There appears to be no end in sight to the intrigues heralding the presidential primary of the All Progressives Congress (APC) slated for December, as the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Aminu Tambuwal, who recently joined the party, has jettisoned his governorship bid and picked up presidential nomination and expression of interest forms.
By this development, however, Tambuwal may have complicated the race for the likes of former military Head of State, Major-General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd), former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar, Kano State Governor, Rabiu Kwankwaso, and the Publisher of Leadership Newspapers, Sam Nda-Isaiah.
Tambuwal, who on Monday picked up his forms, was believed to have been motivated by the growing clamour within the power blocs in the APC for a game changer who could be presented to the Nigerian people, signalling a departure from the veterans and early starters in the presidential race.
Before this development, the duo of Buhari and Atiku had remained the frontrunners in the presidential race, while Kwankwaso and Nda-Isaiah were deemed the dark horses.
But with Tambuwal throwing his hat into the ring, the niggling issue of who would end up with the presidential ticket of the APC may have changed significantly.
Tambuwal, party sources informed THISDAY, should not be dismissed as a lightweight as the likes of former Lagos State Governor and a National Leader of the party, Senator Bola Tinubu, may be favourably disposed to his emergence.
Although Buhari is still the frontrunner in the race despite Tambuwalâ€™s entry, his major undoing however remains his alleged religious extremism, even though this is a misconception that has gained currency over time.
Owing to the perception of his alleged religious disposition, the Buhari candidacy could pose a serious challenge that might affect the chances of the main opposition party at the general election, hence the new thinking in the party that a presidential candidate other than Buhari be fielded.
This notwithstanding, Buhari is believed to still boast of unalloyed support within the APC hierarchy, especially amongst the governors. Some of those believed to be pushing for his candidacy include Governors Chibuike Amaechi of Rivers State and Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun State as well as former Kwara State Governor, Senator Bukola Saraki, among others believed to be funding his campaign.
Atiku, unlike Buhari, does not seem to have as much support among the governors but might be banking on his personal resources should a primary where delegates are allowed to vote take place as opposed to a consensus arrangement which is Buhariâ€™s preference.
Whilst he does not carry the kind of religious baggage that seems the lot of Buhari, his candidacy does not also seem to catch the fancy of the top players in the APC hierarchy.
Kwankwaso, on the other hand, is unmistakably the candidate of former President Olusegun Obasanjo, who is believed to share in the sentiments of the opposition party, even though he remains a nominal member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Kwankwasoâ€™s support base in the APC is generally considered weak as far as the presidential primary is concerned, even though he is believed to command a cult-like following in his Kano State and possibly one or two governors on his side.
Coming down to Nda-Isaiah, he is no doubt a lone-ranger, itching to cash in on the religious tag that the party has battled lately.
According to observers, Nda-Isaiah is of the view that for the APC to upturn the religious tag that has been levelled against it, it would need a Christian candidate like him to face President Goodluck Jonathan in the 2015 general election.
It is against this backdrop that the Tambuwal option is being mooted by a few of the leaders in the APC. But for the Tambuwal candidacy to fly, it would have to be sold and accepted by a few of the camps within the APC, some of which are insisting that a governor must be on the ticket, either as the presidential candidate or as running mate.
But already, there are strong indications that if Tambuwal secures the push, it could get the backing of Tinubu and even Buhari, both of whom may not mind the change in the larger interest of the party.
In fact, Tambuwal, sources said, met with Buhari last Friday to compare notes before picking the form on Monday.
Tambuwal, who is billed to submit his form today or before the end of the week, is also said to have met with other presidential candidates, meetings which afforded him the opportunity to intimate them on his intention and the need to work together as one family in the nationâ€™s interest.
Sources believe it was as a result of this emerging scenario that the party could not fix a specific date for its congresses where delegates will emerge.