Ahead of their declaration for the All Progressives Congress (APC)’s presidential ticket for the February 14 election, analysts say that the main opposition political party will likely face its toughest challenge in deciding who to choose between the two major contenders for the post.
The pundits further say that the politicians’ ambitions would test the party’s principle of neutrality.
Muhammadu Buhari, a former military head of state and one of the founders of the APC, and Atiku Abubakar, a former vice president, have both declared their intentions to stand election on the APC platform in February 2015.
Abiodun Adetunji-Oyebolu, a former chairman of the defunct All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) Lagos State, now a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC), said: “The greatest problem facing the party now is how to select the Presidential flag bearer from the number of those aspiring to be president of the country.”
Adetunji, a former chairman of Surulere Local Government, who expressed optimism that APC would conduct credible and rancour-free primaries, warned that the party must be careful not to jeopardise the opportunity by fielding a wrong candidate.
“The victory of APC in the next Presidential election will be determined by the choice of its presidential candidate,” he said.
Chris Okebugwu, a legal practitioner, who spoke with BusinessDay, said it would be a deciding moment for the opposition party, particularly because of the interests the contenders represent in the party.
“Straightaway, anybody that has been following the politics in APC would have noted that the party has been silent on who flies its flag.
“On several occasions I have listened to some leaders of the party say that there would be no interference on the choice of its presidential candidate. But, look at it this way: General Buhari is a founding member of the party, having given up his party, Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), and Atiku Abubakar, a former vice president, is just a new comer to the party.
“Something tells me that it is not likely that the leadership of the party will just give Atiku the ticket. But again, the party may also be weary of giving it to Buhari who had contested for the position three times.
“ I just don’t know. The party may find itself at a crossroads, and any mistake may finish it off. It is a dicey thing,” Okebugwu said.
A policy analyst, who craved anonymity, said there would be many considerations in the selection process.
“Politics is all about horse-trading. The two major contenders have their selling points which nobody can take away from them. Talk about General Buhari, he is a man of integrity and a gentleman to the core, that’s not saying Atiku is not.
“On the other hand, in terms of cash, Atiku is formidable. So, if the APC is looking for a person that can fund his campaign from day one, the former vice president fits the bill. Don’t forget also that he has the ears of many former and incumbent governors.
“My advice for the leadership of APC is to shop for a person that will be sellable to the Nigerian electorate, not just to members of the party.