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Kwankwaso to Declare for Presidency Oct 23 as APC ‘Compromise Candidate

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IMAGE: Rabiu Kwankwaso, Kano State Governor »


As the two leading aspirants – former military Head of State, Major-General Muhammadu Buhari, and former Vice-President, Atiku Abubakar – on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC) slug it out for the presidential ticket of the party, the Kano State Governor, Rabiu Kwankwaso, will be declaring his bid for the presidency on October 23, 2014 as the “compromise candidate” of the APC.

This is just as Senator Bukola Saraki, a chieftain of the APC, yesterday announced the suspension of his bid for the presidency in 2015.

But as Saraki steps down from the presidential contest, all seems set for Kwankwaso from the North-west zone to test his popularity against Buhari who is also from the zone and Atiku at the party’s presidential primary.

THISDAY gathered at the weekend that following the failure to broker a consensus deal between Buhari and Kwankwaso whose electoral fortunes depend largely on votes from the zone, Kwakwanso has decided to go ahead with plans to publicly declare his presidential ambition on October 23 and is confident that the fierce clash that would ensue between Buhari and Atiku would pave the way for his emergence as the compromise candidate of the party.

Speaking to THISDAY yesterday on Kwakwanso’s plans for the presidential race, a chieftain of APC and one of his campaign coordinators, Chief Olisaemeka Akamukali, said barring any unforeseen circumstances, the governor would be unveiling his presidential campaign on Thursday next week.

“Governor Kwakwanso has finished his nationwide consultations and is now ready to declare his ambition to contest for the presidency of this country on the platform of APC on October 23. His entry into the race will most likely alter the political permutations,” he said.

Akamukali said the governor had concluded the nationwide consultations with party leaders and political stakeholders regarding the 2015 presidential election.

He dismissed reports that the governor might have slowed down his campaign due to pressure to yield grounds to Buhari, saying rather, it is the former head of state that should make way for a younger and more vibrant candidate in line with the need for a generational shift.

“Inasmuch as we agree that Buhari is a man of integrity, but you will also agree with me that age is not on his side. He is 73 going on 74 years and ex-Vice-President Atiku Abubakar is about 70 years old. But Kwakwanso will be 58 on October 21, so he has age on his side," he said.

Speaking on Kwakwanso’s chances against the much more established older politicians in the race, Akamukali said it is not true that the governor is the dark horse in the contest.

According to him, Kwakwanso has had long years of experience in politics starting from 1991 when he emerged the deputy speaker of the House of Representatives on the platform of the Social Democratic Party (SDP).

“Kwankwaso has long years of experience in politics. He has been a parliamentarian, a governor and two-time minister. When he contested the governorship election in Kano State and lost, he congratulated the winner and waited for eight years before staging a comeback to defeat the candidate of the incumbent.

“The governor is a grassroots politician and one who tries to carry his followers along in his undertakings. Today, many people describe him as the dark horse in the presidential contest. But this is a wrong assertion because many politicians, especially in the PDP do not like what is happening in their party.

“Remember he was once a member of the Group of Seven governors who protested against the goings on in his former party. I will not be surprised if many of them still in the PDP will want to support his aspiration to become president,” he said.

The APC chieftain said contrary to the perception that Buhari is dominant in Kano presently, “it is Kwakwanso who as governor that is in total control of the party structures and commands the loyalty of most party men there”.

Akamukali said if a politician’s track record is to be used as a yardstick, the governor has performed creditably, having transformed Kano State beyond all expectations.

“Yes the governor might be a dark horse because of the fact that he has never contested for the presidency before. But if as President Goodluck Jonathan was regarded as the dark horse before 2011 amongst other aspirants like Atiku, General Ibrahim Babangida and Ibrahim Gusau and he later triumphed, then being a dark horse can be to Kwankawaso’s advantage.

“We want a change in this country. We want a president who is not a man that is hand picked by a group of people and who will not be held captive like what has happened today in this country,” he said.

However, the former Kwara State Governor, who was seen as a contestant for the presidential ticket of the APC, has said he will not be contesting for the highest office in the land during the 2015 elections.

In a statement yesterday by Saraki’s media aide, Bamikole Omishore, the former governor said even though his interest in contesting for the presidency had sparked widespread excitement across the country, he had decided to step down his ambition.

According to Omishore, Saraki described Nigeria’s political outlook for 2015 as very complicated, adding that “this is the time for every patriotic politician to situate his personal ambition in the context of the country's overall interest”.

He said: “Party primaries in any healthy democracy would always leave several contenders disappointed and, sometimes bitter, as there would be only one winner. The party would then invest so much energy and time afterwards managing and reconciling various interests.

“I don't think our party can afford too much internal rancour going into next year's election. I therefore think some of us need to make the sacrifice and be part of the solution rather than part of the problem of the party.”

Saraki recounted how he, along with other progressives in the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) decided to leave the party to join the APC when it was clear that PDP, especially at the national level, had become too invested in the personal ambition of one man at the overall detriment of the country and its democracy.

“I have always maintained that I did not leave the ruling party to join the opposition because of any personal interest. Anyone who understands Nigeria’s politics would know that it takes courage and self-sacrifice to do that.

“Therefore, whether it is on the issue of the party or all other issues that I have been pushing in my position as a Senator of the Federal Republic, I have been driven primarily by my desire to see a better and more purposely governed country,” he said.

According to him, Nigeria desperately needs change. “We need to change the way the country is run, we need change in our security and the values we place on human life, we need to change the current disgraceful situation in security and corruption. And I believe only the APC can bring about this change and give our country the leadership it deserves,” he said.

He observed, however, that APC could only live up to the aspirations of Nigerians for change if it is not derailed by too much acrimony from its primaries which is coming so close to the general election.

“This is why some of us felt that we must make the necessary sacrifice and contribute to building a strong and united party that provides the only real alternative to the floundering government that has become so constipated on power and lost touch with the realities that ordinary Nigerians grapple with everyday,” he said.

Saraki thanked his family, loyalists, followers and groups across the country that urged him to join the presidential race because of their belief that he is the best man to fix Nigeria.

He urged them to keep hope alive and assured them that whoever receives his support and endorsement will be someone who believes in his aspirations, interest and yearning for a better future for the Nigerian people.

Article Credit: Thisdaylive

Updated 4 Years ago

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Tags:     ajor-General Muhammadu Buhari     Atiku Abubakar     APC     Bukola Saraki     Chief Olisaemeka Akamukali     SDP