The national convention of the All Progressives Congress begins in Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial nerve centre, and presidential candidate ahead of 2015 polls of the party will emerge today (Thursday).
More than 8,000 accredited delegates are expected to elect the party’s presidential flag bearer who is to face President Goodluck Jonathan, the sole candidate of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, in the 2015 general elections.y.
Five people are in the race namely former Head of State, Muhammadu Buhari; former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar; Kano State governor, Rabiu Kwakwanso; Leadership Newspaper publisher, Sam Nda-Isaiah and Imo State governor, Owelle Rochas Okorocha.
The aspirants had been campaigning hard over the last few months and have failed to heed appeals by party leaders to settle on a consensus candidate. They will now have to slug it out in the primaries scheduled for Teslim Balogun Stadium, Surlere, Lagos.
The atmosphere in Lagos is charged and there is excitement in the air as the aspirants make last minute maneuvers towards wooing delegates.
Attention is now being paid to party delegates as each candidate now employs different strategies to win their votes.
Aspirants have all booked rooms for delegates across the 36 states of the federation.
The national leaders of the party have also been playing a key role in providing the beacon for delegates. These leaders are personified by Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the strongman of the party.
The pre-convention activities indicated that Tinubu is playing a major role in ensuring that Buhari carries the day by relying on bloc votes from the South-West at the convention.
Meanwhile, Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar is miles ahead of other contenders in the hunt for delegates for the All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential primaries, according to findings by Aflah Consult, an independent research group.
In one of its research studies carried out last month, the group said data available to it after polling the known delegates, mainly the state, local council and ward executives and the three delegates chosen from each ward, Atiku stood the best chance of clinching the APC presidential primaries scheduled to take place on Wednesday, December 10, 2014.
The research group, however, said the data gathered did not include those of the members of the National Assembly, both former and serving, who are automatic delegates to the convention because these groups were not polled. This, however, would not, in their view, alter the outcome of their findings.
According to the research by the Kano-based independent research group, 17 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) are safely in the camp of Atiku Abubakar.
The Atiku states are Adamawa, Yobe, Jigawa, Taraba, Plateau, Benue, Zamfara, Sokoto, Kebbi, Cross River, Akwa Ibom, Abia, Ebonyi, Anambra, Delta, Ondo, Ekiti and FCT.
The research reveals that the pro-Buhari states totalling 10 are Borno, Bauchi, Katsina, Nasarawa, Kogi, Kwara, Osun, Ogun, Bayelsa and Rivers.
Kano State, for obvious reasons, according to the research findings, is safely in the net of the proponent of Kwakwasiya and Kano State Governor, Rabiu Kwankwaso, while votes of Niger State delegates would tilt towards the founder of the Leadership Group, Sam Nda Isaiah.
There are seven states, which are too close to call, meaning that they could go to Atiku, Buhari, Kwankwaso, or Nda-Isaiah. The seven states are Gombe, Kaduna, Oyo, Lagos, Edo, Imo and Enugu.
Aflah Consult is the brainchild of a group of social scientists drawn from some universities but mostly in the Bayero University, Kano.
Bellow is the state-by-state analysis of the aspirants’ rating:
Adamawa is the home state of Atiku Abubakar. His political machinery in this state is still as solid as when he won the governorship in 1998. This fact is buttressed by the public declaration of support for him by the state chapter of APC. But pundits still say that in spite of that public declaration of support, Buhari will garner about 30 per cent of the votes from the state due to his subsisting popularity and underlying political currents in the state.
This is a solid Buhari territory. He has a cult-like following in the state, which may translate to delegates for him. In addition, it seems that the state has an old grudge against their North eastern son, Atiku, for allegedly not promptly and personally intervening to ‘help’ during a recent disaster, not the ongoing insurgency. His efforts to smoothen things over may give him a few delegates. The notion that GMB is more likely to effectively handle the issue of insurgency ravaging the state also works in his favor.
The map of delegates’ loyalty here is similar to Atiku’s home state of Adamawa. His support is near rock-solid. He is expected to easily coast home to victory here. His foot soldiers in the state include a serving senator that is passionate about the former VP’s nomination.
Katsina is Buhari’s home ground, and for primordial reasons he is expected to garner majority of the delegates from the state.
Buhari and Atiku may have split delegates in the state that hosts the political capital of the defunct Northern Nigeria.
Verdict: Too close to call
Atiku’s gifted ability to easily bond with people has created a warm symmetry between him and Governor Aliyu Wamakko over a long period of time. Since the governor moved from PDP to the APC, this chummy relationship has been boosted that today Sokoto is like a second home for the former Vice President. Atiku is expected to have about 80 percent of the delegates from the state.
As at the latest count, the former VP is also assured of 80 per cent of the delegates from Kebbi State. The factors working for Atiku in neighboring Sokoto are the same in Kebbi except the state has no APC governor. The Turaki Adamawa has been a longtime friend of the state and has recently visited to court the delegates and party leaders to support him.
The FCT Abuja is Atiku’s home turf in politics. The cosmopolitan nature of the people and their moderate views on issues perfectly fit into Atiku’s political ideology. But Buhari has a following, albeit small. Insiders have seen the FCT delegates several times seriously pledging allegiance to the former VP for consistently supporting them long before the season of presidential primaries.
Zamfara was initially thought to be a lock-up for Buhari, but the fluid nature of Nigerian politics has turned the tide. As at now, Atiku is assured of not less than 80 percent of the state’s delegates to the primary election.
A state widely expected to be in the fold of Kano Governor Kwankwaso is now potentially an Atiku’s terrain. As at the last count, pundits believe that the former VP will wrest about 60 per cent of the votes while the Kano Governor and GMB will split the remaining.
This state is a safe place for homeboy and proponent of Kwakwasiya, Governor Rabiu Kwankwaso. He has garnered a large following that moved with him to APC from PDP. But the remnant that refused to follow suit from the Ibrahim Shekarau’s group is there to be harvested by the other aspirants.
Based on recent announcements by a block of delegates from this state, one could have safely said this is a safe place for Atiku. But Buhari’s foot soldiers are winning over some delegates.
Both Buhari and Atiku have strong footholds in the “Jewel of the Savannah” state and seem to be at par in the delegates’ hunt.
Verdict: Too close to call
Kwara is a big loss for Atiku. It was expected that he would be able to convince the APC leaders there to support his candidacy. Indeed, he had many sympathetic leaders, who were ready to listen but the new strongman of Kwara politics; Senator Bukola Saraki has since pitched his tent with Buhari.
Many had thought that Atiku would easily have the delegates in his kitty. But the state political dynamics has changed, with Buhari making serious inroad through some former Congress for progressive Change (CPC) party stalwarts now in APC. As at the latest count, the delegates from the state may be split between the two, Buhari and Atiku.
Earlier permutations were that this state is safe for the Buhari camp, but events since the formal declaration of Sam Nda-Isaiah, a son of the state for the APC primaries have dramatically altered the calculus.
Lagos State is Senator Bola Tinubu’s stronghold. He is suspected to be rooting for Buhari though not openly. But the alleged rift between him and Governor Babatunde Fashola on who succeeds the latter has widened the window of opportunity for other aspirants to move in. Atiku’s supporters and promoters in the state are now sure of taking a sizeable percentage of the votes from Lagos.
Verdict: Too close to call
Oyo, thought to be in the firm grip of Governor Abiola Ajimobi/Tinubu coalition has recently slipped, creating a competitive terrain for Atiku. As at now, Atiku is in the province of capturing about 60 per cent of the votes. But to be on the safe side, let it be rated 50-50 for Buhari and Atiku.
Verdict: Too close to call
Ogun is a state that is divided almost evenly between Buhari and Atiku. Buhari seems to bank on the old connection with Governor Ibikunle Amosun, his buddy in the defunct All Nigeria Peoples party (ANPP), but Atiku’s soldiers have successfully split the delegates.
Two factors that pundits expect to work for Atiku in this state namely: personal rapport with Governor Rauf Aregbesola and the fact that his first wife, Titi, hails from the state, have not substantially translated into majority support among delegates. This is due to the affinity between the governor and his erstwhile mentor, Tinubu, who is suspected to be working for Buhari. But Atiku is assured of about 30 per cent of the votes.
In Ekiti, APC lost the last governorship election to PDP. Whether this had a bearing on the relationship of Ekiti APC with the Tinubu camp is not very clear. But Ekiti APC seems to have fallen in love with Atiku, especially for his support during their lowest moments.
Ondo has become an iconoclastic state in the South West, making it politically unpredictable. Because it is not an APC state, Atiku’s vast network of friends and associates has worked hard to overturn the tide against the proxies of Buhari, such as Mr. Akeredolu, former NBA president. The situation now is that the former VP is assured of at least 60 per cent of the delegates.
Buhari was thought to be having an edge in the state until signals were made clear that APC lion in the state, Senator George Akume, might be rooting for the former VP. This development has dramatically changed the dynamics of the politics. Today, insiders tout that the former number two man may get up to 60 per cent of delegate from the state.
As at the last count, Atiku is likely to slightly win more delegates from this Middle Belt state than any of the other aspirants. His profile as a moderate on sensitive issues of religion and ethnicity is helping him in this volatile state. Many believe that he is capable of holding the nation together. The fact that there is no APC governor in the saddle also makes it easier for his foot soldiers. He’s expected to get at least 60 per cent.
Experts and pollsters aren’t sure that this state is a lock-down for Buhari. The notion that it is a walk-over for him may be mistaken as close insiders of Atiku now claim that there has been a significant shift of loyalty towards the former VP. For instance, the state leadership is tilting to Atiku, as delegates at a recent meeting assured the former VP of support.
With Governor Tanko Al-Makura, a former Buhari acolyte in the defunct CPC in power in this state, one expects that Nasarawa should be a no-go area to other aspirants. Though Buhari is expected to win this state, Atiku should not be brushed aside. Al-Makura’s lack of total grip on the politics of the state has given opportunity for Atiku’s foot soldiers to now confidently boast of a sizeable slice of the delegates.
Delegates in this state are largely for Buhari due to the influence of Governor Chibuike Amaechi who jumped ship from PDP to become a leader of APC in the South South zone. While Amaechi has his loyalty to Buhari because of a probability of being picked as Buhari’s running mate, some of the delegates credit Atiku for his job creation record in the state and longtime relationship with the people.
There is a different turf to tread in Bayelsa. Unlike in neighboring Rivers, this state’s delegates are split among Governor Rabiu Kwankwaso, Buhari and Atiku. Pundits say that Buhari’s inroad to the coastal state is due to his alliance with former Governor Timipre Sylva. Atiku’s share in the state is good enough based on his similar record in Rivers.
In a strange twist of events following the recent massive decamping to APC by the Umana Umana group, Atiku’s fortune in the state has been boosted dramatically. By the latest count, he should comfortably garner 60 per cent of the delegates from this state. Recently, Atiku was received with ovation at the ceremony where defectors from PDP to APC ere welcomed into the party, as shown live in Uyo on AIT. That was a positive sign for the former VP.
This is a safe place for Atiku. He is assured of about 80 per cent of votes from the state. Factors adduced for this major breakthrough are attributed to the former VP’s moderate and liberal views on issues of religion and devolution of power to states and local councils.
Governor Adams Oshiomhole is seen as Buhari’s henchman in the state, but because he allegedly doubts if Buhari would eventually pick him as running mate, he has reportedly allowed the delegates to slip from his grip. Today, 60 per cent are rooting for Atiku. The former VP has overwhelmed the state with his aides and has been there for dialogue with delegates. However, owing to the stiff competition, the outcome is unpredictable.
Verdict: Too close to call
This is another state that delegates are largely rooting for Atiku. Insiders say the former VP has been assured of more than 70 per cent of the delegates from the state. His co-coordinators have visited the state several times over while Atiku himself had one-on-one discussions with them during his meet-the-delegates tour of the state.
Governor Rochas Okorocha’s presidential aspiration is a factor in this state. The delegates have openly made it clear that they would follow him to the last. So, it is a safe place for the celebrated orator from the East, but for the revelation by Atiku during his visit to the state that a vote for Okorocha is a vote for him, while a vote for him is similarly a vote for the Imo governor, meaning the state could go either way. Buhari should also not be foreclosed in the delegates’ hunt in the Eastern heartland.
Verdict: Too close to call.
Abia, like most states in the South eastern part, is perceived as safe for Atiku. Buhari, in spite of some of his loud supporters and proxies in this area, is facing resistance because of the predominantly Catholic population of the region. Many have a mindset that is seen to be rigidly set against the former Military Head of state. Wrong or right, Buhari is a hard sell in this state. Atiku is good to get about 60 per cent.
This is the merchant state of the South East. The people are liberal and business-oriented, a framework that suits Atiku’s ideology. While Buhari’s foot soldiers are on the prowl, Atiku has a strong support among delegates in the state principally because they speak the same language of commerce and they cherish his moderate and liberal views on the issue of settler/indigenes. He may garner 70 per cent votes.
Ebonyi is safe for the former Vice President. By the latest count, he is expected to have about 80 per cent of the delegates. The rest is to be shared by Buhari and others.
Though Buhari’s problems in this state, the seat of the defunct Eastern Region, are similar to other states in the South East, being perceived, wrongly or rightly, as someone who cannot protect their interest in spite of the attempts by his aides to preach otherwise, this state is still too close to call.
Verdict: Too close to call.
Additional Content Credit: Nigeria’s Sun Newspaper