A cold war has broken out among presidential aspirants in the All Progressives Congress, APC following reported entreaties by younger elements among the contenders to persuade erstwhile head of state, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari out of the contest.
The party also called on past leaders of the country to salvage the country from total collapse in the hands of present administration.
National chairman of the party Chief John Oyegun made the call when he led top members of the party to the Up Hill resident of former military president, General Ibrahim Babangida on a courtesy visit Thursday night.
He noted that with what was going on in the country, Nigeria’s future was very bleak both economically and socially with the electorate left to suffer from the mismanagement of the country’s resources and that it was now left for the past leaders to join hands together to bring the country to its right path.
However, Buhari, the object of the alleged gang-up, meanwhile has travelled abroad for what sources told Saturday Vanguard is a comprehensive medical check up ahead of his declaration for the 2015 presidential contest. Close associates of the general who had earlier chosen September 1 to announce Buhari’s intention to vie for the presidential ticket of the party, were yesterday, said to be contemplating the deferment of the launch on account of the general’s absence.
Besides Buhari, former vice-president Atiku Abubakar, Governor Rabiu Kwankwanso, Leadership Newspaper publisher, Sam Nda-Isaiah are among those said to be jostling for the presidential ticket of the country’s major opposition political party.
The intentions of the party leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu remain unclear as party insiders spoke yesterday of unclear signals from the former Lagos governor on his intentions. Also in the permutation of party insiders is Speaker Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, who though still a member of the National Executive Committee, NEC of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, is believed to be a top contender for the presidential ticket of the opposition party. Until recently, there had been suggestions that Buhari would back Speaker Tambuwal in the event he declines from contesting.
Meanwhile, the Ogun State governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun has asked the people of the state to help him beg a former governor of the state, Chief Olusegun Osoba to pave way for reconciliation of the crisis lingering in the All Progressives Congress in the state.
Amosun who expressed his willingness to contest for a second term due to the overwhelming commendation and love from the people of the state, said Chief Osoba remained his leader and that of the party, saying he would not do anything to undermine his leadership.
The governor stated this, yesterday, while speaking in a special interview session on a private radio station, Rockcity FM, based in Abeokuta.
The APC in the state is factionalised into two groups. One of the groups is loyal to the governor while the other one is loyal to Chief Olusegun Osoba.
Despite earlier hopes of the readiness of Buhari to endorse one of the younger aspirants, the former head of state, it was learnt, has upon the persuasion of his core followers decided to forge ahead with his aspiration.
One of the other younger aspirants in the contest, (not Tambuwal) it was learnt had approached the general for an endorsement in consideration of his, Buhari’s age – Buhari is 70 – but the former head of state it was learnt had clearly rebuffed him citing what he claimed was the aspirant’s alleged emotional instability and allegations of financial impropriety with public funds.
Following the rebuff, Buhari it was learnt, proceeded for a medical check up to assess and prepare his physical readiness for the contest. The medical trip it was learnt may have led to the postponement of his declaration which had been scheduled for September 1.
Meanwhile, intrigues within the top hierarchy of the ruling party are continuing to unfold.
The foundation members of the APC, it was learnt are also laying out strategies to frustrate what insiders say is the plan by former PDP members in the party to buy up the presidential nomination.
That plan, Saturday Vanguard learnt, inspired the introduction of the modified direct primaries as a method of checking the influence of the money bags.
“The use of the modified direct system or open ballot is to limit the influence of the moneybags and Atiku is one of the principal targets,” a source privy to the development said.
“You know many are afraid of Atiku, he has money, he has reach and if you allow the delegate system he has the capacity and the network to easily get the ticket and I can tell you that many people are simply afraid of Atiku” the source revealed.
Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the National Publicity Secretary of the party had last week announced the use of the modified direct system of primaries under which at least 300,000 persons would choose the party’s presidential candidate.
It was, however, learnt that despite the announcement of the use of the open ballot system would be used, sources revealed that it was as at now still part of the proposals on offer as one source revealed that the National Executive Committee, NEC of the party was yet to ratify it.
The delay in ratifying the proposal it was learnt was lending credibility to suggestions of the possibility of the party reverting to the delegate system.