Many believe that next years presidential election will determine the future of the fledgling country. Thus, the dies is cast between the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) an the All Progressives Congress (APC). Already, the PDP has endorsed President Goodluck Jonathan and he has accepted to run. Today, about 7,000 APC delegates will elect its presidential candidate at the primaries billed for the Teslim Balogun Stadium, Surulere, Lagos. Five aspirants are competing for the ticket. They are former Head of State Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, Kano State Governor Rabiu kwankwaso and his Imo State counterpart, Owelle Rochas Okorocha, and Leadership Newspaper publisher Nda-Isaiah. The winner will face President Jonathan at the poll.IssuesPresident Goodluck Jonathan is leaning on the power of incumbency. But, the core North, which is insisting on the unwritten zoning or rotational principle, is mobilising against his candidature. Two groups-the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) and the Northern Elders Forum (NEF), led by Prof. Ango Abdullahi, are mobilising against his candidature. Instructively, the four out of five presidential aspirants on the platform of the APC are from the North. The presence of Okorocha in the race may suggest that the APC has not zone the slot to any region.Next years presidential election will also be a battle of ego. Some critics have accused Dr. Jonathan of desperation. Since former military Head of State Gen. Muhammadu Buhari declared his presidential ambition, the reality has dawned on the President that he has a major challenger. A source said that the crowd of supporters at the Eagle Square was intimidating to the PDP. The fear is that, if the APC can put its house in order and there is no post-primary crisis, the party will give the PDP a tough battle.Litmus testAccording to the PDP, Nigeria requires continuity. Its National Chairman, Alhaji Adamu Muazu, said another four years for President Jonathan will give him an opportunity for the consolidation of his Transformation Agenda. Many Nigerians do not share this view. But, to abort the ruling partys dream for continuity, the onus is on the opposition to field an attractive candidate, who can match him at the poll. The candidate must be a tested and trusted leader, who is capable of restoring hope and building public confidence in government. According to observers, Nigerians want an opposition flag bearer who will revive the economy, halt insecurity, provide jobs and defend other sectors.The presidential aspirants are on the weighing scale. Eyes are on two of them-Buhari and Abubakar. Actually, the Turaki Adamawa defected from the PDP to the APC to revive his presidential ambition. In the last few months, both Buhari and Abubakar have been on the tour of the country for consultation with his stakeholders. On the field, the former Vice President is more aggressive. But, former President Olusegun Obasanjos remarks about his suitability for the exalted position may have affected public perception about his ambition. The former leader was full of bile when he explained why he could not hand over to his former deputy at a lecture in Ibadan last year.Ethnicity and religionThe task of selecting a presidential candidate without blemish is challenging. In the APC, there are two strands of opinion that may shape the presidential nomination. A section of the party is pushing for generational shift, claiming that the job of the President nowadays is very rigorous. They believe that young, dynamic, brilliant, credible and fertile minds are better equipped for the rigour. But, another section is of the view that the criteria should exclude age, adding that merit, antecedents, credibility and public record of an aspirant should be considered. Buhari is over 70. Atiku is almost 70.APC chieftain in Ondo State Hon. Bola Ilori, said that age is not an issue. He said: Ajasin became the governor of Ondo State in 1979 at 70. He performed more than governors who were in their forties and fifties. It is about vision and character.In 2015, three factors are also important. For political expediency, the parties will be responding to pressures and constraints imposed by religion, ethnicity and contradiction within the parties. But, in todays primaries, religion is a non-issue. Three aspirants-Buhari, Abubakar and Kwakwanso- are Muslims. Nda-Isaiah and Okorocha are Christians. But, after the emergence of the candidate, the choice of the running mate may be determined by religion.It is gradually becoming a norm that, if a Muslim from the North is the presidential candidate of any major party, his running mate will be a Christian from the South and vice versa. This, analysts contend, has become a stumbling block to merit. Instructively, pairing two people from the religious divides together for presidential elections is not a guarantor of good governance. The potency of religious balance is also debatable. In 1993, the defunct Social Democratic Party (SDP) Muslim/Muslim ticket of the late Alhaji Moshood Abiola and Alhaji Baba Gana Kingibe defeated the National Republican Convention (NRC) Muslim/ Christian ticket of Alhaji Othma Tofa and Sylvester Ugoh.Buhari has said that politics should not be shaped by religion, adding that he was prepared for a Muslim-Muslim ticket. But, Obasanjo, who is opposed to his presidential ambition, said in a statement that religion is an important issue, urging the members of the political class to be sensitive.Internal democracyAhead of the primaries, there were two dominant views on how the presidential candidate of the APC should emerge. A section has called for consensus candidacy to prevent the tension and confusion triggered by primaries. In their opinion, post-primary crisis is inimical to the health of the opposition platform. If consensus has been considered, Buhari will be the beneficiary.Those opposed to consensus are rooting for democratic primaries. To them, this is the key to internal democracy, But, it appears that critics and party leaders have divergent views about what constitutes internal democracy. Abubakars campaign manager Dr. Babalola Borisade told reporters in Lagos that consensus could limit the power of free choice, adding that only few party chieftains can only be involved. He said a primary election is better because it appears more democratic.But, there are still outstanding issues. Borisade pointed out that the status of delegates from some states has to be determined. He said elected local government functionaries, who are part of the statutory delegates, are not in place in these states. He said he hoped that the matter would be resolved at the meeting of Planning Committee members and campaign organisations before the primaries.AspirantsBuhariHe is now an experienced politician. He is a statesman. He is an incorruptible figure in a society that has produced many soldiers of fortune. Buhari fought gallantly on the federal side during the civil war. Shortly, after the war, he became the governor of the defunct Northeastern State. When the late Gen. Muritala Muhammed became the Head of State, Buhari was appointed as the Federal Commissioner for Petroleum Resources and Chairman of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC). In the Second Republic, he was the General officer Commanding (GOC), Third Armoured Division, Jos. On December 31, 1983, Buhari became the Head of State.The former Head of State had a mission. He wanted to get rid of corruption. He also wanted to restore public discipline. Thus, he stepped on toes. Buhari presided over an administration that intended to return Nigeria to his glorious past. He paid the national debt and ensure that the nation did not incur a new debt. Many corrupt politicians were tried for graft. He also restored national security, which had been threatened by the rising wave of armed robbery. In running the country, he was assisted by a diligent deputy, the late Gen. Tunde idiagbon. Although the regime was accused of high handedness, it was undeterred in its focus and mission to enforce discipline and public morality. However, he was toppled in August 1985. Buhari was in detention for almost two years. In retirement, he led a quite life. When he became the Chairman of the Petroleum Tax Fund (PTF), he fought infrastructure battle nationwide without enriching himself.The Daura-born soldier-turned politician is a veteran presidential candidate. In 2003, Buhari joined the fray. Obasanjo government had started to drift. He contested for the Presidency in that year under the platform of the All Nigerian Peoples Congress (ANPP). He lost his deposit. In 2007, he also contested against YarAdua, but without success. But, the former President later confessed that the poll was severely flawed. In 2011, Buhari also tried his luck on the platform of the defunct Congress for Progressive Change (CPC). He lost to President Jonathan. However, owing to his influence, voters voted out the PDP in Kano, Nasarawa states. Buhari has a mass appeal. Many look up to the General for leadership in the North.Reality had dawned on Buhari that, unless the opposition figures work together to change the government, the ruling party will continue to mismanage the affairs of the country. Therefore, his party, the CPC, the ACN, the ANPP and a section of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) merged together in the APC. It was a great sacrifice made in the national interest.Buhari has not jettisoned his ambition to return to power. But, for him, it is not a do or die affair. His primary goal, according to his associates, is the repositioning of the country. To him, the PDP has failed to make impact 14 years after. It is not about me, it is about the nation. We need change in 2015. APC will rule this country and bring that change, he said.Prominent Northern elite are opposed to his ambition. To them, Buhari is his own man. He may not be able to condone indiscipline. But, the masses are rooting for him. When he declared for the President, the crowd that attended his declaration ceremony sent the Presidency and the PDP jittery. It was not a rented crowd. In 2011, when he ran on the platform of the CPC, the General polled over 12 million votes.The presidential poll results since 2003 confirmed Buhari as a political heavyweight and a politician with cult following by the northern masses. In 2003, running under the banner of the defunct ANPP, Buhari polled 12,710, 022 votes (32.19%) to ex-President Olusegun Obasanjos 24, 456,140 (61.94%), who was the PDPs candidate. In 2007 election, he got 6,605, 299 votes compared to the PDP candidate, the late President Umaru YarAduas 24,638,063. The late YarAdua later admitted that the 2007 election was severely flawed. In fact, the battle shifted from the ballot box to the court. As the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) candidate in 2011, he got 12, 214, 853 votes. He was defeated by Jonathan, who got 22, 495, 187 votes.Buhari has a name to protect. He is a man of discipline, principle and highly incorruptible. He has shunned opulence and dedicated his life to the war against graft in words and deeds. As a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, he rendered proper accounts. a man without blemish, he has been described by Obasanjo, under whom he served as minister, as incorruptible. In power, he is also a performer. As the Chairman of the defunct Petroleum Task Fund (PTF), he executed many projects which impacted on the country.Buhari is also a good soldier. Many believe that his experience in security matters will assist the country in its search for durable solutions to the menace of Boko Haram. In 1980, he kept the Maitatsine insurgency at bay as the Commander of the Third Armoured Division. His men fought them to a standstill. The insurgents were pursued as far as Chad. Former President Shehu Shagari was alarmed when he learnt that Buharis troops almost invaded Chad without his permission. But, the ministers explained to him that the gallant soldier was bubbling with patriotic passion for the defense of the territorial integrity of Nigeria.The General has his weaknesses too. He has the ill-luck of being labelled by political foes as a religious bigotThus, they alleged that his influence is ethnic-based. To correct the wrong impression, he has released some facts about his private life. For example, Buharis cook, driver and personal aides in the last 40 years have been Christians. But, his perception as an Islamic fundamentalist has been exploited by the PDP to whip more sentiments against his candidature. The stigma has coloured the Souths perception of the former Head of State.But, Buhari is a man of the masses. They see him as their natural liberator. He looks like the symbol of the masses. On public welfare, he has a strong opinion. Since he has not in any way contributed to the political and economic adversity of the country, he has a natural alliance with the down-trodden. However, Buhari is not a giant of history in the mould of the founding fathers. He is not a member of the intellectual class. He is not a rich businessman and investor. His trade mark is contentment. Buharis profile got a boost recently when his associates won the governorship primaries in Katsina and Nasarawa satates.Many are actually looking beyond the primaries. If Buhari wins, he needs a sort of adjustment education that will make him to embrace the fact of democratic life and imperative of compromise, necessary flexibility, consensus building and utter sensitivity to divergent views in democracy.KwakwansoKwankwano made history in the Third Republic when he emerged as the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives. He was a chieftain of the defunct Social Democratic Party (SDP). A grassroots operator, he is a household name in Kano State. His group, the Kwankwasia movement, is waxing strong. In 1999, he became the governor of the state. But, he was defeated by his rival, Alhaji Ibrahim Shekarau of the defunct ANPP, who ruled for eight years. Between 2003 and 2007, Kwankwaso served as the Minister of Defence. He bounced back in 2011, when he was re-elected as the governor. It is believed that the governor has performed and there were indications that he was being encouraged to declare a presidential interest before he called it quits with the PDP.Kwankwaso is among the five PDP governors, who defected to the APC. The fact that many big wigs, including state and federal legislators, followed him to that he has a large following. He is today a national leader of the party.Among those rooting for him is Obasanjo. As the former Minister of Defence, he has the knowledge of the military. But, despite his popularity in Kano, it may be hard to sell his candidature to other zones.Born in 1956 in Kwankwaso Village in Madobi Local Government Area of Kano State, he was member of the 1994/95 Constitutional Conference. He is a former Presidential Special Envoy to Somalia and Darfur in 2007. He is a master strategist in Kano politics.Kwankwaso is always frank and sincere. In Kano, he is a performer. His masses-oriented projects are the legacies of his administration. His Free Feeding for Primary School Pupils earned him a United Nations (UN) recognition. Kwankwaso is devoted to the cause of accountability. He publishes the accounts of the state on weekly basis. It is to his advantage that Kano has the highest number of delegates to the primaries. Kwankwaso is not perceived as a national politician. His base is Kano. But, he is close to Obasanjo. But, the former President has not openly endorsed him. The hero of Kano politics may not have much appeal beyond the most populous state. He has friends across the country, but this cannot be easily converted into a political capital at the primaries. His Kwankwasiyya ideology is meaningful, but not beyond Kano. But, he can be described as a man of the future because age appears to be on his side.AbubakarAbubakar is another veteran presidential aspirant. He can be described as the most experienced contender. He had contested for the seat in 2007 and 2011, but lost his deposit. Had he thrown his hat into the ring in 2003, may be, the story would have been different. But, he deferred to his boss, Obasanjo, hoping to succeed him in 2007. The marriage had turned sour before the poll.In 2007, the politician from Adamawa emerged as the arrowhead of the progressives. He was the presidential flag bearer of the ACN. But, shortly after the election, he retraced his steps to the PDP. The move infuriated the ACN family. Following his return to the PDP, he visited Obasanjo in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, in a fence-mending move. But, the imaginary reconciliation did not lead to renewal of political contact between the former President and his deputy. Last year, the former President castigated him at a public lecture in Ibadan, Oyo State capital. Obasanjo explained why he refused to hand over to him. In the past, Abubakar fought some political battles, using the arsenal of the law, and he triumphed. In the PDP, Abubakar has been deliberately sidelined. He was among the aggrieved PDP chieftains who stormed out of the partys rancorous convention in Abuja to form the New PDP. Many believe that Abubakar has a towering political stature. A detribalised Nigerian, he has many friends across the country. But, majority of those rooting for him in 2007 are now mobilising for Buhari.In 1999 and 2003, he garnered 18,738,154 and 24,456,140 votes in a joint ticket with Obasanjo. But, as the ACN candidate in 2007, he got 2, 637, 848. He was more in the court fighting against his disqualification by a a tele-guided Panel of Enquiry set up by Obasanjo.Abubakar is a hardworking politician. He has earned success in politics and business. He is a good mobiliser. He is also good in the rational use of money for political ends. He has built networks across the country. One of his wives, Titi, is from Ilesa, Osun State. As the Vice President, he was the economic manager under the administration. He was the driver of the privatisation programmes. It is believed that this led to the GSM revolution in the country.The former Vice President has courted egg heads. He is versed in the ark of keeping loyal friends. But, his greatest asset is that he is perceived as a democrat. He is a believer in the rule of law and the role of the judiciary in the regulation of political behavour and relationship.However, the former number two citizen has been criticised, both objectively and subjectively. He has been branded as a corrupt politician by foes. But, he has never been found guilty of any economic or financial crime. Even when the Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF) controversy came up, he was not found culpable. Critics alleged that he had a link with a former United States congressman, William J. Jefferson, who was jailed on November 13, 2009 for $100,000 bribery. But, he Abubakar was exonerated.Abubakar is perceived as an ambitious and desperate politician. Thus, Obasanjo, who has fallen out with him, cut his wings as the Vice President. From 2005 to 2007, Abubakar became a real spare tyre. When he moved from the PDP to the AC, and later from AC to the PDP, and much later, from the PDP to the APC, he was labelled as an inconsistent politician. Critics pointed out that he is driven solely by the desire to become the President.A political wizard, Abubakar packaged himself well in 2011 when he defeated Gen. Ibrahim Babangida at the selection process anchored by Northern leaders. But, he was later defeated by Dr. Jonathan at the PDP primaries. Even, delegates from Adamawa State rejected his candidature. Last week, history repeated itself when his anointed candidate, Ibrahim Minjiyawa, was defeated at the governorship primaries by Senator Jibrilla Bindow.OkorochaOkorocha has come a long way. But, in this race, he is perceived as a comedian. This is because it is an open secret that he is interested in re-election as the governor of Imo State. He is a former Commissioner in the Federal Character Commission and a member of the defunct National Constitutional Conference. In 1999, he contested for the governorship in Imo State. But, he could not make it. He was defeated by Achike Udenwa. In 2003, he was a presidential aspirant of the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP). He failed at the primaries. When he defected to the PDP, Obasanjo appointed him as the Special Adviser on Inter-Party Affairs. In 2005 he was a chieftain of the Action Alliance (AA). Later, he defected to the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA). He realised his ambition in 2011.Okorocha has a milk of human kindness. He is a cheerful giver and a philanthropist. He has also been implementing developmental projects for the benefit of the masses. Okorocha is popular among the common people. Having grown up in the North, he speaks Hausa fluently. He is a crowd puller; vocal, charismatic and witty. According to observers, he is politically inconsistent, having traversed the PDP, the ANPP, the AA, the APGA and the APC.The governor has not taken the matter seriously, unlike Buhari and Abubkar. After declaring his ambition in Kaduna, he has limited his consultation to the pages of newspapers. In fact, there are speculations that he may step down before the commencement of voting.Nda-IsaiahBorn on May 1, 1962, Sam Nda-Isaiah, a pharmacist, was born on May 1, 1962 . He founded the Leadership Newspapers Group. He is a former member of the Daily Trust Editorial Board, the Asian think-tank and the Global Institute for Tomorrow. In 2002, he was the Deputy Director-General of Buhari Campaign Organization (BCO) on the platform of the ANPP. He was a founding member of the CPCThe aspirant is a man of conscience and principle. He is a fighter for justice. He is also a philanthropist. He is a true Nigerian. He did his National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) In Ikere-Ekiti, Ekiti State. He is a man of vision and courage.However, Nda-Isaiah is not a threat to any aspirant. His structure is weak. Critics said that he should have contested for other layers of elections before nursing a presidential ambition. Even, he may not get the majority of votes from his native Niger State. It is doubtful, if he has a deep purse to finance the project.Deciding factorsThe antecedents of the aspirants, their pedigree, and the preference of APC governors, who can swing the voted, are deciding factors. Other factors include the push for power shift by the North, the hunt for a credible candidate by the APC and external forces.There is commitment on the part of the APC stakeholders. They know that the shadow poll is a litmus test. They want to ensure a free and fair primaries to prove the point that the party can put its house in order. But, the governors and other national officers have their prefered candidates.The guardian of the process are the founding fathers, national leaders and party oficers. Those who will shape the exercise include Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, Chief Bisi Akande, National Chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, National Secretary Mai Mala Buni, Senator Bukola Saraki, former Governors Danjuma Goje, Abdullahi Adamu, Bukar Abba Ibrahim, George Akume and Sani Yerima, Speaker Aminu Tambuwal, Alh. Kawu Baraje, Chief Audu Ogbeh, Senator Shuaibu Lawan, Osun State Governor Rauf Aregbesola, his Rivers and Edo states counterparts-Rotimi Amaechi and Adams Oshiomole, ex-Governors Segun Oni and kayode Fayemi, Senator Osita Izunazo, and Alhaji Lai Mohammed.Many APC governors will play key roles in swinging votes. Some of them wants to become running mates.The post Who gets APC presidential ticket' appeared first on The Nation.]]> Click here to read full news..