Tag Archives: Atiku

As We Begin the Journey to 2019

As We Begin the Journey to 2019



Pendulum
By Dele Momodu; dele.momodu@thisdaylive.com
Fellow Nigerians, unbeknown to many of our people, the battle for who becomes our next President has already started in earnest. Never mind the fact that the incumbent President is still firmly in power even if he’s spent more time outside than inside in recent times. Despite his absence, President Muhammadu Buhari continues to exert almost total control on the affairs of state through regular phone chats with the Acting President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, who is deeply loyal and committed to their joint cause, and emissaries who criss-cross the two continents to transmit messages to him and relevant officials. Nonetheless, you can’t blame the gladiators for shaping up this early for the big contest that is looming. It is big because it is unlikely that the current incumbent President will run again because of the fragile state of his health. Like joke, like joke, the Buhari/Osinbajo government is in its third year. By this time next year, the general elections would just be about six months away. That’s just too close for comfort.
The Presidential race is always the biggest deal in most countries, Nigeria in particular. The reason is simple. The President of Nigeria is probably the most powerful black President in the world. This is why you find so many perpetual contestants who never get tired of seeking power. Let me just go straight to the meat of my message without wasting your precious time on any long preamble.
Some aspirants have actually started making subterranean moves, here and there, to prepare the grounds for their eventual launch. The most obvious ones include former Vice President Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and former Governor Rabiu Kwankwaso of Kano. The boldest and most vocal visible aspirant is the current Governor of Ekiti State, Peter Fayose who has even announced a date for the official declaration of his bid for the Presidency. Fayose seems to have mastered the art and science of politics. He has warned that no one should underrate him. I won’t because nothing is impossible in our clime.
Anyway. Let’s move on. The main cause of the early moves is the general belief in political circles that President Buhari is not likely to contest in 2019. His poor health has virtually eliminated him from the race no matter how much and how well he recovers from his present ailment. I think so too. Baba himself had declared in one of his rare interviews that he’s never been this sick in his life. Only the cruellest human being would advise President Buhari to continue to subject himself to the rigours of the Presidential office when he returns. To add the vagaries of rough and tumble of a Presidential race to his recuperation would be inhuman indeed. God has been very kind to him and there is nothing more to prove or to achieve. Others must carry on the fight as his able Vice President, now Acting President has been doing.
Alhaji Atiku Abubakar had shown interest in becoming Nigeria’s President since 1993 when he contested the Presidential primaries of the then Social Democratic Party alongside Chief Moshood Abiola and Baba Ghana Kingibe. He was persuaded to withdraw from the contest and throw his weight behind Chief Abiola on the basis of his relative youth amongst other things. Age, it was said, was on his side, and he had many years to seek the Presidency. Since then, he has never stopped dreaming and aspiring. Unfortunately, he has always just fallen short! He had made his next move in 2003, after he served as Vice President to President Olusegun Obasanjo from 1999. The “abortive coup” (as it was described), to force Obasanjo out and bring Atiku in, by the all-powerful Governors of the time failed spectacularly. The cold war between Atiku and his boss exploded into full view and became a smouldering inferno. Atiku instantly became a marked man. He himself would be forced out of the party he helped to found and had to join others to form another party. But before too long Atiku was compelled by circumstances to scamper back to PDP. Not many felt that was a smart move. He was viewed as being too desperate and unprincipled. This flip-flop has been his major albatross. And he was not yet done! Atiku again jumped ship from the floundering PDP when some five Governors defected and joined the fulcrum of APC. There are already indications that he may be compelled to abandon ship again but where to, we don’t know. Some say that he is grooming PDM for this purpose and has already caused a crisis in his former movement.
There is no doubt that Atiku would make a good leader. He is a seasoned politician who is known to have the ability to unite Nigerians because of his extensive networks across the nation. He also has the penchant for recruiting the best brains to work with. If he becomes the President, he would be bringing in his wealth of experience in public service and private business that is almost second to none. But there are major setbacks against him. One is how to find the detergent to cleanse or unglue himself from the sticky mud his former boss President Obasanjo had generously splashed on him. He’s largely portrayed as a very corrupt and corruptible leader who may lead Nigerians into temptation and perdition with his acolytes. Whether this is a fair assessment or wicked blackmail is his business to deal with but it won’t be so easy to wish or wash away.
Atiku will find it difficult to clinch the APC ticket. There are obvious signs that he has already positioned some of his close associates in PDP, in case of emergency but he may be scammed at the end of the day if he takes the risk of pulling out of his present party. He needs to worry about his age. He has already crossed 70 and it is doubtful if most Nigerians want to be saddled with another old man who may collapse under the brutal weight of presidential stress and pressure. He would require more of a clean bill of health to persuade young Nigerians that he’s not carrying some health liabilities like others in the past. In summary, we have a reasonable bridge-builder and veteran administrator who may be too old and too late in seeking political office.
Next is the former Governor of Kano State, Senator Mohammed Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, a man with very vast political and administrative pedigree. He has gone through the whole gamut of governance at both executive and legislative levels. His performance as Governor of the massive state of Kano is an eloquent testimony to the fact that he may be the one to ignite the infrastructural revolution in Nigeria. He cuts the image of a frugal Aminu Kano with his simple mien. His grassroots non-governmental movement known as Kwankwasiyya Pillars of the Nation is well mobilised and may give him an edge over most aspirants. He also has in his favour the fact that Kano State has the highest number of registered voters and may be able to count on garnering a significant number of these. He is also expected to draw strength from his former colleagues in the Governors’ Forum across the nation but no one is sure how relevant they still are. Kwankwaso is 60 years old and falls the under the age of 65 that many want as the upper limit for contestants. On the negative side, he is not likely to have the formidable war chest of an Atiku Abubakar though this did not stop him from beating Atiku to third place in their last APC Primaries.
Say what you will, the Acting President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, must be factored into the equation by all means. The reason is that he seems to enjoy a special rapport with his ailing boss who may prefer to hand over fully to someone he knows well than risk certainty for uncertainty. Osinbajo has been a very loyal and dependable ally, the sort that are not common in this clime. This is no surprise because his vocation as a lawyer, his service as a teacher and his calling as a Pastor makes him imbued with integrity and dignity. Osinbajo has also succeeded in bringing Nigerians together and calming frayed nerves. His handling of the economy, security and national awareness is quite commendable and many Nigeria’s applaud his brilliance and performance in steering the affairs of state to its present comfortable position. His only worry would come from ethnic jingoists who do not care about merit but prefer only members of their tribe no matter how useless or incompetent they may be.
Osinbajo is likely to be vehemently opposed by such powerful forces who think only about themselves, although it seems to me that the people of the North are not with them on this occasion. There is no question that Osinbajo has restored hope and promise to Nigeria and should ordinarily be allowed to stabilise the polity and lead us out of the doldrums. The fact that he lacks his own political platforms may be a great disadvantage because he would need to lean on his political godfather and kingmaker, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu who seems tired of fixing others into positions of power without being the ultimate King of Kings himself. However, Asiwaju is canny and wise and would prefer to be in the hallowed corridors of power with his protégé in charge than be outside it particularly given that he is himself ageing and would be over a couple of years over 65 by the time of the next elections.
There has always been speculation that the Senate President, Dr Abubakar Bukola Saraki, is interested in being President. He is eminently qualified to do so. The way he has managed the Senate and worked assiduously on churning out unprecedented number of very efficacious bills is a pointer to his effectiveness as a modern and cosmopolitan leader who understands what the people want and how to give it to them. His biggest migraine apart from allegations of corruption and mismanagement of Societe Generale Bank which has seemingly not gone away, is that he comes from Kwara State. The State is geographically Northern but culturally Southern. His father was Olusola. He is Bukola. His wife is Toyin. His sister is Gbemisola. His Brother is Olaolu. His son is Olaseni. No one could be more Yoruba than Saraki. However, surprisingly, despite this great Yoruba credentials, the Yorubas do not also apparently view him as a Yoruba man but as a Northerner. I do not know how he plans to overcome that challenge of being neither cat nor rat.
The Governor of Sokoto State, Waziri Aminu Tambuwal, attempted very briefly to run the Presidential race in 2015 but seemed to have chickened out and pulled back to settle for the gubernatorial race, where he eventually emerged successful. It is being mentioned in informed circles that he may still want to try his luck. As a former Speaker of the House of representatives and now Governor, he comes with some intimidating arsenal as e is still clearly well loved by his old constituency, the Federal legislators. It is not certain if he would abandon his almost guaranteed second term as Governor for a not so certain Presidential bid. His antecedents in this regard would persuade me not to expect too much of a change in Tambuwal’s circumstances this time around.
The same goes for one of my favourite leaders, Mallam Nasir El Rufai, the Governor of Kaduna State, one of the most cerebral, experienced and visionary leaders in Nigeria today. He is silently revolutionising Kaduna State although people see more of the controversial stuff coming out of that State because of its highly volatile religious mix of Muslims and Christians. Though he is yet to declare his interest openly, he is someone to watch…


Culled from ThisDay 

​Atiku: How I Escaped Sack from Customs over 53 Suitcases Saga

Atiku: How I Escaped Sack from Customs over 53 Suitcases Saga

Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja

Former Vice President, Alahji Atiku Abubakar, wednesday revealed how he was booted out of his job at the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) over the controversial importation of 53 suit cases into the country in 1984 by a first class traditional ruler in the North.

Atiku, who was the Customs Officer in Charge of the Murtala Muhammed Airport when the suit cases were imported into the country, spoke on

his ordeal during the incident, saying the matter almost cost him his job in Customs.

According to Atiku, the Customs bureaucracy then wanted him fired for confirming a newspaper report about the importation of the suit cases, but that the then Minister of Finance, Dr. Onaolapo Soleye, saved his job.

Speaking at a night of tributes and inauguration of an education endowment fund in memory of the late former Managing Director of Daily Times , Dr. Onukaba Adinoyi-Ojo, at the Shehu Yar’Adua Centre in Abuja, the former vice president and chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) said the then military government prevented the Customs operatives from detaining the suitcases and drove it away in a military truck.

He said: “I was a young officer in 1984 in charge of Murtala Muhammed Airport while Ojo was a correspondent of The Guardian covering the airport. We got to know each other because apparently, there were some things we both believed in. Ojo was radical and I was radical, he believed in transparency and straight forwardness.

“Then this policy of change of the national currency came into effect by the military government. It was on a weekend when the issue of the 53 suit cases came up. I wasn’t at the airport because it was a weekend and I was the officer in charge of the place and so, there were beat officers conducting the affair.

“The plane landed on the VIP section and the ADC to the Head of the federal military government came in with a military truck and personnel and drove straight to the aircraft and offloaded those suit cases and did not allow the Custom officers to do their work, and drove away.

“All the custom officers could do was to make an entry into what we called station dairy. If you are a policeman, custom or military man, you should know what a station diary means. It is a diary where we record all incidents as they happen,” he said

Atiku recalled the role of the late Ojo saying, “because he was such an investigative journalist, he got the report. He wasn’t there and normally, a station dairy is not a public document, but our own document. Somehow, Ojo, because of his inquisitiveness, came to know of that entry and from the extract of that entry, he told the world about the improper importation of 53 suit cases.

“I resumed duty on Monday and was confronted with national headlines about the 53 suit cases and without clearing from my headquarters, I just confirmed that there was such an importation and that investigation was being conducted.

“I was summoned to the headquarters and queried why should I confirm the report, and I said I did because it happened, and I met it in the station dairy. I was threatened with expulsion or dismissal from service and I said I was ready if that was an offence.

“The controversy raged on and the bureaucracy insisted that I should be fired and the then Minister of Finance who happened to be Dr. Soleye, said: ‘What is Atiku’s offence that you want him fired?’ As the minister, he over ruled the bureaucracy and I retained my job.”

The former vice president said the Ojo’s handling of the matter clearly showed the type of person that he was when it came to his work.

“He was completely dedicated to investigating and writing the truth. No matter what you do or try to do, he will go ahead and write the truth.

Since that moment, we struck a very close relationship. When I had the opportunity to work with him again, I did not hesitate to give him an appointment as one of my Special Advisers.

“He was one of the seven or eight PhD holders in my office and I recall my boss calling me one day and asking me, what is it you are doing with all these PhD holders and I said, Mr. President, I like to work with people that I will learn from. If I know that I am not going to learn from you, I will not hire you and work with you.

“Together with the rest, they form the core of my office and of course, in our administration, he knew the impact of my office on our administration. That is a matter for historians to write.”

Speaking on the reason for the endowment fund, he said: “Even if Ojo were to be alive today, he will be working for his family and trying to give the best education for his children. That is why I initiated this educational fund for his three kids.”

Acording to him, “I want to appeal to all of you to think about these kids. We all knew that Ojo left nothing because he was not the kind of person who enjoyed keeping money or wanting money by all means. No matter how small, please contribute to this educational fund,” he said. 
Culled from ThisDay

APC Presidential Primary: Strengths and Weaknesses of the Candidates

Sam Nda-Isaiah

Sam Nda-Isaiah

Buhari

Buhari

Rochas Okorocha. Punch Picture

Rochas Okorocha. Punch Picture

Kwankwaso

Kwankwaso

Atiku

Atiku

APC Presidential Primary: Strengths and Weaknesses of the Candidates

APC Presidential Primary: How the candidates stand
Festus Owete

Today (Wednesday), no fewer than 8,000 delegates of the All Progressives Congress [APC} will gather in Teslim Balogun Stadium in Lagos to pick the party’s flag-bearer for the February 14 presidential election.
The delegates, both elected and statutory, drawn from the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, will choose from the five aspirants who are asking to be elected as the party’s candidate for a presidential election that bookmakers believe might be the most competitive since 1999, when Nigeria transited from military dictatorship to representative democracy. Whoever of the five is selected at the primaries will slug it out with  President Goodluck Jonathan, who is being ratified later today in Abuja as the candidate of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party [PDP].
The APC presidential aspirants are (in alphabetical order) a former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar;  a former Head of State, Muhammadu Buhari;  governor of Kano State, Rabi’u Kwankwaso; his Imo State counterpart, Rochas Okorocha and the founder of Leadership newspapers, Sam Nda-Isaiah.
The sixth aspirant,  the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal, who late in October left the PDP for the party, has since  withdrawn from the race soon after some of his friends and colleagues in the House bought for him the Expression of Interest and Nomination Forms worth N27.5 million.
He opted instead to run for the governorship of his home state of Sokoto, and he won the party’s ticket Thursday.
In the last three months, Messrs Atiku, Buhari, Kwankwaso, Okorocha and Nsa-Isaiah have traversed the country selling their programmes to party faithful ahead of today’s presidential primary. So far, their campaigns have been decent, apparently in adherence to the party’s stern directive asking them not to engage in mudslinging and character assassination.
Discreet attempts by some party leaders to pick a consensus candidate among the aspirants were unsuccessful. All five contenders preferred to go into today’s contest, believing they  could secure victory in a credible primary.
According to the Chairman of the 24-member National Convention Committee, Kayode Fayemi, the party’s candidate will emerge by secret ballot. He also said the five aspirants signed an undertaken to abide by the outcome of the primary.
Part of the agreements was that the losers in today’s contest will not only strongly back the  winner that emerges, but will also not defect from the party.
“We use all sorts of names for these things – undertaking, consensus, understanding and so on. The important thing to us and the aspirants, which they have demonstrated, is that we don’t want to play into the hands of our opponents who are just waiting to see the collapse of the party,” Mr. Fayemi, a former governor of Ekiti State, said.
“That would shock Nigerians if we played into their hands. Nigerians want a credible alternative, they want this democracy to endure and the only way it will endure is if there is a fair competition and not a one-sided one.”
How The Candidates Stand
Atiku Abubakar: The former vice president, and one of Nigeria’s smoothest political operators, is not new to presidential contest.
In 2007, he ran for the first time for the nation’s topmost political job on the platform of the defunct Action Congress, AC, but came a distant third, behind the then Governor of Katsina state, Umaru Yar’Adua and Mr. Buhari.
In 2011, shortly after he returned the PDP, the party on whose ticket he was VP, he ran against Mr. Jonathan at the primary election, but lost.
He had much earlier, in 1992, showed interest in running the country on the platform of the defunct Social Democratic Party, SDP, in the Third Republic. He came third in the presidential primary of the SDP at the time.
While formally declaring his fresh presidential bid to run on September 24, Atiku said one of the reasons he never gave up on Nigeria was because Nigerians had never succumbed to despair and hopelessness amidst difficulties and growing anxiety.
“This never-say-die attitude gives me immense hope and it is one of the reasons why I can never give up on Nigeria,” he said.
He lamented the poor state of the nation’s economy even as he recalled that the Olusegun Obasanjo administration, under which he served, successfully reformed some critical sectors of the economy such as telecommunications and the capital market.
Atiku, 62, prides himself as one of the most experienced in the race going by his credentials as vice president for eight years, a successful businessman and a retired civil servant.
With a largely successful political career spanning about 24 years, Atiku has clearly built bridges and political structures which he could deploy to dislodge  Mr. Jonathan from power next year.
Among the presidential aspirants, the former vice president appears to be the best prepared for the job. Recently he organised policy retreat aimed at fashioning a blueprint on how he would run the country if elected president.
During the retreat held at Obasanjo’s Presidential Library in Abeokuta, Ogun State, sometimes in October, about 50 experts drawn from diverse backgrounds and competences analysed his policy document that will form the bedrock of his regime.
Again, with a deep pocket, the APC delegates might be swayed to his side. Not a few party faithful believe that if he gets the ticket, Atiku could single-handedly fund his campaign without looking at the direction of the party.
Although he does not enjoy the kind of followership in the North as Mr. Buhari, he is sure to share the northern votes this time at the APC convention with Messrs. Buhari, Kwankwaso and Nda-Isaiah.
Although bold and courageous, a major drawback could be his persistence defection from one party to another.
Some members of the party also see him as someone who is desperate to occupy the presidential seat. To these party members, the former vice president could be extremely independent-minded and would not be easily controlled by the party hierarchy, if he becomes president.
Perception is important in politics. During his fierce disagreement with then President Obasanjo in 2006,  he was portrayed as corrupt, and repeatedly investigated. The allegations have remained largely unproved and he has never been tried for corruption. However, it has remained difficult for Atiku to convince Nigerians that he came into politics already fully made and that he acquired his vast wealth through legitimate means.
Muhammadu Buhari: He is a retired major general, who ruled Nigeria between 1983 and 1985. He declared his renewed bid to rule Nigeria again on the APC platform at a well-attended rally on October 15, in Abuja.
He has contested for the office of president in three previous elections. His first outing on the platform of the defunct All Nigeria Peoples Party, ANPP, was in 2003 when he was beaten to second position by the then President, Olusegun Obasanjo, who got 24,456,140 votes. Mr. Buhari had just 12,710,022 votes.
Mr. Buhari tested his popularity once again in 2007, but was beaten by the then governor of his home state of Katsina, Umaru Yar’Adua. While Mr. Yar’Adua polled 26,638,063 votes, Mr. Buhari, who also ran in that election on the ANPP ticket came a distant second with 6,605, 299 votes.
In 2011, the retired general was on the march again. But at this time, he had fallen out with the ANPP and he and his supporters had floated the defunct Congress for Progressives Change [CPC]. It was on that platform that he ran against incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan in that year’s election. He lost to the president by 12,214,853 to 22, 495, 187 votes.
Although, Mr. Buhari had pledged not to run again after that election, he recently changed his mind claiming in a letter to some prominent Nigerians that he was concerned about the deteriorating economic and security situation in the country and would want to help address them.
On another occasion in Kaduna last month, the former head of state revealed how a former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Nasir El-Rufai, prompted him to enter the presidential race again.
Regardless of how he joined the race this time, Mr. Buhari is optimistic he could fix Nigeria. He told a crowd of cheering supporters when he formally declared his plan to contest that he would place priority on protection of lives and property, pursue economic policies for shared prosperity and immediate attention on youth employment, provide quality education for development, modernity and social mobility; pursue agricultural productivity for taking millions out of poverty and ensuring food security while also reviving industries to generate employment.
He also promised to develop solid minerals exploitation, restore honour and integrity, tackle corruption and respect constitutional separation of powers between the arms of government.
But how far can he go in today’s primary election? Undoubtedly, the former head of state is one of the front runners in election. He parades impressive credentials, which includes experience in governance. He was a military governor and minister.
Having contested on three previous occasions, Mr. Buhari has built structures across the country, which would likely play in his favour.
What might sway the votes to him today is the cult-like followership he enjoys in the North of Nigeria. Delegates might prefer to invest in him believing his popularity might help the APC to defeat Mr. Jonathan in February. Indeed, not a few Nigerians believe that he stands a better chance of posing a threat to the PDP candidate in the North.
The delegates might also be influenced by Mr. Buhari’s acclaimed incorruptible disposition. For some party members, he might be the best option, especially in these times when the incumbent federal administration is perceived to be looking the other way in the face of massive and widespread corruption in the country.
Mr. Buhari also appears to be enjoying huge support from some party chieftains who could influence delegates to his side. For instance, it is speculated that he enjoys the support of another national leader of the party and former Lagos State Governor, Bola Tinubu.
Mr. Buhari’s consistency in the opposition could also be a plus. Seen by his loyalists as a “born-again” democrat, the former military strongman, who terminated the civilian government of President Shehu Shagari in 1983, unlike the average Nigerian politician, never for once broached the idea of leaving the opposition despite losing elections three successive times.
However, the former head of state might face serious financial challenge in pushing his ambition through at the primary, which is why some of his supporters reportedly canvassed the idea of consensus candidacy which they believe might place him above the rest.
Besides, some party members are said to be tired of Mr. Buhari showing interest in every presidential race in the past three elections and would want him to retire from politics.
Another odd against the retired general is his age. He is 72, thus making him the oldest among the five contenders for the ticket. Some are already suggesting that he should give way to younger elements to try their hands in the presidential contest.
Rabi’u Kwankwaso: Alhough an engineer with a doctorate degree, Mr. Kwankwaso has had a progressive political career since 1991 when he quit the civil service voluntarily.
The Kano State governor, who leaves office in May, next year was Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives in the botched Third Republic.
He ran Kano State as governor between 1999 and 2003 on the PDP platform, but lost his re-election bid to the incumbent Education Minister, Ibrahim Shekarau. He returned as governor in 2011, but before then, had held the portfolio of Defence Minister during Mr. Obasanjo’s second presidential term.
Mr. Kwankwaso, 57, is arguably a frontline runner for the presidential ticket of the APC, a party he joined last year.
His performance as governor has drawn followers to him in the last few years and he believes he can replicate same at the national level. He has repeatedly stated so at every opportunity he has to showcase his achievements.
Recently, the governor said he had been studying the problems facing the country over the years and had come to the conclusion that he had the requisite experience and expertise to tackle the issues and give Nigerians and Nigeria a new lease of life.
He said he is particularly worried about the nation’s security challenges. According to him, the inability of the Jonathan administration to tackle the situation is not acceptable because millions of Nigerians had been driven into some neighbouring countries.
“The situation is so bad that apart from those displaced by the insurgents, many other Nigerians have been hospitalised while others have gone into hiding just to save their lives, while the system continues to give assurance of victory,” he said.
“So many Nigerians have also been displaced in Chibok, Gwoza and Bama as well as other places in the country. This is not a good thing for Nigeria and we need to rise up and find a lasting solution to the problem, which is not beyond us.
“A situation whereby Nigeria’s leadership is encouraging division is not good for the unity of Nigeria. We should stop abusing the very people we are supposed to protect and give them a sense of hope and dignity.”
But will his performance in Kano be the only selling point?
Apart from his performance credentials, some see him as a bold and dogged fighter who could brace all odds in governance.
Also, analysts say pairing him with the Rivers State Governor, Chibuike Amaechi, as running mate, could threaten the PDP during the February presidential outing.
However, analysts believe that unlike Messrs Buhari and Abubakar, Mr. Kwankwaso does not have a national appeal that could give the APC an edge over Mr. Jonathan.
Also, his radical views on some national issues might be a minus for him, especially among party members in some parts of the South.
As things stand, he might not be able to match Messrs Atiku and Buhari in today’s primary election. But politics could be unpredictable at times, and he might just spring a surprise.
Rochas Okorocha: Mr. Okorocha, 52, the outgoing governor of Imo State, is the only southerner in the race for the APC ticket.
He was elected governor on the platform of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, but led his supporters and government officials to the APC during the merger talks between the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, Congress for Progressive Change, CPC and the All Nigeria Peoples Party, ANPP.
He had shown interest in the office of president in the past both on the platform of the PDP and the defunct ANPP. He had, however, never contested in the main election.
This time, he said he wants to be president because he can fix Nigeria and that he has a better performance credential than the other four as well as Mr. Jonathan to do so.
He added, “I want to be president because I am convinced beyond any reasonable doubt that I can fix Nigeria.   I am not in this race for primitive accumulation of wealth, but for service.
“Even if PDP, is given another 100 years, PDP will not perform, because they will remain what they are; so I depend on you and your vote to effect the needed change for a better Nigeria of our dream.”
As businessman and philanthropist, Mr. Okorocha, has built political bridges in the North, West and the East, his home region. He holds traditional titles even in the Muslim-dominated North. This confers great advantage on him.
Besides, his performance as governor since 2011 when he assumed office has become a reference point, particularly in that part of the country. But there are those who challenge his claim to have performed, saying some of his projects were cosmetic.
However, Mr. Okorocha’s hide and seek game over his political future is a minus. He is believed to be keeping the governorship slot to himself as a fall back position, even as he contests the presidential primary. Some say he is eyeing the vice presidential slot and that if he fails to pick it, he would revert to the governorship contest in his state.
Again, what may count against him at the primary is the belief by some party members that the presidential slot should go to the North.
As things are, it would be a huge upset if Mr. Okorocha prevails at today’s primary. That seems a distant possibility.
Sam Nda-Isaiah: This founder of the Leadership newspaper is a pharmacist by profession but his father, who died recently, was a journalist.
The 52-year old man has made a success in the media world and this success his supporters believe could be extended to governance.
“I want to be President to change the course of history of this country,” he once said. “I did not leave what I was doing which I was enjoying to come and get harassed simply because I want to feel good about it.”
Mr. Nda-Isaiah said he was not only coming with big ideas, he would be tough on corruption, which he accused the incumbent federal administration of condoning.
He argued that President Jonathan’s carriage does not indicate his willingness to fight the menace, saying, “from your body language, people will decide whether to be corrupt or not. If your idea is to suspend the Central Bank governor for raising alarm about corruption, are you now surprise that there is corruption in the land?”
However, a drawback for the newspaper man is his inexperience, politically. Though successful in the media world, among the contenders for the APC ticket, he is the least experienced. He is new in politics. He is not known to have occupied any political position in the past, which may be a minus for him. He is therefore seen as someone who is not strong enough to withstand Mr. Jonathan in the political battle.
Analysts have consistently argued that Mr. Nda-Isaiah should have tried his hands in lesser political offices, including a National Assembly seat before aiming at the biggest one. But many others have dismissed that suggestion, saying in his writings, he has demonstrated that he has what it takes to fix Nigeria.
Nevertheless, it was learnt that his frustration with the current state of affairs brought him into the race and that even if he loses, he would be comfortable with joining hands with an APC government in his state and in the centre in the task of rebuilding Nigeria.
Those close to him also say his current political adventure is a way of positioning himself for a plum job in case the APC forms the government at the centre in 2015, and ultimately to run for the office of the president in the near future.
VERDICT
An hour is a long time in politics. Anything can still happen before actual voting begins. The party might try once again to explore the possibility of throwing up a consensus candidate.
But talking to party leaders across the states and at the federal level, our analysts came to the conclusion that today’s primary election appears more a two-horse race between Messrs Atiku and Buhari, although the other contenders will definitely give them a run for their money.
Any of the two can carry the day.

Source: Premium Times

How I checkmated Atiku, Obasanjo reveals in new book

Obasanjo in New Book, Says He Planted Moles in His VP’s Camp

By Olusegun Adeniyi 

In his latest book titled My Watch scheduled to be launched in Lagos this morning, former President Olusegun Obasanjo has chronicled the genesis of the uneasy relationship between him and his former deputy, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, as well as how his aides planted moles within Atiku’s camp to monitor him.

Obasanjo, who denied ever seeking Third Term in office, blamed Atiku for what he described as a campaign of calumny against him on the issue after buying up the media.

Revealing details of their private conversations at different times, Obasanjo also traced the ascension to power of President Goodluck Jonathan and the compromise deal that was struck for him (Jonathan) to spend only one term in office.

He said it would be dishonourable for the president to now go back on that promise by contesting the 2015 presidential election.

Obasanjo also accused the Jonathan administration of promoting corruption. He cited several examples to buttress his claim, including what a Chinese told him about how a presidency member of staff demanded a million dollar bribe just to be granted access to the president, a charge which he said he reported to Jonathan without any action taken.

Divided into three volumes and containing 58 chapters and 1,522 pages in all, the tell-all book reads like Obasanjo’s responses to all the people who have dared to criticise him in the past as well as those he believed wronged him politically, most of whom he described in unflattering terms.

In this category are: his anointed successor, the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, whom he called an incompetent ingrate, who was busy reversing his (Obasanjo’s) decisions; Jonathan for whom he also has some harsh words for what he considers his shoddy leadership and inability to honour solemn commitments; and Atiku whose political ambition he said was fuelled by marabouts.

Writing on how Jonathan became vice-president in 2007, Obasanjo confirmed that it was the former Rivers State Governor, Dr. Peter Odili, who was initially shortlisted to be running mate to the late Yar’Adua before he was dropped at the last minute, adding that Odili behaved “childishly” thereafter as if it was a matter of life and death to him.

There are also several salacious details in the book about who was sleeping with whose wife among prominent citizens, the military officer, who would be in the arms of a woman and yet be claiming to be fighting rebels at the war front, etc, while revealing names of those whom he claimed told him unflattering things about other people.

He also did character profiles on some prominent Nigerians, including Prof. Wole Soyinka, Senator Uche Chukwumerije as well as the late Dr. Bala Usman and Chief Gani Fawehinmi.

However, rather curiously, Obasanjo dismissed the letter written by his first daughter, Iyabo, in just one paragraph, claiming that she was hired by the current administration to get at him, while he had no response to the claim by his son, Gbenga, that he (Obasanjo) had an affair with his wife.

He also said he would not respond to any of the damaging allegations by his first wife, Oluremi, in her book even though he admitted some things she wrote were true while others were false.

From Obasanjo’s account, it would seem that his relationship with Atiku began on a sour note:

“By the Constitution, I had to inaugurate or prorogue the National Assembly on June 4, 1999. The most important officer in the National Assembly is the senate president and that office had been zoned to the South-east. And here was where Atiku Abubakar, my vice-president, first showed his hand and his character.

“Without seeking my view or approval, he started planning the installation of Chuba Okadigbo as the senate president. I did a background check on Chuba including his past as a student and made enquiries about him in the National Party of Nigeria (NPN) under (President Shehu) Shagari and no one would recommend him for the post of senate president.

“I left Atiku to go on his chase while I carried out a meticulous and detailed investigation and background check on each senator from the South-east. The one that appeared most appointable was Evan Enwerem. I canvassed the senate across the board for his election and he was elected. Atiku did not expect it and he felt sore.

“He began to strategise for Enwerem to be removed and Chuba Okadigbo to be installed. His strategy worked because I was at Abuja airport to receive a visiting head of state when the news reached me that the Senate had impeached Enwerem and elected Okadigbo. I was not perturbed. I came to understand from some senators including Florence Ita-Giwa, who later became my Special Adviser/ Liaison Officer to the National Assembly, that Atiku distributed US$5,000 each to some senators to carry out the ‘coup’.

“That was the beginning of bribing the legislature to carry out a particular line of action to suit or satisfy the purpose or desire of an individual or a group. The National Assembly had tasted blood and they would continue to want more. From the day I nominated Atiku to be my vice, he set his mind not for any good, benefit or service of the country, but on furiously planning to upstage, supplant or remove me at all cost and to take my place.

“That was what I brought him for, but he was impatient and over-ambitious. He was not ready to learn and to wait. His marabout, who predicted that despite being elected as governor, he would not be sworn in as a governor, which happened, also assured him that he would take over from me in a matter of months rather than years.

“All his plans, appointments of people and his actions were towards the actualisation of his marabout’s prediction. Once I realised his intention and programme, I watched him like a hawk without giving any indication of what I knew and letting down my guard. I could not succumb to the distraction, diversion and malevolence of an ambitious but unwise deputy.

“The work in hand was more important than a confrontational relationship with my deputy, a man over whom I knew I had far more experience and outreach in all matters. To alert him of what I knew he was up to, would only lead to lying, denial, more mischievous plans and more duplicity on his part.

“He was better managed that way. What was important was not allowing myself to be surprised or outmanoeuvred by him. I must always seize the initiative and know what was going on if not in his mind, but at least in his camp. That I did very effectively.

“Sometime in the fourth quarter of 2004, an associate of Atiku came to my residence at the Aso Villa from Atiku’s official residence. He felt uncomfortable and I tried to make him feel at ease. Then, he settled to tell me the story of what had just transpired in Atiku’s residence. I listened with rapt attention.

“He went on to say that Atiku told him that for him to become the President of Nigeria, the 2007 elections were only a formality.

“The seven ingredients he needed for his enthronement were already in his hands. He controlled the National Assembly because both the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives were in his pocket. He controlled twenty-eight out of thirty-six governors. He had control of the media. His influence over the judiciary was overwhelming.

“What he needed was foreign endorsement and for that he had employed two lobby groups in the US and one in the UK. And finally, the money for the elections was in his purse.

“When the man finished, I thanked him without passing any comment. The man was surprised at my reaction and asked, ‘You have nothing to say to these?’ I said that I had nothing to say and I immediately called my ADC, Chris Jemitola, to play a game of squash with me.

“On our way to the squash court with my ADC, I said, ‘People at times make plans and leave God out of their plans.’ My casual remark struck Chris and he said, ‘Sir, that was a profound statement.’ I said that I made the statement because of what I had just heard of Atiku’s plan. I was not convinced he had put God in his plans.

“Atiku was confident and God was laughing. Most of Atiku’s ingredients soon started to fall out of place one by one. The first was the party, PDP.

“He thought I was powerless and had no clue about the execution of his plan with his group; part of his attack on me was for national chairman of the party to give the first salvo, then other things would follow as his grip on the party would be firm and consolidated.

“That salvo came in the form of a letter to me from the chairman of the party, Audu Ogbeh, who had fully defected with (Iyorchia) Ayu to Atiku.

“The letter, which was not the product of any issue or matter discussed with or at any party meeting, came suddenly. When I received it, I could read the sinister intention behind it.

“I spent that night writing my reply and I sent it in the morning. My reply was clear. I wondered why Atiku and his group did not realise that with my reply, the battle line was clear or maybe they thought that the seven ingredients would remain intact to the end.

“My assistants had moles within the Atiku group. Anything that they planned would be reported. That was the case after Ogbeh’s letter. They decided that Ogbeh should appear remorseful and come with the National Working Committee to apologise to me. It was not from their hearts, but to lure me to a ‘killing ground’.

“All pieces of information that were reported were verified because it would not come from only one informant.

“Timely information is a very important principle of war and also of politics. In politics, just as in war, what matters is not just your plan, but knowledge of your opponent’s plan. Knowing their plan, I had the choice of playing along with them or being firm, I chose the latter.

“I told Ogbeh that my relationship with him as national chairman and me as national leader of the party was based on mutual confidence and trust. But with his letter, my reply and what I knew of him then, I could no longer work with him in confidence and trust.

“There were only two choices left for both of us in our best interest and that of the party – he, leaves as chairman or I leave as leader of the party.

“The following Sunday, I called at his house, which I had done on several occasions in the past when there was an important party matter to discuss. This time, I asked him to give me an undated letter of resignation as the national chairman.

“I waited, he gave me but it was wrongly addressed to me rather than to the national secretary of the party as stipulated in the party’s constitution.

“Ogbeh reported to his group and it was decided by them to play on and to wait for my disgrace whenever I presented a letter of resignation not addressed to the national secretary.

“The informants did their job and I, once again, paid another visit to Ogbeh at his residence. He entertained me to a meal and drink, and changed the addressee on his letter of resignation.

“It would appear he never reported the change to his group. When I considered it opportune and appropriate, the letter was dated and presented to National Executive Committee of the party, which regrettably accepted the resignation.

“With that, whatever control Atiku claimed to have over the party began to crumble. But he did not think so and went on to boast that if I made my daughter the national chairman, it would be a matter of weeks not months before he would put her in his pocket.

“I therefore had to look for a successor chairman, who would be too big, uncompromising and inflexible to be lured and controlled by Atiku. I found such a man in Senator (Dr.) Amadu Ali, whom I had known many years earlier as a medical doctor in the army…”

Source: ThisDay

2015 Presidential Election: Who Picks APC Ticket?

APC presidential ticket: Who runs against Jonathan?

by Yusuf Alli

After months of horse-trading, covert moves, realignment and consultations, the All Progressives Congress (APC) is set to elect its presidential candidate on December 10. In this report, Managing Editor, Northern Operation, Yusuf Alli, reviews the strengths, the permutations and the likely outcome of what has turned out to be an absorbing contest.

Unlike in the past when the ruling Peoples’ Democratic Party was confronted with very weak challenge, next year’s presidential elections promises to be a stern test against a resurgent opposition with strength in depth across the country. This is reminiscent of the two-party contest involving the defunct Social Democratic Party (SDP) and National Republican Convention (NRC) under the then military regime of General Ibrahim Babangida.

Today, the All Progressives Congress (APC) boasts five presidential aspirants most of whom could give the incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan a run for his money.

They are ex-Head of State, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari; ex-Vice President Atiku Abubakar; Governor Rochas Okorocha; Kano State Governor Rabiu Kwankwaso; and a pharmacist-turned publisher, Sam Nda Isaiah.

MUHAMMADU BUHARI

The ex-Head of State, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari is on the threshold of making history; the only Nigerian to contest the presidential race four times if given the APC ticket. Though a former head of the Federal Military Government, Buhari had sought to rule the nation through the ballot in 2003, 2007 and 2011 but lost to the PDP candidate.

The presidential poll results since 2003 confirmed Buhari as a political heavyweight and a politician with cult following by the northern masses. Going by INEC records, Buhari’s vote-earning drive was as follows. In 2003, running under the banner of the defunct ANPP, Buhari polled 12,710, 022 votes (32.19%) to ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo’s 24, 456, 140(61.94%), who was the PDP’s candidate.

In 2007 presidential election, he secured 6,605, 299 votes compared to PDP candidate, the late President Umaru Yar’Adua’s 24,638,063. An honest Yar’Adua admitted that the 2007 poll was largely flawed and below standard. The Court of Appeal almost upturned the 2007 poll results.

With the formation of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), Buhari bounced back in 2011 with 12, 214, 853 votes but was defeated by President Goodluck Jonathan of the PDP with 22, 495, 187 votes.

Being the oldest presidential aspirant in Nigeria, Buhari will add more to history if he becomes the APC candidate and is elected in 2015. He will be joining the league of ex-Presidents Ronald Reagan (USA), Abdoulaye Wade (Senegal) who led their nations in old age.

STRENGTHS

Buhari is an epitome of Spartan discipline, a teetotaler, a man of principle, an avowed anti-corruption crusader and a man of the people. As a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, he accounted for every dollar from crude oil sales without blemish. Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has described him as ‘incorruptible.’

Also, in his capacity as the chairman of the defunct Petroleum Task Fund (PTF), Buhari executed far-reaching and grassroots oriented projects which boosted the economy when he had the chance to impact the nation’s economy.

His military background is also a plus given ongoing challenges with Boko Haram. In 1980, when the Maitatsine insurgency was ravaging Nigeria, Buhari, who was then Brigade Commander of the 3rd Armoured Corps in Jos, took the sect headlong and fought them to a standstill  as far as Chad. He almost lost his career in the Nigerian Army for invading Chad allegedly without the permission of the Commander-In-Chief, ex-President Shehu Shagari.

WEAKNESSES

Buhari is often painted, especially by the PDP, as a religious bigot and a politician whose influence is ethnic-based in the North. But facts show that Buhari’s cook, driver and personal aides in the last 30 to 40 years have been Christians.

The Islamic fundamentalist tag has been hung on his neck by his traducers since the violence which erupted after the 2011 poll. The APC will need to do extra work on the religious stigma surrounding Buhari if he emerges the party’s candidate.

Also, he is considered as a politician who is inflexible on issues when convinced they are in the interest of the masses. Above all, Buhari is not an intellectual per se but he is rated as streetwise with native wisdom.

If he secures the APC ticket, Buhari has to learn fast how to be a democrat and how to manage the nuances of the National Assembly which will not tolerate any autocratic tendencies from him.

 ATIKU ABUBAKAR

A former Vice President, Atiku could be rated as a “constant equation” in presidential election since 1993. His experience in the game is richer than any of the aspirants whether in APC or PDP. He was the economic engine room during the administration of ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo.

He had contested presidential elections in 1999 and 2003(as running mates) and the candidate of the defunct Action Congress in 2007. Apart from garnering 18, 738, 154 and 24, 456, 140 votes in a joint ticket with Obasanjo in 1999 and 2003, Abubakar as a sole candidate of AC could only rake 2, 637, 848 in 2007 because he was in and out of court till the last minutes of the poll to fight against his disqualification by a Kangaroo Panel of Enquiry raised by Obasanjo. It was a defeat foretold for Abubakar who was mostly on ‘crutches’ throughout the campaign period.

STRENGTHS

As an orphan, Abubakar’s grass to grace story makes interesting reading. This has reflected in his life making him self-motivated in politics and business. More than any of the aspirants, he is a politician with a deft touch and knowledge of how to prevail in intra-party elections.

It took the personal intervention of his mentor, the late Gen. Shehu Yar’Adua before he could concede the SDP presidential ticket to the late M.K.O Abiola in the early 90s. His greatest asset is his ability to build political and social bridges across the Niger.

Atiku is at home in any part of Nigeria, not only by factor of marriage, but as a result of his magnetic personality. He has incurably loyal  political associates and friends in all parts of the country. These, however, do not translate to political gains.

He was the controller of the economic reforms of the administration of ex-President Obasanjo. He was the driver of the privatization programmes which led to the GSM revolution in the country.

Armed with a limited education, Abubakar is gifted with shopping for eggheads to show him the light. He brought the likes of CBN Governor, Prof. Charles Soludo, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai and others into the government of Obasanjo. He is also a fast learner.

His greatest strength is in being a democrat. As a president, democracy will thrive under Atiku because of his avowed commitment to freedom, liberty and the principle of separation of powers. No one has used the judiciary to fight political cause than Abubakar.

WEAKNESSES

Though always branded as “corrupt” by his political enemies, Abubakar has never been found guilty of any economic or financial crimes. Even when dust was raised at the twilight of Obasanjo’s administration on the management of the funds of the Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF), nothing incriminating was found against him.

The only tar against him was his alleged link with a former United States congressman, William J. Jefferson, who was jailed on November 13, 2009 for $100,000 bribe scam. Again, nothing was found against the former VP. The sustainable trust reposed in him by the larger Yar’Adua family since the death of their patriarch, Gen. Shehu Musa Yar’Adua underscores his level of honesty.

A major weakness of Abubakar, according to those who used to work against him, is being too ambitious. This created a wedge between him and Obasanjo in 2003 who almost dropped him as his running mate. It took much persuasion from state governors, PDP leaders and friends before Obasanjo re-nominated him as his VP. But he was worse for it. He was a castrated or ceremonial VP all through Obasanjo’s second term.

The same ambitious inclination informed his defection from PDP to the AC and later to PDP and APC. His back-to-back defection has cost him a lot of goodwill and he has lost political ground in the North and South-West in the last seven years.  Even his pseudo platform, the Peoples Democratic Movement (PDM) has not made any inroad into the nation’s political landscape since its formation. There were speculations that if Abubakar had remained in the AC which later became the ACN, he could have won the 2011 poll at a time the North was looking for a liberal alternative to Jonathan.

Abubakar’s greatest political humiliation was the loss of the 2011 PDP presidential primaries to Jonathan when even delegates from Adamawa State rejected him. The Thursday loss of the Adamawa APC governorship primaries by his anointed candidate, Ibrahim Minjiyawa to Sen. Jibrilla Bindow for the second time indicated that all is still not well with Atiku’s home front.

 RABIU KWANKWASO

Born in 1956 in Kwankwaso Village in Madobi Local Government Area of Kano State, he had been in politics since 1991. He was a former Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives in the aborted Third Republic and a member of the 1994/95 Constitutional Conference. He was a governor between 1999 and 2003; a former Minister of Defence(2003) ; a former Presidential Special Envoy to Somalia and Darfur in 2007; and re-elected as a governor on April 27, 2011.

Apart from his short stint as the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Kwankwaso and appointment as a minister, Kwankwaso has largely been a master strategist in Kano politics. A progressive minded politician, his political career took a jump from the Peoples Front axis of the defunct SDP in the Third Republic to the PDP in 1998. When there was injustice in PDP, he defected to APC without blinking an eye.

STRENGTHS

Kwankwaso speaks the truth to power; he does not suffer fool gladly like other cringing colleagues. He is also committed to the cause of the downtrodden with masses-oriented projects. His Free Feeding for Primary School Pupils earned him aUN recognition. He has performed so well to the extent that the Federal Government recently commissioned one of Kwankwaso’s project as its own.

A governor given to probity and accountability, Kwankwaso publishes every week the account of his tenure. He is the only Nigerian governor doing so.

WEAKNESSES

Kwankwaso is obsessed with Kano politics to the extent that he has little or no time for national politics. Outside the covert backing he is enjoying from ex-President Obasanjo, Kwankwaso’s presidential aspiration is yet to get national acceptance or recognition. Obasanjo, who is pulling the strings underneath, has not come out to identify with Kwankwaso’s aspiration.

Though his defection with other governors from PDP to APC shot up his profile a bit, he remains at best, a local hero. This perception may be his undoing at the presidential primaries.  In spite of the fact that he built political contacts in the House in the Third Republic, most of them had become stale to assist his presidential aspiration.

He has also personalized governance with his Kwankwasiyya ideology and trademark red cap. Every project is branded Kwankwasiyya in obvious defilement of the basic principle of democracy that power belongs to the people. He enjoys being idolized or hero worshiped by his ardent supporters. Certainly, he is a future presidential material.

 ROCHAS OKOROCHA

A former Commissioner in the Federal Character Commission and a member of the defunct National Constitutional Conference, Okorocha is a veteran governorship and presidential aspirant. He had attempted to be a governor in Imo State in 1999 under the PDP but he failed as ex-Governor Achike Udenwa won the primaries.

By 2003, he was a presidential aspirant of the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) but did not succeed. After his failure, he defected to PDP where he was compensated by ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo with an appointment as Special Adviser on Inter-Party Affairs.

Still aspiring to lead the nation, Okorocha in 2005 established the Action Alliance (AA). Later he shifted base to the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) where he won the governorship poll in 2011.

STRENGTHS

Okorocha is a natural philanthropist with a heart of gold. He is also noted for executing quality projects. A committed grassroots politician with acronym, “My people, my people,” he is a politician who is at home in the North, as in the South-West and the South-East. He is a crowd puller with his intellectually-inclined speeches and sugar-coated tongue. Having been born in Jos, he speaks Hausa like the natives. This has made him to be loved by Northerners.

WEAKNESSES

Okorocha prefers to build an empire around himself than allow democracy to flourish with the principle of separation of powers respected. He is also quite loud about his achievements. He won the 2011 governorship poll through the people’s revolt but the revolution seems to have suffered a setback. He seems to be rejuvenating the revolution again.

He is politically unstable having moved around PDP, ANPP, AA, APGA and now APC.

He does not look like a serious presidential aspirant because his level of consultations had been exceptionally low. The question on every lip of is whether he’s interested in the presidential ticket or playing a hide and seek game. Beyond his declaration in Kaduna, he  has not shown much enthusiasm for the presidency. He appears to be having a fall-back position for re-election as a governor if there is roadblock at the primaries.

Having lost ANPP’s ticket to Buhari in 2003, APC members are not treating his aspiration with much seriousness. Political pundits foresee him stepping down or just participating in APC presidential primaries as mere symbolic gestures.

SAM NDA ISAIAH

Born on May 1, 1962, Sam Nda Isaiah is a pharmacist turned publisher who founded Leadership Newspapers Group – one of the fastest growing newspapers in Nigeria. A man with Midas touch, he was a former member of the Daily Trust Editorial Board before venturing into newspapering. A member of the Asian think-tank, Global Institute for Tomorrow, his foray into politics began in 2002 when he became the Deputy Director-General of Buhari Campaign Organization (BCO) for the 2003 poll under the banner of the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP). He later became a founding member of the CPC.

STRENGTHS

The presidential aspirant is a man of conscience and highly principled. He is devoted to any cause he believes in, fights injustice to individual and the society at large, philanthropic and a man of taste. He does not discriminate on religion, ethnicity and sex. His greatest asset is his democratic mind. No matter how warped your argument is, he will find time to listen to your views.

He is also a courageous politician. This explains why he has decided to challenge his political mentor Buhari at the primaries. He coordinated the general’s media campaign in 2003 and 11 years after, he is slugging it out with him for APC ticket.

WEAKNESSES

Nda-Isaiah is certainly a neophyte in politics. Most of his critics believe he should have learned the ropes through lower elective offices to the presidency. His support base is therefore zero. Outside Niger State, this aspirant is less known to most of the 8,000 delegates who will vote on December 10 in Lagos.

Apart from his moral credentials, he does not have the resources to fund a big project like presidential primaries. Since he has no prospect, political godfathers will also keep him at bay instead of financing him.

FACTORS THAT WILL SHAPE THE PRIMARIES

The factors that will shape the presidential primaries are antecedents of the aspirants; their political and personal pedigree;  the APC governors who wield enormous powers on delegates; national leaders of APC;  members of the National  and State Executive Committees of the party; members of the National Assembly and State Houses of Assembly; the need to end the PDP misrule; the outcome of the governorship and National Assembly primaries; the imperative for power shift to the North and others. The most important factor is how to get a credible candidate who can defeat the incumbent.

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.

The national leaders of the party will play a key role in providing the beacon for delegates. These leaders had been consulting widely (locally and internationally) in the past few months. The match-makers include Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, the former Interim National Chairman of the party, Chief Bisi Akande, National Chairman, Chief Odigie Oyegun, National Secretary, Mai Mala Buni,  Senator Bukola Saraki, ex-Governors Danjuma Goje, Abdullahi Adamu, Bukar Abba Ibrahim, George Akume and Sani Yerima, Speaker Aminu Tambuwal,  Alh. Kawu Baraje, Chief Audu Ogbeh, Senator Shuaibu Lawan, ex-Governor Segun Oni, Senator Osita Izunazo, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, among others.

From the onset, it is also predictable that the delegates may vote for power shift to the North since four of the five aspirants are from the zone. They are Buhari(North-West); Abubakar (North-East), Kwankwaso (North-West) and Nda-Isaiah (North-Central). The concession of the presidential slot to the North may naturally ease out Okorocha from the equation at the convention. If Okorocha is adamant, he will be at the mercy of the electoral verdict of the delegates.

THE OUTCOME OF GOVERNORSHIP AND OTHER PRIMARIES

Throughout Thursday, presidential aspirants were keeping vigil to monitor the results of the gubernatorial primaries because these might have spiral effects on the outcome of the convention. For example, some loyalists of Buhari have won the governorship primaries in Kaduna and Nasarawa states. For Atiku Abubakar, the defeat of his godson, Ibrahim Minjiyawa at the primaries by Sen. Jibrilla Bindow for the second time in a row suggested a likely split of the votes of delegates from Adamawa State at the convention.

GOVERNORS HOLD THE ACE

Most of the APC governors will play key roles in swinging votes at the presidential primaries. Some of them are jostling for running mate slot; they will be prevailing on their delegates on who to vote for. Temporarily, some governors may part ways with Kwankwaso on the choice of APC candidate.

STATE OF THE RACE – STATE BY STATE

NASARAWA

It is payback time for Buhari from his political godson, Governor Tanko Al-Makura. Unlike the frosty relationship between Buhari and ex-Governor Ibrahim Shekarau in Kano, Al-Makura had remained loyal to his master. This was why Buhari threatened fire and brimstone when the PDP attempted to impeach Al-Makura. His timely alarm, with others from well-meaning Nigerian, forced the PDP to beat a tactical retreat. There is the likelihood of 80 to 90 per cent of the votes from Nasarawa going to Buhari at the convention. The governor has not only taken interest in the emergence of delegates, he is working with ex-Governor Abdullahi Adamu. (Verdict: In Buhari’s column)

ADAMAWA

This is home turf of ex-Vice-President Atiku Abubakar. Following the removal of ex-Governor Murtala Nyako, he was able to put the party executives in place in the state. But this did not translate to total control of the APC in the state because his godson, Ibrahim Minjinyawa (1,183 votes) lost the gubernatorial ticket to Senator Jibrilla Bindow (1,880).

The results have confirmed that Nyako’s loyalists may not vote for Abubakar at the convention. There is still a little discomfort for Atiku at home unless he woos Bindow to his side. It was unclear if there was any secret pact between the ex-VP and Bindow before the primaries on Thursday. Unknown to many, Buhari is married to a woman from Yola in Adamawa State. The marriage has gained him some leverage going by the outcome of the governorship primaries. If Buhari plays his cards right, the votes might be either 60-40 in favour of the former VP or 50-50. (Verdict: Leaning towards Atiku)

 KWARA

The strongman of Kwara politics, Senator Bukola Saraki, who is fitting well  into the shoes of his late father, will largely determine how the state delegates will vote. Barring last minutes change of mind, Saraki might work for Buhari because some of his close associates like Governor Rotimi Amaechi, believe in the former Head of State. Having outplayed  Saraki through Northern consensus politics in 2011, ex-VP Abubakar is now at the mercy of the former governor. It is only if Saraki is large-hearted that he can ask Kwara delegates to vote for Abubakar. But some politicians were quick to say that when in October a national daily ran a story that Saraki had endorsed Buhari some months ago, he denied such an assumption.

This development might have left a gap in Kwara’s on who to vote for at the convention.  With the suspense from Kwara, it might still be 50-50 or 60-40 as the case with Kwara PDP voting pattern at the PDP National Convention in 2011. (Verdict: Too close to call)

NIGER

The voting pattern of delegates from Niger state at the presidential primaries of the All Progressives Congress (APC) looks unpredictable. Delegates from the state may not vote in block for a particular aspirant, but religious factor will surely play the determining factor in the voting pattern of the delegates.

Though no delegate was willing to disclose their choice but political watchers would have given the bulk of the votes from the state to Mr. Sam Nda-Isaiah, being a son of the soil, feelers from most of the 178 delegates however showed that of the five aspirants, General Muhammadu Buhari leads the pack with Governor Rabiu Musa Kwakwanso and Alhaji Atiku Abubakar having good showing in the state.

Buhari’s stronghold is in the Niger North Senatorial zone, a predominantly Muslim dominated area. The support the former military enjoys from the zone is not only legendary. Most of the delegates from this zone are die hard supporters of Buhari and nothing will make them vote otherwise.

The aspiration of Kano state governor, Engineer Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso may receive a boost from mostly the elites in the party and some state officials of the party. The proponent of Kwankwasiyya political philosophy has been a strong shoulder the party rested on during its formative stage in the state. He provided a lot of logistic support for the party. The primary is seen to be some of these delegates as payback time for the former Minister of Defence.

Though rated third in the state, Atiku a politician with goodwill, strong connection and wherewithal to turn the table against any aspirant. The Turaki Vanguard, the arrow head of Atiku a political machinery may have a perfected strategy to deliver the party’s ticket to the former Vice President.

Few Nupe speaking delegates in solidarity with Sam Nda-Isaiah may queue behind the Leadership Newspaper publisher. Religion maybe his albatross. He is also not seen as a grassroots politician before the presidential aspiration. (Verdict: Fluid)

SOKOTO

Unexpectedly, Governor Aliyu Wammako has been silent but he was credited with the shape which the National Convention of APC is assuming by prevailing on Speaker Aminu Tambuwal to withdraw from the presidential race. The automatic concession of the governorship ticket to Tambuwal averted a major challenge of starting horse-trading afresh by APC leaders for the party’s presidential ticket. The withdrawal of Tambuwal was meant to pave the way for Buhari, who is rated high in the North-West. Wammako may also work for Buhari. (Verdict: Leaning to Buhari)

 EDO

With Governor Adams Oshiomhole in the permutations for APC presidential running mate, the state may tilt towards Buhari as a form of working alliance. The governor shares similar traits of efficiency, discipline and people-oriented vision. The score sheet may be 80-20 in favour of Buhari. (Verdict: Leaning to Buhari)

KADUNA

Thursday’s  victory of former Minister of Federal Capital Territory, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai over his arch-rival, Isah Ashiru for Kaduna APC governorship ticket has given Buhari a fair lead in the state over other aspirants. Incurably committed to the Buhari project, el-Rufai has a fresh task to galvanize more delegates to vote for his political leader.

Kaduna is also the base of the former general. At the end of the day it could be either 70-30 or 60-40 for Buhari and others in Kaduna. (Verdict: Buhari)

RIVERS

If Buhari has any die-hard supporter among APC governors, he is Governor Rotimi Amaechi. From conception, Amaechi had been an integral part of Buhari’s ambition, declaration and strategy. Having been critical of the administration of Jonathan and the state of the nation, Amaechi is one of those leading the campaign for a drastic change and he believes in Buhari.

The likelihood of APC presidential running mate coming from the South-South has led to the penciling down of Amaechi for the role if the former Head of State is the party’s candidate. Rivers may be 90 per cent for Buhari. (Verdict: Buhari)

YOBE

The priority of the people of Yobe State is the restoration of security. The delegates from the state will want to vote for a strong aspirant who has a solution to Boko Haram. The state’s political godfather, ex-Governor Bukar Abba Ibrahim and Governor Ibrahim Gaidam may work for Buhari. The reality is that the North-West and North-East have always been strong political base of the ex-Head of State. (Verdict: Leaning to Buhari)

BORNO

For a long time, Governor Kashim Shettima has been re-strategizing underground without talking much on national and APC politics. His major preoccupation is an end to the insurgency. The state may however vote for Buhari over perceptions that he can lead an effective counter offensive against Boko Haram as a Commander-In-Chief. (Verdict: Leaning to Buhari)

 TARABA

The party machinery in the state is in the hands of APC governorship candidate, Senator Jummai Alhassan and may determine where the delegates will vote. But since Adamawa-Taraba axis has always been a stronghold of the ex-VP, he is likely to garner most votes from the area. (Verdict: Leaning to Atiku)

KANO

Having adopted a consensus method and automatic ticket for all elective leaders in 2015, Governor Rabiu Kwankwaso has reduced tension in the state. Now that it is his turn to seek presidential nomination, the state delegates will vote overwhelmingly 100 per cent for him. The mammoth crowd at his declaration in Abuja showed that he is adored in Kano State. (Verdict: Kwankwaso)

LAGOS

The National Leader of APC, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, is savouring the moment with the success of Thursday’s State Congress which proved that he is firmly in control of Lagos with the emergence of Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode as the APC governorship candidate.

The pre-convention analysis indicated that Tinubu played a major role in spurring Buhari to contest for the presidency again. If Buhari has any hope, he relies on bloc votes from the South-West at the convention. The geopolitical zone has not hidden its preference for him. Therefore, Lagos delegates may vote for Buhari. (Verdict: Leaning to Buhari)

OSUN

The direction of Lagos will be the pathfinder for Osun State delegates because of Governor Rauf Aregbesola’s undiluted loyalty to Asiwaju Tinubu. At his inauguration last week, Aregbesola openly referred to Asiwaju as “Oga mi” meaning my boss, my leader. If there is any disciple who cannot betray Asiwaju, Aregbesola ranks higher. Of all the aspirants, only Buhari was physically present in Osogbo at the inauguration. Ex-VP Atiku Abubakar sent his amiable wife, Hajiya Titi Abubakar to the ceremony. Though Atiku married one of his wives from Osun State, it might not count for him at the primaries. Buhari may earn the confidence of the state’s delegates. (Verdict: Leaning to Buhari)

EKITI

The voting pattern of Ekiti State may also go the way of Lagos State. Though the state’s party leader, ex-Governor Kayode Fayemi is presently the chairman of the National Convention Committee(NCC), the delegates might not vote differently from the overall objective of the South-West to present a credible and strong candidate who can defeat PDP’s anointed candidate, President Goodluck Jonathan. (Verdict: Too close to call)

OGUN

Governor Ibikunle Amosun shares a similar political destiny with Buhari having come a long way from their days in the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), one of the parties that coalesced into APC. Since old wine tastes better, Amosun may mobilize Ogun delegates to accept Buhari in line with the thinking of the South-West. (Verdict: Leaning to Buhari)

OYO

Apart from the fact that Governor Isiaka Ajimobi and Buhari share similar characteristics of being prudent and disciplined, the bandwagon effect of Lagos direction may favour Buhari in Oyo State. (Verdict: Leaning Buhari)

ONDO

Some of the delegates are already making a case for Buhari. But Atiku Abubakar is trying to penetrate the delegates from the state since there is no APC government in place. (Verdict: Fluid)

KATSINA

The hitherto warring APC members in Katsina succeeded in putting their house in order to elect ex-Speaker Aminu Bello Masari as the party’s governorship candidate. The overwhelming score of 2,470 votes for Masari signposted that peace has returned to Buhari’s home front unlike in 2011 when the defunct CPC lost to PDP because of intra-party wrangling. If Buhari ensures reconciliation of the winner with other aspirants, he can secure almost 90 to 95 per cent of the votes from the state at the National Convention. At least, there is no hitch for him at the starting block. (Verdict: Buhari)

BENUE

All the aspirants have been busy lobbying stakeholders in Benue State for votes in the past few weeks. Interestingly, Buhari and Atiku have long-time political associates in the state. Buhari suffered a setback when his plane was not allowed to land in Makurdi Airport based on spurious security reasons. Those who may direct the swing of the pendulum are the Minority Leader in the Senate, ex-Governor George Akume and a former National Chairman of the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria, Chief Audu Ogbeh. A source said: “I can tell you that Buhari and Abubakar enjoy considerable goodwill in Benue APC. The delegates may split their votes.” (Verdict: Too close to call)

AKWA IBOM

The latest bride of the APC in Akwa Ibom, Umana Okon Umana holds the ace. Having got elected as the party’s governorship flag bearer in a ‘miraculous’ manner,  Umana’s influence on delegates from the state,  on who to vote for at the convention,  may be determined by the disposition of his benefactors who handed him the ticket on a platter of gold. (Verdict: Fluid)

KEBBI

If the reception accorded four of the five aspirants (Buhari, Atiku, Kwankwaso, and Okorocha) in Kebbi State is anything to go by, Buhari is the favourite of delegates in the state. While others used hotels to interact with the delegates, the reception for Buhari was massive and overwhelming to the extent that the stadium in the state capital was engaged for meet-the-delegates session. There may be 70-30 advantage for Buhari in Kebbi. (Verdict: Buhari)

BAYELSA

Ex-Governor Timpreye Sylva is the beacon of delegates in Bayelsa State. The extent to which aspirants play their cards with him might fetch votes. But Sylva and Governor Rotimi Amaechi are said to be very close and their political notes might be on the same page. (Verdict: Leaning Buhari)

ENUGU

The two leading aspirants (Buhari and Atiku) have old political associates and friends in Enugu State. Naturally, Rochas Okorocha should have been in control of the state but most delegates are angry with him for allegedly not fulfilling some of his promises to them. In one of their meetings last week, some of the delegates resolved to pitch tent with Buhari. This flank is open but Buhari is having a marginal lead. (Verdict: Too close to call)

ABIA

Governor Rochas Okorocha has done so much for the party in Abia State to the extent that most of the delegates have shut their doors against other aspirants. He might secure 90 to 95 per cent of the votes in the state. (Verdict: Leaning Okorocha)

IMO

This is also no-go area for all the aspirants except Rochas Okorocha. He commands total respect from leaders and members of the party in the state. (Verdict: Okorocha)

EBONYI

The huge political influence of Senator Julius Ocha looms larger in Ebonyi State APC. As a loyalist of Abubakar, he has secured the state for Atiku in a 90 to 10 per cent. (Verdict: Atiku)

DELTA

The election of Olorogun O’tega Emerhor as APC governorship candidate in Delta State has changed the equation for all the presidential aspirants. This is an open space for any of them to explore. (Verdict: Fluid)

ANAMBRA

It is a three-dimensional race in Anambra State as Okorocha, Atiku and Buhari canvass for the votes of delegates. Apart from marrying his youngest wife from the state, Abubakar has helped many people from the state when he was VP with appointments and juicy contracts. He enjoys appreciable support in the state. But Okorocha is no push over in his comfort zone as a result of Ndigbo solidarity. Buhari is also not relenting. The leader of APC in the state, Sen. Chris Ngige may eventually decide who takes the state. (Verdict: Too close to call)

BAUCHI

This is a battleground for both Buhari and Abubakar where they weigh near equal influence. (Verdict: Too close to call)

GOMBE

Leading the political revolution in Gombe State is former Governor Danjuma Goje, who defected from PDP to APC. He enjoys large following and he is going to be one of the matchmakers at the convention. With most of the delegates as his loyalists, Goje will certainly exert influence on them on who to vote for. (Verdict: Fluid)

 JIGAWA

Some loyalists of Buhari in the ANPP and CPC days are in APC in the state. The ex-Head of State may be the one to beat here. (Verdict: Fluid)

KOGI

A former Governor of Kogi State, Prince Abubakar Audu is still in charge and he might play a major role in providing direction to delegates on who to back at the convention. (Verdict: Too close to call)

PLATEAU

The influence of the likes of Senator Shagaya would be crucial. But Atiku also has old associates like Ambassador Yahaya Kwande to count on. (Verdict: Too close to call)

 ZAMFARA

The aspirants are at the mercy of ex-Governor Sani Yerima and Governor Abdulaziz Yari who wield enormous political powers having dictated the political environment in the state since 1999. The state delegates might be caught in the bandwagon voting pattern of other states in the North-West. (Verdict: Leaning Buhari)

CROSS RIVER

It is any aspirant’s game in this state because the APC does not control the reins of government. However, Atiku is thought to maintain very strong political roots here. (Verdict: Leaning Atiku)

 Source: The Nation

2015 Presidential Election: Who Picks APC Ticket?

APC presidential ticket: Who runs against Jonathan?

by Yusuf Alli

After months of horse-trading, covert moves, realignment and consultations, the All Progressives Congress (APC) is set to elect its presidential candidate on December 10. In this report, Managing Editor, Northern Operation, Yusuf Alli, reviews the strengths, the permutations and the likely outcome of what has turned out to be an absorbing contest.

Unlike in the past when the ruling Peoples’ Democratic Party was confronted with very weak challenge, next year’s presidential elections promises to be a stern test against a resurgent opposition with strength in depth across the country. This is reminiscent of the two-party contest involving the defunct Social Democratic Party (SDP) and National Republican Convention (NRC) under the then military regime of General Ibrahim Babangida.

Today, the All Progressives Congress (APC) boasts five presidential aspirants most of whom could give the incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan a run for his money.

They are ex-Head of State, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari; ex-Vice President Atiku Abubakar; Governor Rochas Okorocha; Kano State Governor Rabiu Kwankwaso; and a pharmacist-turned publisher, Sam Nda Isaiah.

MUHAMMADU BUHARI

The ex-Head of State, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari is on the threshold of making history; the only Nigerian to contest the presidential race four times if given the APC ticket. Though a former head of the Federal Military Government, Buhari had sought to rule the nation through the ballot in 2003, 2007 and 2011 but lost to the PDP candidate.

The presidential poll results since 2003 confirmed Buhari as a political heavyweight and a politician with cult following by the northern masses. Going by INEC records, Buhari’s vote-earning drive was as follows. In 2003, running under the banner of the defunct ANPP, Buhari polled 12,710, 022 votes (32.19%) to ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo’s 24, 456, 140(61.94%), who was the PDP’s candidate.

In 2007 presidential election, he secured 6,605, 299 votes compared to PDP candidate, the late President Umaru Yar’Adua’s 24,638,063. An honest Yar’Adua admitted that the 2007 poll was largely flawed and below standard. The Court of Appeal almost upturned the 2007 poll results.

With the formation of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), Buhari bounced back in 2011 with 12, 214, 853 votes but was defeated by President Goodluck Jonathan of the PDP with 22, 495, 187 votes.

Being the oldest presidential aspirant in Nigeria, Buhari will add more to history if he becomes the APC candidate and is elected in 2015. He will be joining the league of ex-Presidents Ronald Reagan (USA), Abdoulaye Wade (Senegal) who led their nations in old age.

STRENGTHS

Buhari is an epitome of Spartan discipline, a teetotaler, a man of principle, an avowed anti-corruption crusader and a man of the people. As a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, he accounted for every dollar from crude oil sales without blemish. Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has described him as ‘incorruptible.’

Also, in his capacity as the chairman of the defunct Petroleum Task Fund (PTF), Buhari executed far-reaching and grassroots oriented projects which boosted the economy when he had the chance to impact the nation’s economy.

His military background is also a plus given ongoing challenges with Boko Haram. In 1980, when the Maitatsine insurgency was ravaging Nigeria, Buhari, who was then Brigade Commander of the 3rd Armoured Corps in Jos, took the sect headlong and fought them to a standstill  as far as Chad. He almost lost his career in the Nigerian Army for invading Chad allegedly without the permission of the Commander-In-Chief, ex-President Shehu Shagari.

WEAKNESSES

Buhari is often painted, especially by the PDP, as a religious bigot and a politician whose influence is ethnic-based in the North. But facts show that Buhari’s cook, driver and personal aides in the last 30 to 40 years have been Christians.

The Islamic fundamentalist tag has been hung on his neck by his traducers since the violence which erupted after the 2011 poll. The APC will need to do extra work on the religious stigma surrounding Buhari if he emerges the party’s candidate.

Also, he is considered as a politician who is inflexible on issues when convinced they are in the interest of the masses. Above all, Buhari is not an intellectual per se but he is rated as streetwise with native wisdom.

If he secures the APC ticket, Buhari has to learn fast how to be a democrat and how to manage the nuances of the National Assembly which will not tolerate any autocratic tendencies from him.

 ATIKU ABUBAKAR

A former Vice President, Atiku could be rated as a “constant equation” in presidential election since 1993. His experience in the game is richer than any of the aspirants whether in APC or PDP. He was the economic engine room during the administration of ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo.

He had contested presidential elections in 1999 and 2003(as running mates) and the candidate of the defunct Action Congress in 2007. Apart from garnering 18, 738, 154 and 24, 456, 140 votes in a joint ticket with Obasanjo in 1999 and 2003, Abubakar as a sole candidate of AC could only rake 2, 637, 848 in 2007 because he was in and out of court till the last minutes of the poll to fight against his disqualification by a Kangaroo Panel of Enquiry raised by Obasanjo. It was a defeat foretold for Abubakar who was mostly on ‘crutches’ throughout the campaign period.

STRENGTHS

As an orphan, Abubakar’s grass to grace story makes interesting reading. This has reflected in his life making him self-motivated in politics and business. More than any of the aspirants, he is a politician with a deft touch and knowledge of how to prevail in intra-party elections.

It took the personal intervention of his mentor, the late Gen. Shehu Yar’Adua before he could concede the SDP presidential ticket to the late M.K.O Abiola in the early 90s. His greatest asset is his ability to build political and social bridges across the Niger.

Atiku is at home in any part of Nigeria, not only by factor of marriage, but as a result of his magnetic personality. He has incurably loyal  political associates and friends in all parts of the country. These, however, do not translate to political gains.

He was the controller of the economic reforms of the administration of ex-President Obasanjo. He was the driver of the privatization programmes which led to the GSM revolution in the country.

Armed with a limited education, Abubakar is gifted with shopping for eggheads to show him the light. He brought the likes of CBN Governor, Prof. Charles Soludo, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai and others into the government of Obasanjo. He is also a fast learner.

His greatest strength is in being a democrat. As a president, democracy will thrive under Atiku because of his avowed commitment to freedom, liberty and the principle of separation of powers. No one has used the judiciary to fight political cause than Abubakar.

WEAKNESSES

Though always branded as “corrupt” by his political enemies, Abubakar has never been found guilty of any economic or financial crimes. Even when dust was raised at the twilight of Obasanjo’s administration on the management of the funds of the Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF), nothing incriminating was found against him.

The only tar against him was his alleged link with a former United States congressman, William J. Jefferson, who was jailed on November 13, 2009 for $100,000 bribe scam. Again, nothing was found against the former VP. The sustainable trust reposed in him by the larger Yar’Adua family since the death of their patriarch, Gen. Shehu Musa Yar’Adua underscores his level of honesty.

A major weakness of Abubakar, according to those who used to work against him, is being too ambitious. This created a wedge between him and Obasanjo in 2003 who almost dropped him as his running mate. It took much persuasion from state governors, PDP leaders and friends before Obasanjo re-nominated him as his VP. But he was worse for it. He was a castrated or ceremonial VP all through Obasanjo’s second term.

The same ambitious inclination informed his defection from PDP to the AC and later to PDP and APC. His back-to-back defection has cost him a lot of goodwill and he has lost political ground in the North and South-West in the last seven years.  Even his pseudo platform, the Peoples Democratic Movement (PDM) has not made any inroad into the nation’s political landscape since its formation. There were speculations that if Abubakar had remained in the AC which later became the ACN, he could have won the 2011 poll at a time the North was looking for a liberal alternative to Jonathan.

Abubakar’s greatest political humiliation was the loss of the 2011 PDP presidential primaries to Jonathan when even delegates from Adamawa State rejected him. The Thursday loss of the Adamawa APC governorship primaries by his anointed candidate, Ibrahim Minjiyawa to Sen. Jibrilla Bindow for the second time indicated that all is still not well with Atiku’s home front.

 RABIU KWANKWASO

Born in 1956 in Kwankwaso Village in Madobi Local Government Area of Kano State, he had been in politics since 1991. He was a former Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives in the aborted Third Republic and a member of the 1994/95 Constitutional Conference. He was a governor between 1999 and 2003; a former Minister of Defence(2003) ; a former Presidential Special Envoy to Somalia and Darfur in 2007; and re-elected as a governor on April 27, 2011.

Apart from his short stint as the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Kwankwaso and appointment as a minister, Kwankwaso has largely been a master strategist in Kano politics. A progressive minded politician, his political career took a jump from the Peoples Front axis of the defunct SDP in the Third Republic to the PDP in 1998. When there was injustice in PDP, he defected to APC without blinking an eye.

STRENGTHS

Kwankwaso speaks the truth to power; he does not suffer fool gladly like other cringing colleagues. He is also committed to the cause of the downtrodden with masses-oriented projects. His Free Feeding for Primary School Pupils earned him aUN recognition. He has performed so well to the extent that the Federal Government recently commissioned one of Kwankwaso’s project as its own.

A governor given to probity and accountability, Kwankwaso publishes every week the account of his tenure. He is the only Nigerian governor doing so.

WEAKNESSES

Kwankwaso is obsessed with Kano politics to the extent that he has little or no time for national politics. Outside the covert backing he is enjoying from ex-President Obasanjo, Kwankwaso’s presidential aspiration is yet to get national acceptance or recognition. Obasanjo, who is pulling the strings underneath, has not come out to identify with Kwankwaso’s aspiration.

Though his defection with other governors from PDP to APC shot up his profile a bit, he remains at best, a local hero. This perception may be his undoing at the presidential primaries.  In spite of the fact that he built political contacts in the House in the Third Republic, most of them had become stale to assist his presidential aspiration.

He has also personalized governance with his Kwankwasiyya ideology and trademark red cap. Every project is branded Kwankwasiyya in obvious defilement of the basic principle of democracy that power belongs to the people. He enjoys being idolized or hero worshiped by his ardent supporters. Certainly, he is a future presidential material.

 ROCHAS OKOROCHA

A former Commissioner in the Federal Character Commission and a member of the defunct National Constitutional Conference, Okorocha is a veteran governorship and presidential aspirant. He had attempted to be a governor in Imo State in 1999 under the PDP but he failed as ex-Governor Achike Udenwa won the primaries.

By 2003, he was a presidential aspirant of the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) but did not succeed. After his failure, he defected to PDP where he was compensated by ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo with an appointment as Special Adviser on Inter-Party Affairs.

Still aspiring to lead the nation, Okorocha in 2005 established the Action Alliance (AA). Later he shifted base to the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) where he won the governorship poll in 2011.

STRENGTHS

Okorocha is a natural philanthropist with a heart of gold. He is also noted for executing quality projects. A committed grassroots politician with acronym, “My people, my people,” he is a politician who is at home in the North, as in the South-West and the South-East. He is a crowd puller with his intellectually-inclined speeches and sugar-coated tongue. Having been born in Jos, he speaks Hausa like the natives. This has made him to be loved by Northerners.

WEAKNESSES

Okorocha prefers to build an empire around himself than allow democracy to flourish with the principle of separation of powers respected. He is also quite loud about his achievements. He won the 2011 governorship poll through the people’s revolt but the revolution seems to have suffered a setback. He seems to be rejuvenating the revolution again.

He is politically unstable having moved around PDP, ANPP, AA, APGA and now APC.

He does not look like a serious presidential aspirant because his level of consultations had been exceptionally low. The question on every lip of is whether he’s interested in the presidential ticket or playing a hide and seek game. Beyond his declaration in Kaduna, he  has not shown much enthusiasm for the presidency. He appears to be having a fall-back position for re-election as a governor if there is roadblock at the primaries.

Having lost ANPP’s ticket to Buhari in 2003, APC members are not treating his aspiration with much seriousness. Political pundits foresee him stepping down or just participating in APC presidential primaries as mere symbolic gestures.

SAM NDA ISAIAH

Born on May 1, 1962, Sam Nda Isaiah is a pharmacist turned publisher who founded Leadership Newspapers Group – one of the fastest growing newspapers in Nigeria. A man with Midas touch, he was a former member of the Daily Trust Editorial Board before venturing into newspapering. A member of the Asian think-tank, Global Institute for Tomorrow, his foray into politics began in 2002 when he became the Deputy Director-General of Buhari Campaign Organization (BCO) for the 2003 poll under the banner of the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP). He later became a founding member of the CPC.

STRENGTHS

The presidential aspirant is a man of conscience and highly principled. He is devoted to any cause he believes in, fights injustice to individual and the society at large, philanthropic and a man of taste. He does not discriminate on religion, ethnicity and sex. His greatest asset is his democratic mind. No matter how warped your argument is, he will find time to listen to your views.

He is also a courageous politician. This explains why he has decided to challenge his political mentor Buhari at the primaries. He coordinated the general’s media campaign in 2003 and 11 years after, he is slugging it out with him for APC ticket.

WEAKNESSES

Nda-Isaiah is certainly a neophyte in politics. Most of his critics believe he should have learned the ropes through lower elective offices to the presidency. His support base is therefore zero. Outside Niger State, this aspirant is less known to most of the 8,000 delegates who will vote on December 10 in Lagos.

Apart from his moral credentials, he does not have the resources to fund a big project like presidential primaries. Since he has no prospect, political godfathers will also keep him at bay instead of financing him.

FACTORS THAT WILL SHAPE THE PRIMARIES

The factors that will shape the presidential primaries are antecedents of the aspirants; their political and personal pedigree;  the APC governors who wield enormous powers on delegates; national leaders of APC;  members of the National  and State Executive Committees of the party; members of the National Assembly and State Houses of Assembly; the need to end the PDP misrule; the outcome of the governorship and National Assembly primaries; the imperative for power shift to the North and others. The most important factor is how to get a credible candidate who can defeat the incumbent.

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.

The national leaders of the party will play a key role in providing the beacon for delegates. These leaders had been consulting widely (locally and internationally) in the past few months. The match-makers include Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, the former Interim National Chairman of the party, Chief Bisi Akande, National Chairman, Chief Odigie Oyegun, National Secretary, Mai Mala Buni,  Senator Bukola Saraki, ex-Governors Danjuma Goje, Abdullahi Adamu, Bukar Abba Ibrahim, George Akume and Sani Yerima, Speaker Aminu Tambuwal,  Alh. Kawu Baraje, Chief Audu Ogbeh, Senator Shuaibu Lawan, ex-Governor Segun Oni, Senator Osita Izunazo, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, among others.

From the onset, it is also predictable that the delegates may vote for power shift to the North since four of the five aspirants are from the zone. They are Buhari(North-West); Abubakar (North-East), Kwankwaso (North-West) and Nda-Isaiah (North-Central). The concession of the presidential slot to the North may naturally ease out Okorocha from the equation at the convention. If Okorocha is adamant, he will be at the mercy of the electoral verdict of the delegates.

THE OUTCOME OF GOVERNORSHIP AND OTHER PRIMARIES

Throughout Thursday, presidential aspirants were keeping vigil to monitor the results of the gubernatorial primaries because these might have spiral effects on the outcome of the convention. For example, some loyalists of Buhari have won the governorship primaries in Kaduna and Nasarawa states. For Atiku Abubakar, the defeat of his godson, Ibrahim Minjiyawa at the primaries by Sen. Jibrilla Bindow for the second time in a row suggested a likely split of the votes of delegates from Adamawa State at the convention.

GOVERNORS HOLD THE ACE

Most of the APC governors will play key roles in swinging votes at the presidential primaries. Some of them are jostling for running mate slot; they will be prevailing on their delegates on who to vote for. Temporarily, some governors may part ways with Kwankwaso on the choice of APC candidate.

STATE OF THE RACE – STATE BY STATE

NASARAWA

It is payback time for Buhari from his political godson, Governor Tanko Al-Makura. Unlike the frosty relationship between Buhari and ex-Governor Ibrahim Shekarau in Kano, Al-Makura had remained loyal to his master. This was why Buhari threatened fire and brimstone when the PDP attempted to impeach Al-Makura. His timely alarm, with others from well-meaning Nigerian, forced the PDP to beat a tactical retreat. There is the likelihood of 80 to 90 per cent of the votes from Nasarawa going to Buhari at the convention. The governor has not only taken interest in the emergence of delegates, he is working with ex-Governor Abdullahi Adamu. (Verdict: In Buhari’s column)

ADAMAWA

This is home turf of ex-Vice-President Atiku Abubakar. Following the removal of ex-Governor Murtala Nyako, he was able to put the party executives in place in the state. But this did not translate to total control of the APC in the state because his godson, Ibrahim Minjinyawa (1,183 votes) lost the gubernatorial ticket to Senator Jibrilla Bindow (1,880).

The results have confirmed that Nyako’s loyalists may not vote for Abubakar at the convention. There is still a little discomfort for Atiku at home unless he woos Bindow to his side. It was unclear if there was any secret pact between the ex-VP and Bindow before the primaries on Thursday. Unknown to many, Buhari is married to a woman from Yola in Adamawa State. The marriage has gained him some leverage going by the outcome of the governorship primaries. If Buhari plays his cards right, the votes might be either 60-40 in favour of the former VP or 50-50. (Verdict: Leaning towards Atiku)

 KWARA

The strongman of Kwara politics, Senator Bukola Saraki, who is fitting well  into the shoes of his late father, will largely determine how the state delegates will vote. Barring last minutes change of mind, Saraki might work for Buhari because some of his close associates like Governor Rotimi Amaechi, believe in the former Head of State. Having outplayed  Saraki through Northern consensus politics in 2011, ex-VP Abubakar is now at the mercy of the former governor. It is only if Saraki is large-hearted that he can ask Kwara delegates to vote for Abubakar. But some politicians were quick to say that when in October a national daily ran a story that Saraki had endorsed Buhari some months ago, he denied such an assumption.

This development might have left a gap in Kwara’s on who to vote for at the convention.  With the suspense from Kwara, it might still be 50-50 or 60-40 as the case with Kwara PDP voting pattern at the PDP National Convention in 2011. (Verdict: Too close to call)

NIGER

The voting pattern of delegates from Niger state at the presidential primaries of the All Progressives Congress (APC) looks unpredictable. Delegates from the state may not vote in block for a particular aspirant, but religious factor will surely play the determining factor in the voting pattern of the delegates.

Though no delegate was willing to disclose their choice but political watchers would have given the bulk of the votes from the state to Mr. Sam Nda-Isaiah, being a son of the soil, feelers from most of the 178 delegates however showed that of the five aspirants, General Muhammadu Buhari leads the pack with Governor Rabiu Musa Kwakwanso and Alhaji Atiku Abubakar having good showing in the state.

Buhari’s stronghold is in the Niger North Senatorial zone, a predominantly Muslim dominated area. The support the former military enjoys from the zone is not only legendary. Most of the delegates from this zone are die hard supporters of Buhari and nothing will make them vote otherwise.

The aspiration of Kano state governor, Engineer Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso may receive a boost from mostly the elites in the party and some state officials of the party. The proponent of Kwankwasiyya political philosophy has been a strong shoulder the party rested on during its formative stage in the state. He provided a lot of logistic support for the party. The primary is seen to be some of these delegates as payback time for the former Minister of Defence.

Though rated third in the state, Atiku a politician with goodwill, strong connection and wherewithal to turn the table against any aspirant. The Turaki Vanguard, the arrow head of Atiku a political machinery may have a perfected strategy to deliver the party’s ticket to the former Vice President.

Few Nupe speaking delegates in solidarity with Sam Nda-Isaiah may queue behind the Leadership Newspaper publisher. Religion maybe his albatross. He is also not seen as a grassroots politician before the presidential aspiration. (Verdict: Fluid)

SOKOTO

Unexpectedly, Governor Aliyu Wammako has been silent but he was credited with the shape which the National Convention of APC is assuming by prevailing on Speaker Aminu Tambuwal to withdraw from the presidential race. The automatic concession of the governorship ticket to Tambuwal averted a major challenge of starting horse-trading afresh by APC leaders for the party’s presidential ticket. The withdrawal of Tambuwal was meant to pave the way for Buhari, who is rated high in the North-West. Wammako may also work for Buhari. (Verdict: Leaning to Buhari)

 EDO

With Governor Adams Oshiomhole in the permutations for APC presidential running mate, the state may tilt towards Buhari as a form of working alliance. The governor shares similar traits of efficiency, discipline and people-oriented vision. The score sheet may be 80-20 in favour of Buhari. (Verdict: Leaning to Buhari)

KADUNA

Thursday’s  victory of former Minister of Federal Capital Territory, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai over his arch-rival, Isah Ashiru for Kaduna APC governorship ticket has given Buhari a fair lead in the state over other aspirants. Incurably committed to the Buhari project, el-Rufai has a fresh task to galvanize more delegates to vote for his political leader.

Kaduna is also the base of the former general. At the end of the day it could be either 70-30 or 60-40 for Buhari and others in Kaduna. (Verdict: Buhari)

RIVERS

If Buhari has any die-hard supporter among APC governors, he is Governor Rotimi Amaechi. From conception, Amaechi had been an integral part of Buhari’s ambition, declaration and strategy. Having been critical of the administration of Jonathan and the state of the nation, Amaechi is one of those leading the campaign for a drastic change and he believes in Buhari.

The likelihood of APC presidential running mate coming from the South-South has led to the penciling down of Amaechi for the role if the former Head of State is the party’s candidate. Rivers may be 90 per cent for Buhari. (Verdict: Buhari)

YOBE

The priority of the people of Yobe State is the restoration of security. The delegates from the state will want to vote for a strong aspirant who has a solution to Boko Haram. The state’s political godfather, ex-Governor Bukar Abba Ibrahim and Governor Ibrahim Gaidam may work for Buhari. The reality is that the North-West and North-East have always been strong political base of the ex-Head of State. (Verdict: Leaning to Buhari)

BORNO

For a long time, Governor Kashim Shettima has been re-strategizing underground without talking much on national and APC politics. His major preoccupation is an end to the insurgency. The state may however vote for Buhari over perceptions that he can lead an effective counter offensive against Boko Haram as a Commander-In-Chief. (Verdict: Leaning to Buhari)

 TARABA

The party machinery in the state is in the hands of APC governorship candidate, Senator Jummai Alhassan and may determine where the delegates will vote. But since Adamawa-Taraba axis has always been a stronghold of the ex-VP, he is likely to garner most votes from the area. (Verdict: Leaning to Atiku)

KANO

Having adopted a consensus method and automatic ticket for all elective leaders in 2015, Governor Rabiu Kwankwaso has reduced tension in the state. Now that it is his turn to seek presidential nomination, the state delegates will vote overwhelmingly 100 per cent for him. The mammoth crowd at his declaration in Abuja showed that he is adored in Kano State. (Verdict: Kwankwaso)

LAGOS

The National Leader of APC, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, is savouring the moment with the success of Thursday’s State Congress which proved that he is firmly in control of Lagos with the emergence of Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode as the APC governorship candidate.

The pre-convention analysis indicated that Tinubu played a major role in spurring Buhari to contest for the presidency again. If Buhari has any hope, he relies on bloc votes from the South-West at the convention. The geopolitical zone has not hidden its preference for him. Therefore, Lagos delegates may vote for Buhari. (Verdict: Leaning to Buhari)

OSUN

The direction of Lagos will be the pathfinder for Osun State delegates because of Governor Rauf Aregbesola’s undiluted loyalty to Asiwaju Tinubu. At his inauguration last week, Aregbesola openly referred to Asiwaju as “Oga mi” meaning my boss, my leader. If there is any disciple who cannot betray Asiwaju, Aregbesola ranks higher. Of all the aspirants, only Buhari was physically present in Osogbo at the inauguration. Ex-VP Atiku Abubakar sent his amiable wife, Hajiya Titi Abubakar to the ceremony. Though Atiku married one of his wives from Osun State, it might not count for him at the primaries. Buhari may earn the confidence of the state’s delegates. (Verdict: Leaning to Buhari)

EKITI

The voting pattern of Ekiti State may also go the way of Lagos State. Though the state’s party leader, ex-Governor Kayode Fayemi is presently the chairman of the National Convention Committee(NCC), the delegates might not vote differently from the overall objective of the South-West to present a credible and strong candidate who can defeat PDP’s anointed candidate, President Goodluck Jonathan. (Verdict: Too close to call)

OGUN

Governor Ibikunle Amosun shares a similar political destiny with Buhari having come a long way from their days in the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), one of the parties that coalesced into APC. Since old wine tastes better, Amosun may mobilize Ogun delegates to accept Buhari in line with the thinking of the South-West. (Verdict: Leaning to Buhari)

OYO

Apart from the fact that Governor Isiaka Ajimobi and Buhari share similar characteristics of being prudent and disciplined, the bandwagon effect of Lagos direction may favour Buhari in Oyo State. (Verdict: Leaning Buhari)

ONDO

Some of the delegates are already making a case for Buhari. But Atiku Abubakar is trying to penetrate the delegates from the state since there is no APC government in place. (Verdict: Fluid)

KATSINA

The hitherto warring APC members in Katsina succeeded in putting their house in order to elect ex-Speaker Aminu Bello Masari as the party’s governorship candidate. The overwhelming score of 2,470 votes for Masari signposted that peace has returned to Buhari’s home front unlike in 2011 when the defunct CPC lost to PDP because of intra-party wrangling. If Buhari ensures reconciliation of the winner with other aspirants, he can secure almost 90 to 95 per cent of the votes from the state at the National Convention. At least, there is no hitch for him at the starting block. (Verdict: Buhari)

BENUE

All the aspirants have been busy lobbying stakeholders in Benue State for votes in the past few weeks. Interestingly, Buhari and Atiku have long-time political associates in the state. Buhari suffered a setback when his plane was not allowed to land in Makurdi Airport based on spurious security reasons. Those who may direct the swing of the pendulum are the Minority Leader in the Senate, ex-Governor George Akume and a former National Chairman of the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria, Chief Audu Ogbeh. A source said: “I can tell you that Buhari and Abubakar enjoy considerable goodwill in Benue APC. The delegates may split their votes.” (Verdict: Too close to call)

AKWA IBOM

The latest bride of the APC in Akwa Ibom, Umana Okon Umana holds the ace. Having got elected as the party’s governorship flag bearer in a ‘miraculous’ manner,  Umana’s influence on delegates from the state,  on who to vote for at the convention,  may be determined by the disposition of his benefactors who handed him the ticket on a platter of gold. (Verdict: Fluid)

KEBBI

If the reception accorded four of the five aspirants (Buhari, Atiku, Kwankwaso, and Okorocha) in Kebbi State is anything to go by, Buhari is the favourite of delegates in the state. While others used hotels to interact with the delegates, the reception for Buhari was massive and overwhelming to the extent that the stadium in the state capital was engaged for meet-the-delegates session. There may be 70-30 advantage for Buhari in Kebbi. (Verdict: Buhari)

BAYELSA

Ex-Governor Timpreye Sylva is the beacon of delegates in Bayelsa State. The extent to which aspirants play their cards with him might fetch votes. But Sylva and Governor Rotimi Amaechi are said to be very close and their political notes might be on the same page. (Verdict: Leaning Buhari)

ENUGU

The two leading aspirants (Buhari and Atiku) have old political associates and friends in Enugu State. Naturally, Rochas Okorocha should have been in control of the state but most delegates are angry with him for allegedly not fulfilling some of his promises to them. In one of their meetings last week, some of the delegates resolved to pitch tent with Buhari. This flank is open but Buhari is having a marginal lead. (Verdict: Too close to call)

ABIA

Governor Rochas Okorocha has done so much for the party in Abia State to the extent that most of the delegates have shut their doors against other aspirants. He might secure 90 to 95 per cent of the votes in the state. (Verdict: Leaning Okorocha)

IMO

This is also no-go area for all the aspirants except Rochas Okorocha. He commands total respect from leaders and members of the party in the state. (Verdict: Okorocha)

EBONYI

The huge political influence of Senator Julius Ocha looms larger in Ebonyi State APC. As a loyalist of Abubakar, he has secured the state for Atiku in a 90 to 10 per cent. (Verdict: Atiku)

DELTA

The election of Olorogun O’tega Emerhor as APC governorship candidate in Delta State has changed the equation for all the presidential aspirants. This is an open space for any of them to explore. (Verdict: Fluid)

ANAMBRA

It is a three-dimensional race in Anambra State as Okorocha, Atiku and Buhari canvass for the votes of delegates. Apart from marrying his youngest wife from the state, Abubakar has helped many people from the state when he was VP with appointments and juicy contracts. He enjoys appreciable support in the state. But Okorocha is no push over in his comfort zone as a result of Ndigbo solidarity. Buhari is also not relenting. The leader of APC in the state, Sen. Chris Ngige may eventually decide who takes the state. (Verdict: Too close to call)

BAUCHI

This is a battleground for both Buhari and Abubakar where they weigh near equal influence. (Verdict: Too close to call)

GOMBE

Leading the political revolution in Gombe State is former Governor Danjuma Goje, who defected from PDP to APC. He enjoys large following and he is going to be one of the matchmakers at the convention. With most of the delegates as his loyalists, Goje will certainly exert influence on them on who to vote for. (Verdict: Fluid)

 JIGAWA

Some loyalists of Buhari in the ANPP and CPC days are in APC in the state. The ex-Head of State may be the one to beat here. (Verdict: Fluid)

KOGI

A former Governor of Kogi State, Prince Abubakar Audu is still in charge and he might play a major role in providing direction to delegates on who to back at the convention. (Verdict: Too close to call)

PLATEAU

The influence of the likes of Senator Shagaya would be crucial. But Atiku also has old associates like Ambassador Yahaya Kwande to count on. (Verdict: Too close to call)

 ZAMFARA

The aspirants are at the mercy of ex-Governor Sani Yerima and Governor Abdulaziz Yari who wield enormous political powers having dictated the political environment in the state since 1999. The state delegates might be caught in the bandwagon voting pattern of other states in the North-West. (Verdict: Leaning Buhari)

CROSS RIVER

It is any aspirant’s game in this state because the APC does not control the reins of government. However, Atiku is thought to maintain very strong political roots here. (Verdict: Leaning Atiku)