January 14, 2011

ANPP primaries: Who wears the crown?

By Gbenga Oke
As All Nigeria’s Peoples Party, (ANPP) hold its presidential primaries today, Nigerians are still waiting to see who will emerge the presidential candidate of the party ahead of the April general elections.

Although, ANPP  under the new leadership of Chief Ogbonaya Onu, has tried to return the party to its lost glory, pundits still feel it will be hard for the ANPP to achieve the desired result ahead at the general elections.

However, despite criticisms over the position of things within the party, the new chairman said that the party would be re-positioned and  to win more states in the forthcoming general elections.

How these words will be matched with action still remains a mystery to many Nigerians as ANPP’s fortunes continue to dwindle with some of its members recently defecting to the PDP.

Presently, many have argued that since the flag_bearer of the party in the 2007 elections, General Muhammadu Buhari was edged out by the former chairman of the party, a vacuum has been created and the chances of the party going far in the polls are slim.

Before the three aspirants presently contesting for the party’s presidential nomination ticket, various heavyweights including Gen Ibrahim Babangida were tipped to fly the party’s flag until Babangida eventually decided to stick to the outcome of the Northern Consensus candidate within his party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

As the ANPP hold its presidential primaries, many believe that whoever emerges the presidential candidate of the party might not really be a threat to the winner of PDP primaries except it aligns other opposition parties like ACN  to give the PDP a strong and virile opposition at the April polls.

Now the party parades three aspirants namely, Alh Bashir Tofa, incumbent governor of Kano State, Alh Ibrahim Shekarau and Chicago based  business mogul, Chief Harry Akande.

Sources close to the party told Vanguard  that the party is likely to go the way of  Ibrahim Shekarau against the other two contestants.

Yet who will pick the ANPP presidential ticket remains shrouded in mystery as all the 3 aspirants have what it takes to outdo one another

Bashir Othman Tofa

Bashir Othman Tofa is an Hausa Muslim who hails from Kano State. Tofa was the National Republican Convention (NRC) candidate in the annulled  June 12, 1993 presidential election, which was organised by the military government of General Ibrahim Babangida. Before his sojourn into politics. Tofa was a businessman, oil baron and an industrialist.

Some ANPP chieftains believe he is the right person to be picked as the presidential candidate of the party given his experience and the role he had played in the party since inception.

Tofa while addressing newsmen on his ambition said his study and assessment of all the presidential aspirants on the field showed that none of them could match him in political sagacity, among others. According to him, Generals Babangida,  Muhammadu Buhari, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar and the incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan are no match for me, I will defeat them in the forthcoming election.

His words, “I looked round and could not see any aspirant who is a better presidential material than myself. If you look at the political situation in the country, and if Nigerians truly need a change for the better, the credibility and credentials of the candidate must be a major factor that will determine who the people will elect as their president,”

Tofa also noted, “before I took the decision to join the presidential race, I  held talks with some of my political associates and friends including those who served in the defunct National Party Nigeria (NPN), National Republican Convention (NRC) and even Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and they all encouraged me to pursue my ambition having recognised the fact that I am an old war horse as far as presidential race is concerned”.

Ibrahim Shekarau

Governor Ibrahim Shekarau was born in the Kurmawa quarters of Kano State and was educated at Gidan Makama Primary School and Kano Commercial College and finally at Ahmadu Bello University Zaria where he received a Bachelors degree in Education (BEd) in Mathematics/Education.

After his degree, he went into the civil service and later started his career as a Mathematics teacher at Government Technical College, Wudil and two years later, he became Principal at Government Day Junior Secondary School, Wudil.

Ibrahim Shekarau was not considered a serious contender in the gubernatorial elections of 2003 in Kano State but was favoured by the national executive of the party including the Presidential candidate of the party,  Buhari and other influential party chieftains. In April 2003 Ibrahim Shekarau won the gubernatorial polls due to the support of Gen. Buhari.

As it is now, some party top notchers have supported his ambition, claiming that Shekarau could adopt the same system he adopted in transforming Kano to change the face of Nigeria. He has received quite a number of endorsements within the party including his state chapter of the ANPP.

Some observers say that his coming from Kano State with Bashir Tofa might affect his chances as votes from the state will be divided to both of them at the presidential primaries.

However, it is believed by some pundits that Shekarau does not have enough experience to lead a diverse country like Nigeria while it was also argued that the governor is more of an educationist and has less charisma when it comes to politics.

Harry Akande

Two time presidential aspirant on the platform of the All Nigeria’s Peoples Party, Harry Akande has contributed immensely to the development of the ANPP in the past but has not been lucky to hold any public office asides being a former Board of Trustees member within the party.

Akande,  the only South_West presidential aspirant on the platform of the ANPP,  was the anointed chairmanship candidate of the party until the powers that be chose to lean towards Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu. The decision did not go down well with Akande who saw it all as a betrayal. A multimillionaire, Akande’s late entry into the race is seen as a bid to pay Shekarau in with his own coin.

Harry Akande joined the list of presidential aspirants after losing out to Onu in the chairmanship race of the party and his motive for joining the presidential race according to party sources is still unknown.

However, Harry Akande says his ambition to occupy Nigeria’s number one position in 2011 through the ANPP is to fulfill his hope of healing the country’s diseased system.

Akande and his campaign train in the effort to realize his presidential dreams have been moving from one state to other in recent times to canvass for votes ahead of the primaries today.

In terms of experience, he is not lacking as his wealth of experience from travelling all over the world can be used to turn country around.

His opponents says he is not well grounded as far as Nigerian politics is concerned because he stays more abroad than in the country.