• Atiku defects to PDP in two weeks
There are very clear indications that both former Head of State, General Muhammadu Buhari, and the former governor of Lagos State, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, will jointly contest the 2011 presidential election as presidential and vice-presidential candidates respectively.
If the plan, which a source said is almost concluded sails through, Buhari and Tinubu will fly a new political party, under which they will contest the election.
Our source, who is a senior member of the mega party initiative said, “It is almost certain that former Head of State Mohammadu Buhari and former Lagos State Governor, Bola Tinubu are seriously working on a joint presidential ticket for the 2011 election.”
The source said that the mega party summit, which met in Abuja Wednesday, is providing the platform for Buhari’s Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) and Tinubu’s faction of the Action Congress (AC) to reach an agreement and come together to contest the presidency in the forthcoming election.
The source, however, said that one hazy area in the plan is the Muslim-Muslim ticket, which is against the tradition of presidential election politics in Nigeria.
There is, however, a division over the matter, as some members of the two groups cite the example of the Abiola/Kingibe ticket during the Social Democratic Party era that resulted in the aborted June 12 presidential election.
Others, who according to our source are in the majority, contend that a Muslim-Muslim ticket cannot be fashionable in Nigeria, given the religious diversity in the country between Muslims and Christians.
The source said, “Buhari and Tinubu have been cozying up to each other recently, with Tinubu allegedly picking up Buhari’s and CPC’s expenses and making his private jet available to the former Head of State.
“At Wednesday’s NDM meeting, Tinubu sat next to Buhari and when it was time for the CPC leader to take his leave from the meeting, he handed over to Tinubu, when former Sokoto State governor, Attahiru Bafarawa, was also in attendance.”
It will also be recalled that the chairman of the Action Congress in Lagos State, Olanusi Ajomale, had during the the 60th birthday of the state Secretary of the party, Primate Charles Odugbesi, said, “Our leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, will live long and continue to direct us well as our political father. “Come May 29, 2011 he will be sworn as vice president of Nigeria.”
He did not mention the president Tinubu would serve.
But reliable sources close to CPC/AC merger talks said Buhari is most likely to be the flag-bearer.
Also, following the groundwork being done for the return of former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the Nigerian Compass can authoritatively report that Abubakar’s return to the ruling party will materialise in the next two weeks.
A senior member of Abubakar’s strategy team confirmed the development to the Nigerian Compass in the early hours of Thursday.
The source said that the issue of Abubakar’s return to the ruling party had been finalised.
The source said the only assignment before the strategy group is the modus operandi for the return.
The source said that the subsisting strategy is that the Abubakar’s supporters who left the PDP with him will first return to the party in batches before their principal.
Abubakar left the PDP in 2006 for the Action Congress (AC), the platform on which he contested the 2007 presidential election.
The source said that the strategy team is also currently looking at various states of the country where the AC “is on ground with the objective of moving the AC in such states into the PDP.”
The source identified states where the arrangement has already been concluded to include Kogi, Nasarawa, Plateau, Kwara Ondo, Bauchi, Benue, Delta, Rivers, Niger and Adamawa States.
The source said that the strategy team is currently working on the situation report from Niger and Nasarawa states and will have a clearer picture of the situation from the states this week.
The source also hinted that the return of Abubakar into the PDP was more on the prompting of some Northern leaders of the party who, according to the source, “have been putting a lot of pressure on him to return to the party.”
It was gathered that most of the governors from the North elected on the platform of the PDP, who attended the burial of the late Lamido of Adamawa, Dr. Aliyu Musdafa, used the opportunity to visit Abubakar.
They reportedly had discussions with him on his proposed return to the PDP.
The source further hinted that the call being made on Abubakar by the Northern leaders of the PDP to return to the party was to “fill the leadership vacuum in the PDP in the North.”
The source said that the thinking of many of the Northern leaders of the PDP, including the state governors, is that former President Olusegun Obasanjo appears to be wielding enormous influence in the party, hence the need to create a Northern counterforce to him (Obasanjo) in the party.
One of the sources told the Nigerian Compass, “The call on him to return to the PDP is more prominent from the North.
“It is believed that they want to use him. It is getting clearer by the day that Obasanjo is coming back to his former position of influence in the party and there is a pressing need for the North to checkmate the influence Obasanjo can peddle in the party.
“It is believed that that is why they are calling on him to return to the party.”
The source also hinted that apart from filling the leadership vacuum in the Northern arm of the PDP, the leaders of the party are also anxious about Abubakar’s return to the party based on the thinking that he would re-unite the various factions that have emerged in almost all the state chapters.
The source also hinted that much as Abubakar had agreed to return to the PDP, he had made it clear that he would not return to the party without discussing the development with his “brother,” a reference to President Umaru Yar’Adua.
The source said that the demand on Abubakar to return to the PDP had been on since the time Abubakar and the AC decided to contest the outcome of the April 2007 presidential election at the Court of Appeal.
The source hinted that based on the demand for the former vice-president to withdraw his suit against Yar’Adua, Abubakar’s group demanded from the leadership of the PDP three major concessions.
These included: that returnees to the PDP, who left the party during the re-registration exercise that also saw the exit of Abubakar and many of his supporters from the party, should be treated as old members of the party; that Obasanjo must be removed as the life chairman of the PDP’s Board of Trustees; and that a meeting be arranged between Abubakar and Yar’Adua to discuss the return of the former vice-president and his group to the PDP, with the President having been fully briefed about the situation.
The source said that while the PDP leadership implemented the first two demands, the last, which deals with a meeting with Yar’Adua,had not been concluded.
It was gathered that now that Abubakar has agreed to return to the party, “he insists that his brother must be well briefed about the development.”
The source also noted that with the return of Abubakar and his group back to the PDP, the party will have to do another re-registration exercise where all the returnee members would be absorbed.
Apart from that, it was also learnt that an arrangement is already on the ground for the state executive bodies of the party to be dissolved to accommodate the “new members” of the party.
Our source also noted that the decision of Abubakar to return to the PDP within two weeks was to forestall the regrouping of some opposition forces in the party against him.
The source said, “He may return to the PDP in the next two weeks. Leaving it for long will allow other political forces to regroup against him.”
The Nigerian Compass also gathered that “apart from the call from Northern leaders of the PDP, the PDP, indeed, remains the only option left for Abubakar and his group.”
The source said that with the recent development in the mega party arrangement and the National Democratic Movement (NDM), which Abubakar formed with Buhari, “it is obvious that he (Abubakar) has already been edged out from relevance in the opposition camp.”
The source said that with the decision of both Buhari and Tinubu, to pair up for the 2011 presidential election as presidential and vice-presidential candidates of the mega party respectively, “there is certainly no other option left for him but to return to where he (Abubakar) is wanted.”
“The beauty of the PDP is that half of the people in the PDP are already for him.”
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