By Emmanuel Aziken, Political Editor
THE political mantra not to rule out anything in the political terrain is an abiding lesson to all. Who would have imagined it at the peak of his tirades against the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in 2007 that the same Atiku Abubakar would today be fighting the battle of his life to obtain the ticket of that “evil” party? Or would one have envisaged Chief Orji Uzor Kalu sneaking in and out of the nest of killers he once claimed to have woven a plot to kill him?

With such improbabilities now realities it is thus not surprising that some Nigerians could even take their dreams and imaginations to the extreme. The improbable dream now being conceived by some is a political contraption to fuse the presidential aspirations of President Goodluck Jonathan and that of erstwhile Military Head of State, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (rtd.). Gen Buhari is the leader of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) and that party’s presumptive presidential candidate.

The idea which is bound to shake the foundations of the country’s political establishment, according to Vanguard sources, remains for now an agenda among some concerned prominent Nigerians. Interestingly, the agenda is being pursued by some Nigerians who are themselves prominent supporters of one of the presidential aspirants.

The idea it was learnt was conceived following concerns that trailed the emergence of Atiku Abubakar as the consensus candidate of the Mallam Adamu Ciroma-led Northern Political Leaders Forum (NPLF). The enthronement of Atiku as the northern candidate is perceived in those concerned circles as a threat to national cohesion as it draws the impression of a regional battle between the North and the South with its potential effect on national stability and the economy.

It is thus not surprising that among the leading proponents of the agenda are some prominent Nigerians in the business community, who are working underground to realize what they conceive as a dream ticket.

In pursing the agenda, as was reported by a national newspaper, the group is aiming to sell the South African concept that saw the brief enthronement of current South African Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe as President of that country between September 25, 2008 and May 2009 when he handed over power to Jacob Zuma.

Following the “recall” of President Thabo Mbeki by the African National Congress (ANC) from the presidency in September 2008, Mr. Motlanthe a trusted ally of Mr. Zuma was appointed the President of the country to complete what was left of the four year tenure of the humbled Mbeki. Motlanthe subsequently conducted the election where Zuma stood as the ANC flag bearer for the presidency in May 2009. On assuming office, Mr. Zuma again appointed Motlanthe as the Deputy President.

That South African scenario is now the vision of the Nigerian group who have dubbed themselves as the “Moderate Federalists”. Their aim is to bring President Jonathan and Gen. Buhari together to forge a consensus that will see the pair square off as a team in the 2011 presidential election. Unlike the South African model where there is no running mate in the country’s leadership election, the Nigerian visionaries are aiming to make one of the pair, that is Jonathan submit as the running mate to Buhari.

The dream of the Moderate Federalists is conceptualized on the seeming rancour that has been bestirring the polity since Dr. Jonathan’s declaration for the presidency last September and the equally strong determination of the Ciroma group to stop him.

In pairing Buhari and Jonathan, it is the belief of the group that Nigeria would be the winner as it would easily enthrone a respected puritan at the top of the affairs of the country. It would also help put a check to the seeming sectional divide that is threatening the polity on account of the diverging presidential aspirations.

Their dream is equally conceptualized on Gen. Buhari’s promise of doing only one term if elected President of the country.

Speaking at a rally in Enugu on November 2, 2010 Buhari had said: “I am committed in laying solid foundation in four years and will make sure that the dream of Ndigbo of becoming president in 2015 is actualized. We of the CPC, our word is our Bond, we hate vague promises, and the Change we propose is Progressive Change, Progressive Change for Common Good.”

However, the very promise of Buhari to serve for four years and then handover to an Igbo man may now become a moral burden for him in whatever consensus arrangement the Moderate Federalists are proposing.

For a man known to be a man of his words, the visionaries would have to seek a higher divine pressure to prevail on the General to tie in to the proposal.

The arrangement is equally threatened with other challenges, primarily entrenched stakeholders notably from the North who view Buhari with utmost suspicion and disregard.

It is easily remembered that the Ciroma committee did not factor Buhari into its scheme of mobilizing a northerner to challenge Jonathan. Though it is argued that the Ciroma panel envisioned their strategy within the limits of the PDP, skeptics ask why the Ciroma team had to go the length of limiting their choice to within the PDP given the boast by Ciroma that the North would stop Jonathan with its superior votes. As the skeptics ask, “why did the committee not use Buhari as an option?”

The northern establishment, which has played major roles in all the years of independence could pose a serious challenge to the proposal of the Buhari-Jonathan ticket as such a pairing could inevitably lead to mortal consequences for its patrons.

Another interest group that could also be challenged by the aspiration of the Moderate Federalists is the power bloc in the PDP. The men and women who have profited from the “Share the Money” philosophy of the ruling party could see a stern disapproval of their culture from the no-nonsense Buhari.

The governors who would be loath to have their present powers threatened would also shy away from the proposal.

The plan as at now does not envisage what could become of Vice-President Nnamadi Sambo and his power block that he has transferred from the Kaduna Government House to Abuja. Would Sambo give in to such a proposal?

Or would Dame Patience Jonathan after her patient wait on Hajiya Yar‘Adua be able to wait another four years of austere living before reemerging as the nation’s First Lady?


Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.