Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (rtd), and former Lagos State governor, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu
From Chuks Okocha in Abuja
A new alignment aimed at fostering a strong political relationship between the North and the South-west ahead of 2015 election is underway, THISDAY can reveal.
The initiative seeks to consolidate on the talks between former head of state, Major-General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd), and former Lagos State governor, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.
With this arrangement, the North seems to be moving away from its traditional political ally, the South-east, to South-west.
Under the plan, which is yet unfolding, some Northern leaders aggrieved within the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and chieftains of Buhari’s Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) are moving to team up with leaders of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), who are at present controlling South-west politics, to form the proposed alliance.
It was learnt that some of the Northern leaders are working on the theory that President Goodluck Jonathan would contest the 2015 presidential election on the platform of PDP and pick the ticket.
And in the event of that likelihood, they are moving to create a crisis in PDP in order to weaken the platform for Jonathan.
Sources said there had been series of meetings among the political leaders across the board to faciliate the new alignment.
Such new thinking was said to have informed the talks last Thursday in Kaduna between Buhari, the CPC candidate in the April 2011 presidential election, and Tinubu, the ACN national leader.
At the meeting, which held at Buhari’s residence in Kaduna, the duo and some of their associates allegedly deliberated on the new alignment.
Tinubu had told journalists in Kaduna after the meeting that the duo were working towards presenting a common front to tackle the PDP in the next election.
According to sources close to the ongoing talks, leaders of the CPC, ACN, the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) and other smaller opposition political parties will team up with the aggrieved PDP members to form a formidable platform to produce a single presidential candidate.
One of the several sources who spoke with THISDAY said “meetings are ongoing and the consensus is emerging that there would be no need to fight on the platform of PDP because the ticket would be taken by President Jonathan.”
He said:“Certainly, the PDP will give the presidential ticket to President Jonathan and this will spark off series of crisis within the party with some of the aggrieved members moving to join the new platform, which will comprise CPC, ACN and ANPP.
“We are not thinking of PDP and there is every likelihood that none of the present platforms would be the one to be used in 2015 to confront Jonathan.”
The source, however, said a new political understanding is already emerging between the North and South-west.
“By the North and South-west, we are talking of four out of the six geo-political zones,” the source said, adding that the South-east and South-south may come into the new alignment, provided they will agree to fit into the already agreed to framework of engagement..
THISDAY gathered that some PDP governors particularly from the North are privy to the new game plan but there are still moves to ensure that more of the governors buy into the plan.
The source said the governors would still remain active members of PDP, but “their body and soul” would be with the new alignment.
“We have entered into discussions with them and it is not expected that they will leave PDP now. No, they will continue with the party, continue with all the plans and report back to the new initiative,” the source explained.
Prodded to name the governors involved in this game, the source said, “ It is against the spirit of the strategy, but be rest assured that the PDP platform or the political platforms around now may not necessarily matter in the political game plan.
“Take your clue from what happened in Senegal and Ghana recently where the incumbent was defeated. This is surely going to happen in Nigeria this time round,” he explained.
Former Governors FormPressure Group
Worried by the disturbing state of the polity and in a deliberate bid to have bi-partisan approach to some fundamental issues and challenges facing the country, some former state governors in civilian regimes dating back to the Second Republic have regrouped under the aegis of Former Governors Forum (FGF).
It emerged like a counterpoise group to the Nigerian Governors’ Forum which comprises serving governors in the country.
The enlarged caucus of the group that met at the weekend in Abuja had the national chairmen of the three leading political parties in the country who are former governors as members.
They include the National Chairman of the Peoples' Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Bamanga Tukur; that of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), Chief Bisi Akande and their All Nigeria Peoples' Party (ANPP) counterpart, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu.
Tukur was the governor of old Gongola State in the Second Republic, Akande governed Osun State in the first term of the ongoing Fourth Republic, while Onu was the governor of Abia State during the aborted Third Republic.
The chairman of the forum, Senator Jim Nwobodo, said the group was formed to enable them to continue to render services for the unity and development of the country.
"We felt that it would be better to organise an all-embracing elected former governors from 1979 when presidential and governorship elections were held at both federal and state levels till date. Every former governor who was approached showed interest and applauded the idea,” he said.
He said there was no doubt that the forum would have a number of eminent Nigerians if well-harnessed, noting that it would be of tremendous advantage to the country .
Nwobodo said: “As patriotic and very responsible citizens of this country who have been in the helms of affairs of all federating units of this country, we owe it a duty to our people to contribute our quota by way of advice for the good governance, development and well-being of our country. There is no other avenue more suited than coming together, reminiscing about the past and contributing to the present circumstances.
“This forum will give us the much-needed opportunity to come together to have bi-partisan approach to some serious and fundamental issues and challenges facing our country and proffer solutions irrespective of political divides and ideological leaning”.
Former governors that attended the meeting included Alhaji Lawan Kaita, Alhaji Balarabe Musa, Alhaji Saidu Barda, Prince Abubakar Audu and Senator Abdullahi Adamu.
Others were Mr. Bonnie Haruna, Dr. Chinwoke Mbadinuju, Dr. Okwesilieze Nwodo, Senator Ahmed Makarfi, Chief Olusegun Agagu, and Mr. Wilberforce Juta.