2019: Buhari, Atiku shop for fresh alliance

Less than three months to the 2019 general elections, the presidential candidates of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party – President Muhammadu Buhari and former Vice President Atiku Abubakar – are said to be currently in talks with some other political parties with the aim of working out fresh alliances that will see other presidential candidates stepping down for each of them. Saturday Telegraph gathered that the presidential candidates of the two leading political parties decided to seek fresh pact with other parties following the emergence of 79 presidential candidates for the February 16, 2019 election.

There are 91 registered political parties including the APC and PDP, but only 78 parties will be on the ballot for the presidential election. The PDP already has already signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with about 40 other political parties under the platform of Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP), which has shortlisted five candidates to be considered as joint candidates ahead of the presidential election.

A statement by Olisa Ogbakoba, the Chairman, National Intervention Movement and member, CUPP Candidate Selection Committee, within the week, said: “Given that the main thrust of the coalition is to win the 2019 presidential elections through a process of joint collaboration, CUPP has shortlisted five presidential candidates to be considered for selection as the joint candidate of the opposition parties.

“The Presidential candidate of the PDP came out in front on the early ballot but followed by very four strong contenders. The criteria for shortlisting the five candidates was based on agreed terms by members of CUPP, included national spread and structure, experience, public office holders such as governors, National Assembly, financial capacity, organisation strength of parties, capacity to man the 120,000 polling units across Nigeria.” But, Saturday Telegraph gathered that despite his high rating, Atiku is not leaving anything to chance. The PDP candidate is said to be frantic efforts to get other presidential candidates of the coalition parties to step down for him.

“Atiku towers shoulder high among the presidential candidates of the respective parties that formed the CUPP, so he likely to emerge as the coalition’s candidate, but he is working hard to ensure that he emerged through a consensus as some of the candidates also believe that they have what it takes to defeat the candidate of the APC in the election.

“To this end, he is reaching out and making offers, but as expected, some of these candidates even when they know that they will not make impact in the election, are turning down the offers being made. However, this is unexpected as this is not only an opportunity for them to prove that they are relevant, but bargain well.

“But, despite the resistance, I am assuring you that some of the presidential candidates will announce their withdrawal from the race in the days ahead,” a source within the PDP told Saturday Telegraph. For President Buhari, who is flying the flag of the ruling APC, he recently got the backing of the Chekwas Okorieled United Progressive Party (UPP). The UPP national chairman, who spoke with our correspondent on what informed the choice, said it was based on the collective interest of the people of the South-East. He said: “We, in UPP looked around, especially at the two major parties and found out that PDP was in power for 16 years and I asked a PDP governor in the South- East to mention one project the party started and completed during its 16-year rule. He didn’t have to think about it; he said there was none. “And, as it stands, President Buhari has just one more constitutional term of four years; that means that power will shift to the South in 2023.

We are not looking at PDP’s promises; the party has not even made any form of commitment to the South-East.” A deputy national chairman of one of the fringe parties, who spoke also with Saturday Telegraph, confirmed that there are fresh overtures to his party from both APC and PDP, and that his party is under intense pressure to ask its presidential candidate to step down for either of the leading parties. He said: “As we speak, we have received overtures from both the APC and PDP as regards alliance but we are in a fix. We actually entered into the CUPP alliance, but we opted out. In that wise, we are not going to rush into any alliance with anyone, we must solidify the arrangement and know what is in it for us before we enter into it.”

While dissuading insinuations that the purported alliance would affect all levels of elective offices, he said that “they are only talking to us about the presidency, not other positions. Even if we eventually decide to collapse our presidential structure into any of the two parties, we will not do so for other offices.” Meanwhile, a source close to one of the major parties said his party is not comfortable with the negotiating terms put forward by some of the fringe parties because it looks “outrageous.” He said: “We approached them through a sub-committee and it was clear that they are either being mischievous or they really don’t want to align with us for the election.

How on earth could a fringe party be asking for two ministerial nominees, if we eventually win in 2019? Is that reasonable enough,” he queried. While stating that the exigency of the time demands alliance and collaboration, the source, however, said such will not compel his party to accept a ridiculous offer from people, who will bring little or nothing to the table.

.new telegraph

News Category: