Nigeria 2011: The Political Gladiators

The emerging presidential profile is that of Babangida/Kalu; Goodluck/El Rufai; Atiku/Ibori; Buhari/Tinubu.

BabangidaAbout one year to the 2011 Nigeria Presidential elections, we can safely project the emerging power blocks in the race to occupy Aso Rock next year. 

By the power of incumbency, first off the block is the Acting President, Jonathan Goodluck, Olusegun Obasanjo, theophilus Danjuma epicentre in the PDP. The aim of this group is to project a Goodluck Presideny with Mallam Nasir El Rufai, former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory as his running mate.

The Second Power Block is General Muhammadu Buhari with the rump of the promoters of the now moribund Mega Party. This group projects Buhari as their Presidential Candidate with former Lagos Governor, Bola Tinubu as his running mate.


Next in the race comprises of the followers of the former military President, General Ibrahim Babangida. This group has the support of the Northern ruling houses and the former governors. The group projects a Babangida presidency with Orji Uzor Kalu, former governor of Abia State as his running mate.

Last but by no means the least, is the group rooting for the return of former vice president Atiku Abubakar to the PDP. The group reportedly has the support of many state governors in the PDP who feels alienated by the acting president. Surprisingly, this group also parades the Pro-Yar’adua politicians that are obviously not happy with the acting president. The group aims to have Atiku Abubakar as president with Former governor, James Ibori as his running mate.

These permutations may still change as alignments shift but some Nigerian Newapapers have caught on the fever first reported by this Website a while back.

The Atiku Abubakar/James Ibori Block 

Atiku Abubakar

Thisday: Over 20 governors from the Peoples Democratic Party are preparing to receive former Vice President Atiku Abubakar who is set to make a formal return to the ruling party in Yola, Adamawa State, in the next week or so.

The governors are said to be eagerly angling for Atiku’s return to the party fold because he is widely seen as a counter-balance to the hegemony of retired army generals compromising Generals Ibrahim Babangida, Aliyu Gusau and Theophilus Danjuma, in the PDP.

Both Babangida and Gusau are believed to be eying the party’s ticket to contest the presidential election in 2011, while Danjuma with his deep pockets may throw his support behind a Goodluck Jonathan candidature.

With Atiku’s return, a lot of the governors, acting under the chairmanship of Governor Murtala Nyako of Adamawa as the chief host of the reception committee, believe that he would have the clout to either stop the retired generals in their tracks, or serve as a stumbling block to their ambitions.


The governors’ aim is to give Atiku a rousing welcome to the party and throw their support behind the former vice president, at least in the interim, to douse the ambitions of Babangida, Danjuma and Gusau.

The governors are also bent on ensuring that the era of consensus candidature at the party’s national convention is brought to an end.

They intend to ensure that every vote counts for the candidates that throw in their hats to contest primaries for the presidential ticket, a move that would most likely not favour the generals.

PDP sources told this newspaper that the governors are also concerned by moves by Acting President Goodluck Jonathan to bring back former Economic and Financial Crimes Commission chairman Nuhu Ribadu and make him Special Adviser on anti-corruption.

The move, it is believed, could empower Jonathan considerably and be used to truncate some of the governors’ ambitions to seek elective office in 2011.

Another reason the governors are rooting for Atiku’s return to the party stems from the recent ministerial appointments which did not favour them.

Some of the governors saw the names of the candidates they submitted to the acting president dropped unceremoniously, which has not endeared Jonathan to the governors.

Meanwhile, as plans to welcome Atiku moves into top gear, the PDP has given the order for the re-registration of the former vice president’s supporters who decamped en masse from the party with him.

Atiku and his followers were forced to leave the PDP for the Action Congress Party in 2006 after former President Olusegun Obasanjo and Ahmadu Ali, the then national chairman of PDP, order that they be deregistered.

With the re-registration and return of Atiku and his followers, as well as other former party members and their supporters such as Dubem Onyia and Rashidi Ladoja, the thinking in PDP is that the AC would metamorphosize into a regional party with its support base mostly limited the South-west.

The re-registration of returning party members, it was gathered, will be conducted in line with the new party registration process which includes the issuance of fresh membership cards.

Ibrahim Babangida/Uzor Kalu Group


Former President, General Ibrahim Babangida has vowed that the antics of his critics would not prevent or discourage him from testing his popularity by running for President in the 2011 elections.

He made this known yesterday while reacting to several media reports allegedly aimed at discrediting his person.

In a statement by his media spokesman, Prince Kassim Afegbua, General Babangida said he knows the character of those who are currently mushrooming as social activists and human rights defenders and their chief sponsors.

“All these criticisms would not stop General IBB to run for elections in 2011 in expression of his constitutional rights as a distinguished citizen of this great country,” said the statement issued by Afegbua, who is also the Acting National Chairman of the National Democratic Party (NDP).

This is coming on the heels of reports that 16 of the 36 state governors have thrown their weight behind Babangida’s bid for election as president in the 2011 elections.

The statement issued yesterday by Afegbua wondered why it is only when the former military President signified his intention to run for election that such “irritant pretenders” suddenly jumped into action.

It said that Lagos has become a breeding ground for self-acclaimed activists whose conducts fall below the conditionality of accountability, transparency and probity. “They shout blue murder at their season of convenience while they plunder the resources they get from foreign grants without accounting for same, yet when they talk of accountability, one will think these characters are products from the mars,” said the statement.

Meanwhile, an aide of the former military President disclosed at the weekend that IBB has concluded plans to formally declare his ambition to contest for the 2011 presidential election under the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

The aide told Peoples Daily in Abuja, that Babaginda will publicly make his ambition known any time from the end of this month.

He stated that 16 governors and the United States government have already endorsed Babaginda’s ambition to govern the country for a second time as civilian President.

The source told one of our reporters that: “He (IBB) will run; there is no going back again. He will declare his ambition any time from end of this month.

“Already, 16 governors have endorsed him and more are still coming. Also the United States has endorsed him and he will contest under the PDP.”

In an interview Babaginda granted this newspaper last year, the ex-military ruler said he was not interested in contesting the 2011 polls.

However, the man often referred to as “Maradona” when he was in power from 1985 to 1993, may have been forced by circumstances to change his mind following indications that President Umaru Yar’adua may be incapable or unwilling to contest the 2011 election because of his health condition.

Last week, while returning from Abeokuta, the Ogun state capital where he had gone to attend the birthday anniversary of Governor Gbenga Daniel, Babaginda told airport correspondents in Lagos that he was consulting with stakeholders on his presidential ambition.

Buhari with Tinubu as running mate


Tribune: An agreement has been reached between the defeated All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) candidate in the last presidential election, Major General Muhammadu Buhari and two-term governor of Lagos State, Senator Bola Tinubu to contest next year’s election in a joint ticket under the proposed mega party if the idea eventually materializes.

Indications have emerged in Abuja that both men have struck an understanding for the Katsina State-born General Buhari to run as the presidential candidate,  while Senator Tinubu woul be his running mate as the obstacle posed by the presence of former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, has apparently fizzled out with his preference to return to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

The Sunday Tribune gathered that General Buhari and Senator Tinubu expressed relief when it became known that the former vice president had opted out of the Mega Summit Movement (MSM) in an attempt to return to the PDP.

A source confirmed to the Sunday Tribune that General Buhari had recently been circumspect about   his participation in the movement largely because of the involvement of Atiku,  whom  he feared could betray the cause of the movement.

“Buhari has been shying away from the mega party because of Atiku. That is why as soon as Atiku decided to return to the PDP, Buhari came back to work with the movement in full,”  the source revealed.

It was   gathered that a potential point of contention between the two former leaders had  been how to resolve the issue of who becomes the presidential candidate for the eventual mega party as both of them were keenly interested in becoming the flag bearer.

Sunday Tribune found out that the exit of Atiku from the movement made it almost a certainty for General Buhari and Senator Tinubu to be the flag bearers and were consequently working towards a joint presidential ticket for the election.

It was also understood that both men were buoyed by the dispositions of former Social Democratic Party (SDP) presidential candidate, Chief Olu Falae and Professor Pat Utomi, who were said to be leaning towards the Labour Party (LP) as their membership of the MSM, which could have been another formidable obstacle to the Buhari/Tinubu ticket, has also been eliminated.

Investigation revealed that one of the highlights of last Wednesday’s meeting of the National Democratic Movement (NDM) in Abuja was also an agreement for the Buhari-led  Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) and Tinubu’s faction of the Action Congress (AC) to come together to contest the presidency in the forthcoming election.

However, fears have been raised about the perception of the electorate over a Muslim-Muslim ticket which such cooperation would engender in a country that was thought to be sensitive to matters of religious balancing in appointive and political offices.

Before Wednesday’s meeting in Abuja, which was also attended by former governor of Sokoto State, Alhaji Attahiru Bafarawa, there had been suggestions that the former Lagos governor was eyeing the vice presidential slot of the country as according to Olanusi Ojomale, the Chairman of Lagos State AC at a recent function, Senator Tinubu would emerge as the number two citizen of the country soon.                          

Reacting to the development, General Buhari noted that there was nothing wrong with a joint ticket between him and Senator Tinubu but was quick to point out that the situation had not got to that level because the necessary political platform was not yet in place.

According to the spokesman of his personal political platform, The Buhari Organization (TBO), Alhaji Buba Galadima, who spoke with the Sunday Tribune, “Buhari has to be a candidate first before picking a running mate but if he gets the ticket and Tinubu obliges him, what is wrong?”

He pointed out that they had not applied for registration yet as a political party saying that if presidential candidate and his running mate emerged before the party was formed,  it may discourage people from joining the party.

“If we do that, nobody will come. They will leave Buhari and Tinubu alone,” the TBO spokesman declared.