Buhari, 71, obtained APC membership card this year, on February 8. But the first indications that the former head of state may contest the party’s presidential primary emerged in August.
Some of the APC leaders told Sunday Independent that Buhari candidature could guarantee vast support for the APC from the North-west and North-east, because, the sources said, most people in the North still see the former head of state as the messiah.
According to the sources, Buhari seems to be the only person with qualities antithetical to any potential candidate from the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). This alternative, the sources said, may give additional votes to the opposition party.
One of the leaders from the Middle Belt said that Buhari is the only Nigeria’s leader who is not corrupt. He also called him a unifying figure within the party.
Party’s primary is ‘something we have to manage very well’
Sunday Independent gathered that the major headache of the APC at the moment is how to conduct transparent primary in which Buhari will emerge the winner.
Sources noted that the APC leadership is being very conscious that Nigerians are watching its nomination process as a test of whether the party will respect its constitution and is committed to a credible and transparent nomination process.
“You can only envisage what would happen if the party failed to field Buhari. Remember that there are many people who joined the APC because of Buhari and they are ready to do everything for him,” said the source who required anonymity as he was not authorised to speak on the matter.
“So, it’s something we have to manage very well. In fact, I can tell you emphatically that the unity of the party would be greatly affected if Buhari is not picked as our presidential candidate,” the source added.
Sunday Independent reports that another party leader said in a telephone interview that the APC leaders were well aware of the tag of a serial presidential loser attached to Buhari.
He ran unsuccessfully for the presidential office in the 2003, 2007 and 2011.
But, the source added, 2015 election would be different because of the increasing dynamics of the presidential race and the determination of APC leaders to forgo their personal interests to that of the party.
He also said that although there are other presidential hopefuls in the party that are being speculated to have an ambition – namely, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal, and the Kano State governor, Rabiu Kwankwaso – the party cannot afford to take a gamble in presenting an electable candidate that can defeat the PDP.
“With Buhari, we are already sure of 16 million votes; and if you look at the current spread of our party’s configuration in the country, we are going to do well in the North-west, North-east, North-central and very well in the South-west.
“The only problem we are likely to have is the Southeast. The Southsouth is going to be keenly contested because of the twin-factors of Governor Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State and the Rivers State governor, Rotimi Amaechi, who are top contenders for the Vice-Presidency.
“Apart from this, don’t forget that Buhari has cult followership in the North and that he lost many of states in 2011 because he did not manage the nomination process of the candidates well. “This time around, the APC is ready to exploit these advantages in our bid to defeat President Goodluck Jonathan,” said the source.
Still, Atiku, Tambuwal, Kwankwaso should not be written off
This implicit endorsement of the former Head of State by the APC leaders has not stopped former Tambuwal, Kwankwaso, and former Vice-President, Atiku Abubakar, from strategising for the plum job and animating their structures.
It was gathered that even though the trio may not openly challenge Buhari if he decides to contest, they are aware of eventualities that could support their candidature before the primary.
According to sources within the APC, the three contenders have formed committees and have been holding meeting across the country for an eventual entrance into the presidential race.
Meanwhile, substantive national leaders of the APC are to emerge at the National Convention of the party on May 24.
It will be preceded by Ward Congresses on April 5, Local Government Congresses on April 12, and State Congresses on April 23.
Nigeria’s presidential election scheduled for February 14, 2015.
Source: Daily Independent