As it were, General Buhari is the rallying point in the North and the strongest presidential candidate the APC can put forward. What is needed, however, is a strong candidate from the South, a candidate who could mobilise votes to complement what the Buhari mass following could generate in the North.
It is no longer a matter of conjectures that the former vice president Abubakar is throwing his hat into the 2015 presidential race on the platform of the opposition APC. Malam Garba Shehu, his media adviser, in a statement recently said Atiku will on September 24 formally declare his intention to contest the 2015 presidential election at the Musa Yar’Adua Centre.
Atiku’s campaign, according to Shehu, would be anchored by a former minister, Babalola Aborishade, a well-known political strategist who worked for the victory of the late Gen. Shehu Musa Yar’Adua and thereafter, the late Chief M. K. O. Abiola on the platform of the defunct Social Democratic Party (SDP).
Atiku who has never hidden his desire to rule Nigeria had contested for the number one job on the platform of Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) in 2007. He however lost to the late President Umaru Yar’Adua. He also sought the presidential ticket of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in 2011, after his return to the party, but again lost to President Goodluck Jonathan.
An associate of the former vice president who spoke in confidence said the APC chieftain had embarked on extensive consultations with stakeholders at home and abroad. Apart from relying on his extensive contacts, Atiku is said to have developed an all-encompassing road map designed to actualize his 2015 presidential ambition. Part of this roadmap is to embark on what has been tagged the “Atiku Peace Tour” that will take his delegation to key places and people nationwide.
Sunday Trust gathered that Atiku, who has the financial capacity to prosecute his presidential project, is heavily targeting delegates to obtain the APC presidential ticket. His campaign organisation, the Turaki Support Group has already traversed the states of the North-East zone to drum up support for Atiku, adding that a grand rally was also being planned in the zone to sell Atiku’s candidature.
However, another associate of the Turaki who spoke with Sunday Trust Atiku’s readiness to listen to everybody could be his greatest weakness as he could be deceived by some people whose sole interest in his presidential ambition could be to get money from him. His defection from the ruling PDP is also believed to be a factor against Atiku as most of his political associates are still in the PPD.
Senator Bukola Saraki: Former Governor of Kwara State and Senator representing Kwara Central in the National Assembly, Dr. Bukola Saraki, is obviously not a greenhorn in the list of APC presidential aspirants. He is undoubtedly threading a familiar path as he vied for the same office prior to the 2011 election.
Then, Saraki aspired under the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as one of the four aspirants endorsed by the Northern Political Leaders’ Forum (NPLF) led by former Finance Minister, Mallam Adamu Ciroma before former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar was selected as the north’s consensus candidate.
But as the 2015 election draws nearer, Saraki who is the son of the late Second Republic Senate Leader and strongman of Kwara politics, Dr. Olusola Saraki, is again warming up to throw his hat into the ring for the presidential election under the APC.
Though he is yet to formally declare his interest in the race, some of his supporters especially in Kwara State, have been agitating and calling on him to contest. His posters also appeared at strategic places in Ilorin, the state capital during the last Eid-l-Fitri festival. Similar posters had earlier appeared in some northern states with the inscription, “Saraki for President”.
Asked to react to calls on him to contest, Saraki simply said: “The time will come when I will make my position clear to those who wish that”, insisting that his decision to dump the PDP for APC was not driven by selfish ambition. “I have said it many times since we started this journey; it is not about my personal ambition, they would try and blackmail you but I am ready to make any ultimate sacrifice. What we want is a better Nigeria; what we want is a Nigeria that would be good for all of us and that is what we are all fighting for”, Saraki added.
APC stakeholders in the state have urged him to join the presidential race. They recently organized a special prayer session at Laduba in Asa Local Government where the three senatorial chairmen in the state endorsed him for presidency. APC Chairman in Kwara Central, Alhaji Jimoh Adesina, told our correspondent that Saraki has what it takes to rule the country.
He noted that going by the former governor’s proven track record of achievements, he “represents the future hope of our country and somebody like him should, for the Interest of our dear country, take a shot at the Presidency of this great country and save Nigerians and Nigeria from imminent and glaring catastrophe threatening our nationhood.”
Saraki, however, appears not to be taking the presidential ambition with levity. Sunday Trust reliably gathered that he has been consulting across the country to contest the APC ticket.
A source close to him said: “Yes, consultations are ongoing, he is meeting those that matter in this country to seek their advice and opinion on the APC ticket. It is true that a lot of people have been calling on him to contest and he is also not pretending about it but at the appropriate time, you would all hear from.”
Governor Rabiu Kwankwaso: The presidential ambition of Governor Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso of Kano state became public when his posters with his Rivers state counterpart, Rotimi Amaechi were sighted in strategic locations in Kano at the peak of his war of words with President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan.
Though the governor directed that the posters be removed, his ambition since then has been waxing stronger like the popularity of General Muhammadu Buhari in the North.
Kwankwaso, 58, is pressing his presidential ambition on the alleged failure of President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan. A firm critic of President Jonathan’s administration, Kwankwaso prides himself as a true defender of the north.
Already, the governor, through his deputy, Dr. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, has established campaign offices across the country. Only last week, Ganduje was in Adamawa state where he commissioned one of such campaign offices.
Before then, Kwankwaso’s posters were sighted in major streets of Kaduna metropolis with the inscription such as: “Kwankwaso for national assignment”.
To seek divine blessing, Kwankwaso met with major clerics in the state and solicited for their prayers towards the actualization of his dream. He was said to have formally declared his ambition to the clerics who were led by Sheikh Aminu Ibrahim Daurawa, the State’s Hisbah board boss.
The endorsement of the governor’s ambition from both within the state and beyond was part of the political gimmick to make his outing a public driven one. For the past three weeks now, the state has been awash with the endorsement of Kwankwaso. The most popular of the endorsement came from the Kano House of Assembly and the elders committee of the APC in the state.
Kwankwaso’s endorsement by the elders committee of the APC rekindled the rivalry between the legacy parties that merged together to form the APC as members threw their political spanners into action. Last weekend, the endorsement dominated the discourse of political programmes on local radio stations in the ancient city of Kano.
While members of the defunct Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) are against the endorsement of Kwankwaso in view of the presidential ambition of General Muhammadu Buhari, those of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) picked holes in it because of the ambition of the former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar who laid the foundation of the party at its inception in North.
With the numerous projects going on in the state, Kwankwaso is seen as one of the outstanding governors in the country, a feat that gave him upper-hand over his contemporaries.
However, like other aspirants in the north, Kwankwaso’s chance is being threatened by the ambition of General Buhari, hence the clamour in some quarters that the former Head of State who had contested thrice should step down for a fresh candidate.
Contacted on the status of his boss’ presidential ambition, Alhaji Jafar Jafar one of Kwankwaso’s media aides said the governor’s ambition is being driven by the public. “People are the ones calling him to come and rescue the country in view of the developmental projects he has executed in Kano. They want same to be replicated in across the country,” he said.
Perhaps, of all the presidential aspirants under the APC, Mr Sam Nda-Isaiah, who hails from Niger State, may be considered as a new entrant into active politics. And it is shocking that he is gunning for the highest prize. A close associate of former Head of State, General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd), Nda-Isaiah has moved from one part of the country to another, meeting industry and political leaders to announce his intention to run for the presidency and to sell his “Big Ideas” dream to them. He is very close to Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, and has been seen as possible bridge between the North-Central and the far North, considering the fact that he is a Christian with close political and business relationship with a cross-section of actors in the North.
Sunday Trust gathered that all things being equal, Nda-Isaiah would formally declare his intention to seek APC’s ticket for the presidential race in Minna, Niger State, later this month.
Speaking with our reporter last night, Malam Abdul Gombe, the Chief of Staff to Nda-Isaiah in the Sam4Nigeria Campaign Organisation, said structures had been set up in all parts of Nigeria, in pursuit of the huge dream.
“We’ve acquired an office in Utako District, Abuja,” Malam Gombe said. “We’ve announced the names of those who will serve as our zonal and state coordinators. We’ve met with stakeholders in the country, but we will still continue with our consultation until the date of the party’s primary election. As you know, our candidate is the one to beat in this race.”
Governor Rochas Okorocha
The Governor of Imo State, Chief Rochas Okorocha, has also indicated his intention to run for the presidency under the APC in spite of the unwritten understanding that the party’s flag-bearer should come from the North.
Sunday Trust learnt that Governor Okorocha’s ambition has created some discomfort in the party in the South-East because in the days before the party’s executive was elected, the party thought of electing the National Chairman of the APC from the South-East. One of the front runners for the position is Dr Ogbonnanya Onu, a former Governor of Abia State. But with Chief Okorocha’s insistence that he would contest for the presidency, the position had to be zoned to the South-South, making it a contention mainly between Chief Tom Ikimi and Chief John Oyegun.
To date, it seems Governor Okorocha is the one running the most expensive presidential campaign, as he has bought airtime on television, showcasing his achievements as Governor of Imo State. The documentary runs for several minutes at prime time on television channels. It argues that with the developmental projects Governor Okorocha has executed in Imo State in a space of three-and-a-half years, he should be given the opportunity to run the country.
He has granted interviews and issued press releases stating why he wanted to be president, stating that he has been under pressure to contest.
The horse trading, intrigues
Ahead of the contest for the presidential ticket of the APC, Sunday Trust’s checks revealled that the camps of the various contenders have been engrossed in intrigues and horse trading for their preferred candidates. One issue that is propping up is that of a consensus candidate for the APC presidential ticket. This is, however, causing disquiet in the various camps as each camp is pushing for the emergence of their principal.
While the Buhari group is said to be canvassing for an automatic ticket for him, the Atiku, Kwankwaso and Senator Saraki camps are said to be opposed to the idea preferring for the conduct of a ‘free and fair primary’ to pick the party’s presidential flagbearer.
Alhaji Suleiman Argungu, a former deputy governor of Kebbi state and one of the associates of General Muhammadu Buhari maintained that APC is the biggest opposition party in the country and people were waiting to see who emerge its presidential flag bearer in the effort to bring the country out of the woods.
“Right now people in many parts of the Northern states and their local government areas want Buhari to contest. There are others who want Kwankwaso because they feel he is younger and stronger compared to Buhari. The feeling is that if only Buhari would concede to Kwankwaso and go round the Northern states and other parts of the country to raise his hands up for people to see that he has endorsed him it would be good for the governor and the party.
Maintaining that the APC believes that in a democratic setting like this it is good to allow people to choose who they want as their flag bearer, Argungu said: “We believe if candidates are not allowed to emerge in the way people will appreciate , it may cause problem for the party. And that is why the party is working on a consensus arrangement before going to the convention. We have learned from what happened during our last convention. Even though the majority of our leaders agreed that the incumbent chairman of the party should be elected those who fell out still went out to say all sorts of things that are not true and that is why we are consulting widely now so that a flag bearer can emerge through it.”
Osita Okechukwu, a chieftan of the party argued that the National Executive Committee of AllProgressives Congress (APC) had upheld the position of the National Working Committee that Indirect Primaries is the best option in the conduct of the primaries which will elect candidates of House of Assembly, House of Representatives, Senate, Governorship and presidential candidate, coming up between October and November 2014.
This, he said, is important in order to avoid the corruption that could stain any competitive primary election.
Okechukwu said, “the first cardinal Programme of APC is War Against Corruption and National Orientation, while the PDP manifesto made a passing remark about corruption. Another landmark provision of APC manifesto is the provision of 1 million houses and the Development Banks.
“If you use cash to nominate a presidential candidate for our great party, will he not like President Goodluck Jonathan, GCFR, give a damn to corruption? Can the one million houses be built under pervasive and endemic corruption? Or can any of the Development Banks function under the systemic corruption we have today?
“At any rate a cursory study of the ward, local government area and state congresses conducted and the national convention shows that 80% of all of them were conducted through consensus. One is relying on hindsight, because it is always better for some of us who have no foresight to rely on hindsight.
“APC therefore may first attempt consensus as provided by our great party’s Constitution. This is to consider each constituency in its own merit before heading to indirect primary. Agreed that the general perception in the public domain favours direct and indirect primary, yes it does, however to avoid rancour, bitterness and ill-temper which indirect primary will engender, it will be better to resort to consensus, especially in the gubernatorial and presidential primaries.”
Source: Sunday Trust
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