Fomer Head of State Maj.-Gen. Buhari is likely to contest presidential primary of the All Nigeria Peoples Party.
His loyalists said that despite the anti-Buhari lobby in the APC, the general would contest the primary.
We have gathered that the anti-Buhari lobby in APC is made up of two groups. The first group consists of senior Northern politicians who want the general to bury his ambition in order for a younger northerner to contest the presidential primaries. This group is also said to be shopping for a guarantee that the general will support whoever emerges as the presidential candidate of the party.
The other group consists of members of the party who feel that the former head of state is not popular in the South-East, South-South and some parts of North-Central.
Top officials of the party confided in our correspondent on Friday that the mega party was worried about Buhari’s unpopularity in these regions. The officials said the states were too crucial to be toyed with.
One of the senior members of the party, who pleaded anonymity, said, “We have realised that it will be a Herculean task to convince a majority of the electorate in the South-South, South-East and even some parts of North-Central to vote for the APC if we field Buhari as our candidate.
“You will recall in 2011, he did not perform very well in the South-East, South-South as well as Plateau, Benue and Kwara in the North-Central. He is not so popular in those areas. We are looking for a nationally acceptable candidate. Hence, the move to make him step down.”
Another APC top member who spoke on the condition of anonymity with our correspondent, said, “We know that the general is popular among the talakawas (ordinary people) in the northern part of the country.
“We also know that he is still interested in the race based on his pronouncements. But we also believe that he has tried. He needs to allow the younger ones take a shot at the ticket.
“But if we prevail on him to discard his ambition, will he be ready to work for whosoever emerges as the party’s candidate? That is the dilemma we are in now.”
But Buhari’s supporters are insisting that he must be allowed to take part in the party’s primary, and that he will support the winner if he doesn’t win.
Former spokesperson for the CPC, Mr. Rotimi Fashakin, said only the members of the APC could determine Buhari’s fate.
He said, “Some people are afraid of Buhari and that is why they are flying the kite. We know he is going to contest the primaries and he may be the candidate of the party.
“We all know that democracy is a game of numbers, if that is the case, let us wait and see what will happen during the primary. The general’s popularity has not waned.
“Those mounting pressure on him not to contest are those who are afraid of him. They know that he means well for the country and not for the pulse of a few people.”
Similarly, the CPC governorship candidate in Enugu State in 2011, Mr. Osita Okechukwu, said if Buhari could pull 12 million votes during the 2011 presidential election with a “small party like the CPC,” then he could do better under a bigger party in 2015.
“That is why we, his supporters, are saying that he should be allowed to contest the primary with other candidates. Irrespective of his age, he is still strong. He is not corrupt, he isn’t a religious bigot and he doesn’t care about where you come from.
“We must also know that GMB is an asset to the party anyway. He has a “vote bank” through which he could draw come 2015.
Buhari, 70, has run for the office of the President three times and, on all the occasions, was defeated by the ruling Peoples Democratic Party candidates.
In 2003 and 2007, he ran on the platform of the ANPP and was the presidential candidate of the Congress for Progressive Change in the 2011 general election.