The national leadership of the All Progressives Congress, APC, has said President Buhari will have to slug it out with other aspirants that decide to join the race, in line with the party’s constitution.
The National Publicity Secretary of the party, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi, in an interview with one of our correspondents in Abuja, on Friday, April 13, 2018, said that the party would welcome other members who have presidential ambitions.
There have been speculations that APC chieftains like the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki; the Sokoto State Governor, Aminu Tambuwal; and the former Governor of Kano State, Rabiu Kwankwaso, are interested in getting the presidential ticket of the party.
However, Saraki, speaking through his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Yusuph Olaniyonu, had recently described reports that he would run for the presidency as false
A former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, who was a founding member of the APC, had recently defected to the Peoples Democratic Party when it was becoming apparent that the President would seek a re-election.
Abdullahi, however, said there was no need for anyone to leave, saying the party would provide a level-playing field for all.
He said, “Yes, the President has signified his intention to run on the ticket of the party once again. We welcome that. However, to answer your question, he is not going to be our sole aspirant for the election. Other aspirants are going to be accommodated because we are going to conduct a free, fair and credible primary election.
“Democracy will not grow when we have a sole aspirant for elective offices. Therefore, we welcome others with similar ambition.”
But despite Abdullahi’s assurance, findings showed that some bigwigs in the APC also interested in its presidential ticket had not just started looking for other political platforms where they could realise their ambitions, they had been making overtures to the Obasanjo’s coalition.
The Director of Media and Public Communications, CNM, Akin Osuntokun, confirmed to Saturday PUNCH that some APC chieftains had been approaching the group for support.
“Of course, but we cannot mention names,” he said when asked if APC chieftains threatened by Buhari’s declaration to seek re-election had started seeking the support of the group.
He said, “But you can guess the names of some of them. The APC is going to implode and where those people will go is open to speculation, but since many of them had defected to the APC from the PDP, I doubt if they would take the option of returning to the PDP.”
Responding to whether the coalition would be willing to lend support to the APC chieftains who have been making overtures, Osuntokun said, “Yes, of course, that is why we call it a coalition. We already anticipated that right from the outset. Actually, many of them were privy to the inception or birth of the CNM.
“Eventually, the decision of which party to support (by the CNM) will be taken together by everybody and that is why the CNM is not in a hurry to talk about one party or the other. We can exercise patience so that we can accommodate the inputs of critical stakeholders who are coming on board.”
When asked if the CNM would be endorsing any candidate or whether it would register as a political party in light of the new development, Osuntokun said consultations were still ongoing.
He added, “The only pressure to form a party is because of the Ekiti and Osun elections, which will be coming soon. Apart from these, we still have time to do a lot ahead of the 2019 elections.
We have time to accommodate as many people as possible. There are many stakeholders who will still come on board.”
The PUNCH had exclusively reported on March 18, 2018, that Kwankwaso and some political parties had been meeting with Obasanjo as part of moves to strategise for the 2019 elections.
It was reported that in one of such meetings, which held at Protea Hotel, GRA, Ikeja, Lagos, Obasanjo was said to have met with 35 political parties under the aegis of the Coalition for New Nigeria.