Indications have emerged to suggest that President Muhammadu Buhari will unveil his preferred candidate ahead of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC’s) Special National Convention scheduled for next Saturday. This is coming just as it also emerged that the race for the ticket of the APC appears to have narrowed down to three aspirants as the gladiators begin a last minute push in what observers have described as a week of long knives.
Sources close to the Presidency told Saturday Telegraph on Friday that President Buhari “Will unveil his preferred presidential candidate to party leaders and other stakeholders of the APC in a few days to the convention.” Another party source told our correspondent that the race for the ticket has been narrowed down to three leading contenders based on the support base that they have garnered in recent weeks. He listed the front runners to include Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, former Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Amaechi and the President of the Senate, Senator Ahmad Lawan, adding that “the fourth person is the preferred candidate of President Buhari whose identity he is still keeping to his (President Buhari’s) chest for strategic reasons.” “These aspirants are leveraging on their well-established support base of caucuses within the party to snatch the top prize from one another,” the party source who pleaded not to be mentioned added.
Asked to state the basis for arriving at the top three, the source stated that of the lot who obtained the party’s nomination forms, the trio and Buhari’s candidate have the requisite political platforms to successfully challenge for the party’s ticket. According to him, “Osinbajo seems to enjoy support of the bulk of membership of the ACN caucus as well as some governors outside his South West traditional catchment area, especially in the North Central, South South and South East who would mobilise their delegates for him.” He (the source) added that Amaechi is enjoying the backing of members of the old Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) caucus in the party who are said to be working assiduously for his emergence at the convention.
“Former Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, is banking on the solid support of his former allies in the PDP who are prominent in the management of the party and that support is solid for him,” the source told our correspondent. On his part, Lawan is relying on the Congress for Progressives Change (CPC) and the old All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) blocs in the APC to actualise his ambition that many initially didn’t view as serious. The source added that “Apart from the support that the Senate President is getting from the CPC and ANPP blocs in the party, prominent members of the Aso Rock power brokers are also backing his bid and they are making things happen for him since they have the ears of the president.” According to him, the fourth contender is the preferred candidate of President Buhari who is expected to be unveiled before the convention.
“The president is expected to unveil his candidate before the end of next week to party stakeholders and I can tell you that,” the source said but added that the identity of the lucky aspirant who enjoys the goodwill of the retired General remains unknown. “Only the President knows the person he wants to support. Maybe very few people in his office or very close associates can tell who that person is but no one knows for now until the President himself tells us who the person is,” the source said.