13 October 2014

Battle for APC Presidential Ticket: Buhari v Kwankwaso

The bid for the All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential ticket got on the fast lane at weekend, with Senator Bukola Saraki pulling out of the race. The former Kwara State Governor said he would back a candidate that is acceptable to all party members. “I don’t think our party can afford too much internal racour going into the election,” the former Kwara State Governor said.
Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar has announced his interest in the race. Gen. Muhammadu Buhari is set to join the race on Wednesday at the Eagle Square in Abuja. Gen. Buhari was at the Lagos State House in Marina to seek Governor Babatunde Fashola’s support for his ambition.

He was accompanied by ex-Bayelsa State Governor Timipre Sylva, ex-Minister Nasir El-Rufai and former Speaker Bello Masari. The attempt to get Kano State Governor Rabiu Kwankwaso to step down for Gen. Buhari has failed. Supporters of the governor said he will announce his candidacy on October 28. Stakeholders tried to prevail on the governor to step down since both of them are from the Northwest zone, which has the highest voter population. According to the APC nomination of candidates time table, presidential aspirants are expected to have obtained an expression of interest forms by October 19. The sale of the forms will open from next Monday till November 6. The aspirants will be screened between November 10 and 12. The candidate will be elected at its national convention on December 2. President Goodluck Jonathan has already been endorsed as the consensus candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), although some members of the party are silently grumbling about the close of space for others. Gen. Buhari’s 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.” One of Kwankwaso’s Campaign Coordinators, Chief Olisaemeka Akamukali, said Kwakwanso planned to declare his presidential ambition on October 23. He said after a nationwide consultation with party leaders and other political stakeholders regarding the presidential election, the governor had decided to throw his hat in the ring. 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. He maintained that the national leader of the party, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, party’s national Chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun and Atiku were together in the SDP with the Kano State governor adding that Kwakwanso is still retaining the affinity he had with the political network.

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