Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu
By Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja
The All Progressives Congress (APC) has said there are no ill-feelings between the two former leaders of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) and Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), General Muhammadu Buhari and Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
Speaking in an interview with THISDAY, the Interim national publicity secretary of APC, Alhaji Lai Muhammed, described stories about misunderstanding between Buhari and Tinubu as erroneous and mischievous.
Against the background of reports of a possible clash of interests among the leaders of APC, the party's spokesman said under the new dispensation everyone will be made to abide by the constitution of the party.
"The alleged frosty relationship between the two former leaders of CPC and ACN Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu and General Muhammadu Buhari exists only in the imagination of the peddlers of the rumour. Absolutely, their relationship cannot be more cordial as it is at present, " he said.
Buhari's believed ambition to run for president is said to be at variance with an earlier understanding that he and the former Lagos State governor, regarded as principal promoters of the merger arrangement that gave birth to the APC, would forgo elective office in order to give the new party what an APC source called a "semblance of a new beginning".
It was reasoned that their quest for office could polarise the party. But Buhari a few days ago said he would abide by whatever decision the party takes with regard to his suspected presidential bid. “My decision will be tied to the constitution of the APC. If the party chooses me as its candidate, I will contest; if they do not consider me, I will not contest but I will still support the party.
"My decision to run for 2015 will solely be the party’s decision,” he said.
Despite the non-committal nature of Buhari's statement, it offers yet an implicit indication that he will run in 2015.
He offered a similarly vague response some months back when he said he would forgo his ambition to run for a record fourth time if a better candidate emerged in APC. “I am willing to step down if there is a formidable and better candidate than me. It is not about me but for the survival of the party.
"APC is about ensuring internal democracy, whoever emerges is the person I will support. Yes, I will be ready to step down,” he said in Minna at the maiden edition of the Sam Nda-Isaiah Annual Lecture Series.
But despite the apparent discomfiture the yet unconfirmed bid is stirring, there is no doubt that Buhari remains the candidate to beat in APC.
"Our earlier thinking was that the two leaders, (referring to Buhari and Tinubu should provide leadership for the new party and groom an acceptable candidate that will beat PDP’s Goodluck Jonathan, because from all indications, the PDP will present him," the source told THISDAY.
The APC spokesman dismissed the impression that the two opposition leaders are in disagreement, insisting that their relationship remained cordial and that the issue of who emerges the APC flag bearer has yet to be decided.
" They are euphoric, they speak to one another and they are working together but in the imagination of some people there is war, that is what they thrive on," he said.
On when the party will elect substantive leaders, Muhammed said the process will begin "with the mobilization and registration of members which will lead to congresses at the ward, local government and state levels culminating in the holding of a national convention where leaders of APC will emerge".
He said there will be no imposition of candidates or any short-cut for any aspirant in the contest.
According to Muhammed, contestants aspiring for positions in the party must be ready to go through the internal democratic structures of the party to emerge as a candidate.
"Clearly the issue of mobilization of membership and preparations for the governorship elections in Anambra state will be uppermost in the agenda of the party. Also the senatorial bye-election in Delta will be in the front burner of discussions at the meetings of the party, " he added.