By Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja
The All Progressives Congress (APC) has finalised arrangements to embark on one-month intensive national campaign to woo the electorate for the February 16 presidential election.
Ahead of the campaign, the Chairman of the Board of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Senator Ndoma Egba, has said the electoral chances of President Muhammed Buhari in Cross River State appears very positive based on the current dynamics of politics in the South-south zone
According to the election time-table released by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), parties are expected to end their presidential/National Assembly campaigns on February 14 and governorship campaigns on February 28.
THISDAY gathered that both the party and the presidency have been meeting in the past few days to agree on the strategies for funding and logistics.
A top member of the yet-to-be inaugurated APC Presidential Campaign Council, who confided in THISDAY, revealed that barring any last minute change in his campaign itinerary, President Muhammadu Buhari is most likely to flag-off his campaign for the North-west zone in Kano State.
An APC chieftain who does not want his name mentioned, also said the Presidency has moved in to try and resolve political differences in Kano APC chapter, especially the dispute that led to the defection of former governor, Senator Rabiu Kwakwanso.
On the continued delay in kick-starting presidential campaign, the source said the party is being tactical by waiting to resolve a number of critical issues before rolling out its national campaigns.
He said: “The difference is simple; as you know we are highly experienced in this issue of election and contesting election. We understand what it means to win and lose election,” he said.
The source said the president is particularly interested in making sure that his Northwest political base is intact and is ready to make concessions in order to ensure that the campaign launch in Kano is a resounding success.
According to the source, some level of success is being recorded in the reconciliation efforts between the Kano State Governor, Abdullahi Ganduje, and his former boss, which led to last week’s return of key Kwakwanso loyalists to APC fold.
Ongoing reconciliation of aggrieved party faithfuls has been one of the factors said to be affecting the commencement of APC’s campaign, although the leadership has continued to deny the existence of any hindrance to its campaigns.
Also THISDAY learnt that the handlers of the president’s campaign and the party are also weighing the consequences of rolling out national campaigns at a period the public universities and polytechnics are shut down following strike action by industrial unions and another threat of nationwide industrial action by the organised labour still unresolved.
“The Presidency considers it insensitive to embark on the campaign, while all these critical labour sectors are boiling. It feels it will be better to allow some measure of compromise to be achieved and issues resolved with affected unions before President Buhari starts campaigning,” he said.
Meanwhile, former Senate Leader, Senator Ndoma-Egba, has said the delay in commencement of APC presidential campaign will not have any negative effect on the party’s chances in the 2019 general elections.
Ndoma-Egba who spoke during an interactive session with journalists in Abuja at the weekend, explained that there is still enough time for the party to do its campaigns.
“I don’t think it is the length of the campaign that matters, but the intensity. The opposition has been campaigning and we have seen the impact. We still have time for the campaign. Don’t forget that this is the party in government and it will rely largely on its records which are there to speak for us,” he said.
On what to expect from the South-south zone which is regarded as a traditional PDP zone, Ndoma-Egba said the political indices have changed, adding that President Buhari and the APC now stand a good chance of winning elections in the area.
“Yes, it was a traditional PDP area because at a time, we had our son who was contesting the Presidency. There was that underlining sentiment that our son was contesting. But today, we don’t have that situation and we don’t have anybody who is contesting from that zone. The two major candidates are from the same region and from the same religion. So, that sentiment will not be there.
“The sentiments that our son is contesting is no longer there. We are now dealing with verifiable records, which we are going to be dealing with and the records favour the president unequivocally and the APC,” he said.
The NDDC boss who recalled that President Buhari got a paltry 28,000 votes in Cross River State in 2015, said despite the low level of support, the president has done a lot for Cross River State in terms of political appointments and project patronage.
“Cross River State remains the only state that he has visited twice. The state is well represented in government. We have the Chief Justice of Nigeria even though he is not a politician. You can’t run away from the fact that he became Chief Justice under President Buhari, but anything could have happened.
“The Head of Service of the Federation is from Cross River State; the Auditor General of the Federation is from that state; the Minister of the Niger Delta; the Chairman, NDDC, and the Special Adviser on Prosecution are all from that state in addition to Chairmen of boards, all for a paltry 28,000. What was the record under PDP? The best we ever had as a state under the PDP was when we had Kanu Agabi as Minister and Senator Liyel Imoke as Special Adviser,” he said.