There is disquiet in the Presidency and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) over the crowd-pulling declaration rally of a presidential aspirant of the All Progressives Congress (APC), ex-Head of State Gen. Muhammadu Buhari.
The massive rally has forced the ruling party to return to the drawing board against the opposition.
It was gathered that some strategists in the Presidency and the PDP met on Wednesday and Thursday to analyse the rally, especially the massive turn-out and how some key APC leaders queued up behind Gen. Buhari.
It was gathered that the presence of notable and influential political leaders from the North-West, North-East, North-Central and South-West forced the Presidency and PDP leaders into a series of meetings.
In one of the sessions in Abuja, it was learnt that some parts of the Gen. Buhari’s speech upset the Presidency, although some strategists attempted to dismiss or underrate the rally, the Presidency and the PDP thought otherwise.
A top source, who spoke in confidence, said: “Contrary to the permutations of some forces in the Presidency and PDP, the huge crowd at the declaration indicated that Buhari is still enjoying large following.
“The wrong assumptions in the ruling party were that Buhari’s influence had waned since 2011 election and the emergence of other presidential aspirants in APC might reduce his chances.
“Some APC leaders and governors at the rally also lent credence to the readiness of the opposition to support Buhari for the party’s ticket.”
A member of the NWC of the PDP said: “We are not underrating the implications of Buhari’s declaration rally. We have woken up to the reality that we must gird our loins. With Buhari, the battle has started.
“Our leaders are already doing some rethinking because we know what Buhari’s candidacy portends for our party.
A source in the PDP Governors Forum said: “I cannot deceive you, we met on Wednesday night on some issues and Gen. Buhari’s declaration rally took the central stage because he seems to be in control of the North-East and Northwest.
“And if you look at the North-Central, APC is certainly stronger in Niger, Kwara, Benue and Nasarawa. To us, the forthcoming poll might not be an easy ride as being projected by some strategists in the Presidency.”
There were indications last night that Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governors have resolved to either be allowed to anoint their successors or leave the party to its fate in next year’s poll.
Gen. Buhari yesterday picked his nomination form to contest for the ticket of the party 24 hours after he declared in Abuja. He expressed concern about the N27.5 million.
The former leader who spoke at the party’s national secretariat said “If I were not part of the constitutional body of the party and the fact that I am part of those that formed this party, I would have complained about the amount that we have to pay.
“It is a pity that I could not influence this amount like was done for the women who are trying to participate and for the disabled. I looked left and right and could not read sympathy on anybody’s face and so, I kept my trap and felt heavily sorry for myself because I don’t want to go and ask anybody to pay for my nomination.
“If you could recall, in all the contests, I have always tried to pay myself at least for the nomination. But paying N27.5 million these days is not easy. Thank God I have a personal relationship with the Chairman of my bank. I called him and told him that the forms are coming and so, whether my account is in red or green or black, you must honour this, otherwise, I will lose the nomination.
“I was about to go to Kaduna today and I told the Chairman and he said, you better pick the form and he kept a straight face. That means that there is no excuse. I thank God that we have got to this stage and all speculations will now cease and now, in the best tradition of democracy, people can now follow their choice aspirant into the arena”.
National Chairman John Odigie-Oyegun, said the N27.5 million nomination fee was meant to separate the boys from the men.
Chief Odigie-Oyegun assured that the leadership would not impose any candidate on the party in the name of consensus, pointing out that if the aspirants decided on a consensus candidate among themselves, the party would go along with them.
He said “I will give you one clear assurance and that is, if there is consensus among the aspirants, we as a party will welcome it. But if there is no consensus, we are going to give you the cleanest and the most transparent primaries.
“We are going to let this country see, like your declaration has already showed that this is a party that is different, these are people that are different and these are leaders that are different and will do things differently and we will teach this nation a lesson in democracy and what democracy is all about.
“There is one thing that the public is looking for today and I am sure that your friends, when they talk to you, always say it because when people talk to me, they always say, Mr. chairman, there is one more bridge to cross. Have a free, fair and transparent primaries to choose your candidate without rancour.
“The implication of their statement is that once that happens, you are on your way. I am so confident that with proper leadership, once we get a proper candidate who will become the face of the party without rancour and we hammer the party and its great fighting force behind that candidate, nothing is going to stop that train except when it arrives at its destination.
“We must run a rancour free runoff to the presidential primaries such that it becomes easy for all the aspirants to embrace each other and work with each other. We will do whatever we can in that regard.
“I intend to talk to all the aspirants once we know the number of aspirants we have. I want you to tell me what you want to see in the process and I want you or your representative to participate actively in the process towards the presidential primaries so that everybody will be on board.
“There is no secret about it as everybody will be part of it and whatever modification the aspirants want to make will be accommodated so that all the aspirants will know that we want to run things freely, transparently and above board”.
Congratulating Gen. Buhari for the success of his declaration of intention, Odigie-Oyegun said the implication of the success of the event is that Nigerians will be saying that “truly, the APC has arrived and they mean business”.
He added that while the party is looking forward to a number of aspirants, he said: “we are very glad by the kind of display that, one by one, they are putting up. It is a clear indication of the quality in the APC.
“It is a clear indication of the quality of leadership that we are offering the nation which were being showcased yesterday before the entire nation. The nation will watch and then decide for themselves.
“Of all the people being presented by the APC, There is no one, to my mind who is not eminently qualified to govern this country and who, when given half a chance can beat anybody the PDP is bringing to the fore. We have two aspirants who have come forward and what that means is that as at today, we already have two possible Presidents of this great nation, Nigeria.
“I want to say that I was truly very glad watching the event yesterday. We saw the crowd and as usual, we saw how feverish they were and that is to be expected because that is vintage Buhari.
“When you bring hope to the people, they are over joyed even without putting money into their pocket. That share feeling that tomorrow is going to be better than today brings them satisfaction”.