It is evident from emerging results of the governorship primaries for the All Progressives Congress (APC) as conducted across the country last Thursday, that the exercise is a prelude to the power play between two major contenders for the 2015 Presidential election under the platform of the party.
From available results and mostly in states where the APC is in the opposition, the power play between former Head of state, Gen Muhammadu Buhari and former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar was not only evident but fierce, with each trying to ensure his preferred candidate emerges victorious.
Prior to the gubernatorial congress, the aspirants have transverse the length and breadth of the country, seeking to influence the delegates and to ensure that they not only emerge victorious in the scheduled presidential primaries but that their preferred candidates are returned as gubernatorial aspirants under the APC.
Media reports on the sojourn of the Turakin Adamawa as he cris-crossed the country canvassing support from delegates indicated to some extent that the former Vice President may actually pose a threat to the leading contender, Buhari, especially with reports confirming the declaration of support for his candidacy, with over 90 percent of the delegates in Taraba State said to have declared their support for Atiku.
According to recent reports, 92 percent of the delegates threw their support behind the former Vice President, with the delegates said to have described Atiku as a son of the soil and the only presidential aspirant from the north eastern part of the country.
The report added that the decision was part of the resolutions reached at a steering committee meeting between Taraba Atiku Abubakar 2015, APC presidential delegates and Atiku Abubakar presidential campaign team from Adamawa State.
Briefing journalists on the stand of the delegates, shortly after the meeting which took place at the Senator Aisha Jummai Unity hall, Jalingo, the Chairman, APC in Taraba State, Alh Hassan Jika Ardo said, “The decision of the delegates as you can see, we have moved the adoption of Alh Atiku Abubakar as the presidential candidate of the party in Taraba State”.
Jika Ardo, who described APC delegates as the people saddled with the responsibility of selecting who should be the flag bearer of the party in the 2015 general election noted every candidate in the country is seeking for the support of delegates.
Similarly, Atiku’s aspirations to emerge presidential candidate of the APC got a boost last Sunday as the chairman of the party in Gombe pledged that delegates from the zone would support him.
Magaji Doho, the APC Chairman in Gombe, stated this when Atiku met party delegates from Gombe and Yobe states in Gombe. He assured the Turakin Adamawa of full support by the state chapter and the delegates.
Doho said the insecurity in the zone has affected many people, adding that Atiku’s efforts have reduced the menace in Adamawa. He expressed optimism that the presidential ticket of the party and eventual victory in the 2015 elections would go to North East.
The chairman further commended the aspirant for his foresight to invest in his North East zone and the country at large.
While addressing the delegates, Atiku solicited their support for his presidential ambition.
According to him, he has spent over 30 years in politics and he deserves to be the president of Nigeria, “being the person who knows Nigeria’s problems”.
He said if voted in to power, he would protect the right of ordinary Nigerians and promote peaceful coexistence among all interest groups nationwide.
On his part, former Head of state and leading contender for the APC presidential ticket, Muhammadu Buhari, has taken the campaign to delegates across the country, especially the south east and south south, where he made it imperative to disabuse the minds of the delegates as well as the generality of the people over the alleged claim that he is a religious bigot, an allegation being propagated by especially the ruling party, the PDP.
Last Tuesday, Buhari met with delegates from Imo State at the Regent Hotel, where he lobbied them to vote for him, while also visiting the Imo State House of Assembly to lobby the APC members of the legislature who are statutory delegates to the convention.
In the home state of President Goodluck Jonathan, a large crowd of APC supporters trooped out in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, on Wednesday, to receive Buhari , with party enthusiasts and other residents of the state crowding the secretariat of APC at Erepa Street in Yenagoa, to catch a glimpse of the former head of state whose slogan is “zero tolerance to corruption.”
Buhari was in the state to address the delegates of the party for the APC’s forthcoming presidential primaries and was received by the state Chairman of APC, Mr. Tiwe Oruminighe and members of the state working committee.
Addressing the delegates, Buhari lamented the deep-rooted corruption in Nigeria, blaming it on the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), stressing that the PDP had brought nothing but untold hardship to Nigerians, adding that another four years of the PDP would further plunge the country into misery.
He asked the people to compare 1999 when the PDP took over the reins of power with the present realities, observing that everything had gone from bad to worse as according to him, according to him Nigerians should either make a wise choice in the next election by voting the APC or remain in perpetual suffering.
“If you want to know how much we have been suffering under the PDP since 1999, try and imagine what our condition was in 1999. We used to have Nigerian airways, we used to have Nigerian shipping lines, the roads were not too bad, even light itself was not too bad,” he said.
The two presidential aspirants, likewise the remaining trio of Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, Sam Nda Isaiah and Rochas Okorocha, have left no stone unturned as all have gone out in full throttle seeking to woo delegates who would finally decide who emerges the presidential candidate of the party in a few days coming.
However, analysts are of the view that certain factors like the pedigree of the aspirants, disposition of the APC governors toward the aspirants, outcome of the governorship primaries as well as the influence of the national leadership of the party, could go a long way in deciding who gets the nod to fly the flag of the APC in the 2015 presidential election.
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.
Recall that during the declaration of intent of both Atiku and Buhari, when the former Vice President made known his intention to contest the seat of the president at the Yar’Adua Centre, not a single APC governor graced the occasion but when Gen Buhari stormed the Eagle Square to declare, many, if not all the APC governors attended the event.
Again, the outcome of the recently concluded guber primaries was another indication of where the pendulum will swing when the chips are finally down. In Adamawa State, home state of the former Vice President, despite assurances from delegates of their support, Atiku’s preferred guber candidate, Alhaji Ibrahim Mijinyawa, was floored by Buhari’s anointed candidate, Sen Mohammed Jibrilla Bindow.
Similarly, In Katsina State, the home state of Buhari, former Speaker of the Federal House of Representatives, Aminu Bello Masari, defeated Abdulazeez Yar’Adua, younger brother to the late president Musa Yar’Adua, who many believe is the preferred candidate of Atiku who inherited the political machine of the late Shehu Musa Yar’Adua.
In Gombe State, former deputy speaker of the House of Representatives, Usman Bayero Nafada, lost to a former Commissioner for Finance in the state, Alhaji Inuwa Yahaya. At the end of the exercise, Yahaya polled 905 votes to beat the two other aspirants, Nafada, who polled 727 votes and Murtala Aliyu with only 22 votes in the exercise conducted under a peaceful atmosphere at the Gombe International Hotel.
Even though pundits are of the view that Gombe State political strongman, former governor Danjuma Goje, has thrown his support behind Governor Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, it is generally known that when the push comes to a shove, the Kano State governor may finally throw his support behind Buhari.a