In Nigeria, the opposition All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) has chosen former military ruler General Muhammadu Buhari as its candidate in next year’s presidential elections. Buhari, a northerner from Katsina State, was chosen Monday at the party’s convention in Abuja. On Sunday, the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) chose Governor Umaru Musa Yar’Adua of the northern state of Katsina as its presidential candidate. This would be General Buhari’s second time as a presidential candidate for the ANPP. He contested in 2003 and lost to President Obasanjo.
Journalist Medina Dauda reports for VOA’s Hausa language service from Abuja, Nigeria. She explains how and why General Buhari was chosen.
“General Muhammadu Buhari emerged as a consensus candidate after stiff opposition from all the others who really wanted to have competed with him. But I think they succumbed to pressure from some senior politicians and of course the party stalwarts who really wanted General Buhari to emerge as the leader of the ANPP to compete in 2007,” she said.
General Buhari was the ANPP presidential candidate in 2003 when he lost to President Olusegun Obasanjo. But Dauda said the party leadership believes Buhari is their best candidate.
“They really considered that, but as it is now, if the Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, does not have the chance to come out and compete under any political party, I think General Buhari is the most popular candidate as of now who could possibly stand 50-40 chance of winning the presidency against Governor Umaru Musa Yar’Adua of General Buhari’s home state, Katsina State,” Dauda said.
Embattled Vice President Atiku Abubakar, who was told earlier this month he could not stand as the ruling PDP’s presidential candidate, is said to be contemplating joining the Action Congress Party which has reportedly entered into a working agreement with the ANPP for a possible alliance. But Dauda said it might not be possible to have two northern presidential candidates.
“It is not possible at all because as it is if all of them should come and compete against each other from the north, it means the north might lose the chance of getting the presidency…Right now Atiku Abubakar has not associated himself with any party yet. The fact that people are speculating that he could have been brooming the Action Congress for him to stand as a consensus candidate, it is not actually determined which of the parties he’s going to belong to,” she said.
Dauda said the choice of General Buhari is likely to give the ruling PDP a serious fight in next year’s elections.
“The election of General Buhari is one thing that I’m sure is sending jitters down the spine of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party as it is now. Right now as I’m telling you, the PDP is in total fear and disarray of what is really happening, that the opposition are coming together to be one strong force that are going to fight the ruling party,” Dauda said.
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