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APC Faces Tension Towards 2019 Over Buhari And Atiku

As the nation moves steadily towards the 2019 general election, the scheming and power play over the All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential ticket is already taking its toll on the unity of the party with local and foreign analysts hinting at possible defections from the ruling party in the coming months.o

Deep divisions along the broad lines of pro and anti-Buhari elements in the government and in the party are already blowing open with Kaduna State governor, Nasir el-Rufai, as a prominent member of the Buhari group.
During the week, the Minister of Women Affairs, Senator Aisha Alhassan, stunned the nation with a declaration that she would not support her boss and the incumbent President, Muhammadu Buhari, for a fresh mandate in 2019.
She announced a former vice president, Atiku Abubakar, as her preferred choice for the party’s ticket.
While the party has adopted a policy of “no comment” on the issue, some opinion moulders in the North are blaming President Buhari for not acting fast to halt the deep divisions threatening the future of the party.
Governor el-Rufai confirmed, on Friday, the existence of a group of governors and ministers called the “Buharists” who, according to him, want the president to re-contest in 2019 or anoint someone else if he cannot seek a re-election.
He also identified Alhassan as an anti-Buhari politician in the government, who is opposed to the politics of the President.
Indeed, it was gathered that there is a fierce underground battle going on in the North among former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, Governor el-Rufai, Governor Aminu Tambuwwal of Sokoto State, former Kano State governor, Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso and Governor Abdulazeez Yari of Zamfara State, described as “front-runners for the ticket of the APC.”
Since his return from his medical trip, a source said Buhari’s supporters have constantly called for a reshuffle of his cabinet “in order to allow him consolidate his power and to send saboteurs out of the government.”
Kaduna State coordinator of Atiku Care Foundation, Ibrahim Danfulani, told Saturday Tribune on Friday that “it is only a matter of time for the former Vice President to come out and vie for the highest office in 2019.”
Danfulani said mobilisation and contact across the country for the former number two man had gone far.
“He is in touch with all his political associates in all the six zones. He is waiting for the right time to declare his ambition. At the right time he will do that,” he said.
However, el-Rufai’s Special Adviser on Media, Muyiwa Adekeye, remarked that his boss should be excluded from what he called the rumour of wanting to be president.
According to him, “el-Rufai was given the mandate to rule Kaduna and we are just half way. So, please, stop this distraction.”
For Kwankwaso, who came second in the 2015 primaries, it was learnt that his Kwankwasiyya movement is establishing contacts across the country.
A supporter of the former Kano State governor in Zamfara State, Alhaji Abubakar Maru, said Kwakwanso’s “antecedents as a former lawmaker, governor and minister and now senator give him the edge over his rivals to succeed Buhari in 2019.”
Both Yari and Tambuwwal are said to also be warming up for the highest office in the land.
A competent source said, “While Governor Yari is believed to be reaching out to critical stakeholders across the country using his position as the chairman of the Nigeria Governor’s Forum, Tambuwwal as a former Speaker of the House of Representatives is using that position to reach out.”
Attempt to speak to Tambuwal’s media aide, Imam Imam, proved abortive as calls to his phone numbers did not go through.
However, Yari’s spokesman, Ibrahim Dosara, denied that his boss is interested in the Presidency come 2019. He said “Governor Yari is loyal to the President and has never indicated that he wants to run.”