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2015: Buhari’s ambition and APC’s dream to unseat PDP



The insistence by a former Head of State, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari to contest the 2015 presidential election on the platform of the newly registered All progressives Congress, APC, is likely to have implications on the fortunes of the new party, writes FELIX NWANERI.

It is not yet uhuru for the newly registered oppositions’ mega party – All Progressives Congress, APC, despite the euphoria that greeted its registration recently, as the issue of who flies its flag in the 2015 presidential election is already causing uneasiness within the party.

Though leaders of the party, who realised the tricky nature of the issue, carefully left it out during talks between the various parties that merged to form the APC to avoid upsetting its apple cart, the insistence of a former Head of State, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari to contest the election is likely to have implications on the fortunes of the new party.

His ambition is however said to be at variance with an earlier understanding that he and the former governor of Lagos State, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, regarded as principal promoters of the merger arrangement that gave birth to the APC, would not run for any elective office to give the new party a “semblance of a new beginning.”

Already, some names have been touted and they include the former chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu as well as the Imo State governor, Rochas Okorocha. But former National Publicity Secretary of the defunct Congress for Progressive Change, CPC, Rotimi Fasakin, who insisted that nobody can stop Buhari from testing his popularity at the APC’s presidential primary, said there was no time such an arrangement precluding Buhari from contesting for the presidency was made.

Fasakin, who said that he has an inside knowledge about the initial agreement on the merger, described the purported arrangement to oust Buhari and Tinubu from the APC presidential race as a ruse, adding that only the decision of the party members at the presidential primaries can alter the former Head of State’s plan to run for 2015 Presidency.

He said: “We all know that the said arrangement is a mere propaganda to stop Gen. Buhari from again testing his popularity but it will not work. Come 2015, Gen. Buhari will participate at the APC presidential primaries and nobody can stop him, I repeat, he will contest and no one can stop him from doing so.” Buhari, who also spoke on the issue last week, however said whether he would run in the 2015 poll or not would depend on whether the APC wanted him or not.

“My decision will be tied to the constitution of the APC. If the party chooses me as its candidate, I will contest. If the members do not consider me, I will not contest but I will still support the party. My decision to run for 2015 will solely be that of the party,” he said.

He revealed that he had thought of a merger of political forces to wrest power from the PDP in 2007 because none of the opposition parties can challenge ruling party successfully. “I thought about this merger in 2007. This is because I found out that none of the opposition parties can challenge PDP successfully.

But if we come together with those that have representation at the National Assembly and the Houses of Assembly and go back to sensitise our constituencies, even if the PDP want to rig they would find it impossible to rig. “I discovered that by being so divisive, we made ourselves very vulnerable. So, the best way to survive and for this country to stabilise, we just have to come together and I believe, along the line, we made necessary sacrifices.

“The tension in the country has already come down; people now think that they have a viable alternative. These feelings and belief is across the country, not only in the North or in the South-West. There is a good feeling about the party in all the political zones of the country.

Our next important step is the mobilisation of constituencies to make sure that elections are conducted according to the law.” However, some APC chieftains, who are not comfortable with Buhari’s position, particularly his ambition, opined that he should talk less on it.

A party source, who spoke to a team of journalists in Abuja, last week, disclosed that “Buhari’s posture to run is coming rather too early.” He added: “Our earlier thinking was that the two leaders (Buhari aand Tinubu) should provide leadership for the new party and groom an acceptable candidate that will beat PDP’s Goodluck Jonathan, because from all indications, the PDP will present him.

“By our calculations, a younger and vibrant politician should run as our candidate so as to give the PDP a good fight; but from the way things are, we are stuck in between telling Buhari out rightly not to run and allowing him to continue with some ripple effects coming our way later.”

The source added that the APC was already working on the Speaker, House of Representatives, Hon. Aminu Tambuwal, to join its camp, with a view to presenting him as the party’s candidate in 2015. Tambuwal, he explained, is younger with an appreciable appeal across party lines, and partly because he is from the North-West, which is the highest voting bloc in the country. The Katsina State-born general is not new to the presidential contest, having made three unsuccessful attempts in the past.

His first shot was in 2003, on the platform of the now defunct All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) but was defeated by former President Olusegun Obasanjo of the PDP. He was back in 2007, also on the platform of the ANPP, but was defeated by late President Umaru Yar’Adua, who hailed from the same state with him. In March 2010, he left the ANPP to found the CPC (also defunct).

He described the party then as a solution to the debilitating, ethical and ideological conflicts in the ANPP. It was under this platform that he vied for the 2011 presidential election against the incumbent, Jonathan (PDP), scoring 12.2 million votes against Jonathan’s 22.4 million.

The intrigues and power play which characterised the elections, especially the collapse of an alliance between the CPC and then Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), which would have given the PDP a run for its money, forced Buhari to declare at the eve of the presidential poll that he will not seek any elective office again.

At the grand finale of his electioneering campaign, Buhari said: “This campaign is the third and last one for me since after it I will not present myself again for election into the office of the president.” He, however rescind the decision last year saying: “I am still in active politics until the polity is sanitised and people enjoy the fruits of democracy at all levels of government.” Though a political school of thought is of the view that the detour unsettled some elements in the North, who have been waiting to step into Buhari’s shoes, some analysts have argued that age is no longer on his side for a tough contest such as that for the presidency.

The former military ruler would be 73 in 2015. Others, however, opined that he would be embarking on another “political gamble” that may jeopardise the oppositions’ bid to unseat the ruling party. But how will Buhari’s ambition affect the fortunes of the APC? Many have asked.

The PDP National Chairman, Bamangar Tukur, whose party, the opposition alliance is poised to confront, believes that the ambition of the former Head of State will tear the new party apart.

His words: “Don’t worry, this is not the first time Nigerians would hear about merger. Let elections come and everyone will see the problems within them. They will be torn to rags because of ambitions.”

The pessimism over Buhari’s chances is not only held by members of the ruling party. A Kaduna-based human rights activist, Salihu Lukman, who is believed to be working for a chieftain of the APC interested in the 2015 presidency, had in reaction to Buhari’s renouncement of his decision to stay off active politics, said that such move will not bring the desired changes expected in the polity.

In an open letter to Buhari, titled: “Your aspiration for 2015 is ill-advised,” Lukman advised Buhari to drop his aspiration to contest the 2015 presidential election. The letter read in part: “To strengthen opposition parties in Nigeria would require a strategy that would throw up completely new candidates at all levels in 2015 including the presidential election.

Your moral authority to serve as the facilitator of this will engrave your name in the sands of Nigerian history as one nationalist who sacrificed everything, including his personal aspirations to ensure that the monster called the PDP is defeated.” But Buhari’s camp, in allaying fears over his ambition, however said the former military ruler is electable and would be accepted by the APC because of his high electoral value.

It said: “Many people do not understand the average Northerner. The preponderance of these people is in rural areas. These are people Gen. Buhari is popular with. The general belief is that Gen. Buhari is adjudged as a leader. “There are not many of these Northern elements that have the kind of popularity that Gen. Buhari has. The electoral value of Gen. Buhari is never in doubt. It is a fact. He has created a niche for himself. The truth of the matter is that Buhari is a man with amazing and remarkable character. He is a dependable leader in terms of service delivery.”

The assurance, notwithstanding, most analysts believe that a Buhari candidacy is unlikely to gain the support of some people in the South, particularly the South-East, who see the APC as a Hausa/Yoruba party despite the fact that one of the merging parties, the ACN, enjoys an almost absolute control of the South-West zone.

This, perhaps explains their call for the Bisi Akande-led interim National Working Committee, NWC, to unveil the party’s power sharing formula and other vexatious issues such as zoning to convince them that not only the South-East, but even the South-South where the incumbent, President Goodluck Jonathan hails from, have a stake in the party.

They argued that the North-West (Buhari’s zone) and South-West, which are key partners in the merger deal, have taken their respective turns to rule the country for no less than a decade each, both during the military and civilian era, as opposed to the South-East that has not taken a shot at the presidency.

But Senator Annie Okonkwo (the party’s Deputy Chairman, South), who allayed the fear of marginalisation of the zone in the new party, said: “We, the people of the South-East observed that the only political party where an Igbo man will have a say and ample opportunity to actualise his presidential ambition is in the APC.”

He added: “With the signatory of the Imo State governor, Okorocha, APC has become a recognised national party and every position will be shared equally. The focus point of APC is internal democracy and I am very optimistic that an Igbo man will emerge as the presidential candidate of APC in 2015.”

The question then is: Will the leadership of the APC opt for a zone with “less stake” in the party to produce its presidential flagbearer in 2015, even when it is indisputable that Buhari enjoys a near cult-followership in the North?

The party’s interim National Chairman, Akande, who doused the tension on the issue after the maiden meeting of the APC Interim NEC in Abuja, last week, said: “We listened to some people talking about presidency, talking about governors; we have not reached that stage at all.

Our major preoccupation is to set up the structure of our party. It is after that, maybe in November or December when we hold our national convention where our national executives will be elected; there is yet no idea about who becomes president or who becomes a governor.”

The presidential candidate of the defunct National Republican Convention (NRC) in the 1993 elections, Alhaji Bashir Tofa, who proffered a way out of the seeming impasse, said it would be a mistake for the new party to insist that Buhari drops his ambition.

His words: “Dropping Buhari and Tinubu’s ambitions will be a serious blow to the APC, in my opinion. So, they must be allowed to aspire to whatever they fancy, and let democracy determine their nomination for that position.”

Tofa argued that Buhari and Tinubu, and not their parties are the important factors in the merger arrangement, saying that the former Head of State will lose his political relevance, while Tinubu will also lose his interest if they are compelled to drop their respective ambitions in 2015.

“Buhari and Tinubu must be allowed to aspire to whatever positions they fancy, and let democracy determine their nomination for that position. If Buhari withdraws, 95 per cent of CPC is out.

If Tinubu loses interest, 50 to 70 per cent of the funding is lost. But if they genuinely decide on their own without any pressure from anywhere to opt out and remain faithful to the new party, that will be a big credit to them.

But, I do not see that happening without a serious loss to the new party.” A member of the APC Merger Committee and National Publicity Secretary of the Conference of Nigeria Political Parties, CNPP, Osita Okechukwu, who also agreed that Buhari has the right to contest APC’s presidential primaries, noted that internal democracy in the new party would be strong enough to decide those to contest elective positions on the party’s platform.

Okechukwu said: “The most prominent thing that the members and supporters of the APC have put ahead is to save the country, to save our democracy and even save our constitution which the PDP has bastardised. So, the song is to redeem the country because if there is no country there is no ambition to talk about.

“For them, this thing is about the country. Nigeria is drifting dangerously into a failed state. So these patriots are saying that they are going to salvage this country and let personal interest go down the drain.”

The CPC’s governorship candidate in Enugu State in the 2011 election, Okechukwu, while assuring that Buhari is ready to give maximal support if a more formidable candidate emerges as the party’s presidential candidate in 2015, said the former Head of State’s statement about his presidential ambition was misunderstood and misconstrued. Okechukwu said that in the unlikely scenario that Buhari did not emerge as APC’s presidential flag bearer, he will support a better candidate, as a liberal democrat.

His words: “If you understood what Gen. Buhari said, he indicated interest to run under the banner of the APC. He gave a caveat that if there will be a better or more formidable candidate, he will support the person.

So, it is not as if Gen. Buhari is going out of his way to say if I am not the presidential candidate, there will be no APC – of course he did not say so. “To be honest and sincere, Gen Buhari had always said: ‘I support the merger wholeheartedly and if the merger adopts or elects me as its presidential candidate, fine, but if it doesn’t, I will support the person that will be elected as the presidential candidate.”

Similarly, a former Secretary to the Lagos State Government, SSG, in the Second Republic and chieftain of the APC, Olorunfunmi Basorun, who expressed optimism in the ability of the APC to resolve issues concerning Buhari’s presidential ambition, however insisted that the former Head of State does not require the intervention of people to persuade or dissuade him from his bid to come back to power.

He also expressed optimism that Buhari will abide by the decision of the APC leaders that everyone subsumes his or her ambition for now until when everything has been put in place. “He has said the party will decide who would be. So, if he has surrendered himself to the party, let us take him for his word,” Basorun said.

While it may be too early to draw a conclusion on what becomes of Buhari’s ambition in 2015, as politics remains the doctrine of the possible, the power play in the months ahead will determine if the former Head of State, who has always predicated his interest to lead the country again on two compelling objectives – need to sanitise the Nigerian polity and ensure that Nigerians enjoy the dividends of democracy at all levels of government – will return to the seat he vacated close to three decades ago.

Posted in Nigerian Newspapers. A DisNaija.Com network.

Source: National Mirror Newspaper

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Corona Virus

NIgeria Records 87 New Cases Of COVID-19, Total Infections Now 1,182



By Abujah Racheal

Nigeria has recorded 87 new cases of the COVID-19, bringing the total infections to 1,182 , according to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).

The NCDC, in a tweet via its official handle, said 33 of the new infections were recorded in Lagos, 18 in Borno, 12 in Osun, nine in Katsina, four each in Kano and Ekiti, three each in Edo and Bauchi and one in Imo.

“As at 11:55 pm April 25, there are 1,182 confirmed cases of COVID-19 reported in Nigeria.  The country’s total deaths from the virus now stand at 35, while 222  have been treated and discharged,” it said.

The centre said as at 11:55 pm, April 25, Lagos has 689, FCT-138, Kano-77, Ogun-35, Osun-32, Gombe-30, Katsina-30, Borno-30, Edo-22, Oyo-18, Kwara-11, Akwa Ibom-11, Bauchi-11, Kaduna-10, Ekiti-8 and Ondo-4.

Others are Delta-six, Rivers-three, Jigawa-two, Enugu-two, Niger-two, Abia-two, Zamfara-two,  Sokoto-two, Benue-one, Anambra-one, Adamawa-one, Plateau-one and Imo-one.

Sourced From: News Agency of Nigeria

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Daily Trust

2 Women Crushed To Death On Lagos – Ibadan Expressway



Two women were crushed to death in a road crash involving a Mack truck and a motorcycle around Lotto, beside NNPC filling station on the Lagos – Ibadan expressway.

The accident occurred around 8:02am on Saturday when the truck marked FST 984 XX lost its brakes and hit the moving motorcycle, killing the women.

The spokesperson of Traffic Compliance and Enforcement Corps, Babatunde Akinbiyi,  confirmed the incident to newsmen in Abeokuta.

”The truck and the motorcycle were both on the outbound lane from Lagos when the crash happened due to break failure on the  part of the truck driver.

“The vehicle and the motorcycle are with the police at the Redeemed Police Station, along with the driver of the truck,” he said.  Akinbiyi explained that the rider of the motorcycle was nowhere to be found after the accident.

He disclosed that  the remains of the deceased had been deposited at the morgue of Olabisi Onabanjo University Teaching Hospital, Sagamu.

Sourced From: Daily Trust

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Mentally-Challenged Man Axes 70-Year-Old Father To Death



A 37-year-old man said to be mentally-challenged has used an axe to kill his father, aged 70 in Unuchiana Village, Aguata Local Government Area of Anambra State.

Tribune Online learnt that the suspect allegedly axed his father to death in their compound.

Confirming the incident in a statement, the Anambra State police command’s public relations officer, SP Haruna Mohammed, said one Timothy Ezeofor reported that his elder brother, 70-year-old Godwin Ezeofor, was allegedly murdered by his son, Chigorom Ezeofor using an axe.

According to Mohammed, at about 9:45am on Friday, one Mr Timothy Ezeofor of Umuezegoro Kindred, Unuchiana Village, reported at Aguata Police Station that at about 8:00am of same day, his elder brother, Godwin Ezeofor of the same address was murdered by his son, one Chigorom Ezeofor, of the same address using an axe.

He said the complainant alleged that the suspect had been mentally ill for the past eight years.

The police spokesman said following the report, police operatives attached to Aguata Division led by the DPO, CSP Ayeni Oluwadare, mobilised to scene and rushed the victim to the hospital where he was pronounced dead by a medical doctor and the corpse has been deposited at a hospital mortuary for autopsy.

He also said the suspect who “looks insane” had been arrested and taken to the station for investigation to ascertain circumstances surrounding the incident.

Sourced From: Tribune Online

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This Day

COVID-19: Police Arrest Bishop For Defying Lockdown To Protest At Chinese Embassy In Lagos



By Chiemelie Ezeobi.

The Lagos State Police Command has arrested the General Overseer of Resurrection Praise Ministries for Africa alias Jehovah Sharp Sharp, Archbishop Samson Benjamin, for defying the lockdown order to protest at the Chinese Embassy in Lagos.

Benjamin, the police alleged, led about 100 persons to the Chinese Embassy in Victoria Island to protest the maltreatment of Nigerians in China.

According to the cleric, the Chinese were operating freely in Nigeria despite that COVID-19 started in their country but have chosen to maltreat Nigerians and other blacks in China.

It was gathered that officials of the embassy sent a video clip of the alleged invasion to the police which prompted operatives from Victoria Island Division to move to the scene to effect the arrest.

A police source who spoke on anonymity said the cleric was being detained at the State Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department, (SCIID), Yaba and may be arraigned in court on Wednesday.

In the video, the bishop denied going to the embassy with 100 persons, insisting that he was there by himself to register his displeasure over the ill-treatment of Nigerians in China.

Efforts to reach the spokesman for the state police command, DSP Bala Elkana, proved abortive as he didn’t return the message sent to him as at press time.



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