Former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar appears to be digging in, in his bid to secure the presidential ticket of the main opposition party, the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Indications to this effect emerged at the weekend with reports affirming that the former number two man is almost upstaging former Head of State, General Muhammadu Buhari, in the pecking order of preference for the party’s ticket.
Sources close to the party told Sunday Tribune that Atiku had, in recent weeks, stepped up consultations with leaders of the APC whose views have started changing towards the former number two man.
It was gathered that Atiku had met with the most vociferous advocates of the Buhari organisation as well as breakaway members of the Kwakwansia movement in Kano, many of whom have started considering the former vice-president as a possible candidate ahead of Buhari.
It was gathered that some leaders of the APC who are considering dropping Buhari for Atiku are of the view that Atiku as candidate would give them less financial burden.
Some leaders of the party were also said to have reasoned that Buhari might have lost his foreign allies whom he usually relied on for elections and that he might not be able to match the likes of Atiku and Kano State governor, Rabiu Kwakwnaso, at the national convention.
“If the camp of the governors resolves to back Kwakwanso, then, either Atiku or Buhari would be in trouble; but there is a thinking that Atiku’s network is capable of breaking into that bloc and securing some votes,” a source said.
The source also added that leaders of the APC who were hitherto hostile to Atiku had started taking a look at him in recent times.
For instance, it was confirmed that while former governor of Lagos State, Senator Bola Tinubu, was non-committal to the Turaki at a meeting in Dubai, shortly before he defected from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), recent thinking in the Tinubu camp is already tilting towards a soft spot for Atiku.
Taiwo Adisa reports that the Tinubu camp appears to have concluded that speaker of the House of Representatives, Honourable Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, could no longer join the presidential race, in view of the challenges he could face from a PDP government and that the next plausible candidate could be Atiku.
It was gathered that Tinubu initially championed the candidacy of Buhari, with the hope that he would be his running mate.
“The governors are fearful of Buhari and some of them feel that Kwankwaso does not have the network to fight President Goodluck Jonathan; but they appear to feel at home with Atiku as candidate,” a source said.
It was gathered that while the governors could agree to support Atiku, they are, however, not looking in the direction of Buhari, whom many of them still fear.
For instance, a source said that one of the requests of the G7 governors who fought President Jonathan before some of them defected to the APC was that he (president) should reduce the activities of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Such a request, it is believed, would not receive favour of Buhari.