•Begin search for younger candidate
By ADE ALADE
Former Head of State and Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) presidential candidate in the 2011 general elections, General Muhammadu Buhari and the national leader of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), Senator Bola Tinubu, have dropped their ambition to contest for the nation’s number one job on the platform of the newly formed opposition mega party, All Progressive Congress (APC).
Saturday Sun gathered from close associates of the two opposition leaders that barring last minute change of mind, the duo will not contest the next presidential election as already being rumoured, in order to prove that the recent merger is beyond their individual political ambitions.
In place of their personal ambitions, they are now to work with other leaders of the opposition party to present younger and credible presidential candidate that can match and defeat whoever is going to emerge on the platform of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for the 2015 contest.
A very close associate of Tinubu, who had earlier shown signs of contesting the next election either as a presidential or vice presidential candidate, told Saturday Sun that the former Lagos State governor earlier in the week offered to sacrifice his personal ambition and promised to also work with others to persuade Buhari to do same, if he is still nursing any such ambition.
“The good news is that Asiwaju Tinubu has made a commitment to his inner circle caucus not to contest for the presidency in 2015. In that same direction, a team has been set up to work on Gen. Buhari to also drop his own ambition if there is still any. The essence of this is to prove that the whole idea of merger by the opposition parties transcends the personal ambition of the two main leaders.
It is a move informed by national interest, to end PDP misrule, provide Nigerians with a better alternative and also encourage others to join the new party,” the source added. Also speaking in the same vein, a top chieftain of CPC and Buhari’s ally said the former Head of State does not need to be put under any pressure before he knows the honourable thing to do in the present circumstance.
According to him, “Buhari is not going to contest again. The idea of pressures being put on him to drop his presidential ambition is being spread by PDP and its agents who are desperate to create an impression that the General is recalcitrant and over-ambitious. He has certainly dropped his ambition in the interest of the merger arrangement, so that it can work and create an open space for the emergence younger and acceptable candidates.”
When asked about the development, National Publicity Secretary of ACN and Tinubu’s close associate, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, neither deny nor confirm that the duo had dropped their ambition but stressed that the issue of ambition is not part of the focus of the new party at the moment. According to him, “the two leaders and indeed, other leaders of APC are more interested in ensuring the emergence of a strong and virile party that can rescue the nation from the grip of the PDP. So, the talk of Buhari or Tinubu’s ambition is far from our focus now. It’s a discussion coming up to distract us or possibly cause disaffection among us.”
He added that the issue of who runs for what post will come up when the time for elections comes, adding: “The party machinery will then democratically determine who runs for what post but most certainly, now is not the time for all that. “This is the time we are all busy to ward off all evil machinations of the PDP, which is trying to scuttle the smooth take-off and running of the APC.”
Tinubu had, after a peace meeting called to reconcile the CPC leader, General Buhari and a faction of the party led by Senator Rufai Hanga on Monday in Abuja, said every leader of the newly formed party must be ready to make sacrifices and accommodate others. According to him: “The meeting was a very good one, sweet. We met in the interest of our various objectives.
To me, I am working in the interest of Nigeria and APC. I am a committed individual; we are in a committed group, surrounded by people of vision and great commitment. It will succeed; our rivals do everything to scuttle us. But as committed people, we are ready to make sacrifices. Leadership is about carrying people along and resolving conflicts with the right people that are motivated to do those things that are necessary for the progress of a nation. These are the things that we have achieved here today at this meeting.”