Nigeria News

APC: Who Wins, Who Loses?

With the Peoples Democratic Party’s (PDP) presidential candidate assured, attention has shifted to the All Progressives Congress (APC) to tidy up the loose ends pertaining to its choice of presidential candidate that would give Nigerians a clear direction as to who the party would field for next year’s election.

However, for the APC, only one road leads to Aso Rock and using the words of former United States President, Bill Clinton, during the 1992 presidential campaign in the US, APC may need to be reminded that “It’s the Candidate, Stupid!”

Essentially, what this translates into is that whoever emerges the presidential candidate of the APC is most likely to determine the party’s ability to wrest power from the ruling PDP after almost 15 years of uninterrupted rule.
In the midst of this, is the choice of vice-presidential candidate, as whoever is chosen will determine the strength of the ticket and ultimately the fate of the APC to lead at the centre.

It is against this backdrop that this special report looks not just at the presidential candidates of the APC with regards to their strengths and weaknesses, it also considers the possible running mates that the APC would most likely field. But first, the candidates:

MUHAMMADU BUHARI
A former military Head of State, Major-General Muhammadu Buhari has had his eyes on the nation’s number one seat since 2003, making the 2015 gerneral election his fourth attempt at the presidency. But despite being a veteran presidential hopeful, he remains the frontrunner in the APC. Below are some of the factors that may count both for and against him in the battle for the party’s ticket.

Strengths
• Buhari is perceived by many to be a person of integrity, a trait that has endeared him to his supporters.
• He commands a cult-like following amongst the poor and the underserved in the north.
• His strong military background in a time of rising insecurity may come in handy, given his track record of crushing the Maitatsine sect, considered the early shoots of Islamists extremism in the country.
• He has the support of some governors and the leadership of the party.

Weaknesses
• Perception of religious extremism has not abated despite efforts to correct it, and with continuing Boko Haram attacks, many Christians are simply uncomfortable with his presidency.
• Age is not on his side, though he still looks fit.
• He is weak on policy and latest global trends and will have to rely on aides who may foist on him their personal agendas.
• He is not a hands-on leader.
• After three attempts at the presidency, he still has not been able to build a support base across southern Nigeria.

AMINU TAMBUWAL

Currently the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the 48-year-old Aminu Waziri Tambuwal is the latest entrant into the presidential race on the platform of the APC, and is considered a fallback option in the event the party leadership needs to resort to Plan B. His chances of clinching the APC presidential ticket are also dependent on certain factors that could make or undo his bid for the ticket of the party.

Strengths
• He possesses youthful dexterity, which has helped him survive the rough political terrain thus far in Nigeria.
• He comes across as a promising new face for a new Nigeria.
• He boasts of a broad support base across Nigeria, especially with House members in federal constituencies across the country, a majority of whom seem to have bought into his project.
• He is scandal-free in a scandal-filled House, which could be a plus in the fight against corruption.
• As Speaker, he has shown capacity and policy experience.
• He is riding on a crest of popularity after the PDP-led government’s attempt to oust him as speaker and withdrawal of his security aides.

Weaknesses
• He has no national name recognition.
• He also has no track record of having governed any entity other than the House.
• He plays politics of convenience by switching from one party to the other. He has so far moved from the ANPP to PDP and now APC, and has used this to get his way all the time.

ATIKU ABUBAKAR

With two attempts at the presidency, former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar, like Buhari, has become a perennial presidential candidate. Although he brings a lot of experience to the table, possesses the strength and understanding of the workings of government, securing the ticket of his party will not be smooth sail for him, as he has a host of other formidable personalities to contend with. Expectedly, his chances though bright, are dependent on a number of factors.

Strengths
• He is the most prepared for the presidency because of his experience, especially as a former vice-president who has been involved in policy formulation and execution.
• He has broad-based national support and name recognition.
• He has a huge war chest and boasts of financial independence.
• He has deep political experience and networking

Weaknesses
• The perception of corruption is abiding and despite efforts to correct this, it has stuck.
• He has vested interests in many businesses.
• APC leadership may be uncomfortable with his financial independence.
• He may have been damaged by former President Olusegun Obasanjo and former Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mallam Nuhu Ribadu.

RABIU KWANKWASO

The outgoing Governor of Kano State comes to the turf with experience, support and a track record of having served creditably. But the presidential ticket, as it is with others, would not be served on a platter, hence his chances are contingent on his pros and cons.

Strengths
• He has broad experience having been Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Minister of Defence and a two-term governor of Nigeria’s second largest state.
• He boasts of very strong leadership skills.
• Age is on his side.
• He has learnt his lessons from his loss of the governorship in 2003, which humbled and returned him as a comeback kid.
• He is everyone’s Plan B because they all see him as a compromise candidate.
• He may enjoy the support of governors, who are insisting that one of them must be on the ticket as presidential candidate or running mate.
• He also boasts of cross-party appeal as well as the support of Obasanjo.
• He has electoral advantage with a strong base in populous Kano.

Weaknesses
• He is deemed stubborn and uncompromising.
• He has no national support-base and name recognition.
• He is perceived as largely regional.

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