Ahead of the 2015 elections, indications have emerged that Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (retd) of the Congress for Progressive Change may not emerge as the consensus candidate of the North, it was learnt on Friday.
In the past months, different northern groups have been holding meetings to strategise on the 2015 election and how to field a consensus candidate from the North to oppose President Goodluck Jonathan, should he contest for a second term.
However, in an interview with SUNDAY PUNCH, the Convener of the Concerned Northern Politicians, Academics, Professionals and Businessmen, Dr. Junaid Mohammed, said although Buhari was likely to emerge as flag bearer of the planned merger of the CPC, the Action Congress of Nigeria and some other parties, “his poor relationship with other stakeholders in northern politics would make it difficult for him to emerge a consensus candidate for the region.”
Mohammed said the planned merger of the parties, if it succeeded, would be a welcome development, but advised that Buhari should allow the leader of the ACN, Bola Tinubu to lead the negotiations.
“As a democrat, I believe that a strong opposition and a strong parliament are very important elements of a constitutional democracy. Our presidential system makes presidents too powerful and there is a tendency for incumbent presidents or governors to take matters into their hands and deal shabbily or unconstitutionally with their opponents.
He said, “I’m for the merger. But I would have thought that a broader ideological arrangement would have been better. I don’t know what the CPC ideology is; if it has any at all. The ACN occasionally makes statements about being progressive. But being progressive in politics is about pursuing a clear ideology. I haven’t seen that from the party of my very good friend Tinubu.
“I hope that both in the course of the merger discussions and the eventual merger, if it happens, Tinubu would be a positive influence on Buhari so that Buhari can be a true progressive. At the moment I have my doubts.
“I hope this time around, Buhari would be wiser and he would also leave the negotiations for Tinubu because Tinubu’s background gives him greater leverage when it comes to discussions of this nature.”
Mohammed added that Buhari had not been part of the discussions for a northern consensus candidate, and so may not be accepted by other northern leaders.
“The last time the North discussed the concept of a consensus candidate, Buhari refused to participate, regarding the idea as an internal PDP affair, which was wrong, counter-productive for him and completely apolitical.
“He cannot deliver the presidency without other parties and I don’t know how willing other parties would be to play ball with him, given his attitude towards other parties and other initiatives.”
Similarly, the President of the Arewa Youth Consultative Forum, Yerima Shettima, said although an average northerner may like Buhari, the elite of the region would not accept him as a consensus presidential candidate for the North.
He said, “Let’s not be too optimistic about the merger. The chances are still 50-50. Looking at the history of the two personalities involved- Buhari and Tinubu, it would difficult for anyone of them to step down for the other.
“However, even if it works, I don’t think Buhari would be endorsed as a consensus northern candidate. Some traditional rulers and the elites would not accept him. He is a disciplined leader with a good track record, but I think Nigeria needs a president who is younger than Buhari.”
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