Politics

2019: Buhari, Atiku divide Northern elders, governors

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By Ayo Fadimu

The second term re-election bid of President Muhammadu Buhari and presidential ambition of former Vice President Alhaji Atiku Abubakar have divided governors on the platform of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Northern Elders and leaders of thought over who should have their support and if such support will transform to electoral victory in 2019 presidential election.

The President hails from Katsina, a Northwest state while Atiku comes from Adamawa in North East geo-political zone of the country.

North-west is the most populous zone in terms of the APC membership and in terms of electoral victory for President Buhari in 2015. All the seven governors from the zone were produced by the party in 2015 while 20 out of the 21 senators in the zone are from the APC.

However, a close aide of Buhari who does not want his name in print because the President has not authorized anyone to speak on the matter said if the result of the 2015 presidential election is anything to go by, it will be a great error for Northern leaders not to endorse Buhari from North  West part of the country which has the highest number of voters in the country.

“For instance, the top three votes Buhari got in 2015 were from states in the zone. He got the highest vote in Kano State 1, 903,999, he got the second highest from his home state, Katsina, 1,345,441 votes while he got 1,127,760 votes from Kaduna State. The three states combined gave him four million, three hundred and seventy seven thousand, two hundred votes which is far more than the whole votes of the six Southwestern states where he had 2,433,193” votes he explained.

APC also won all the governorship seats in North-East except Gombe and Taraba States but the President still won the presidential election with three hundred and sixty one thousand, two hundred and five. In Atiku’s Adamawa State, the President got 374,701 votes.

The total number of votes the party recorded in four North East states of Taraba, Gombe, Yobe and Adamawa was 1,443,497 votes which were not up to that of Kano state and just little more than his home state of Katsina.

However, Atiku’s supporters believed that low turnout of voters in NorthEast was as a result of Boko Haram menace in the geo-political zone, a condition that might not be there in 2019.

In the meantime, several chapters of APC in the northern parts of the country have been divided along Buhari and Atiku factions.

Almost all the 19 northern states now have Atiku group but majority of them are members who felt sidelined after winning the presidential elections in 2019.

“Atiku’s ambition has given hope to thousands of these aggrieved APC loyalists who feel they have been used and dumped after 2015 presidential election but many will soon return after they might have been settled” a spokesman of former Kano State governor who pleaded anonymity told Nigerian NewsDirect.

The northern governors are currently divided on whom to support, three governors from Northwest are reportedly eyeing the President’s seat in 2019. They are Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State who was pacified with Sokoto state governorship position in 2015. Kaduna state governor, Nasir ElRufai and Zamfara state governor Abdul’aziz Yari.

In the North East, Borno State governor, Kashim Shettima and the only PDP governor in the North, Ibrahim Dankwambo of Gombe state is also interested in leading the country in 2019.

In the meantime, APC has warned Atiku Abubakar, to desist from making “misleading statements aimed at causing division within the party.”

The National Vice Chairman of the APC (North West), Alhaji Inuwa Abdulkadir, who gave the warning in Abuja and also came down hard on the Minister of Women Affairs, Hajia Aisha Alhassan, by demanding that she should quit the federal cabinet, for pledging allegiance to Atiku.

Abdulkadir said: “By virtue of his office and his age, Atiku is qualified to be a statesman but when you reach that stature and age, there are certain things you have to come to terms with, which is to exhibit a high sense of decorum in your conduct. You have to guard what you say, how you say it and when you say it because what is expected of you as a statesman is nothing but factual.

“More importantly, there should be some decorum in what we do. People who have attained those high privileged positions should know that they have attained certain status in the society and cannot afford to talk anyhow.”

On the outburst of Aisha regarding the 2019 presidential election, the APC chieftain said the minister should have respected her principal by not making her statement public.

He said that the president was not going to act in a spontaneous manner, “rather, it should be the minister that will have to resign based on moral grounds.”

Commenting on the issue of Buhari’s alleged promise not to go for second term, the Vice Chairman said: “Whether Buhari has said that he would re-contest or not is immaterial; what is material is that a serving Minister should not be seen making public statement suggesting that they are not on the same page with the team because she is a member of a team.”

Similarly, the lawmaker representing Kaduna Central Senatorial District, Senator Shehu Sani, has urged President Buhari to reach out to the National Leader of the ruling APC, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, who the lawmaker said is aggrieved.

Sani, in a Facebook post during the weekend, made a veiled reference to Buhari and Tinubu, warning that the latter had a damaging political capacity.

The post read, “The Lion Monarch should reach out to the aggrieved but silent Lagoon Lion so that he doesn’t explode like the hippo. The Lagoon Lion controls waters that can drown.”

Sani later confirmed with reporters that “The Lagoon” represented Lagos, while “The Lagoon King” was in reference to Tinubu, who is a former governor of the state.

All the Northern leaders who spoke to Nigerian NewsDirect on the condition of anonymity said it was a family affair that would be settled when the time comes.

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