By Stephen Ubanna
For the past two months, President Muhammadu Buhari of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, and Atiku Abubakar, a former Vice President and Chieftain of the opposition People’s Democratic party, PDP, were the only political gladiators that had declared their interest to contest the 2019 presidential election.But as at last week other Candidates from both parties had declared interest as well.
Buhari , who is seeking re-election for another four years in office had made his intention known earlier to the party leadership and the public. This may have dampened the Presidential enthusiasms of the likes of Rochas Okokrocha, and Aminu Tambuwal, governors of Imo and Sokoto states respectively including Bukola Saraki, a former governor of Kwara state and now Senate President in the party.
Many believe that Buhari , who is desperate to secure his re-election bid has resorted to a subterfuge means to stop those who might want to slug it out with him at the party national convention on Saturday, June 23, 2018. Already, Saraki, the Senate president, has the last April Offa Bank robbery case hanging on his neck, which may have given opportunity to the Ibrahim Idris led police to invite him for interrogation.
Initially, he was hesitant to honour the police invitation on the ground that it was politically motivated but was encouraged to send his ADC to the Force Headquarters to collect the invitation letter. That was how far he could go.
In spite of the fact no other Candidate from the party has shown interest to slug it out with Buhari in the Saturday, June 23, 2018, Convention of the party in Abuja, Femi Adesina, a senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity said APC would not give any automatic ticket to any Candidate as that could be undemocratic.
Adesina may have spoken the mind of the President, to disabuse people’s mind that he has not been adopted by the party as the race is still open. The crisis that had bedeviled the party state Conventions to elect delegates for the national Convention to select the party Presidential Candidate for the 2019 general election or ratify Buhari, without going through the Campaigns rigours in the Convention ground may have forced Bnjamin Uwajumogu, the National Secretary for the Convention to resign his appointment, which was conveyed John Odigie-Oyegun, the Chairman of the National Working Committee, NWC. his resignation may have forced the NWC to appoint Edoma-Egba, a former Senator on the ticket of PDP, to replace him, in order to do their bidding.
A source told the Magazine that Uwajumogu, may have resigned his appointment as the Secretary of the party National Convention because of his refusal to toe the line of action of the NWC, and Buhari on the adoption of the Unity List approved by the President to prepare the ground for his own endorsement as the Presidential Candidate of the party in the forthcoming 2019 general election. Although , he may have created the impression that he resigned on” personal reasons to attend to family issues” and” calm frayed nerves in the Imo state Chapter of the party” but analysts believe he was merely acting out the script of Okrocha, who is not happy that his Presidential ambition in the 2019 general election has been foreclosed. They see his resignation as a protest over the decision of the party leadership to adopt Buhari, by rubber stamping the Unity list with Adams Oshimhole, an activist and a former governor of Edo state as the new national Chairman of APC.Party Candidates were not on the Unity list but insisted on contesting the election who were said to have bought their Form at the Convention ground were said to lost the election. The approval of the Unity list now confirms the fear of people that Buhari might eventually emerge as the sole Presidential Candidate of the party in the 2019 general elecction.
Atiku, a former Chieftain of the party , who had slugged it out with Buhari , in the 2014, National Convention of the party in Lagos, to select the party the presidential Candidate f in the last 2015, general election may have known that Buhari is a Candidate to beat at the party National Convention that he decamped to PDP, a party , which he joined hands with other democratic forces to launch in 1998, when the ban on politics was lifted by Abdulsalam Abubakar, the then Head of State.
The former Vice President has been traversing the nooks and corners of the country to solicit support from gladiators to be the flag bearer of the party in the 2019 general election in order to slug it out with Buhari, of the ruling APC, in the election. He was said to have met former President Goodluck Jonathan, in Bayelsa to win his support.
the former Vice President, however, may have been disappointed that the party members were out to squander his resources without giving him the ticket with the declaration of Ahmed Makharfi, a former governor of Kaduna state and also one time Senator, Federal Republic o Nigeria and interim national Chairman of the PDP, during its crisis period asa presidential Candidate of the party for the election . Others who were said to have have declared interest for the party Presidential the ticket include Sule Lamido and Donald Duke, former governors of Jigawa and Cross River state respectively. Aso in the race were David Mark, a former Senate President, Ibrahim Kwankwaso, a former governor of Kano state, who decamped to APC , but under intense pressure by his supporters to decamp to PDPD to realise his Presidential ambition and Ibrahim Dankwanbo, the present governor of Gombe state, in the north east geo-political zone, thus making the 2019 presidential race , battle of the gladiators.
Many believe that even if Buhari was adopted by the APC in its aturday, June 23, 218 , National Convention, he is most likely going to have a tough battle scaling the hurdle that had been put in lace by the political forces working against him both within and outside the party working against him including former President Olusegun Obasanjo who is leading the park. This may have confirmed the speculations making the rounds that the President enemies in his re-election bid may be members of his own party who may not be happy over his adoption by the party.
But one Candidate that would elicit interest from the crowd was Omoyele Sowoore, publisher of Sahara Reporters, an Online media based in New York, United states.