Apparently dissatisfied with the suppressed musings in the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the perennial crisis in the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), key figures in both parties are mulling what a source called ‘a strong third force’.
If ongoing secret consultations are fruitful, the third force is a new political party ahead of the 2019 presidential election that would witness the pairing of former Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, and the incumbent governor of Ondo State, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko, as presidential candidate and running mate respectively, Sunday Telegraph gathered. Curiously, while Atiku, with eyes glued to the presidency, belongs to the APC, the Ondo State governor is of the PDP and indeed, a key figure in the resolution of the crisis in the opposition party.
Mimiko’s tenure will lapse in February 2017. According to a highly placed source, the new party will emerge in the last quarter of 2017, even as a positive outcome (for the PDP) of the November 2016 governorship election in Ondo State is the likely template for the permutation.
The SDP, Falae/Afenifere link
As part of the plan, a meeting between the former vice president and former presidential candidate and national chairman of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), Chief Olu Falae, might hold in a couple of weeks, barring the unforeseen.
The source said the SDP is one of the options being stratified by the duo of Atiku and Mimiko, if the idea of a fresh political party appears cumbersome. Falae, an Afenifere chieftain from Ondo State and political benefactor of the governor, is expected to mobilize the pan Yoruba organisation across the South-West as a ‘counter force to the existing power equation in the region’.
The source said, ‘’Like a nation in want of leadership, proper leadership and a new dawn will soon face the country because what Nigerians are getting is not what they bargained for. The change Atiku, Mimiko meetingmantra appears to be fading and some persons are beginning to think otherwise.
‘’As it was in the run up to the last presidential election, whereby hitherto antagonistic persons came together for a common cause and installed the current government, we are looking at the possibility of mobilizing all and sundry to rescue the nation from nepotisim.
‘’From all indications, the current leadership has failed the nation and if you read what a North West leader said in an interview today (yesterday), you need no one to tell you that we require a drastic political direction.
‘’In the process, anything can happen, including the registration of a new political party or reviving an existing one because in all the major parties, that is PDP and APC, there are problems.
‘’So we are going to reach out to our major political bloc, the Afenifere, as well as some of the Third Republic SDP governors who are now sidelined in the two parties.” Asked about the possibility of a new party flourishing in the South West, when the current vice president hails from there, the source said it was immaterial.
‘’That is immaterial. As far as some of us are concerned, whether he is VP or not, Osinbajo does not have the political sagacity of the Ondo State governor. I ask, can a Buhari or whoever and Osinbajo APC ticket beat an Atiku/ Mimiko ticket?
‘’They can longer deceive our people because the truth has come out. They shouted restructuring before election and abandoned it after their victory. Are these people trustworthy? Definitely, a counter force to the existing power equation in the region is about to be reinvigorated’’, the source said.
..Any role for Kuku as Ondo guber race test-runs plot ?
Sunday Telegraph gathered that as a possible inroad and sustenability in the South West, the former vice president was partly instrumental to the choice of the immediate past Ondo State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Eyitayo Jegede, as Governor Mimiko’s preferred candidate of the PDP for the November governorship election. Atiku and Jegede are friends, the latter having resided in Yola, the Adamawa State capital, for almost two decades and has been a personal friend and counsel to the former vice president.
The opposition from a section of the party’s leadership notwithstanding, Jegede looks good to emerge as the PDP candidate and he’s reportedly groomed to prepare grounds for the new party if he becomes governor.
Mimiko is said to have also successfully planted his loyalist, Dr. Eddy Olafeso, as South West chairman of the PDP even as he has opened discussions with self-exiled former presidential aide, Kingsley Kuku. Governor Mimiko, it was gathered, has sent a delegation of state government officials to Kuku in the United States of America, where he is currently based, to firm up details of the governor’s overtures.
Details ares still sketchy as at the time of this report, but it was gathered that Kuku has reportedly insisted that he should be picked as Jegede’s governorship running mate to have his support.
Sunday Telegraph learnt that in the ensuing permutation, Kuku, of the Ijaw extraction, has promised to leverage on his links with his kinsmen, the largest ethnic group in the South South cutting across Edo, Delta, Bayelsa, Rivers and Akwa- Ibom, to mobilize for the envisioned party and make an Inroad into the troubled Niger Delta.
Kuku had declared his intention to be governor before fleeing the country, following manhunt for him my the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) over alleged financial Atiku, Mimikoimpropriety as head of the Niger Delta Presidential Amnesty Programme.
Atiku has maintained, on many occasions, that he remains a committed member of the APC, but reports have been rife since the beginning of the year that the former vice president has severally complained of being sidelined in the affairs of the party.
His subtle but controlled criticism of the present government has been noticed in the last few months just as he has secretly embarked on a nationwide consultation with his political associates with a view to redirecting his political future.
It will be recalled that Atiku drew the ire of the Presidency and leadership of APC as, aside decrying lack of focused leadership, he openly canvassed for the restructuring of the country, an idea President Muhammadu Buhari and his vice, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, have discredited.
Although it could not be independently confirmed, Atiku was reportedly summoned and cautioned by the national leadership of the APC for his various utterances in the media.
He was said to have equally protested against the return of the erstwhile chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, to the APC.
Atiku and Ribadu, both from Adamawa State, have had several running battles.
While Ribadu held sway at the EFCC under former president, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, Atiku was dislodged from the then ruling party, the PDP, in the run up to the 2007 presidential election.
Reports have it that the former anti corruption czar, an elder brother of the president’s wife, Aisha Buhari, was encouraged to join the party by the First Lady and former president, Obasanjo, who is yet to mend fences with his estranged former deputy for over 10 years now.