Buhari, Kwankwaso Begins Battle for APC Presidential Ticket as Consensus Plan Fails
Both men in an apparent determination to slug it out have now formally scheduled dates to declare their aspirations.
Buhari is to declare for the contest on Wednesday, October 15, while Governor Kwankwanso has himself scheduled his declaration for October 23, 2014.Kwankwaso’s decision to go public with his bid, it was learnt, was sequel to the failed effort to forge a consensus deal between him and Buhari. Both men are presently, the two major aspirants from the Northwest geopolitical zone of the country.
While Kwamkwaso’s supporters are making a case for a young blood to take a shot at the presidency, Buhari’s followers advance political maturity, popularity and experience as factors that cannot be ignored.
The governor, according to party sources, wants the former head of state to endorse him because he has age on his side and due to his closeness to him, but those who are loyal to Buhari are asking him to respect the age and the experience of the general and withdraw from the race.
Speaking to some journalists in Abuja yesterday, a chieftain of APC and a strong supporter of the governor, Chief Olisaemeka Akamukali, said the governor will be unveiling his presidential campaign by next week Thursday, according to the plan made by his campaign co-ordinators nationwide.
According to him, Kwankwaso has been engaging in nationwide consultations with party leaders and political stakeholders regarding the 2015 presidential election and the outcome is favourable.
He hinted that the governor slowed down his campaign due to pressure to yield ground to Gen. Buhari, stressing that rather than ask the governor to step down, it is the former Head of State who should make way for a younger candidate – in line with the need for generational shift.
He said: “In as much as we agree that Buhari is a man of integrity but you will also agree with me that age is not on his side. He is 73, going to 74 years and Ex-Vice President Atiku Abubakar is close to 70 years old. But Kwakwanso will be 58 by October 21.”
He explained that it was wrong for anybody to regard the governor as a “dark horse” in the contest, adding that Kwakwanso had long years of experience in politics, beginning from 1991 when he emerged as the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives on the platform of the Social Democratic Party (SDP).
He said: “Kwakwanso has long years of experience in politics. He has been a parliamentarian, a governor and two-time minister. When he contested the governorship election in Kano state and lost, he congratulated the winner and waited for eight years before staging a come-back.
“The governor is a grassroots politician and one who tries to carry his followers along in his undertakings
“Remember he was once a member of the Group of seven governors who protested the goings-on in his former party. I will not be surprised if many of them still in the PDP will want to support his aspiration to become president.”
Akamukali added: “The issue of anointing candidates for elections has been rejected by the APC and that is why the party is insisting that there shall be transparent primaries. The fears of some of the aspirants may be due to the fact of their previous experience where they never face competitive primaries to emerge as party candidate.
“That is why such people are pushing for consensus. The generality of the party is saying ‘no, let us do things differently from what the PDP are doing’. We must have a transparent primary.
The Buhari supporters said at the weekend that the former leader remained the only Nigerian politician who has the courage and capacity to fight corruption.
National Secretary of the Buhari Support Group Ibrahim Daud said the Buhari Support Group, an umbrella body of about 49 voluntary youth organisations, have mobilised five million Nigerians to attend Gen. Buhari declaration of interest on Wednesday.
According to him, Buhari is the only candidate who can defeat the PDP and stop corruption. “That is why the corrupt cabal that has held sway since Nigeria’s return to democracy in 1999 is bent on ensuring that Buhari does not emerge president.
“They are only trying to protect their ill-gotten wealth to the detriment of the majority of Nigerians. Hence they cook up all kinds of mendacities and campaigns of calumny to discredit Gen. Buhari and lower his estimation in the eyes of right-thinking members of the society.
“At first, the antagonists of Nigeria’s national development concocted and fed Nigerians with the lie that Gen. Buhari was a religious bigot, who would convert Nigeria to an Islamic state if elected president.
“Those that know the General intimately know that though he is a dedicated Muslim, he has no trace of religious or even ethnic bigotry. Gen. Buhari is one of the most munificent politicians of our time!
“Now that the gambit of religion cannot work anymore, they are trying to use age as a criterion to discredit him. But it has come to public knowledge that all these tales being fabricated by his political opponents are only strategies employed to maintain their stranglehold on the people.
“The 2015 presidential election shall be a political turning point for Nigeria, as the citizenry have become increasingly aware of the antics of the corrupt ruling class and other detractors and saboteurs of the nation.
“This time, the gambit of religion, age or any other primordial sentiment will not deter the people from voting for Buhari in 2015. Even though we agree with the idea of generational change in leadership, we believe that only a mature politician like Buhari will be able to wrest power from the PDP, before sanitising the polity.
“Gen. Buhari is the only presidential aspirant that can make a full declaration of his assets before taking office. He will also declare his assets upon leaving office, to enable the people to make candid evaluations of his stewardship.
“We should bear in mind that massive unemployment, terrorism/insurgency, disease prevalence are all linked vicariously to high-profile corruption and impunity by the ruling class.
“For Nigeria to make meaningful and steady progress, a mechanism must be put in place to tackle corruption and indiscipline, and this mechanism can only be driven by an incorruptible leader like Gen. Buhari.
“This is because we have watched corruption in public places escalate steadily over the last 16 years that the PDP has been in power. We must effect the necessary leadership change now, to move Nigeria and indeed Nigerians out of the doldrums.
“We can say affirmatively that the epoch-making declaration of General Buhari will witness the unprecedented attendance of not less than five (5) million passionate supporters of the General.”
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