2015: The Strength and Weaknesses of APC Presidential Aspirants
After months of horse-trading, covert moves, realignment and consultations, the All Progressives Congress (APC) is set to elect its presidential candidate on December 10. In this report, Managing Editor, Northern Operation, Yusuf Alli, reviews the strengths, the permutations and the likely outcome of what has turned out to be an absorbing contest.
Unlike in the past when the ruling Peoples’ Democratic Party was confronted with very weak challenge, next year’s presidential elections promises to be a stern test against a resurgent opposition with strength in depth across the country. This is reminiscent of the two-party contest involving the defunct Social Democratic Party (SDP) and National Republican Convention (NRC) under the then military regime of General Ibrahim Babangida.
Today, the All Progressives Congress (APC) boasts five presidential aspirants most of whom could give the incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan a run for his money.
They are ex-Head of State, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari; ex-Vice President Atiku Abubakar; Governor Rochas Okorocha; Kano State Governor Rabiu Kwankwaso; and a pharmacist-turned publisher, Sam Nda Isaiah.
The ex-Head of State, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari is on the threshold of making history; the only Nigerian to contest the presidential race four times if given the APC ticket. Though a former head of the Federal Military Government, Buhari had sought to rule the nation through the ballot in 2003, 2007 and 2011 but lost to the PDP candidate.
The presidential poll results since 2003 confirmed Buhari as a political heavyweight and a politician with cult following by the northern masses. Going by INEC records, Buhari’s vote-earning drive was as follows. In 2003, running under the banner of the defunct ANPP, Buhari polled 12,710, 022 votes (32.19%) to ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo’s 24, 456, 140(61.94%), who was the PDP’s candidate.
In 2007 presidential election, he secured 6,605, 299 votes compared to PDP candidate, the late President Umaru Yar’Adua’s 24,638,063. An honest Yar’Adua admitted that the 2007 poll was largely flawed and below standard. The Court of Appeal almost upturned the 2007 poll results.
With the formation of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), Buhari bounced back in 2011 with 12, 214, 853 votes but was defeated by President Goodluck Jonathan of the PDP with 22, 495, 187 votes.
Being the oldest presidential aspirant in Nigeria, Buhari will add more to history if he becomes the APC candidate and is elected in 2015. He will be joining the league of ex-Presidents Ronald Reagan (USA), Abdoulaye Wade (Senegal) who led their nations in old age.
Buhari is an epitome of Spartan discipline, a teetotaler, a man of principle, an avowed anti-corruption crusader and a man of the people. As a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, he accounted for every dollar from crude oil sales without blemish. Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has described him as ‘incorruptible.’
Also, in his capacity as the chairman of the defunct Petroleum Task Fund (PTF), Buhari executed far-reaching and grassroots oriented projects which boosted the economy when he had the chance to impact the nation’s economy.
His military background is also a plus given ongoing challenges with Boko Haram. In 1980, when the Maitatsine insurgency was ravaging Nigeria, Buhari, who was then Brigade Commander of the 3rd Armoured Corps in Jos, took the sect headlong and fought them to a standstill as far as Chad. He almost lost his career in the Nigerian Army for invading Chad allegedly without the permission of the Commander-In-Chief, ex-President Shehu Shagari.
Buhari is often painted, especially by the PDP, as a religious bigot and a politician whose influence is ethnic-based in the North. But facts show that Buhari’s cook, driver and personal aides in the last 30 to 40 years have been Christians.
The Islamic fundamentalist tag has been hung on his neck by his traducers since the violence which erupted after the 2011 poll. The APC will need to do extra work on the religious stigma surrounding Buhari if he emerges the party’s candidate.
Also, he is considered as a politician who is inflexible on issues when convinced they are in the interest of the masses. Above all, Buhari is not an intellectual per se but he is rated as streetwise with native wisdom.
If he secures the APC ticket, Buhari has to learn fast how to be a democrat and how to manage the nuances of the National Assembly which will not tolerate any autocratic tendencies from him.
A former Vice President, Atiku could be rated as a “constant equation” in presidential election since 1993. His experience in the game is richer than any of the aspirants whether in APC or PDP. He was the economic engine room during the administration of ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo.
He had contested presidential elections in 1999 and 2003(as running mates) and the candidate of the defunct Action Congress in 2007. Apart from garnering 18, 738, 154 and 24, 456, 140 votes in a joint ticket with Obasanjo in 1999 and 2003, Abubakar as a sole candidate of AC could only rake 2, 637, 848 in 2007 because he was in and out of court till the last minutes of the poll to fight against his disqualification by a Kangaroo Panel of Enquiry raised by Obasanjo. It was a defeat foretold for Abubakar who was mostly on ‘crutches’ throughout the campaign period.
As an orphan, Abubakar’s grass to grace story makes interesting reading. This has reflected in his life making him self-motivated in politics and business. More than any of the aspirants, he is a politician with a deft touch and knowledge of how to prevail in intra-party elections.
It took the personal intervention of his mentor, the late Gen. Shehu Yar’Adua before he could concede the SDP presidential ticket to the late M.K.O Abiola in the early 90s. His greatest asset is his ability to build political and social bridges across the Niger.
Atiku is at home in any part of Nigeria, not only by factor of marriage, but as a result of his magnetic personality. He has incurably loyal political associates and friends in all parts of the country. These, however, do not translate to political gains.
He was the controller of the economic reforms of the administration of ex-President Obasanjo. He was the driver of the privatization programmes which led to the GSM revolution in the country.
Armed with a limited education, Abubakar is gifted with shopping for eggheads to show him the light. He brought the likes of CBN Governor, Prof. Charles Soludo, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai and others into the government of Obasanjo. He is also a fast learner.
His greatest strength is in being a democrat. As a president, democracy will thrive under Atiku because of his avowed commitment to freedom, liberty and the principle of separation of powers. No one has used the judiciary to fight political cause than Abubakar.
Though always branded as “corrupt” by his political enemies, Abubakar has never been found guilty of any economic or financial crimes. Even when dust was raised at the twilight of Obasanjo’s administration on the management of the funds of the Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF), nothing incriminating was found against him.
The only tar against him was his alleged link with a former United States congressman, William J. Jefferson, who was jailed on November 13, 2009 for $100,000 bribe scam. Again, nothing was found against the former VP. The sustainable trust reposed in him by the larger Yar’Adua family since the death of their patriarch, Gen. Shehu Musa Yar’Adua underscores his level of honesty.
A major weakness of Abubakar, according to those who used to work against him, is being too ambitious. This created a wedge between him and Obasanjo in 2003 who almost dropped him as his running mate. It took much persuasion from state governors, PDP leaders and friends before Obasanjo re-nominated him as his VP. But he was worse for it. He was a castrated or ceremonial VP all through Obasanjo’s second term.
The same ambitious inclination informed his defection from PDP to the AC and later to PDP and APC. His back-to-back defection has cost him a lot of goodwill and he has lost political ground in the North and South-West in the last seven years. Even his pseudo platform, the Peoples Democratic Movement (PDM) has not made any inroad into the nation’s political landscape since its formation. There were speculations that if Abubakar had remained in the AC which later became the ACN, he could have won the 2011 poll at a time the North was looking for a liberal alternative to Jonathan.
Abubakar’s greatest political humiliation was the loss of the 2011 PDP presidential primaries to Jonathan when even delegates from Adamawa State rejected him. The Thursday loss of the Adamawa APC governorship primaries by his anointed candidate, Ibrahim Minjiyawa to Sen. Jibrilla Bindow for the second time indicated that all is still not well with Atiku’s home front.
Born in 1956 in Kwankwaso Village in Madobi Local Government Area of Kano State, he had been in politics since 1991. He was a former Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives in the aborted Third Republic and a member of the 1994/95 Constitutional Conference. He was a governor between 1999 and 2003; a former Minister of Defence(2003) ; a former Presidential Special Envoy to Somalia and Darfur in 2007; and re-elected as a governor on April 27, 2011.
Apart from his short stint as the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Kwankwaso and appointment as a minister, Kwankwaso has largely been a master strategist in Kano politics. A progressive minded politician, his political career took a jump from the Peoples Front axis of the defunct SDP in the Third Republic to the PDP in 1998. When there was injustice in PDP, he defected to APC without blinking an eye.
Kwankwaso speaks the truth to power; he does not suffer fool gladly like other cringing colleagues. He is also committed to the cause of the downtrodden with masses-oriented projects. His Free Feeding for Primary School Pupils earned him aUN recognition. He has performed so well to the extent that the Federal Government recently commissioned one of Kwankwaso’s project as its own.
A governor given to probity and accountability, Kwankwaso publishes every week the account of his tenure. He is the only Nigerian governor doing so.
Kwankwaso is obsessed with Kano politics to the extent that he has little or no time for national politics. Outside the covert backing he is enjoying from ex-President Obasanjo, Kwankwaso’s presidential aspiration is yet to get national acceptance or recognition. Obasanjo, who is pulling the strings underneath, has not come out to identify with Kwankwaso’s aspiration.
Though his defection with other governors from PDP to APC shot up his profile a bit, he remains at best, a local hero. This perception may be his undoing at the presidential primaries. In spite of the fact that he built political contacts in the House in the Third Republic, most of them had become stale to assist his presidential aspiration.
He has also personalized governance with his Kwankwasiyya ideology and trademark red cap. Every project is branded Kwankwasiyya in obvious defilement of the basic principle of democracy that power belongs to the people. He enjoys being idolized or hero worshiped by his ardent supporters. Certainly, he is a future presidential material.
A former Commissioner in the Federal Character Commission and a member of the defunct National Constitutional Conference, Okorocha is a veteran governorship and presidential aspirant. He had attempted to be a governor in Imo State in 1999 under the PDP but he failed as ex-Governor Achike Udenwa won the primaries.
By 2003, he was a presidential aspirant of the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) but did not succeed. After his failure, he defected to PDP where he was compensated by ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo with an appointment as Special Adviser on Inter-Party Affairs.
Still aspiring to lead the nation, Okorocha in 2005 established the Action Alliance (AA). Later he shifted base to the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) where he won the governorship poll in 2011.
Okorocha is a natural philanthropist with a heart of gold. He is also noted for executing quality projects. A committed grassroots politician with acronym, “My people, my people,” he is a politician who is at home in the North, as in the South-West and the South-East. He is a crowd puller with his intellectually-inclined speeches and sugar-coated tongue. Having been born in Jos, he speaks Hausa like the natives. This has made him to be loved by Northerners.
Okorocha prefers to build an empire around himself than allow democracy to flourish with the principle of separation of powers respected. He is also quite loud about his achievements. He won the 2011 governorship poll through the people’s revolt but the revolution seems to have suffered a setback. He seems to be rejuvenating the revolution again.
He is politically unstable having moved around PDP, ANPP, AA, APGA and now APC.
He does not look like a serious presidential aspirant because his level of consultations had been exceptionally low. The question on every lip of is whether he’s interested in the presidential ticket or playing a hide and seek game. Beyond his declaration in Kaduna, he has not shown much enthusiasm for the presidency. He appears to be having a fall-back position for re-election as a governor if there is roadblock at the primaries.
Having lost ANPP’s ticket to Buhari in 2003, APC members are not treating his aspiration with much seriousness. Political pundits foresee him stepping down or just participating in APC presidential primaries as mere symbolic gestures.
SAM NDA ISAIAH
Born on May 1, 1962, Sam Nda Isaiah is a pharmacist turned publisher who founded Leadership Newspapers Group – one of the fastest growing newspapers in Nigeria. A man with Midas touch, he was a former member of the Daily Trust Editorial Board before venturing into newspapering. A member of the Asian think-tank, Global Institute for Tomorrow, his foray into politics began in 2002 when he became the Deputy Director-General of Buhari Campaign Organization (BCO) for the 2003 poll under the banner of the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP). He later became a founding member of the CPC.
The presidential aspirant is a man of conscience and highly principled. He is devoted to any cause he believes in, fights injustice to individual and the society at large, philanthropic and a man of taste. He does not discriminate on religion, ethnicity and sex. His greatest asset is his democratic mind. No matter how warped your argument is, he will find time to listen to your views.
He is also a courageous politician. This explains why he has decided to challenge his political mentor Buhari at the primaries. He coordinated the general’s media campaign in 2003 and 11 years after, he is slugging it out with him for APC ticket.
Nda-Isaiah is certainly a neophyte in politics. Most of his critics believe he should have learned the ropes through lower elective offices to the presidency. His support base is therefore zero. Outside Niger State, this aspirant is less known to most of the 8,000 delegates who will vote on December 10 in Lagos.
Apart from his moral credentials, he does not have the resources to fund a big project like presidential primaries. Since he has no prospect, political godfathers will also keep him at bay instead of financing him.
FACTORS THAT WILL SHAPE THE PRIMARIES
The factors that will shape the presidential primaries are antecedents of the aspirants; their political and personal pedigree; the APC governors who wield enormous powers on delegates; national leaders of APC; members of the National and State Executive Committees of the party; members of the National Assembly and State Houses of Assembly; the need to end the PDP misrule; the outcome of the governorship and National Assembly primaries; the imperative for power shift to the North and others. The most important factor is how to get a credible candidate who can defeat the incumbent.
Having secured automatic tickets from their party, the focus of the APC governors is now on how to hold successful and rancour-free presidential primaries to give the PDP a fight for its money. The party machinery at the state level is at the beck and call of the governors and they can determine where the pendulum swings. Already some governors have openly identified with some aspirants and they may sway votes in their direction.
The national leaders of the party will play a key role in providing the beacon for delegates. These leaders had been consulting widely (locally and internationally) in the past few months. The match-makers include Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, the former Interim National Chairman of the party, Chief Bisi Akande, National Chairman, Chief Odigie Oyegun, National Secretary, Mai Mala Buni, Senator Bukola Saraki, ex-Governors Danjuma Goje, Abdullahi Adamu, Bukar Abba Ibrahim, George Akume and Sani Yerima, Speaker Aminu Tambuwal, Alh. Kawu Baraje, Chief Audu Ogbeh, Senator Shuaibu Lawan, ex-Governor Segun Oni, Senator Osita Izunazo, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, among others.
From the onset, it is also predictable that the delegates may vote for power shift to the North since four of the five aspirants are from the zone. They are Buhari(North-West); Abubakar (North-East), Kwankwaso (North-West) and Nda-Isaiah (North-Central). The concession of the presidential slot to the North may naturally ease out Okorocha from the equation at the convention. If Okorocha is adamant, he will be at the mercy of the electoral verdict of the delegates.
THE OUTCOME OF GOVERNORSHIP AND OTHER PRIMARIES
Throughout Thursday, presidential aspirants were keeping vigil to monitor the results of the gubernatorial primaries because these might have spiral effects on the outcome of the convention. For example, some loyalists of Buhari have won the governorship primaries in Kaduna and Nasarawa states. For Atiku Abubakar, the defeat of his godson, Ibrahim Minjiyawa at the primaries by Sen. Jibrilla Bindow for the second time in a row suggested a likely split of the votes of delegates from Adamawa State at the convention.
GOVERNORS HOLD THE ACE
Most of the APC governors will play key roles in swinging votes at the presidential primaries. Some of them are jostling for running mate slot; they will be prevailing on their delegates on who to vote for. Temporarily, some governors may part ways with Kwankwaso on the choice of APC candidate.
STATE OF THE RACE – STATE BY STATE
It is payback time for Buhari from his political godson, Governor Tanko Al-Makura. Unlike the frosty relationship between Buhari and ex-Governor Ibrahim Shekarau in Kano, Al-Makura had remained loyal to his master. This was why Buhari threatened fire and brimstone when the PDP attempted to impeach Al-Makura. His timely alarm, with others from well-meaning Nigerian, forced the PDP to beat a tactical retreat. There is the likelihood of 80 to 90 per cent of the votes from Nasarawa going to Buhari at the convention. The governor has not only taken interest in the emergence of delegates, he is working with ex-Governor Abdullahi Adamu. (Verdict: In Buhari’s column)
This is home turf of ex-Vice-President Atiku Abubakar. Following the removal of ex-Governor Murtala Nyako, he was able to put the party executives in place in the state. But this did not translate to total control of the APC in the state because his godson, Ibrahim Minjinyawa (1,183 votes) lost the gubernatorial ticket to Senator Jibrilla Bindow (1,880).
The results have confirmed that Nyako’s loyalists may not vote for Abubakar at the convention. There is still a little discomfort for Atiku at home unless he woos Bindow to his side. It was unclear if there was any secret pact between the ex-VP and Bindow before the primaries on Thursday. Unknown to many, Buhari is married to a woman from Yola in Adamawa State. The marriage has gained him some leverage going by the outcome of the governorship primaries. If Buhari plays his cards right, the votes might be either 60-40 in favour of the former VP or 50-50. (Verdict: Leaning towards Atiku)
The strongman of Kwara politics, Senator Bukola Saraki, who is fitting well into the shoes of his late father, will largely determine how the state delegates will vote. Barring last minutes change of mind, Saraki might work for Buhari because some of his close associates like Governor Rotimi Amaechi, believe in the former Head of State. Having outplayed Saraki through Northern consensus politics in 2011, ex-VP Abubakar is now at the mercy of the former governor. It is only if Saraki is large-hearted that he can ask Kwara delegates to vote for Abubakar. But some politicians were quick to say that when in October a national daily ran a story that Saraki had endorsed Buhari some months ago, he denied such an assumption.
This development might have left a gap in Kwara’s on who to vote for at the convention. With the suspense from Kwara, it might still be 50-50 or 60-40 as the case with Kwara PDP voting pattern at the PDP National Convention in 2011. (Verdict: Too close to call)
The voting pattern of delegates from Niger state at the presidential primaries of the All Progressives Congress (APC) looks unpredictable. Delegates from the state may not vote in block for a particular aspirant, but religious factor will surely play the determining factor in the voting pattern of the delegates.
Though no delegate was willing to disclose their choice but political watchers would have given the bulk of the votes from the state to Mr. Sam Nda-Isaiah, being a son of the soil, feelers from most of the 178 delegates however showed that of the five aspirants, General Muhammadu Buhari leads the pack with Governor Rabiu Musa Kwakwanso and Alhaji Atiku Abubakar having good showing in the state.
Buhari’s stronghold is in the Niger North Senatorial zone, a predominantly Muslim dominated area. The support the former military enjoys from the zone is not only legendary. Most of the delegates from this zone are die hard supporters of Buhari and nothing will make them vote otherwise.
The aspiration of Kano state governor, Engineer Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso may receive a boost from mostly the elites in the party and some state officials of the party. The proponent of Kwankwasiyya political philosophy has been a strong shoulder the party rested on during its formative stage in the state. He provided a lot of logistic support for the party. The primary is seen to be some of these delegates as payback time for the former Minister of Defence.
Though rated third in the state, Atiku a politician with goodwill, strong connection and wherewithal to turn the table against any aspirant. The Turaki Vanguard, the arrow head of Atiku a political machinery may have a perfected strategy to deliver the party’s ticket to the former Vice President.
Few Nupe speaking delegates in solidarity with Sam Nda-Isaiah may queue behind the Leadership Newspaper publisher. Religion maybe his albatross. He is also not seen as a grassroots politician before the presidential aspiration. (Verdict: Fluid)
Unexpectedly, Governor Aliyu Wammako has been silent but he was credited with the shape which the National Convention of APC is assuming by prevailing on Speaker Aminu Tambuwal to withdraw from the presidential race. The automatic concession of the governorship ticket to Tambuwal averted a major challenge of starting horse-trading afresh by APC leaders for the party’s presidential ticket. The withdrawal of Tambuwal was meant to pave the way for Buhari, who is rated high in the North-West. Wammako may also work for Buhari. (Verdict: Leaning to Buhari)
With Governor Adams Oshiomhole in the permutations for APC presidential running mate, the state may tilt towards Buhari as a form of working alliance. The governor shares similar traits of efficiency, discipline and people-oriented vision. The score sheet may be 80-20 in favour of Buhari. (Verdict: Leaning to Buhari)
Thursday’s victory of former Minister of Federal Capital Territory, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai over his arch-rival, Isah Ashiru for Kaduna APC governorship ticket has given Buhari a fair lead in the state over other aspirants. Incurably committed to the Buhari project, el-Rufai has a fresh task to galvanize more delegates to vote for his political leader.
Kaduna is also the base of the former general. At the end of the day it could be either 70-30 or 60-40 for Buhari and others in Kaduna. (Verdict: Buhari)
If Buhari has any die-hard supporter among APC governors, he is Governor Rotimi Amaechi. From conception, Amaechi had been an integral part of Buhari’s ambition, declaration and strategy. Having been critical of the administration of Jonathan and the state of the nation, Amaechi is one of those leading the campaign for a drastic change and he believes in Buhari.
The likelihood of APC presidential running mate coming from the South-South has led to the penciling down of Amaechi for the role if the former Head of State is the party’s candidate. Rivers may be 90 per cent for Buhari. (Verdict: Buhari)
The priority of the people of Yobe State is the restoration of security. The delegates from the state will want to vote for a strong aspirant who has a solution to Boko Haram. The state’s political godfather, ex-Governor Bukar Abba Ibrahim and Governor Ibrahim Gaidam may work for Buhari. The reality is that the North-West and North-East have always been strong political base of the ex-Head of State. (Verdict: Leaning to Buhari)
For a long time, Governor Kashim Shettima has been re-strategizing underground without talking much on national and APC politics. His major preoccupation is an end to the insurgency. The state may however vote for Buhari over perceptions that he can lead an effective counter offensive against Boko Haram as a Commander-In-Chief. (Verdict: Leaning to Buhari)
The party machinery in the state is in the hands of APC governorship candidate, Senator Jummai Alhassan and may determine where the delegates will vote. But since Adamawa-Taraba axis has always been a stronghold of the ex-VP, he is likely to garner most votes from the area. (Verdict: Leaning to Atiku)
Having adopted a consensus method and automatic ticket for all elective leaders in 2015, Governor Rabiu Kwankwaso has reduced tension in the state. Now that it is his turn to seek presidential nomination, the state delegates will vote overwhelmingly 100 per cent for him. The mammoth crowd at his declaration in Abuja showed that he is adored in Kano State. (Verdict: Kwankwaso)
The National Leader of APC, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, is savouring the moment with the success of Thursday’s State Congress which proved that he is firmly in control of Lagos with the emergence of Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode as the APC governorship candidate.
The pre-convention analysis indicated that Tinubu played a major role in spurring Buhari to contest for the presidency again. If Buhari has any hope, he relies on bloc votes from the South-West at the convention. The geopolitical zone has not hidden its preference for him. Therefore, Lagos delegates may vote for Buhari. (Verdict: Leaning to Buhari)
The direction of Lagos will be the pathfinder for Osun State delegates because of Governor Rauf Aregbesola’s undiluted loyalty to Asiwaju Tinubu. At his inauguration last week, Aregbesola openly referred to Asiwaju as “Oga mi” meaning my boss, my leader. If there is any disciple who cannot betray Asiwaju, Aregbesola ranks higher. Of all the aspirants, only Buhari was physically present in Osogbo at the inauguration. Ex-VP Atiku Abubakar sent his amiable wife, Hajiya Titi Abubakar to the ceremony. Though Atiku married one of his wives from Osun State, it might not count for him at the primaries. Buhari may earn the confidence of the state’s delegates. (Verdict: Leaning to Buhari)
The voting pattern of Ekiti State may also go the way of Lagos State. Though the state’s party leader, ex-Governor Kayode Fayemi is presently the chairman of the National Convention Committee(NCC), the delegates might not vote differently from the overall objective of the South-West to present a credible and strong candidate who can defeat PDP’s anointed candidate, President Goodluck Jonathan. (Verdict: Too close to call)
Governor Ibikunle Amosun shares a similar political destiny with Buhari having come a long way from their days in the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), one of the parties that coalesced into APC. Since old wine tastes better, Amosun may mobilize Ogun delegates to accept Buhari in line with the thinking of the South-West. (Verdict: Leaning to Buhari)
Apart from the fact that Governor Isiaka Ajimobi and Buhari share similar characteristics of being prudent and disciplined, the bandwagon effect of Lagos direction may favour Buhari in Oyo State. (Verdict: Leaning Buhari)
Some of the delegates are already making a case for Buhari. But Atiku Abubakar is trying to penetrate the delegates from the state since there is no APC government in place. (Verdict: Fluid)
The hitherto warring APC members in Katsina succeeded in putting their house in order to elect ex-Speaker Aminu Bello Masari as the party’s governorship candidate. The overwhelming score of 2,470 votes for Masari signposted that peace has returned to Buhari’s home front unlike in 2011 when the defunct CPC lost to PDP because of intra-party wrangling. If Buhari ensures reconciliation of the winner with other aspirants, he can secure almost 90 to 95 per cent of the votes from the state at the National Convention. At least, there is no hitch for him at the starting block. (Verdict: Buhari)
All the aspirants have been busy lobbying stakeholders in Benue State for votes in the past few weeks. Interestingly, Buhari and Atiku have long-time political associates in the state. Buhari suffered a setback when his plane was not allowed to land in Makurdi Airport based on spurious security reasons. Those who may direct the swing of the pendulum are the Minority Leader in the Senate, ex-Governor George Akume and a former National Chairman of the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria, Chief Audu Ogbeh. A source said: “I can tell you that Buhari and Abubakar enjoy considerable goodwill in Benue APC. The delegates may split their votes.” (Verdict: Too close to call)
The latest bride of the APC in Akwa Ibom, Umana Okon Umana holds the ace. Having got elected as the party’s governorship flag bearer in a ‘miraculous’ manner, Umana’s influence on delegates from the state, on who to vote for at the convention, may be determined by the disposition of his benefactors who handed him the ticket on a platter of gold. (Verdict: Fluid)
If the reception accorded four of the five aspirants (Buhari, Atiku, Kwankwaso, and Okorocha) in Kebbi State is anything to go by, Buhari is the favourite of delegates in the state. While others used hotels to interact with the delegates, the reception for Buhari was massive and overwhelming to the extent that the stadium in the state capital was engaged for meet-the-delegates session. There may be 70-30 advantage for Buhari in Kebbi. (Verdict: Buhari)
Ex-Governor Timpreye Sylva is the beacon of delegates in Bayelsa State. The extent to which aspirants play their cards with him might fetch votes. But Sylva and Governor Rotimi Amaechi are said to be very close and their political notes might be on the same page. (Verdict: Leaning Buhari)
The two leading aspirants (Buhari and Atiku) have old political associates and friends in Enugu State. Naturally, Rochas Okorocha should have been in control of the state but most delegates are angry with him for allegedly not fulfilling some of his promises to them. In one of their meetings last week, some of the delegates resolved to pitch tent with Buhari. This flank is open but Buhari is having a marginal lead. (Verdict: Too close to call)
Governor Rochas Okorocha has done so much for the party in Abia State to the extent that most of the delegates have shut their doors against other aspirants. He might secure 90 to 95 per cent of the votes in the state. (Verdict: Leaning Okorocha)
This is also no-go area for all the aspirants except Rochas Okorocha. He commands total respect from leaders and members of the party in the state. (Verdict: Okorocha)
The huge political influence of Senator Julius Ocha looms larger in Ebonyi State APC. As a loyalist of Abubakar, he has secured the state for Atiku in a 90 to 10 per cent. (Verdict: Atiku)
The election of Olorogun O’tega Emerhor as APC governorship candidate in Delta State has changed the equation for all the presidential aspirants. This is an open space for any of them to explore. (Verdict: Fluid)
It is a three-dimensional race in Anambra State as Okorocha, Atiku and Buhari canvass for the votes of delegates. Apart from marrying his youngest wife from the state, Abubakar has helped many people from the state when he was VP with appointments and juicy contracts. He enjoys appreciable support in the state. But Okorocha is no push over in his comfort zone as a result of Ndigbo solidarity. Buhari is also not relenting. The leader of APC in the state, Sen. Chris Ngige may eventually decide who takes the state. (Verdict: Too close to call)
This is a battleground for both Buhari and Abubakar where they weigh near equal influence. (Verdict: Too close to call)
Leading the political revolution in Gombe State is former Governor Danjuma Goje, who defected from PDP to APC. He enjoys large following and he is going to be one of the matchmakers at the convention. With most of the delegates as his loyalists, Goje will certainly exert influence on them on who to vote for. (Verdict: Fluid)
Some loyalists of Buhari in the ANPP and CPC days are in APC in the state. The ex-Head of State may be the one to beat here. (Verdict: Fluid)
A former Governor of Kogi State, Prince Abubakar Audu is still in charge and he might play a major role in providing direction to delegates on who to back at the convention. (Verdict: Too close to call)
The influence of the likes of Senator Shagaya would be crucial. But Atiku also has old associates like Ambassador Yahaya Kwande to count on. (Verdict: Too close to call)
The aspirants are at the mercy of ex-Governor Sani Yerima and Governor Abdulaziz Yari who wield enormous political powers having dictated the political environment in the state since 1999. The state delegates might be caught in the bandwagon voting pattern of other states in the North-West. (Verdict: Leaning Buhari)
It is any aspirant’s game in this state because the APC does not control the reins of government. However, Atiku is thought to maintain very strong political roots here. (Verdict: Leaning Atiku)
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