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ACN/CPC merger: Parties may ask Buhari to drop 2015 bid

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Gen. Mohammed Buhari

Former head of state and Congress for Progressive Change presidential candidate in the 2011 election, Maj.-Gen. Mohammadu Buhari (retd.) may drop his presidential ambition in 2015, as part of ongoing merger negotiations between his party and the Action Congress of Nigeria.

Saturday PUNCH’s investigations showed that although the CPC and the ACN had not begun full discussions, there was an initial understanding that the leadership of both parties must be ready to make personal sacrifices for the success of the merger plan.

An influential member of one of the parties involved in the negotiations told Saturday PUNCH on Thursday that such a personal sacrifice might include asking Buhari and the ACN National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, to drop their ambitions in 2015.

After the 2011 elections, Buhari had said that he would not run for the office of the President again, having failed to win the election three times.

But during the inauguration of the CPC merger committee in Abuja on January 16, the former head of state said that the ongoing merger talks by the major opposition political parties would determine if he would run for president in 2015.

Although Tinubu has not declared any presidential ambition for 2015, there have been reports that he may run on a joint ticket with Buhari.

It was gathered that the merger partners had started working on another plan, if Buhari and Tinubu were barred from contesting.

This is based on the fear that unless the duo forgo any 2015 ambition, the merger plan might fail.

They would be prevailed upon to step aside for a younger and progressive person, the source said.

It was learnt also that the parties were looking beyond their membership for such a candidate.

A chieftain of one of the parties, who pleaded anonymity, said, “Nothing is rigid for now. All parties in the merger plan are going into the talks as equals. Leaders of the parties are ready to make personal sacrifices.
“Buhari is not going into the talks with a mindset that he must contest the 2015 poll. If after the merger, the majority in the party says he will not contest, he will drop his ambition. Leadership of the parties, including Buhari, are ready to put aside their personal ambitions.

“We are looking at a situation where Buhari or Tinubu would not be able to contest. We do not have anybody in mind now, but our search is not restricted to our members.

“We are looking for a progressively-minded and mature person. This is not in terms of age. Such a person can be a technocrat, who is well- experienced in the politics of the country, not somebody, who will start learning on the job.”

Both parties have already disagreed on the exclusion of the All Nigeria Peoples Party from the merger.

It was gathered that while Buhari believed that the ANPP should be excluded from the merger, the ACN thought otherwise.

The CPC and its presidential candidate believe that there are some PDP moles in the ANPP, who might thwart the proposed merger.

The ACN thought that to give the mega party a national outlook, the ANPP should be included.

It was learnt that the ACN was making moves to bring the All Progressives Grand Alliance into the merger talks, to ensure that the mega party makes an inroad into the South-East.

When contacted, the CPC spokesman, Mr. Rotimi Fashakin, justified the exclusion of some politicians from the merger talks.

He said, “Undoubtedly, we are getting to the stage where the wheat shall be separated from the chaff. The real progressives shall flock together leaving those with a penchant for reactionary politics to intermingle with the PDP.

“The strength and determination of the merging parties cannot be vitiated by the deceptive politicking of the PDP.”

On the non-inclusion of Buhari’s running mate, Pastor Tunde Bakare, in the CPC merger committee, Fashakin said that there was no quarrel between the duo.
Fashakin said, “What we did was to say no member of our Board of Trustees will be in the merger committee.

“In fact, both leaders agreed to this. If you look at the 18-member committee, there is no member of our BoT among them.

“Anyone insinuating that there is a quarrel between them is halucinating.”
His ACN counterpart, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said, “The merger partners are determined to make the alliance work in order to salvage Nigeria from the misrule of the PDP.”

Bakare, had in an interview with Saturday PUNCH last week, said, “But I realised recently when the ACN said the PDP is a party of rogues and thieves and criminals, the PDP replied that there are more criminals in the ACN than the PDP and there was no response thereafter. I read all that in the newspapers. If there is going to be a merger, between who and who-between rogues and criminals? Can light and darkness co-exist?”


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