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2011: BUHARI REJECTS TINUBU AS RUNNING MATE

By NBF News
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Moves by the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) and the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) to have General Muhammadu Buhari as the joint presidential candidate of both parties for the 2011 elections may have collapsed. Sunday Sun gathered authoritatively that General Buhari has asked to be left out of the plan.

The ACN had requested a working arrangement with the CPC leadership, which would have paved the way for the two parties to adopt Buhari as their presidential candidate. The move was conveyed through fiery Lagos-based pastor of the Latter Rain Assembly and Convener of the Save Nigeria Group, Tunde Bakare, who led a delegation to the former Head of State.

But after a series of meetings held to solemnize the arrangement, Sunday Sun learnt that Buhari and the CPC leadership asked to be left out when it got to issue of who becomes the running mate to the former Head of State. Much as the CPC presidential aspirant would have loved the arrangement, close sources revealed to our correspondent that the choice of the former Lagos State Governor, Senator Bola Tinubu, as the running mate did not sit well with Buhari.

Buhari reportedly told the meeting that he could not run for the Presidency on a Muslim/Muslim ticket because it would work against him. When reminded of the late Moshood Abiola and Babagana Kingibe Muslim/Muslim ticket for the aborted June 12, 1993 presidential election, which the duo won with a landslide victory on the platform of defunct Social Democratic Party, Buhari was said to have told them that the situation in 2011 would be different from what obtained in 1993.

Sunday Sun sources further informed that Buhari explained that he was already seen as a religious bigot, which he said his detractors threw up because of his principled stand on some issues and that for him to run for the election on a Muslim/Muslim ticket would mean giving his opponents something to latch on to during the campaigns.

The CPC National Publicity Secretary, Dennis Aghanya, however, said although there have been discussions with other parties, the talks were only on the 2011 elections and that issues on the presidency were not to his knowledge.

He explained that if any party wanted a relationship with the CPC that would produce Buhari as joint presidential candidate, 'it only goes to show that they recognize his (Buhari's) worth and capability as one among equals who has what it takes to lead Nigeria out of doldrums and the mess into which the present ruling party has thrown the country for almost 12 years.'

Speaking in the same vein, the ACN National Secretary, Usman Bugaje, also confirmed discussions with various political groups, including the CPC. He stated that the democratic environment necessitated meetings and discussions with everyone. 'Even you if come, we will discuss. It is a matter of interest,' he said, but refused to say whether the talks between Buhari and Tinubu had collapsed.

The ACN had mooted the idea of adopting Buhari as its presidential candidate despite the entry of the former chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, and the former Sokot State Governor, Alhaji Attahiru Bafarawa, into the party and declaring their interest in the presidency on the platform of the ACN.

However, Bafarawa's exit from the Democratic Peoples Party (DPP) may have unsettled the party as it claims the former governor was still its member. A national leader of the party told Sunday Sun in confidence that Bafarawa was still carrying the DPP registration card and that as chairman of the party's Board of Trustees, he needed to resign formally, which he had not done.

The source said the defection of the former Sokoto governor to the ACN did not mean that DPP had ceased to exist, adding that it remains a solid party and that Bafarawa was just an individual member who could join any group he wants.