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2015 APC dumps Buhari for Tambuwal, VP zoned to South-West

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Barring any last-minute change, the leadership of the All Progressives Congress, APC, may have endorsed the Speaker of the House of Representatives, The Right Hon. Aminu Tambuwal, as the presidential candidate of the main opposition party in the 2015 general election.

National Mirror gathered that other presidential aspirants on the platform of the party, including the former Head of State. Maj.-Gen. Mohammadu Buhari (rtd.), are being persuaded to step down for Tambuwal.

As a prelude to the formal announcement of his candidature, Tambuwal has been advised to formally dump the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, which provided the platform for his election into the lower chamber of the National Assembly and defect to the opposition party. Already, findings showed that Tambuwal had agreed to the condition. Reliable sources close to the party disclosed to National Mirror that Tambuwal would meet the condition as soon as the House reconvenes in the New Year.

It was gathered that the leaders of APC in settling for Tambuwal considered that he possessed solid character content to sway the support of Nigerians for his candidature in the presidential election. It was also learnt that those rooting for Tambuwal in APC were of the opinion that his integrity and pedigree were strong points over candidates of other political parties in the presidential election, especially in the likelihood that the ruling party fielded President Goodluck Jonathan.

Investigations revealed that APC leaders were persuaded by the independent disposition of Tambuwal in the management of the affairs of the House, particularly his courage to shun the interference of the leadership of PDP and the Presidency. One of the APC leaders, who spoke with National Mirror correspondent, said Tambuwal's uncommon courage has endeared him to Nigerians.

“The leaders of APC have settled for the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Alhaji Aminu Tambuwal as the party's presidential candidate in the 2015 election. Although the decision is not public yet, there is a consensus of opinion by our leaders that the Speaker (Tambuwal) be allowed to fly the flag of the party in the presidential election.

“Our leaders believe that the Speaker has what it takes to win the presidential election and Mr. Speaker has been told to dump his party, PDP and move into APC to enable him to scale the hurdle. Tambuwal has agreed to that and he is expected to declare for APC with some other members of the House in the first quarter of New Year.

“In deciding on Tambuwal, his originality and independence in the handling of the affairs of the House were taken into consideration. Nigerians are impressed that Tambuwal shunned entreaties by the leadership of PDP and the Presidency to make the House an appendage of the executive arm of government.

“The Speaker has no doubt endeared himself to a lot of Nigerians by his sterling leadership qualities and APC believes that such qualities are required from any Nigerian aspiring for the highest political office in the country,” added the source, who did not want his name mentioned. Buhari and other presidential aspirants on the platform of the party were being persuaded to step down for Tambuwal, the source said.

According to him, Buhari and others were made to understand that the interest of the party superseded the ambition of any individual within the party. He added that other presidential aspirants in the party have been advised to bury their interest to enable the party present “a credible and marketable presidential candidate to Nigerians.”

“The APC is working on all the presidential candidates and they are being persuaded to step down for Tambuwal, who is considered suitable for presidential election. Already, Gen. Buhari and others have displayed uncommon understanding and they are likely to embrace and accept Tambuwal as the flag bearer of the party in the presidential election,” the source added.

A reliable source in the APC also confided in National Mirror that the leadership of the APC had zoned the presidential ticket of the party to the North while the vice-presidential ticket had also been zoned to the South-West which had in turn zoned it to the Ekiti/Ondo axis.

National Mirror reliably gathered that while a young Muslim northerner is the preferred choice, the vice-presidential candidate, will be an elderly practicing Christian. The source told National Mirror that three candidates had actually been penciled down for the vice-presidential slot in the South-West.

It was learnt that Lagos State Governor Babatunde Fashola, who was in times past a frontrunner as likely vice- presidential candidate was knocked off with the zoning of the slot to the Ekiti/Ondo axis of the South-West geo-political zone. APC leaders were also of the view that a Muslim-Muslim ticket like the 1993 presidential election, where the late business mogul, M.K.O. Abiola chose a Northern Muslim, Babagana Kingibe as his running mate would not fly in today's Nigeria.

Also not working in Fashola's favour was the alleged frosty relationship between him and his predecessor and national leader of the APC, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, who was said not be comfortable with a Fashola vice presidency. A former governor of Ekiti State and a serving governor on the region were also considered but dropped on account of their relatively “young” age.

National Mirror also reliably learnt that the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, after meeting with the leadership of the APC insisted on the choice of a “practicing Christian” as a vice presidential candidate of the party.

It is yet to be known which office would be zoned to the South East and South-South geo-political zones in the political calculations of the APC, but analysts opined that the South East may be pacified with the presidency of the Senate while the South-South may end up with the Speaker of the House of Representatives.

Meanwhile, 29 members of the House of Representatives, National Mirror learnt authoritatively Monday, would defect to the All Progressives Congress, APC, between January and February 2014. A member of the House from Jigawa State, who is still in the ruling PDP, disclosed this to National Mirror yesterday. It was also gathered that about four lawmakers who have lost out with the party in Benue State have concluded plans to take the leap in January.

“Yes, we are still PDP members, but I can't guarantee that in January we would still be there. It is not only Jigawa, many other states too. We are not less than 29 moving in January,” he said.

He however, did not confirm that the Speaker, Tambuwal would defect to the APC in January. This was just as about 15,000 members of the PDP in Bogoro, Dass and Tafawa-Balewa local government areas of Bauchi State have also dumped the ruling party and decamped to the APC.

In a related development, over 1,000 members of the PDP and other political parties in Ikosi-Ejinrin Local Council Development Area, LCDA, of Lagos State also yesterday decamped to the APC. Thirty seven members of the House of Representatives elected on the platform of the PDP had already defected to the opposition, APC, giving the opposition a slim majority in the lower House.

With this development, the APC now controls the lower House with a majority of 172 members while the PDP has 171. But to change the structure of the House, the APC needs 181 members. There are 360 members in the House. Should the 29 members move to join the APC in January, the party would have about 200 members of the House, far more than the required number to control the House.

In Bauchi, members of the PDP in Bogoro, Dass and Tafawa- Balewa local government areas, led by the lawmaker representing the federal constituency, Hon. Yakubu Dogara, at a rally, which took place at the famous Watal Hotel in Tafawa-Balewa Local Government Area, the headquarters of the federal constituency, dumped the ruling party for the opposition.

The defection attracted eminent politicians, diplomats, youths and women, including serving political appointees of Isa Yuguda. Speaking at the occasion, Hon. Dogara said that his defection to the APC followed PDP's perpetual injustice and lack of internal democracy and insensitivity to the plight of the people, adding that the PDP-led government has failed to fulfill its campaign promises to his constituency.

He lambasted the PDP administration for operating as a military junta without regard for the people, noting that the government has failed to curb the lingering security crises in the North-East.

His words: “I cannot continue to stay in the PDP, which has failed to execute any single project in my constituency since the advent of democracy, despite bankrolling President Goodluck Jonathan and Yuguda's victory in my constituency in 2011 despite my area being a PDP stronghold.”

Also speaking, the leader of the defectors, Michael Kogos, said that their decision to dump the PDP followed the party's failure to carry the people along; lack of internal democracy as well as the lingering crisis in the party at all levels. Kogos said that the APC has come to stay in Bogoro, Dass and Tafawa-Balewa local council areas of the state in support of Hon. Dogara, whose giant strides were commendable.

The defected PDP members accused the Yuguda administration of blurred vision and failure to consolidate on the work of his predecessor, Adamu Mua'zu.

It would be recalled that last week, about 15,000 members of the PDP were confirmed to have dumped the party for the opposition APC in the state, a development which the state PDP secretary described as “bad omen for the party.” But the state Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Alhaji Alin Ardo, said, the defected member of the House of Representatives would soon return to the umbrella.

He debunked claims that the PDP government has not executed any single project in his constituency, thus warranting his defection to the APC, saying that the federal and state governments have been up and doing in the area.

In Lagos, the PDP chairmanship candidate for the Ikosi-Ejirin LCDA in the 2011 local government election, Segun Ogunsanya, led the PDP defectors who were received into the APC by a former Commissioner for Health in the state, Mr. Leke Pitan; former Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Hon. Joko Pelumi and the APC chairman in the LCDA, Elder Lateef Sangosanya, to the APC. Speaking on the rationale behind their move, Ogunsanya, described the decision to dump the PDP as the best thing to do, following the developmental strides embarked upon by the incumbent chairman, Prince Olusegun Adetola.

The vice chairman of the party in Lagos State, Alhaji Akanni Seriki Bamu, urged the new APC members to ensure that the expected dividends of democracy are enjoyed by the people, assuring that there would be no form of discrimination against the new members of the party, as they would have the same rights as the old members of the party.

It would be recalled that the latest defection is the third time politicians of various parties will