Following the recent declaration by President Muhammadu Buhari to seek re-election in the 2019 elections, some bigwigs in the ruling All Progressives Congress, whose presidential ambitions have been threatened by the President’s move, have been talking to other parties to get their presidential tickets, Saturday PUNCH findings have shown.
The Social Democratic Party, the Labour Party, the Accord Party and the Coalition for Nigeria Movement confirmed on Friday that they had been receiving overtures from APC governors, senators and other chieftains of the party interested in contesting in the presidential election.
Although the CNM is not a political party, it is a growing political platform established by former President Olusegun Obasanjo, which could have influence on future elections.
However, none of the parties and the CNM was willing to give out the names of the APC chieftains and members of the other parties that had approached them for presidential tickets.
President Buhari had on Monday officially announced his intention to seek re-election in 2019 at the APC National Executive Committee meeting in Abuja.
Though the APC had said that Buhari wouldn’t be the party’s sole aspirant, it is believed in many quarters that he would eventually secure the party’s presidential ticket.
APC govs, senators reaching out to us –SDP, LP, AP
The SDP told Saturday PUNCH that several governors and senators in the APC had approached the party, seeking to become its presidential aspirant since the President’s declaration appeared to have shut them out of the race.
The SDP’s Spokesperson, Alfa Mohammed, who confirmed this in an interview, however, said he could not disclose names yet, as events were still unfolding.
Mohammed said, “Prominent and progressive-minded APC members are discussing with us. They include serving senators and governors.
“But, we will not give automatic tickets to any of them. It is the will of the national delegates at our convention that will prevail.
Similarly, the National Chairman, Labour Party, Dr. Mike Omotosho, said many political bigwigs from the ruling party had been making overtures to get the party’s presidential ticket. He, however, declined to mention their names.
In a telephone interview with one of our correspondents in Ilorin, the Kwara State capital on Friday, he added that some Nigerians in the Diaspora had also been making moves for the party’s presidential slot.
He said, “We have more than five political bigwigs from the APC talking to us about their interests. We will present a presidential candidate; it is not about their interest but the ideology they are bringing in. Their ideology must tally with providing equal opportunities and social justice. If their manifestoes are not about the masses, there is no way we can work with such a candidate.
“We have not taken any decision yet because there is strong internal democracy in our party. We have to take the decision at the special convention where the presidential candidate of the party will be chosen. We are currently having our bridal dance.”
Efforts by Saturday PUNCH to speak with the National Secretary of the Accord Party, Adebukola Ajaja, were not successful as she was said to be meeting with some politicians in Abuja.
But one of the party’s chieftains in Oyo State, Sheu Odedele, said the party had been receiving overtures from some chieftains of the APC and other parties interested in contesting in the presidential election, saying that three of them were being considered for the party’s presidential ticket.
He said, “The Accord Party is the party for Nigerians. We have been approached by notable politicians, including members of the ruling party. It is too early to give their names because we are still considering their profiles.
“The three candidates are from the North. Each of them is serious about being the presidential candidate of our party. The National Secretary, Ajaja, has been meeting the three candidates in Abuja for the past few days. One of them will be the presidential candidate of our party in the next election.
“Several APC members, who are now aggrieved, are also joining our party. In Oyo State, a number of them have declared their interest in being the party’s governorship candidate.”
Buhari won’t be our sole aspirant, says APC
Meanwhile, the national leadership of the 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, 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.
Party in talks to field Atiku in 2019
In a related development, the National Chairman of the All Grassroots Alliance, Dr. Olukayode Oshiariyo, on Friday, said that the party was in talks with the Atiku Solidarity Group, a group backing former Vice President Atiku Abubakar for the 2019 presidential election.
The party, however, stated that before it could field the former Vice President, he must agree to carry out the programmes of the party and not necessarily his own.
Oshiariyo said part of the party’s programmes was to introduce one-time six-year tenure for President and governors and having a unitary parliamentary system in the country.
He added that the party was ready to field Atiku if he agreed to the terms and conditions for using the AGA platform to realise his 2019 presidential ambition.
He said, “Yes, let me confirm that our Contact and Mobilisation Committee is in high-level discussion with the Atiku Solidarity Group on how Atiku would contest the 2019 presidential election on the platform of the All Grassroots Alliance.”
We’ll field candidates to challenge Buhari, 14 parties declare
All other things being equal, 13 political parties registered by the Independent National Electoral Commission have said they would field candidates to challenge Buhari in the 2019 presidential election.
The national chairmen of the Labour Party, Omotosho; the KOWA Party, Saidu Bobboi; the National Conscience Party, Dr. Yunusa Tanko; the Unity Party of Nigeria, Prof. Bankole Okuwa; the People’s Alliance for National Development and Liberty, Ambassador Abah Lewis; the Abundant Nigeria Renewal Party, Tope Fasua; the All Grassroots Alliance, Dr. Olukayode Oshiariyo; Democratic Alternative, Prince Frank Ukonga; the Freedom and Justice Party, Dr. Onwubuya Abraham; the New Nigeria Peoples Party, Agbo Major; the Better Nigeria Progressive Party, Prof Godswill Nnanji, and the New Generation Party of Nigeria, Dr. Yakubu Shendam, in separate interviews with Saturday PUNCH, said presidential candidates would fly their parties’ flags against Buhari in the 2019 elections.
The National Chairman of the Action Peoples Party, Mr. Ikenga Imo Ugochinyere, said if President Buhari must be voted out of office, a coalition might be the way out. He, however, said in the absence of such a platform yet, the APP was making arrangements to field a candidate for the next presidential election.
“Buhari said it himself that at age 72, there were certain things he could not do, is it when he is 78 years old that he wants to do those things?” Shendam asked.
The National Secretary of Nigeria Democratic Congress Party, Mr. Abdulkareem Matori, said the party’s national convention would hold on Monday where a decision would be taken on the party’s preparation for 2019 general elections.
Secondus woos Chidoka back to PDP
Meanwhile, the National Chairman of the PDP, Prince Uche Secondus, represented by the Deputy National Chairman of the party, Senator Babayo Gamawa, on Friday, led a team of PDP leaders to Obosi, Idemili North Local Government of Anambra State to urge a former Minister of Aviation, Osita Chidoka, to return to the PDP.
Secondus said the delegation came to Chidoka because it was convinced that he remained a PDP member “in body, blood and spirit.” (Punch)