The plot to unseat the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) at the 2015 polls thickens by the day as former Head of State and All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential hopeful, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, is in secret talks with no fewer than five PDP governors who have issues with their party.
Journalist gathered that Buhari’s discussions with the governors – four in the North and one in the South-South region – are being coordinated by a team of eminent leaders who also constitute the contact committee working to smoothen the path for the emergence of the former military ruler as APC’s presidential candidate in the 2015 election.
Beside the five governors Buhari is reaching out to in PDP, other APC leaders like the former Lagos State governor, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, are also said to be in contact with some other governors who have been having running battles with the leadership of the ruling party. Though APC has 11 governors in its fold at the moment, leaders of the party are working hard to harvest not less than 12 more governors from the current crisis rocking the PDP.
Imo State governor, Owelle Rochas Okorocha, did not mince words when he publicly declared at a recent freedom rally in Owerri that about 23 governors are in APC. He had boasted that it was a matter of time for the APC to take over every level of governance in the country, even as he said that the PDP has failed the people for the 12 years of democracy in the country.
Chairman, Board of Trustees of the PDP, Chief Tony Anenih, about a fortnight ago, gave credence to this claim while addressing the governors, federal lawmakers and state chairmen of the party from the South-South geo-political zone, in Asaba, Delta State.
“We must not live under the illusion that our party is invulnerable. Although, the existing opposition parties are still too small, fragile and sectional, we must not ignore the possibility that a merger of these parties may constitute a threat to our current dominance of the political terrain,” Anenih had told his party men and women.
About four parties are merging to unseat the PDP hegemony in the next election. While Tinubu is leading ACN, Buhari is driving CPC into the merger. The duo of ANPP national chairman, Ogbonnaya Onu, and ex-governor of Kano State, Ibrahim Shekarau, is leading the party into the arrangement, while Governor Okorocha is coordinating a faction of APGA into the deal.
A competent source in the Buhari’s contact committee, who confirmed the ongoing talks with some of the governors, however, said that “what you (Saturday Sun) call secret talks may not be secret anyway since the troubles some of these governors are having with the president and other PDP leaders are more or less open issues.
“It is only natural for them (governors) to look elsewhere for greener pastures or where their views can be accommodated. That is the platform APC has come to give all progressive minded Nigerians, irrespective of their political office, ethnicity or religion.”
The source further disclosed: “Our efforts to reach out to former heads of state, past and present governors as well as other patriotic leaders, are geared towards mobilizing all patriotic Nigerians to join hands with us to salvage the country from PDP’s misrule. So, it is not as if we are targeting only PDP governors to bring on board the moving train.”
When asked to name some of the governors Buhari is holding discussions with, the source declined but added: “Without mentioning names, you can identify a number of states a PDP leader recently visited to beg their governors not to leave the ruling party.”
Indeed, the party’s BoT chairman, Chief Anenih, recently toured and held meetings with Jigawa State governor, Sule Lamido, Niger’s Babangida Aliyu, Kano’s Musa Kwankwaso, Rivers’ Rotimi Amaechi and Cross River’s Liyel Imoke.
Governor Murtala Nyako of Adamawa State has also been having running battles with the leadership of PDP over the control of the party’s structure in the state. In view of the number of PDP governors that may eventually cross-carpet to APC, some leaders of the new party are said to be considering allotting the vice presidential ticket to one of them from the southern part of the country, since the North will produce the presidential candidate.
A prominent APC leader, who is a former governor, told Saturday Sun that “such consideration may likely favour Governor Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers given the strategic value of his state in the South-South, especially the number of votes generated in that state in the last presidential election and the humiliation the PDP-led Federal Government has subjected him to in the recent past.”
To further buttress the deal between some of the PDP governors and the APC leaders, a reliable source in the ruling party said: “The romance between some of our governors and the opposition party is no longer hidden, they meet and attend functions together openly. Watch out for one of such gatherings this Saturday May 25 (today) when the Kano University of Science and Technology, Wudil will award Governor Tinubu a honorary Doctor of Science degree of the university owned by a PDP state government.
A letter notifying Tinubu of the award was signed by the acting Vice Chancellor of the Institution, Prof. U.G. Danbatta. “The University Senate and Council and the Visitor to the university, Governor Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso approved the award of the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Science, Honris Causa to His Excellency, Senator Ahmed Bola Tinubu at the third convocation ceremony of the institution to be held in Wudil, Kano on Saturday, May 25 at 11am,” the letter stated.
All efforts to get reactions to these developments from the spokesmen of the CPC, Engr. Rotimi Fashakin and the ACN, Lai Mohammed achieved little. While Fashakin refused to respond to a text message sent to his mobile telephone number, his ACN counterpart would not want to be dragged into such at the moment. He, however, said: “The APC is a progressive party and will always welcome like-minded persons into the fold.”
Meanwhile, barring any hitch, the three main parties forming APC –ACN, ANPP and CPC – will, early next week, present a letter jointly signed by their National Chairmen, National Secretaries and National Treasurers to the INEC Chairman, Prof Attahiru Jega, informing the electoral body of their resolution to relinguish their old identities for the newly formed APC.
A competent source within one of the merging parties told Saturday Sun that the submission of the joint letter to INEC is the last stage in the merger process, having held their national conventions where the merger and their new identity were ratified. While the ACN held its convention in Lagos in April, ANPP and CPC had theirs in Zamfara and Abuja, respectively, two weeks ago.
As at yesterday, two of the parties had completed the compilation of all the documents to be submitted along with the joint letter to INEC, while the third party was being awaited.