The All Progressives Congress has said there will be no automatic ticket for a former Head of State, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (retd.) and other presidential aspirants in the party.
This was coming ahead the allegation that some leaders of the party had been planning to give automatic ticket to Buhari, a development that was said not to be favoured by Abubakar Atiku, Rabiu Kwankwaso and Senator Bukola Saraki’s groups within the party.
But the National Publicity Secretary of the party, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said the APC would not give automatic ticket to Buhari.
“We won’t give automatic ticket to anyone, including Buhari. It is not in our constitution. All the candidates will undergo primary,” Mohammed told one of our correspondents on the telephone on Sunday.
However, a senior member of the party told journalists in Abuja on Sunday that the manoeuvres by certain APC forces to make Buhari the party’s presidential candidate in 2015 without going through a primary was not going down well with Kwankwaso, Bukola and Atiku support groups. The three politicians are also interested in the APC ticket.
It was also gathered that the attempt to foist Buhari candidature on the party without following democratic process was likely to tear the party apart.
According to this informed APC insider, who didn’t want to be named because he had no authority to speak, however, admitted that any attempt to hoodwink other members of the party in the election of a presidential candidate would destroy the foundation and the credibility of the APC.
The informed insider said they were particularly worried by feelers from the Buhari camp who were insisting that the emergence of the former military ruler as a candidate “is a settled matter.”
Buhari himself was said to have expressed open disagreement with the modified open direct primary adopted by the APC.
That position was expanded upon by the spokesman for the Buhari Organisation, Osita Okechuku, who said, “Given all the indices, the APC already has a de facto presidential candidate in the person of Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (retd.).
“If you go through the constitution of the APC, under Article 20, it says for nomination of candidate either for party offices or presidential election, you first explore consensus.
“If an agreement is reached through consensus, it has to be affirmed. If we go through that method, though we have a lot of good quality people in the APC, I do not know of any person who the leadership of the APC would tell Buhari to step down for.”
According to the source, disregarding democratic process in the choice of party presidential flagbearer could drag the APC into deep “and possibly irreparable political damage.”
He explained that the idea of “automatic adoption” of Buhari or any other aspirant for that matter was undemocratic and would be resisted.
The APC source warned that party members should not be reduced to “slaves and sheepishly expected to sign the dotted lines when confronted with the nauseating idea of automatic ticket.”
The APC insider said those scheming for “automatic ticket” for Buhari “ were probably the PDP fifth columnists who want to drive a nail into the APC coffin.”
A spokesperson for the defunct Congress for the Progressive Forum, Mr. Rotimi Fashakin, however, defended the plan to give Buhari automatic ticket.
He said of all the aspirants, only Buhari had the clout to defeat President Goodluck Jonathan during the 2015 presidential election.
He also said that since the APC was likely going to anchor its camping on the fight against corruption, he added that Buhari was the only candidate that the APC could use for the purpose.
Fashakin said, “Buhari is the face against corruption in the country. He is going to serve for only four years if he wins and we know he is not a corrupt person. Nigerians and the opposition know that it is only Buhari who can fight corruption in the country. He is the only one who can face President Jonathan during the election because of his antecedents.
“He deserves to have the APC ticket without challenge. Apart from this, we don’t want to go to the presidential election with a divided house. This is why he must be given the ticket without challenge.”
Already, he said Buhari was already talking with other aspirants with the aim of convincing them to step down for him.
He said it would be wrong for people to think that the supporters of Buhari would vote for anyone that emerged apart from the former head of state as the APC candidate.
This, he said, was because majority of the voters especially in the North, might not have faith in such a candidate.
“Let me also add that none of the other candidates can match the popularity of Buhari either in the North or in the South,” Fashakin added.