Leaders of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the six North-east states, led by their state governors and National Assembly members, met in Bauchi on Saturday to strategise for what they called a total victory for their presidential candidate in the 2019 general elections, Muhammadu Buhari.
APC governs four of the six states in the geo-political zone where Atiku Abubakar, the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Buhari’s top challenger comes from. APC governs Adamawa, Bauchi. Borno and Yobe while Gombe and Taraba states are run by the PDP.
The APC leaders said defeating Abubakar has become a task they must accomplish. Abubakar is from Adamawa, one of the six states in the zone.
Abubakar, one of the richest politicians in northern Nigeria, was never known to have made any serious mileage in most of his political outings since 1999 when he won the Adamawa State governorship, before he was later picked as running mate to former President Olusegun Obasanjo.
The political fortunes of Abubakar, who now holds the traditional title of Waziri (vizier) of Adamawa, since 2011 continued to nose dive until 2018.
For the first time in his political career, he has a chance to contest the presidential election on the platform of the PDP.
The former vice president, who vied for the APC ticket in 2015 but lost to President Buhari, will now be slogging it out with an incumbent he partly assisted to power.
Despite the labrynths of uncleared corruption charges against him, many Nigerians still see his candidacy as a big threat to President Buhari’s second term bid.
Speaking at the APC zonal stakeholders’ meeting in Bauchi, the Borno State Governor, Kashim Shettima, said Abubakar’s candidature will not deny Buhari his most deserved popular votes in the Northeast.
“The Northeast is a Buhari territory; and he is the single kinetic entity in the Northeast political firmament, and by God’s will his reelection is almost a forgone conclusion.
“We wish the PDP candidate well, but we must not forget the fact that politics is local and is driven by local issues and President Buhari has mostly been responding to our local needs more than anyone else.
“And believe me, Buhari will again ride on another victory horse coming from the Northeast.”
The governor said his confidence in Buhari’s victory was driven by historical facts.
“We must remember that in Borno State back in 2015, we gave Buhari, as the APC candidate, 97.3 percent of the total votes cast in the state.
“And certainly we are going to repeat the feat insha Allah. And so also are other states of the zone.
“It is not a subject of dispute but a question of time that Buhari will be resoundingly reelected insha Allah.
“As far as Nigerians are concerned, Buhari has done extremely well. Look at the Mambila hydro power project. He met the country in a mess and he came to fix it. Even in the security arena, though there are some challenges; but we must be fair to him. When you juxtapose the state of affairs four years ago and what is obtained now we have to give it to Buhari. Some years ago, about 22 local government areas were under the control of Boko Haram. But today the challenges have subsided.”
A senator, Muhammed Ndume, who also spoke to newsmen, said Buhari and the APC were confident of victory come 2019 even though he quickly added that “we are mindful of the fact that you don’t take even your weakest opponent for granted.”
He said as a way forward for the APC, the party had during the stakeholders meeting constituted a reconciliation committee to address grievances that arose from the party’s primaries across the country.
“That’s why we are doing everything to ensure that we resolve our internal scuffles on time so that we can face the bigger fight ahead 2019.
“We all know that the PDP presidential candidate is an aggressive politician, and in recent times we can say he is also a desperate politician. So we don’t want to take anything for granted,” he said.
The Adamawa State Governor, Jibrilla Bindow, told the APC gathering in Bauchi that the zone must do everything in its powers to ensure his kinsman is defeated.
“We cannot pretend not to know the capacity of Atiku Abubakar as a crafty politician who can go extra mile to achieve his goals,” he said.
He said the first step towards defeating the former vice president is to unite the APC and reconcile all the grievances.
The APC leader at the Senate, Ahmed Lawan, said Buhari’s three and a half years rule has not only transformed Nigeria but also won new converts into having interest in party politics.
“I want to tell you that there are so many people who, before this time, did not believe in any political party. But after seeing what President Muhammadu Buhari has done, with the little resources at his disposal across country, have now decided to give their support for President Buhari even when they don’t believe in a political party.
“So many have also told themselves that they now believe that APC is ready to bring positive change to Nigeria.”
He said APC will be selling character and integrity to Nigerians come 2019.
“I want to say that the 2019 general elections will be determined by integrity; the 2019 general elections will be determined by the history of candidates.
“We know what other candidates of the other parties were before; we know what they didn’t do for us; we know what they did to Nigeria, in the area of destroyng Nigeria. They privatised our common patrimony; they sold everything that was government to themselves; and they also intend, if they come back, God forbids, to sell the remaining things to themselves.
“We are not going to accept this; President Muhammadu Buhari never desires or intends to do anything like that. What ever he does is for the interest of Nigeria; whatever he does is for the future of Nigeria.
“And we believe that Nigerians know this facts and therefore we don’t have to do so much in the area of campaign.”
The host governor, Muhammed Abubakar of Bauchi, said Bauchi in particular and the North-east in general is the political and electoral home of President Buhari. But he sent out a word of warning for the party not to underestimate the “cunny” ways of the former vice president.
“We all know him very well and we must not take him for granted”, he said.