Fresh facts emerged yesterday that contenders for the presidential ticket of the All Progressives Congress, APC, have intensified their bid to get the endorsement of Ashiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
The five contenders – former military Head of State, Muhammadu Buhari; former Vice President Atiku Abubakar; Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal; Kano State governor, Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso; and publisher of Leadership Newspapers, Sam Nda-Isaiah – are said to be appealing to various sentiments with a view to getting the former Lagos State governor, who is the most prominent APC leader but who is yet to come out openly to any of them.
As the deadline for the presentation of a presidential flag-bearer inches closer, Sunday Vanguard learnt that all the contenders for APC’s ticket are now pulling all possible stops ranging from family linkages, to political alliances, business relationship as well as sentiments bordering on contemporary realities.
In fact, aspirant by aspirant, Sunday Vanguard was made to understand that the pre-eminence of their relationship with Tinubu would play a major role in determining who gets the ticket.
Most importantly, leaders of the APC are agreed on a common possibility: That managing a post-presidential convention rancor could cost the party more, than having a house where interests are subsumed for the larger good of the party.
For instance, the Buhari camp is said to be banking on the very obvious fact that, without Tinubu and the former military head of state, there could never have been any party in the first instance because “it was the merger between the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, and the Congress for Progressive Change, CPC, that gave birth to the APC”. An aide to Buhari said, And you cannot talk of APC without talking about Tinubu and Buhari. How that important relationship would today be sacrificed on the altar of mere exigency is unfathomable”.
For Kwankwaso, it was learnt that the relationship between Tinubu and the Kano State governor did not just start in APC. “Mind you, both men were in the National Assembly during the turbulent days of the Third Republic. And both men are united in pursuing the need to ensure that the APC wrests power from Jonathan next year because they both have come to realize that the only way to rescue Nigeria from total collapse is to remove Jonathan from office. The feeling is mutual and the respect is also mutual. Both men are in talks and nothing is etched in stone regarding where the interest would swing”, a Kwankwaso ally said.
Sam Nda-Isaiah’s decision to pitch his tent with the APC, sources said, may not be unconnected with his progressive ideals which he continues to propagate in his column. But beyond that, a Tinubu confidant said that “people on the outside seem to forget that Ashiwaju has a way of keeping his cards close to his chest and, just as Babatunde Raji Fashola emerged from the blues and became the Lagos State governor in 2007, all the contenders for the presidential ticket of the party today stands almost an equal chance of getting Ashiwaju’s nod”.
The most interesting of the permutations is the relationship between Tinubu and Atiku.
In fact, Sunday Vanguard gathered from a Tinubu insider that “Atiku’s decision to finally dump the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, for the APC was never a flight of fancy”. The insider added: “Recall that the fight to stop Olusegun Obasanjo’s impunity as President which Atiku spearheaded got the support of Tinubu. And whereas both men were in different political parties, their relationship dates back to their days in the Social Democratic Party, SDP. The Tinubu that some people do not know is more potent that the Tinubu that people see at political rallies or social gatherings. What the Turaki and Tinubu have agreed on is that a level playing field is a condition-precedent to having a united house”.
In the case of Tambuwal, APC sources said that unlike others who went for the purchase of the presidential nomination forms, the Speaker of the House of Representatives had the form bought for him. “That in itself speaks volume of the goodwill he has. But he has himself said he is still consulting. And he knows that quicksand of politics makes the game a very dicey one so nothing can be cast in stone”, one of his aides said.
Indeed, Tambuwal’s emergence as Speaker against PDP’s zoning arrangement could not have been possible without the support of opposition reps in ACN and CPC.
Last night, one of Tinubu’s very associates disclosed to Sunday Vanguard that even as the APC National Leader keeps his card close to his chest, “one thing is paramount: The overall interest and success of the party supersede anybody’s ambition”