Veteran presidential candidate and former Head of State, Maj.-Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (retd.) is not dropping his ambition to take another shot at the presidency in the 2015 general election, the Congress for Progressive Change said on Tuesday.
“It is not true that Gen. Buhari is stepping down. He will make himself available for the 2015 election if he is accepted by the new arrangement. If he is not accepted, he is a democrat, he will not force himself on the party,” the spokesman for Buhari’s CPC, Rotimi Fashakin, told The Punch.
Fashakin said the one-time All Nigeria Peoples Party presidential candidate was electable and that the CPC wanted him to contest the 2015 poll.
The CPC, ANPP, Action Congress of Nigeria and the All Progressives Grand Alliance are currently engaged in a merger arrangement and had announced the All Progressives Congress as the new platform under which they intend to contest.
The new party, the merging parties said, would provide them the strong platform on which to confront the ruling Peoples Democratic Party that has monopolised power at the centre since the return of democracy in 1999.
Fashakin said Buhari would be accepted by the APC because of his high electoral value.
He 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.”
Explaining why the CPC wanted Buhari to contest the 2015 poll, Fashakin said the former Head of State would provide transparent leadership for the country.
“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,” he said.
The clarification on Buhari’s ambition for 2015 came even as the PDP National Chairman, Bamangar Tukur, said in Abuja that “ambition will tear the APC to rags” and an APGA lawmaker in the House of Representatives, Victor Ogene, said the new party could not guarantee a president from the South-East.
Speaking to journalists on Tuesday, Tukur said, “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.
“PDP is a united party, even when we disagree; we are able to reconcile our differences because of our belief in the unity of Nigeria as an indivisible entity.”
Ogene, representing Ogbaru Federal Constituency of Anambra State, said APGA was not dead and described as erroneous the thinking “of some politicians” that APC would ensure the enthronement of a president of Igbo extraction.
He spoke in response to Senator Annie Okokwo (APGA) who had expressed interest in the APC.
He said, “The leader of a political party is distinct from its national chairmanship, as the absence of one does not distract from the powers and functions of the other.
“For the avoidance of any doubt, therefore, Governor Peter Obi remains the national leader of the APGA.
“It is also laughable that politicians are flirting with the new party because of their erroneous belief that APC holds the key to the realisation of a ‘President of Igbo extraction”.
Meanwhile, the governors of the four parties fusing into APC on Tuesday met in Abuja and rolled out the programmes for their new party.
The governor of Nasarawa State, Tanko Almakura, surrounded by his colleagues from nine other states, read the communiqué of the meeting and said the state chief executives were happy at the APC name adopted by the merging parties.
He said, “Our programme priorities shall be agricultural development, job creation, free education, affordable healthcare, infrastructural development, adequate power supply, eradication of poverty and corruption and rapid technological advancement and industrialisation.
“We shall pride ourselves as social democrats that are committed to organise our society based on the values of justice for all and individual freedom where everyone’s basic needs are fulfilled.”
He called on Nigerians to understand their (the governors’) call and see the formation of the new party as a credible process to deepen democracy and national renewal.
The governor also said that the overwhelming support that greeted the announcement of the merger had made the governors to establish Zonal Contact and Mobilisation Committees across the six-geopolitical zones.
Those named as leaders of the committee were Yobe State Governor Ibrahim Geidam (North-East); Almakura (North-Central), Zamfara State Governor Abdulaziz Yari (North-West); Imo State Governor Rochas Okorocha (South-East); Edo State Governor Adams Oshiomhole (South-South); and Ekiti State Governor Kayode Fayemi (South-West).
At the meeting, which held in the Lagos Governor’s Lodge in Abuja, were Geidam, Almakura, Yari, Okorocha, Oshiomhole, Fayemi, Abiola Ajimobi, Oyo; Babatunde Fashola, Lagos; Rauf Aregbesola, Osun; and Ibikunle Amosun, Ogun.