Some of the notable leaders who spoke with Sunday Independent were of the opinion that a Buhari candidature would guarantee a lot of things, which include massive support from the Northwest and Northeast, because, according to them, most people in the North still see him as the messiah and would go out en masse to vote for him any day. They also said Buhari is perhaps the only person that has qualities that are antithetical to anyone the PDP would bring forth. This, according to them, would give the voters an alternative that would be favourable to the opposition party.
It was also gathered that the leaders are mindful of the effects a rancorous primary would have on the party and are doing everything to avoid it.
One of the leaders from the Middle Belt even said that Buhari is not only one of the leaders in the country who is not corrupt and have lived above board, he is also a unifying figure within the party.
The major headache of the party today, however, is how to conduct a credible and transparent primary in which Buhari will emerge the clear winner.
Sources said the party leadership is being very conscious that Nigerians are watching its nomination process, as a litmus test of whether or not the party will respect its own constitution and shame it’s traducers, is committed to a credible and transparent nomination process.
To this end, it was gathered that the leadership has urged all Buhari’s sympathisers within the party to redouble their efforts to ensure that he wins the Presidential ticket
in a democratic manner.
“You can only envisage what would happen if the party failed to field Buhari. Remember that there are many people who joined the APC because of Buhari and they are ready to do everything for him.
“So, it’s something we have to manage very well. In fact, I can tell you emphatically that the unity of the party would be greatly affected if Buhari is not picked as our presidential candidate,” said the source, who craved anonymity because the party did not authorise him to speak on the matter.
Another party leader in a phone call from Abuja went out of his way to explain why the party would be better placed to field Buhari.
He said the leaders were well aware of the tag of a serial presidential loser placed on Buhari due to his inability to win previous elections, adding however that 2015 would be different, because of the increasing dynamics of the presidential race and the determination of APC leaders to forgo their personal interests to that of the party.
He said even though there are other presidential hopefuls in the party that are being speculated to have an ambition, like the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal, and the Kano State governor, Rabiu Kwankwaso, he however said that the party cannot afford to take a gamble in presenting an electable candidate that can defeat the PDP.
His words: “With Buhari, we are already sure of 16 million votes; and if you look at the current spread of our party’s configuration in the country, we are going to do well in the Northwest, Northeast, North-central and very well in the Southwest.
“The only problem we are likely to have is the Southeast. The Southsouth is going to be keenly contested because of the twin-factors of Governor Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State and the Rivers State governor, Rotimi Amaechi, who are top contenders for the Vice-Presidency.
“Apart from this, don’t forget that Buhari has cult followership in the North and that he lost many of states in 2011 because he did not manage the nomination process of the candidates well.
“This time around, the APC is ready to exploit these advantages in our bid to defeat President Goodluck Jonathan.”
However, this implicit endorsement of the 71-year-old former Head of State by the APC leaders has not stopped former Vice-President, Atiku Abubakar, Speaker Tambuwal and Governor Kwankwaso from strategising for the plum job and animating their structures.
It was gathered that even though they might not openly challenge Buhari if he decided to contest, they are not however unmindful of eventualities that could prop up their candidature before the primaries.
Sources within the party said the three contenders have formed committees and have been holding series of meeting across the country for an eventual entrance into the presidential race.
Meanwhile, substantive National Leaders of the APC are to emerge at the National Convention of the party slated for May 24.
The convention will be preceded by Ward Congresses on April 5, Local Government Congresses on April 12l and State Congresses on April 23.
The party will also not adopt zoning formula in deciding the occupiers of the offices, preferring however, to leave it open and allow people who are interested in any particular position vie for it.