Opposition parties in merger negotiations are said to be shopping for a young Northerner with a pan-Nigerian disposition that will fly the presidential flag of the new party come 2015.
This search is part of the plan of the merger partners if the Congress for Progressive Change candidate in 2011, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (rtd) drops his ambition.
It has been gathered that the names of the former Minister for the Federal Capital Territory, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai and the Action Congress of Nigeria presidential candidate in 2011, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu are being mooted.
However, the search team is looking beyond these two and extending to technocrats with progressive disposition.
A requirement is that such a candidate must be able to take on President Goodluck Jonathan or any other politician flying the PDP flag in 2015.
A CPC chieftain who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said, “We are working on a plan B. If Gen. Buhari does not contest, the parties will shift attention to younger candidates.
“Our search will be extended to non-politicians, including young technocrats from the North. El-Rufai and Ribadu will be among the pool of candidates who will be screened.”
Buhari had said that his 2011 presidential run was to be his last.
But at the inauguration of the CPC merger committee on January 16, 2013, Buhari said the outcome of the merger would determine his 2015 ambition.
It was earlier reported that Buhari might drop his presidential ambition as parties in the merger had an initial understanding that leaders must be ready to make personal sacrifices for the success of the merger.
Such a sacrifice, it was gathered, might see Buhari dropping his presidential ambition, if it would thwart the merger plan.
An aide to el-Rufai, who spoke in confidence, said, “There have been various speculations. There was a report that there was tension between Gen. Buhari and el-Rufai. There is nothing of such.
“The former minister is concerned with the success of the ongoing talks among some opposition parties.”
Efforts to get Ribadu failed as calls to his mobile phone did not go through, neither did he respond to a text message sent to him.
A member of the PDP Board of Trustees, Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, had said the merger plan by opposition parties would not stop the PDP from emerging victorious in 2015 elections.
Iwuanyanwu described the move as one that would neither pull PDP down nor succeed.
“As a democrat, I should sound a note of warning; I have read recently about the coming together of some political parties. They are not coming together on the basis of ideology. They are coming together because they are afraid that unless they gang up, PDP will win the elections in 2015. This is a wrong political calculation.”
The parties involved in the merger have however accused the PDP of frustrating their plan.
They said the merger plans had driven the PDP-led Federal Government to resort to tactics aimed at tarnishing the image of key opposition leaders.