The Peoples Democratic Party has accused the Presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress, Maj. Gen Muhammadu Buhari, of handing over the selection of his running mate to a cabal controlled by a former Lagos State Governor Asiwaju Tinubu.
It said in a statement on Sunday that by so doing, Buhari had already surrendered his powers and first official assignment of choosing a running mate to the cabal.
“In surrendering his prerogative of choosing his running mate, Buhari has confirmed that he is being appropriated and compromised to serve a personal and narrow group interest of a cabal on whose ticket he emerged as a presidential candidate,” the PDP said in the statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Olisa Metuh.
It alleged that the “APC cabal under the command of Tinubu tampered with all the rules of their party to achieve their selfish agenda of planting surrogates in all strategic positions to enable Tinubu expand his economic and political frontiers the way and manner he did in Lagos State.”
The PDP added that a vote for Buhari in the forthcoming presidential election was clearly a vote for Tinubu, his political and economic interests.
It said, “Indeed, the possible calculation of this cabal, if they ever get to power, is to choke up Buhari and ultimately frustrate him out of office thereby allowing Tinubu to have total control of the economic and political interests of the nation.
“Therefore the question the citizens want answered remains, ‘is Tinubu the face of the so-called change the APC wants to bequeath to Nigerians?”
However, barring any last minute changes, the APC national caucus will on Monday (today) meet in Abuja to take a final decision on Buhari’s running mate.
A top ranking member of the caucus, who confided in The PUNCH, in Abuja said even though “a series of meetings is going on in Lagos,” Buhari would be given the honour of announcing the name of the final choice.
He said, “As you are aware, the presidential candidate, and if I may add -our president in waiting, gave the party the task of picking a running mate for him from a list of qualified persons.
“One person will emerge and we have assurances that the choice will be as rancor-free and acceptable as the emergence of General Buhari last Thursday.
“The party has so many promising prospects. That is why it appears it is taking us this long to unveil our choice.
“You see, like everything in politics, you don’t say it is over until it is over.
“The party caucus is meeting on Monday night in Abuja to take a final decision on the issue.”
Among those being mentioned as having been short-listed by the presidential candidate are the Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola (SAN); his Edo State counterpart, Mr. Adams Oshiomhole; Governor Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State and a former Ekiti State Governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi.
One of our correspondents gathered that the APC governors had reminded Buhari and the party hierarchy of an understanding earlier reached.
Those knowledgeable about the understanding noted that the party had agreed in principle that if its Presidential candidate did not come from within the ranks of governors, the running mate should be one of them.
He also explained that the party’s governors had also proved that they were power brokers in their own right with their performance during the presidential primary.
He stated that the party leaders from the South-West were routing for a running mate from the zone considering the sacrifices they made for the sustenance of the party.
Those in this school of thought argue that the block votes which the zone had been able to muster over time could not be ignored by any serious political party.
When contacted, the Director, Publicity of the Buhari 2015 Support Group Centre, Dr. Chidia Maduekwe, said most of what is in the media about a running mate were mere “permutations.”
Maduekwe said, “I have told you before, the party will soon unveil the person’s name, we will meet the deadline set by the Independent National Electoral Commission, I assure you.”
However, Tinubu described the PDP allegation as a cheap attempt to bring down Buhari.
He said he was not surprised because the PDP, which according to him, is already afraid of Buhari, is grasping at straws.
Tinubu, in a text message sent by his media aide, Mr. Sunday Dare, said Buhari was too big a personality to be controlled by anyone.
He said Buhari’s running mate would emerge after wide consultation with several party stakeholders.
The message read, “Buhari was selected by the APC national convention because of his qualities. He is a man of principle. He is a man committed to the nation. His overriding concern is the well-being of Nigeria and Nigerians. A man of such principle and leadership presence cannot be anybody’s godson.
“We will do our own internal consultations and arrive at a ticket we believe is best suited to govern Nigeria. If they are so interested in who we pick they are free to quit their bankrupt party and join the party that offers the best hope for this nation and its future.
“Those who claim he(Buhari is a puppet do grave insult to an outstanding patriot and millions of Nigerians who support him.
“The PDP would do better if they spent their time trying to fix their rickety ship after such dismal primaries than to cast stones at APC’s more democratic and genuine process. They speak in this manner because they are afraid the APC will confront them with a ticket they cannot beat by fair means.”
Also, the National Publicity Secretary of the APC, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said he was short of words and wondered how the PDP could “concoct such lies.”
He said having failed to discredit the APC, the PDP had decided to engage in character assassination in order to divert the attention of Nigerians from its own incompetence.
Buhari visits Atiku, seeks collective campaign
Meanwhile, Buhari has visited one of the defeated APC presidential aspirants, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, at his residence in Abuja.
Buhari was said to have asked for Abubakar’s cooperation as he begins his campaign to unseat Jonathan, who is the candidate of the ruling PDP .
A source at the Sunday meeting told one of our correspondents that the former head of state told Abubakar that he would run an all inclusive government if elected.
The source said, “Buhari told the Turaki that the battle to salvage the country must not be personalised and that all presidential aspirants of the party must work together in order to ensure that the APC won the election in February .
“He asked for Abubakar’s input during the campaign . He also said that there was no winner and loser during the primary.”
The source quoted the former Vice President as having assured his guest that he would not leave him and that he had no plan to defect to the PDP.
“Abubakar told him that he would not go back to the PDP as being speculated. He is not bitter about losing hit primary.”