Former governor Kano State, Senator Rabiu Kwankwaso, a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress has said that President Muhammadu Buhari will be defeated in 2019.
He identified the Peoples’ Democratic Party as the most potent opposition platform capable of defeating the incumbent in the upcoming presidential election, adding that he is the suitable candidate to fly the party’s flag to victory.
“I’m a free man now and available to try my luck elsewhere but I know that PDP is the biggest party and as long as they follow democratic principles, Buhari will easily be defeated, but if they handpick and force any candidate on the party, they will fail,” he reportedly told the publisher of Ovation Magazine, Dele Momodu.
According to a report published by Premium Times, Kwankwaso spoke with Dele Momodu, yesterday.
Kwankwaso’s statement comes a few days after he shunned the party’s national convention in Abuja. The crisis is a fall out of his long-running political battle with the governor of Kano State, Umar Abdullahi Ganduje.
He turned up at the Abuja home of Atiku Abubakar the night of the convention, fuelling speculation about his readiness to dump the ruling party for the major opposition tent. During the week, he travelled to Ekiti to meet Governor Ayo Fayose. He was reported to have backed Olusola Eleka, the PDP candidate in the upcoming governorship election in Ekiti, against Kayode Fayemi, his major challenger and candidate of the APC.
There are talks by the APC to broker a political accord that would allow Kwankwaso and other aggrieved members remain in the party beyond the 2019 elections. “PDP needs someone from the 3k states, Kano, Katsina and Kaduna to win the next election. That’s where the votes are. It would be difficult to win if they pick someone from any other zone…,” Mr Kwankwaso told Mr Momodu.
Kwankwaso said he was set to join the PDP, but even then the party would also run into trouble if internal democratic guidelines are not followed in the award of its 2019 presidential ticket.
“I can guarantee them that I will beat Buhari if given the chance,” he said.
Bolaji Abdullahi, a spokesperson for the APC, did not immediately return requests for comments. The party’s chairman in Kano was also unavailable and a text message sent to him did not deliver on Saturday afternoon.
But party strategists said Mr Kwankwaso’s comments were hardly unexpected, especially as he had removed himself from the party’s activities, including failure to participate at the recent convention.
“We had known all along that he was no longer in the party,” said APC strategist Ayo Akanji. “It was clear that he was going to leave at a point in time.”