APC Presidential Race Turns into Two-Horse Race, Spills Bad Blood
Permutations on the outcome of the All Progressives Congress, APC, presidential primaries are increasingly narrowing into a two-horse race in what is being dubbed as a contest of brain and brawn between former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar and erstwhile head of state, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari.
Buhari, last Thursday, at a closed door ceremony in Abuja, inaugurated 37 state committees to guide the campaign in the 36 states and Abuja, at a function a source said was like the release of a bull to suppress what was described as the money plans of Atiku to prise the ticket to himself.
Sources close to the two aspirants told Sunday Vanguard that it was now openly being acknowledged by strategists of the two men that the contest would be a straight fight between the two camps. Not surprisingly, the strategists are increasingly turning fire on one another in a bid to decimate the potentials of one another.
Besides Buhari and Atiku, other contestants for the APC presidential ticket include Governor Rabiu Kwankwanso of Kano State, newspaper mogul, Mr. Sam Nda-Isaiah, Governor Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State and Governor Rochas Okorocha.
Meanwhile, in a development that was, at the weekend, being seen as a factor that may influence the presidential primary, sources in the national leadership of the opposition political party disclosed a consensus to adopt a Modified Presidential Primary System for the election of the presidential candidate.
It is a major setback for the Buhari camp which had been canvassing for the use of direct primary that would allow all party members to be involved in the selection of the candidate.
The Buhari camp had advocated the use of consensus in which they advocated the selection of their man or in the alternative the use of the direct primary in the belief that involving all party members would limit the influence of money, a factor they claim Atiku could easily use to overwhelm Buhari.
In a development that is even bound to raise concern in the Buhari camp, Sunday Vanguard learnt that party bureaucrats are pushing to cut down on the 20,000 delegates earlier proposed to attend the Abuja presidential nomination convention in November.
The move, one senior member of the National Executive Committee, NEC, told Sunday Vanguard is to manage the delegates in the Eagles Square which has a limited sitting capacity of not more than 8,000 persons.
In the latest proposal to beat down on the number of delegates, it was learnt that ward chairmen, earlier slated to attend as statutory delegates, would be eliminated in a bid to cut down the delegates coming to Abuja by at least 7,000.
“We have at least 10 wards in each of the 774 local government councils, you can then imagine how much can be saved in terms of number of delegates coming for the convention,” the NEC official said on the condition of anonymity.
It was a development that was hailed in the Atiku camp. Another NEC member aligned to the Buhari camp, however, played down the matter of the adoption of the Modified Direct Primary System as he claimed that the adoption of the system had not been formally agreed.
The Buhari enthusiast in the NEC was dismissive of Atiku, saying dependence on money would not help the party. He explain that Atiku had not been able to make impact in the party despite his wealth.
“Can you tell me how many members of NEC Atiku can count on? Even in his own state, Adamawa, we beat his candidate for the gubernatorial election despite the money they threw around, so Atiku is going nowhere,” the senior NEC official from Atiku’s base in the North-east said.
In a development that is bound to concern party strategists, Sunday Vanguard learnt that some associates of Buhari are vowing not to pull along should Atiku win the presidential primaries in a way that they consider to be unfair or through the use of money or other influence.
“If Atiku wins free and fair, without money, we won’t have any problems with him, but if it is an election that is influenced by money, there is no way we will support him in the main election,” the Buhari enthusiast reportedly vowed.
In the mean time, the prospects of Governor Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State have continued to raise excitement in some quarters given what his supporters say is his capacity to take the South-south votes from President Goodluck Jonathan, the presumptive nominee of the ruling People’s Democratic Party, PDP. Oshiomhole, who was based in Kaduna before his emergence as the president of the Nigerian Labour Congress, NLC, is also believed to be in good position to make a good bid for the North vote.
Aides and some other party stakeholders claim that Oshiomhole is in the best position of all the declared aspirants to wrest control of the country from the PDP given his goodwill in the South-south and the North.
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