Atiku’s Plan to Declare for Presidency Splits APC, Pitches Him Against Buhari’s Supporters
The planned declaration of former Vice President Atiku Abubakar to bid for the ticket of the All Progressives Congress (APC), for the 2015 general election is reportedly tearing the party apart.
The Atiku Campaign Group had few days ago stated that the former vice president will formall declare his intention September 24, 2014, but concerned party members see the move as one that meant to pre-empt other contenders.
It was learnt that the announcement by the Group was considered by other contenders as hasty and it already has split members of the party.
They argued that the party had yet to release guidelines for its presidential primary.
Besides Atiku, other presidential aspirants in the APC include a former Head of State, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (retd.) and the Kano State Governor, Rabiu Kwankwaso. The battle however seems to be between Atiku and Buhari.
While Atiku’s supporters say he is the best candidate of the party, Buhari’s camp argue that Atiku cannot give President Goodluck Jonathan a good fight in 2015.
A former National Publicity Secretary of the Congress for Progressive Change and associate of the former head of state, Mr. Rotimi Fashakin, said the party’s presidential primary should not be a matter of money.
He explained that Buhari had done a lot to stabilise the APC, noting that the support Buhari enjoyed in the North was non-transferable.
According to him, supporters are of the view that Buhari stands heads above shoulders over other contenders.
He said “The APC will be the ultimate loser should its mandate become the subject of horse trading or a matter or naira and kobo.
“The party would have scored an own goal. He remains the only living Nigerian right now who can give Jonathan and the PDP a run for their money. Any other candidate the party puts forwards can easily be overrun by Jonathan.”
However, the Atiku campaign group does not appear to be bothered by the interest generated by the opposition from Buhari’s camp. The Director of the Atiku Media Office, Garba Shehu, in a telephone interview said his principal’s quest for the APC ticket and ultimately Nigeria’s Presidency was hinged on his desire to serve.
According to him, Atiku’s reach and connection within and outside the country makes him the best person for the job.
He said all the former Vice-President was seeking to do was to give back to the Nigerian society which gave him enormous opportunities.
Shehu said the Atiku campaign group had taken a conscious decision not to attack any aspirant bidding for the ticket and would run only issue-based campaign.
He said “You are not going to see us attacking any aspirant, because if we attack any aspirant, we will weaken the party; his conduct will be one of civility, and respect for each contestant. We are hoping that this will be about ideas. We need more aspirants within the APC to put themselves forward for election and Nigerians will choose who they want.”
Shehu noted that the assumption about other aspirants who had yet to declare was not a problem because the Nigerian Constitution does not say the first person to aspire automatically gets the ticket.
Shehu said, “Today, Abubakar ranks higher than most state governments in terms of job creation as the businesses he is involved in has served more Nigerians both directly and indirectly in terms of employment than even the government.”
Party sources, said the party hierarchy was already grappling with the daunting task of picking a flag bearer.
One of the sources said, “The leadership of the APC is aware that because of the early but illegal campaign, President Jonathan has locked down the South -South and the South- East.
“To counter this, we are looking for somebody who can lock down the North- West and the North-East.
“If things continue as they are today, the North-Central will be split between the APC and the PDP. If this happens, the South-West will then play the role of decider.”
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