By Our Reporters
Northern Power Brokers Line Up Kwankwaso For VP, APC Presidential Candidate
Obasanjo Sells Sule Lamido To ‘PDP Military Wing’
North-East Smells Blood, Moves To Break Presidential Jinx Via Atiku, Sherrif
APC Chieftains Dig In For, Against Osinbajo
Power Blocs Eye South-East For Swing Votes, Court Ndigbo
Rather than leave the sceptre of an ailing President hanging over the chances of their sub-region and the North in retaining the Presidency come 2019, power brokers in the North-West are seriously working on drafting former Kano State Governor and current Senator, Rabiu Kwankwaso, into the 2019 presidential election.
The plan, according to sources in the know, is to nominate Senator Kwankwaso first as Vice President in a post-President Muhammadu Buhari Presidency, expectedly to be headed by an elevated Acting President Yemi Osinbajo, and second as the candidate of the governing All Progressives Congress (APC) in the 2019 presidential election proper.
However, a source told The Dream Daily that “the whole plan depends on the success of both subtle and overt pressure they (the power brokers) are exerting on President Buhari to resign.”
But in what is shaping up to be battle royale, other “powerful fixers” both in the North and other regions of the country who have other ideas are all angling to truncate Kwankwaso’s nomination as vice president in the first instance “because that will be a big advantage for him in 2019; in fact it will mean he has one leg in the presidential contest ahead of others.”
Prominent among the group opposed to the Kwankwaso Plan, according to sources, is former President Olusegun Obasanjo who is reportedly speaking with influential northerners, especially former military officers under the auspices of what former Military President, Gen. Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida, recently revealed as “PDP Military Wing”.
Also in the mix is former Vice President Atiku Abubakar and the court-backed National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Ali Modu Sherrif, both of whom, according to sources “regard 2019 as a historical opportunity for the North-East to come out of the North-West’s shadows and break the jinx on somebody from our own sub-region clinching the Presidency since Balewa.”
In further complication to the race for the Presidency in 2019, The Dream Daily can report that there is a groundswell of both support and opposition to the possibility of Acting President Osinbajo seeking his own mandate as President if President Buhari resigns soon to pave way for the constitutional Osinbajo Presidency.
Given the real scenario of multiple presidential candidates from the North and the vote-splitting this would invariably cause therefore, these various power blocs are making spirited efforts to penetrate other regions of the country for support, with the South-East especially being courted as the big prize or ally to land if they are to succeed in the poll.
The power brokers rooting for Senator Kwankwaso are behind him for a number of reasons. The Dream Daily has learnt. In the first place, there is the belief that, having come second in the 2015 APC Presidential Primaries in which President Buhari emerged winner, “Kwankwaso is still very popular among the ruling party’s base, we need to put our best foot forward in this game”, an APC stalwart from the North who pleaded anonymity because he was “not authorised to speak on behalf of the party or Senator Kwankwaso and because we are in early days, we are still testing the waters on this” told The Dream Daily.
The source added: “You must also consider the primary constituency of Senator Kwankwaso, which is Kano. This is a game of numbers and majority carry (sic) the day. Everybody knows the millions of votes Kano delivered to our party, to President Buhari too in 2015, all because of Kwankwaso. We believe he is still very popular in Kano and within our party so with Kano assured for him, we are good to go.”
However, The Dream Daily also learned that these power brokers are backing Senator Kwankwaso “because he is a man of his own who is strong politically and otherwise to check Acting President Osinbajo if Buhar resigns and Osinbajo becomes President.”
Investigation by The Dream Daily revealed that “many of us (in the North) can see what he (Osinbajo) is doing with or without Buhari at home, of which we are not happy with. We are not happy because he (Osinbajo) is favouring his own people, not those of us who worked for the party during the election. In fact, some southerners like him (Osinbajo) who are with us on this project (Kwankwaso for President), who are Christians are not happy with the vice president. Yes, we know that there are still many appointments to be made but the ones they have made we see that Osinbajo favoured his own people, Christians from his church especially, not even all Christians from the South. So we see this.”
The source continued: “We also know that if he (Osinbajo) becomes President, we know, we can imagine what he can do or what can happen. Now we hear that he can also contest in 2019, some Yoruba people are already saying this. We know that as President, he is strong and powerful and he can use this power very well to help himself. And we know the connections himself and his people can use both inside and outside Nigeria to win (the presidential election) in 2019. So we are prepared, we need to prepare. We need somebody strong to be vice president inside Aso Rock now, somebody who can match Osinbajo, then he will contest in 2019, so Kwankwaso can do this.”
When The Dream Daily pointed out to this source that the plan to assign Senator Kwankwaso to serve as a check on Acting President Osinbajo if he becomes substantive President could alienate the South-West, a region whose swing votes ensured victory for both APC and President Buhari in 2015, the source said: “Yes, maybe but we also have our people, contacts in the South-West. Kwankwaso will also get votes in the South-West, even if not as much as President Buhari if they present Osinbajo in 2019. But then we are also working with others (parts of Nigeria). We are working with people in the South-South and especially the South-East. We are working.”
To this newspaper’s incredulity, the source added: “We will get votes everywhere; don’t worry, even in South-West, we will get votes; Kwankwaso is a man of the people. In fact let me tell you a secret. He (Kwankwaso) is originally from the South West; he has Yoruba roots. You don’t believe? Wait and see. That’s also a joker for us, just wait. Yes he is from Kano, but you just wait. What you don’t know, you will know, just wait till it is time.”
The biggest indicator to a coming wave of “the red cap revolution”, perhaps, is a recent statement by a pro-Kwankwaso group, Kwankwasiyya Pillars of the Nation (KPN). In a widely reported statement, Chairman KPN, Comrade Ja’afar Ishaq Gadun-Albasa, stated that Kwankwaso had proven his mettle as a leader whose monumental strides were enough to instil confidence in the minds of voters to give him the presidential mandate.
Gadun-Albasa posited that Nigeria as a nation needed direction and focus in every sphere of human endeavour which entailed the doggedness of a leader who can be able to withstand the challenge of taking crucial decisions at the most appropriate time, pointing out that giving Kwankwaso such a mandate was most expedient.
The KPN leader wrote: “Kwankwaso had effected a revolution on propelling the education sector in Kano to greater height, considering the stunning pace with which he sponsored the most gifted Kano indigenes to pursue various courses in foreign universities. Such giant strides wouldn’t have been achieved without his sincerity of purpose.”
Gadun-Albasa charged the electorate to use their intelligence quotient in electing the right candidate of their choice devoid of acceding to primordial considerations warning that making a bad calculation would be inimical to national interest.
Obasanjo and the Lamido Option
However, sources also told The Dream Daily that the North-West also see a chance of retaining the Presidency through the candidature of former Jigawa State Governor, Alhaji Sule Lamido, a choice which former President Obasanjo is reportedly favourably disposed to.
It is common knowledge in political cycle that Obasanjo has always held a favourable disposition towards Sule Lamido, who is the only northern politician who has declared open interest in the 2019 presidential election.
Obasanjo is reportedly speaking with the old guards in the power game from the North to back Sule Lamido for President in 2019. “With his formidable political clout both in Nigeria and abroad, Obasanjo’s involvement, and I can tell you that he is speaking with his fellow retired (sic) generals in the region about this, Sule Lamido will definitely contest (the presidential election) in 2019,” a source close to the ex-governor told The Dream Daily on condition of anonymity. In a widely reported event, Sule Lamido declared his intention to run for President in 2019 as this newspaper prepared to go to press.
Tasked on the selling point(s) of his principal, the source added: “Sule Lamido belongs to the real Talakawa school of politics. The masses in the North know this. He (Sule Lamido) is even more regarded as a Talakawa politician than Buhari in the North. He is a true progressive and many progressives from the North and South will supporting him. His records for the Talakawa are there for everybody to see; go to Jigawa State and see. It is there, so there is no problem about this or that.”
Can the North-East Break Decades-Old Presidential Jinx?
That the northern votes will indeed be divided in the 2019 presidential race is, perhaps, best exemplified by the political manoeuvres being made on a national scale by two powerful politicians from the North-East, namely former Vice President Atiku Abubakar and National Chairman, PDP, Ali Modu Sheriff.
According to a reliable source, “unlike what some people are thinking both Atiku and Sherrif are not doing these things (politicking) just for themselves. I think both of them can see that there is a clear chance or opportunity to have a President from the North East, which will break this jinx. You see, each time we all say the President must come from the North, it is as if some people think this means the President must come from the North-West. North is North. North is not just North-West; we (North-East) too can be president so if Buhari won’t contest in 2019 and a Northerner must replace him, then he (the northern-replacement) can come from anywhere in the North. In fact this is our chance in the North-East to produce the President. It is not only for North West, haba! Atiku can be President, Sheriff can be president; they are also northerners.”
However, our source demurred when The Dream Daily put it to him that “the North” should also include the North-Central or the Middle Belt, against the backdrop of a recent argument in this line put up by former Governor of Plateau State and serving Senator, Jonah Jang, who said candidates from the North Central should also be considered for the 2019 presidential race if the general consensus is that “the North” should provide a replacement for President Buhari.
Apparently caught off guard, our somewhat subdued source said: “Yes, but you see the time is not yet ripe for that (a President from North Central). We are one North and I respect Distinguished Senator Jonah Jang, but it is not yet time for them (Middle Belt).” Pressed further to clarify his assertion, the source said “Let’s just leave it at that. It is not yet time for a President from the Middle Belt. We are one North. They (Middle Belt) should support us (North West or North East) for now as they have been doing before now so that we don’t lose (the Presidency) in 2019. That is what I will advise them for now.”
In the political terrain, it is considered a foregone conclusion that Atiku would take a final shot at the Presidency in 2019. In fact, a poll conducted among politicians across party divides by this newspaper appeared to validate this claim. (See Lead Story in The Dream Daily of September 5-10 , 2016 Edition with the headline: “Atiku Abubakar: The Man To Beat In 2019” . Available online at www.thedreamdaily.com)
It also appears that Atiku has zeroed in on the most important subject of public discourse in Nigeria today – restructuring or true federalism – , picking on this as the kernel of his 2019 presidential bid. Investigation by The Dream Daily reveals that Atiku’s restructuring message has struck a cord among millions of Nigerians who pin their hope of a better country on addressing Nigeria’s political and fiscal structural defects. Those who spoke with The Dream Daily lauded Atiku’s “candour and bravery in speaking up about restructuring even to the face of the conservative elements among his own people in the North.”
While Atiku has somewhat provided his ideas on restructuring the country, an APC chieftain in the South-West who pleaded anonymity said:
“He (Atiku) will have to go beyond the sound bites. With our experience since May 29, 2015. This region (South-West) will approach 2019 in a different manner. Yes, we are for restructuring; it is even in our party’s manifesto but for reasons best known to our party leaders, nobody is talking about it again not to talk of implementing it, well may except Asiwaju (that is, APC National Leader, Bola Tinubu) who brought it up about three days or so ago). But we are not going to take anybody’s words on its face value in 2019. If Atiku wants restructuring like us in the South-West, he must commit to it on paper and provide both a clear blueprint and deliverables attached to clear timelines on how he wants to achieve restructuring if he wants us to support him in 2019. Now we all truly know that talk is cheap; fool me once, you are the fool; fool me twice and indeed I am the fool.”
Also, some members of the Ahmed Makarfi-led faction of the PDP have alleged that Senator Sheriff harbours presidential ambition on the platform of the PDP, a charge to which the former Borno State governor has only provided well reported answers steeped in ambivalence, constructive ambiguity and loaded meanings.
Will ‘President’ Yemi Osibajo Contest in 2019?
It appears that the biggest conundrum currently driving political conversations cum manoeuvres in the North today is the premonition and suspicion that Acting President Yemi Osinbajo, elevated to the plum job of President if President Buhari resigns on health grounds, would be a tough meat to chew for the North if he decides to seek his own mandate from the Nigerian People in 2019, against the “gentleman agreement of an eight-year northern Presidency” reached by the defunct political parties which came together in 2014 to form the APC.
“The “Osinbajo Question”, The Dream Daily gathered, “lies at the heart of the Shenanigans of the infamously famous cabal around President Buhari and all what they have been doing since the President took ill and the Acting President has been keep forte for him,” a highly placed source who does not want his name in print said.
According to this source, “the fear of the cabal is that Acting President Osinbajo is a man with his own mind who is not pliable as they wish. They therefore fear that if President Buhari cannot continue, then power would slip off their hands, into the hands of another man who is not from their part or region of the country, who cannot guarantee their interests, who they cannot control.”
However, The Dream Daily also gathered that “the Osinbajo Question” extends to the fear that if Acting President Osinbajo is made substantive President, “the South-West bloc of the APC could seize on this to insist that he runs for President in 2019.”
According to our source, “there is the fear that some powerful APC leaders in the South-West who currently feel marginalised despite their immense contributions to the party’s success in 2015 could use their strong links in some western countries to back Osinbajo in 2019. Nigerians now know the roles played by such countries like the U.S., Britain and France, the West, in the 2015 Presidential Elections. Members of the cabal also know this. They know that the case for Candidate Buhari in the capital cities of these western countries was strengthened very well by the support of these APC leaders who activated their foreign contacts for Buhari.
“As things are now, only a liar will tell you that these APC leaders in the South West are happy with how they have been treated since May 29, 2015. They brought their pro-democracy friends and contacts abroad to help Buhari to win, they spent huge sums of money on his campaign, risked so many things for the APC victory, but alas what happened after inauguration on May 29, 2015? We saw a situation where pledges and promises were not kept, they were broken.
“ Now they don’t want President Buhari to resign so that Osinbajo does not become President as stipulated by the Constitution. Now they fear that ‘President’ Osinbajo, like former President (Goodluck) Jonathan, will contest in 2019, and that the Western Powers will back him to continue, and that in fact millions of Nigerians don’t even mind.”
Power Blocs Eye South-East For Swing Votes
It also appears that the power blocs angling for the Presidency in 2019 are looking towards the South-East in order to secure victory.
According to a source, “the big carrot being dangled before influential politicians in the South-East is the vice president slot. You must have noticed that many politicians from the South East are joining the APC in droves. The calculation is that one of them would be picked to run as vice president with a northern presidential candidate. It is becoming clear, clearer by the day that victory is not guaranteed by votes from your region alone, hence you have to reach out (to other regions). What worked in 2015 was the North/South-West alliance, which is doubtful now, so we have to reach out to the South East and convince them to work with us in 2019.”