By Ayo Fadimu
Since President Muhammadu Buhari returned to the country after spending 105 days in London where he had gone for medical vacation, there had been a lull in the political activities of some presidential hopefuls in his ruling All Progressives Congress who might have seized the absence of the President to promote their presidential ambitions.
Among top echelons of APC eyeing presidential seat include the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar and former Kano State governor, Rabiu Kwankwaso.
Saraki, a former Kwara State governor had first signalled his intention to contest for the highest office in the land in 2010 during the run-off to 2011 presidential election but had to drop the ambition when the Consensus Committee of the Northern Elders Political Forum chose Atiku as the consensus candidate to face former President Goodluck Jonathan in the 2011 PDP primary election. Jonathan won the election and later won the presidential election few months after.
However, since Saraki assumed the seat of Senate President two years ago, few weeks ago, Nigerian NewsDirect reported how Saraki, a man known for his political nationwide connection and deep pocket had put machinery in motion to succeed Buhari who has been in and out of hospitals many times to cure a yet-to-be-revealed ailment.
Nigerian NewsDirect investigation revealed that Saraki, was secretly working with Aso Rock cabals to succeed Buhari in case the President declines to contest 2019 presidential election due to old age on health grounds.
But the arrival of Buhari into the country has destabilized the plan while the handlers of the Senate President’s presidential ambition have remained silent for now.
However, a source close to the Senate President told Nigerian NewsDirect that Saraki had not declared to contest although he is eminently qualified to be president having been a former Special Assistant to former President Olusegun Obasanjo, former governor, former Chairman of Nigerian Governor Forum and currently, Senate President and Chairman of the National Assembly.
“At present, there is no Nigerian with such political achievements as Senator Bukola Saraki, he has worked in the presidency before, he had governed a state before, he had confidence of his fellow governors while he served as Chairman of Nigerian Governor forum and he has been able to stabilize the senate despite so many distractions and obstacles placed before him, so he is eminently qualified” the source said.
On his part, Atiku, who had recently been advocating for restructuring and fiscal federalism had also been quiet. He had not made any categorical comment on the speech of Buhari where the President said the unity of the country is non-negotiable and settled a diversion from restructuring and resource control that Atiku had been advocating for.
The former Vice President through his advocacy had won hearts of many minority groups in the South. Recently, he was invited to give a lecture on “Restructuring and resource control” by the Senior Staff Association of the prestigious University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Enugu State in the South East part of the country.
Efforts to get reaction from spokesman of Atiku, Mazi Paul Ibe proved abortive as at the time of going to the press but one of close allies of Atiku said its natural and humane for Atiku to slow the tempo of his presidential campaign as a mark of honour for the president and also to welcome him home after undergoing treatment in the United Kingdom.
“However, Turaki is considering many options to actualize his presidential dream through the ballot box because he is the most connected politician in the country” the source told Nigerian NewsDirect.
On his part, the former Kano state governor who had been having a running battle with his successor, Dr. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje had been shut out of schemes in his state’s APC. In the last congress of the party in the state, none of his loyalists was in the exco of the party.
Sources close to his camp told Nigerian NewsDirect that his days were numbered in APC.
In the meantime, Ganduje has boasted that Kano will repeat the 2015 scenario where President Buhari got over two million votes to win the presidential election.
The state recorded the highest votes for Buhari with a total of 1, 903, 999 votes.
Ganduje who spoke at Kano Golden Jubilee monument, while receiving a letter from the Conference of Patriotic Nigerians (CPN), on behalf of the seven governors of the Northwest zone for onward transmission to President Muhammadu Buhari, said that within a space of two years, President Buhari had been able to tackle corruption, restore peace and order in the country.
According to him, President Buhari had built a formidable economic team that was set to revamp the economy and bring the country out of recession.
Ganduje who spoke before a huge crowd also added that President Buhari’s administration, like no other had created job opportunities for millions of unemployed youths, as well as reviving the education sector.
According to him, “President Buhari has been arresting those who stole our money and he will continue to arrest them adding that several billions of naira have been recovered of our common wealth stolen by thieves which have now been deposited to our treasury.”
Ganduje, however, urged Nigerians to continue to pray for President Buhari who he described as a man of peace and equity who love the country and promote the welfare of the common man.