2015: APC LEADERS RAISE CONCERNS OVER BUHARI •AS BATTLE RAGES OVER ZONING ARRANGEMENT

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Top leaders of the All Progressives Congress (APC) were said to have started expressing worries over the possibility of the party fielding a former Head of State, General Muhammadu Buhari as its presidential hopeful in the 2015 election.
Sources close to the party told the Sunday Tribune in Abuja that though Buhari is still considered as the most potent vote winner for the party, there are concerns he has started exhibiting the stress of old age.
A source said that while the General appeared strong in the face at 72, those close to him have discovered that the man is not looking younger and that he might have started showing signs of the usual old age health issues.
The source said that there are real concerns about the possibility of the General pulling through the rigours of campaigns in the 2015 election season.
A recent meeting of some top leaders of the APC, held in Abuja, was used to discuss the issue, sources confirmed.
It was learnt that the General had made trips abroad in recent times more than in the past.
Though sources said that there were no clear indications that the man was hospitalised on any of the occasions, it was said that the decision to travel itself was usually borne out of the feeling of tiredness and the need to take off some days.
The meeting attended by one of the main contenders to a key position in the party’s National Working Committee was told of the serious dilemma the party would run into if Buhari does not contest the 2015 election.
“The truth of the matter is that The APC is rested on the “Sai Buhari” syndrome. It is clear to us long before now that the slogan is not transferable. Buhari can only lead the way while others follow. If he cannot or refuses to contest the election, the party will find it difficult to convince his teeming supporters to troop out and vote,” a source told the Sunday Tribune.
One of the leaders at the meeting was quoted as saying that the time had come for party men to call for concerted prayers for leaders like General Buhari, adding that while there is no clear ailment disclosed, it is getting clear that the General has started exhibiting signs of old age.
“The serious concern about our leader and the next general election is being fueled by his recent frequent overseas trips. Some have said that he uses such occasions to rest and take time off his crowded schedules in Nigeria. But it is certain a presidential hopeful will have no luxury of rest when the campaign season flags off,” the source further stated.
The source contended that apart from the concerns of the party, former Lagos State governor, Bola Tinubu “is also hopeful about Buhari contesting so that he could be picked as his running mate.”
It was, however, gathered that some leaders who are bent on frustrating the all Muslim-Muslim ticket in the party are unrelenting in their bid and have already began moves to ensure that Tinubu contests the Lagos East Senatorial seat so that he can vie for the Senate Presidency in 2015.
Party sources said that Tinubu has been assured he would be allowed to nominate the party’s running mate if the lobby sails.
A source, however, said that some forces in the party have already activated a plan that would ensure that a Christian from the South-West emerges as the running mate to a Northern candidate for the presidential election.
The source described the situation thus: “If Buhari does not run, he might have to endorse somebody along the line. But that is where the challenge lies. Mallam Nasiru el-Rufai, who has become Buhari’s right hand man, would want to be endorsed.
“But the governors also have their agenda. At least two of them from the North are already eyeing the presidential ticket. Governor Aliyu Wamakko of Sokoto and Rabiu Musa Kwakwanso of Kano are seeing themselves as likely beneficiaries of the presidential ticket, while former Governor Alli Modu Sheriff is also waiting in the wings.
“The challenge is who among them will Buhari readily endorse if he will not contest the election? Who will be acceptable to the Buhari group?”
It was also learnt last week that ahead of the party’s National Convention, the clamour over zoning arrangement for the party’s National Chairman has continued, as leaders continued to rack their brains over which zone should produce the chairman.
Sunday Tribune had earlier linked the lobbying for the post to the 2015 race, with the link confirmed by sources within the party.
“The issue of who becomes the substantive National Chairman of the party has remained contentious and the issue is being negotiated. Against this against this backdrop, meetings have been scheduled. We have been at it since June 2 and we hope to come to a final conclusion before the convention. We want this resolved so that the convention would be a forgone conclusion, though there will be some unopposed candidates at the convention. “
Source: Tribune

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