Goodluck Jonathan and Muhammad Buhari during the recent Centenary celebration /State House Photo
The president is reported to be asking the Minister of Defence, Aliyu Gusau, to join his slate as candidate forthe vice-presidency.
President Goodluck Jonathan and his men are panicked about the potential of former Nigeria military leader, Muhammadu Buhari, who is seen as a very serious threat to his presidential ambitions, SaharaReporters sources said at the weekend.
The President and his political associates are particularly disturbed by the huge crowd that followed Buhari to declare his political intention at the rally of Governor Rotimi Amaechi in Port Harcourt. The event attracted a massive crowd, with Buhari making an appearance.
The panic-stricken president is also reported to be asking the Minister of Defence, Aliyu Gusau, to join his slate as candidate for the vice-presidency.
Mr. Jonathan is known to have traveled to Germany in September, on his way back from the United Nations General Assembly in New York, to visit ailing former head of state, General Ibrahim Babangida. He urged the former dictator to prevail on Gusau to accept the offer, but Gusau is said to be reticent about the proposal so far.
Jonathan is said to be extremely keen to have Gusau as his deputy to give him a good chance at the getting northern votes to counter Buhari’s popularity there. His current deputy, Namadi Sambo, is held as having no political weight anywhere in the North.
In the likelihood of Gusau turning down the offer, Mr. Jonathan and his political associates are said to be prepared to sacrifice the North to Boko Haram militants as a way of reducing the impact of the Northern vote in the election. Already, the sect controls large swathes of territory in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe States. Worse still, military commanders are fleeing from battlefronts in droves, in some cases enabling the Islamist militants to capture strategic cities and towns without resistance.
During a media chat in Nigeria in February 2014, Jonathan had betrayed his emotions in responding to the governor of Borno State, Kashim Shettima, by saying, “I will pull them (soldiers) out for one month whether he will stay in his Government House”. Several political and military analysts now say that the practice of soldiers deserting the warfront might be related to President Jonathan’s political strategy to neutralize the north during the 2014 elections.
Apart from seeking a more influential vice-president to enable him penetrate the North, Mr. Jonathan is also reaching out to several members of the All Progressives Congress (APC) to get the party to drop Buhari as its presidential candidate in favor of “younger blood”.
To the surprise of many, Jonathan and his political supporters are said to favor the emergence of the speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal as APC candidate for the presidency.
Several sources told Saharareporters that the hype about the removal of the Speaker might be deliberately designed to make him popular so as to catch the attention of the public as a viable alternative to the dreaded Buhari, who Mr. Jonathan and his political associates feel will be difficult to defeat in 2015.
Security sources across the country believe that it will be difficult to manage the uprising that would greet the election if Buhari is rigged out of power, especially in the North. To that effect, several northern traditional rulers and politicians are said to be too scared to even commit to a full-hearted support for Mr. Jonathan in the North because they fear reprisals after the elections. Jonathan’s camp is of the opinion that if Tambuwal is chosen as the APC candidate, he can be rigged out without consequence.
A presidency source told SaharaReporters that the same tactic was used to scuttle the possible loss of Adamawa by the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) recently. The source said the legal victory of Barrister Bala James Ngilari was arranged by the presidency to forestall the loss by the party in the gubernatorial election as Adamawa voters favoured the APC candidate.
Several APC leaders told SaharaReporters that the party has silently decided not to give it Presidential ticket to a former PDP person hence the decision to stick with Buhari whom they feel will give them an edge in garnering the Northern vote. They said that as things stand now, while they are not only hopeful of a majority of the votes in the North, they are also certain about sizable voting blocks in Rivers and Bayelsa States.