Crossfire: Buhari, Atiku visited 'enemy ground' in Kwara, Rivers

Date: 2019-02-12

The presidential campaigns of the two major contenders, Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress, APC and Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP met at a poetic intersection yesterday as the two candidates descended on the fortresses of those managing rival campaigns.

Buhari was in Ilorin, Kwara State the political fiefdom of Atiku's campaign manager, Senator Bukola Saraki. Atiku on the other hand was in Port-Harcourt, Rivers State the base of Rotimi Amaechi, Buhari's campaign manager.

It was a recall of the development last week when Atiku campaigned in Katsina, Buhari's base while Buhari was at the same time in Yola, Atiku's home.

Incidentally both campaign managers, Saraki and Amaechi, now operating at the federal level served as two term governors in their respective states and Saraki handed over the mantle of chairman of the Nigerian Governors Forum to Amaechi.

Buhari's descent into Ilorin yesterday was shadowed by the resurgence of a clamour by political foes of the Saraki political dynasty for liberty.

That campaign for liberty from Saraki has been marshalled by the minister of information, culture and tourism, Alhaji Lai Mohammed who took over the political leadership of the APC after Saraki defected to the PDP.

As Buhari arrived Ilorin for the presidential campaign rally yesterday, he was met with large banners bearing Otoge, meaning enough is enough, the catchphrase of the movement directed against the Saraki dynasty.

One notable occurrence yesterday was the absence of Senator Gbemi Saraki, who is politically estranged from her brother, Senator Bukola. However, like many of the political chieftains in the APC, her large banner welcoming President Buhari was conspicuous.

Senator Gbemi has laid low of recent especially since the pressures against her brother in the CCT exacerbated by not antagonising him. However, she has not failed to hide her alliance with those who are against his political dominion over the Kwara political terrain.

Irrespective of the huge crowd that the Buhari campaign drew yesterday, the real game will be this Saturday when the APC seeks to oust Senator Bukola from his seat as senator representing Kwara Central. That seat has since 1979 been held by a Saraki except on two occasions.

With President Buhari in Ilorin, his major rival for the presidency, Atiku was in Port-Harcourt for what was promised to be a mega rally.

The visit of the PDP campaign team to Port-Harcourt came against the background of anxiety in the camp of the APC in the state following the court order on the Rivers State chapter of the APC not to present candidates for all state and national level elections in the state.

With the order, Amaechi's dream and assertion of freeing Rivers State from the hold of Governor Nyesom Wike could turn into a mirage.

The troubles arose from the internal dissension against Amaechi by a former political acolyte, Senator Magnus Abe.

Given the troubles around Amaechi, it was not surprising that leading chieftains of the PDP who were in Port-Harcourt were in celebration mood as they campaigned and canvassed for votes in the Garden City.

Amaechi expects to soothe the pains today when the Buhari campaign visits Port-Harcourt at the same Adokiye Amiesimaka Stadium where 24 hours earlier he and the APC were the subjects of vicious political battering.

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