ACF leaders divided over Buhari, Jonathan


The emergence of former Head of State Maj. Gen. Muhammadu Buhari and President Goodluck Jonathan as presidential candidates of the All Progressives Congress, APC, and the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, has divided the Northern sociopolitical organisation, Arewa Consultative Forum,

A member of the National Executive Council of ACF, Alhaji Salisu Garba, who is also the Publicity Secretary of the Kaduna State Chapter at a press conference yesterday, took on the Chairman of the Forum, Ahaji Ibrahim Coomasie over his comments on the endorsement of Gen. Buhari as the preferred candidate of the North.

He said that Coomasie was on his own as no member of the NEC had met to endorse the former Head of State as the sole candidate of the North for the 2015 presidential polls.

The Chairman of ACF, who is also a former Nigerian Inspector-General of Police, at the weekend, said that the northern body had adopted Buhari as their candidate against President Jonathan.

Coommasie had said: “First of all, the APC presidential primary and PDP convention have clearly shown those who are ready to practise democracy. APC’s primary was held smoothly without any rancour, and all of them have come out to accept the result.

“That is a good omen for our democracy, and I hope that INEC will emulate that.

“So, we are congratulating Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, who has been winning primaries all through. Only when it comes to the general elections he is rigged out. We have also seen what happened in the other party.

“I am the Chairman of the Arewa Consultative Forum, ACF, and we have said it before, but we are still reiterating it, that we are going to support the northern candidate. APC has voted a northern candidate, so we are going to support him 100 per cent. So, Buhari is our candidate for the 2015 election.”

But Garba insisted that until the ACF executive releases its official position, the issue of endorsement of any particular presidential candidate should be put to rest for the time being.

Garba argued that of critical concern was the position of Vice President Namadi Sambo, who is also of northern extraction and was adopted by the ruling party which deserves consideration by the ACF too.

He cautioned that the ACF should thread softly, noting that “as a responsible body, ACF should summon courage to examine the merits or otherwise of each of the northern candidates contesting for the presidency on the platforms of other political parties before pronouncing its stand.

“This will be seen to be fair and just; not only to the candidates but to the people of the north.

“Since ACF has made a categorical stand to support any candidate from the North for the presidency, justice, equity and fairness demand all the candidates from the North should be carefully assessed before a choice is made for the region.

“ACF is made up of men and women from different political groups in the country, and that is more so why ACF should be positively critical in supporting a candidate. It is however, doubtful if the ACF policy and decision making organs, the Forum’s National Working Committee, NWC , the national Executive Committee, NEC, and its Board of Trustees, BoT, ever sat down to examine the personal and political merits of each candidate and articulate position to support a particular one.

“Based on the forgoing, it is apt to believe that the respected former Inspector- General of Police, Coomassie was quoted out of contest as ACF executives did not sit to categorically endorse Gen. Buhari per se. It should be advised therefore that until the ACF executives release its official position, the issue of endorsement of any particular presidential candidate for 2015 elections should be put to rest for now.”

In a related development, the APC has said that it is yet to make a choice on Gen. Buhari’s running mate even as it assured Nigerians that the choice will be made within the context of the best democratic ideals, just like that of its presidential candidate.

In a statement issued in Lagos yesterday by its National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the party urged Nigerians to ignore the widespread and misleading reports in the traditional and social media about the choice of its presidential running mate, saying the party has yet to even meet, not to talk of picking a running mate.

It described the reports that a running mate has been picked to run with Gen. Buhari as unnecessarily sensational, downright speculative and totally misleading.

“We are using this opportunity to tell Nigerians to pray for us as we seek to pick a running mate for our presidential candidate. This is because this choice is not just for us but for all of Nigeria,” APC said

The party said every one of the candidates, who has been speculated as a running mate to Gen. Buhari is unquestionably competent to be a vice president or even president, adding, however, that no choice has yet been made by the party.

“We are glad with the feedback we have received from Nigerians on the transparent and rancourfree manner in which our presidential primaries was organised. We are assuring Nigerians that the choice of our presidential running mate will also be guided by best democratic ideals.

“We appreciate the nationwide interest that the choice of our presidential candidate and his running mate has generated. It is a mark of the confidence that Nigerians repose in us. We assure that we will not disappoint our compatriots who have seen our party as the agent of the change they so much crave,” it said.

The party has also faulted the claim by Presidential aide, Dr. Doyin Okupe, that a ticket of Gen. Buhari and Governor Chibuike Amaechi for the 2015 presidential election would be a “fatal error.”

Former National Publicity Secretary of defunct new PDP and a chieftain of the APC, Eze Chukwuemeka Eze stated this in a statement issued in Port Harcourt yesterday.

The statement said the issue raised by the Presidential spokesman was none of his business, especially as he (Okupe) is not a stakeholder of the APC.

Eze was reacting to a recent statement credited to Dr. Okupe, where he said that Buhari/Amaechi APC ticket will be no match for President Jonathan.

“This is an issue that does not concern Dr Okupe, who is not a stakeholder in APC but the fact remains that if Buhari/Amaechi ticket is a fatal error then Jonathan/Sambo ticket is not only a disaster but an ectopic pregnancy that must be evacuated to save the life of the mother, in this case our nation.

“Anyone who fails an examination is asked to repeat but when the failure is so dismal the person is asked to leave as Nigerians are asking President Jonathan and Vice President Sambo to leave as they have not only failed woefully but have endangered our nation to the extent that the need of Buhari/Amaechi ticket becomes imperative to save our nation from imminent extinction.

“This explanation notwithstanding, Dr. Okupe’s comment is nothing but a sign of fear and cowardice by the Presidency, which lives in perpetual fear of Governor Amaechi and has understandably been having nightmares since news filtered out that Amaechi is in strong contention to emerge as Buhari’s running mate,” he said.

He further said that a Buhari/Amaechi ticket is APC’s best bet to flush PDP out of the Aso Presidential Villa and rescue Nigeria from the grip of the present administration.

Eze stressed that APC stands on two legs – the Legacy Group comprising the merger parties and the Equity Group made up of the defunct New PDP, saying “It is in the interest of justice and fair play for the Equity Group in APC to produce the presidential running mate.”

“If the Legacy group has claimed both the National Chairmanship and Presidential Ticket of the party through Chief John Odigie- Oyegun and Gen. Buhari, denying the Equity Group the office of the Vice President will be tantamount to telling us that our efforts in repositioning APC make no meaning to the APC power brokers,” he added.

Eze further said though the major goal of Governor Amaechi in this dispensation is to assist and partner with others on how to ease out PDP come this election but that does mean that we should turn blind eyes when we are being treated unjustly by our colleagues.

Meanwhile, Governor Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso of Kano State said yesterday that the internal democracy demonstrated at the APC convention has empowered Gen Buhari to be able to do more in discharging his duties, when eventually he becomes the next President.

Kwankwaso said the decision to conduct the primary election to determine who will fly the party’s flag in the 2015 has played a key role in further brightening the chances of Gen. Buhari at the presidential polls, explaining that for the first time, the retired general was compelled to travel the nooks and crannies of Nigeria to canvass for votes from delegates.

He noted that, in other previous contests, the Daura born retired soldier cum politician had always secured the party’s nod as flag bearer under consensual arrangements, stressing that, the rigor of canvassing for votes has expanded Buhari’s political network.

He congratulated Gen. Buhari for emerging as the party’s presidential flag bearer, disclosing that the Kwankwasiyya movements have commenced mobilisation of old and new sympathisers to work towards the success of the party in the 2015 elections.

Kwankwaso boasted that, APC will return Kano State in next year’s general election.

“Victory for Buhari is victory for Kwankwaso, Buhari told the whole world that, if he fails to get the ticket, he will like Kwankwaso to get it, meaning I am Buhari and Buhari is Kwankwaso, we will deliver Kano 100 per cent to APC and Buhari our candidate,” Kwankwaso said.

The governor in a chat with journalists at the Kano State Government House over the weekend also condoled with the families of those who lost their lives in the Kantin Kwari market twin suicide bomb attacks last week.

He empathised with the wounded; stressing that, the sole solution to the problem of insurgency in Nigeria is embedded in the emergence of a good commander in chief to stop all this “rubbish.”

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