2015: North Shortlists Buhari, Tambuwal, Kwankwaso
- Directs Key PDP Members To Defect To APC
- Plots To Make PDP Regional Party
AS the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) meets next week to put its house in order, opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) is deepening its agenda to wrest power from the ruling party.
Investigation by the Saturday Tribune revealed that the opposition is focusing on areas likely to weaken it in the 2015 presidential poll, such as the fight over its presidential ticket and PDP’s presence in some parts of the North.
Findings showed that the leadership of the opposition party, in conjunction with opinion and political leaders in the north, has narrowed APC’s presidential choices to three; namely Governor Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso of Kano State; Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal, and General Muhammadu Buhari. While the party has not even elected its leadership, Saturday Tribune gathered that the three men are being encouraged to dialogue by the north as a way of easing tension at future presidential primaries.
Two of the identified hopefuls were said to have met in a northern state last Wednesday, at a meeting facilitated by some senior citizens in the north, during which they agreed on some critical issues including putting northern and party interest above personal ambitions .
Already, some influential members of the opposition party have started identifying with some of the presidential hopefuls. The former Minister of Aviation, Chief Femi Fani Kayode, recently visited Kano where he drummed support for Kwankwaso’s candidacy. The governor himself was said to have told some elders in the state capital about his imminent endorsement as APC’s presidential candidate.
However, the caucus of a leader of the party and former governor of Lagos State, Bola Tinubu, is said to be rooting for Tambuwal, whom the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (CAN) helped install as Speaker after the 2011 elections.
An APC source told the Saturday Tribune that the shortlisting of aspirants for the number one position is seen as a major step for the APC to shame its detractors who are already predicting its disintegration ahead of its primary election which may come up later this year.
According to the source, a former president is behind the deal to ensure a reduction in the number of contenders. The former president is also said to be responsible for the ongoing interface among the identified contenders.
Part of the deal reportedly reached was to coordinate an Arewa-wide movement to pressure elected PDP officials to defect to the APC. That agenda, which is already being implemented, was said to be responsible for the recent defection of PDP lawmakers in Zamfara and Kaduna states to the APC.
Similar pressure is reportedly being put on elected officials in Katsina, Jigawa and Niger states. Even while governors Sule Lamido (Jigawa) and Aliyu Babangida (Niger) have refused to quit the PDP, Saturday Tribune gathered that their loyalists in the respective state Houses of Assembly are under pressure from the Arewa lobby group.
It was learnt that the opposition is pushing to reduce PDP to a regional party while the APC will take its place as the national party.
“ You remember how the PDP emerged from the defunct All Peoples Party (APP) to become a pan –Nigeria party. The same forces that turned APP to a regional party overnight in 1998 are coordinating a reenactment of that feat with the PDP as the victim now. Very soon, it will be clear to all that the PDP has become a party of the South South and the South East just as was the case with the APP in 1998 when its root was mainly in the North West and the North East. You just wait and see,” the source, who is close to a powerful traditional ruler in the north, told Saturday Tribune.
The Arewa agenda is, however, reported to be facing stiff opposition in the Middle Belt region where a combination of religious factor and strong anti- Hausa fulani sentiment is helping the ruling party.