Following the defection of former Vice President Atiku Abubakar from the All Progressives Congress (APC) on Friday, the attention now turns to his allies to find which of them intends to jump ship alongside him.
More than most others, the actions of three people would be closely watched in the coming days:
- Gov. Jibrilla Bindow: The Adamawa governor and Atiku did not start as natural allies. In the APC governorship primary, Atiku backed another candidate who was defeated by the governor. However the two men settled whatever differences they had and Atiku reportedly became one of the major financiers of the Bindow campaign. One of the former Vice president’s daughters is a member of the Bindow cabinet. If Bindow decides to move with Atiku, it would be the most significant act which shows Atiku means business this time. A move by the governor may also mean that a substantial portion of the ACc dominated state assembly may follow suit. Bindow’s defection looks highly unlikely though. According to Kaduna Gov. Nasir Elrufai, his colleague Bindow has already endorsed Pres. Buhari for a second term.
- Aisha Alhassan: The minister of women affairs is most likely to stand with her political benefactor Atiku Abubakar. She said that much a few weeks ago when she publicly endorsed Atiku for president, calling him her “godfather.” Mama Taraba, as the minister is widely called, said that even if Pres. Buhari decides to run again, her support will go to Atiku. “I will support only Atiku because he is my godfather. If because of what I said, i am sacked, it will not bother me because I believe in Allah, that my time has elapsed that’s why.”
- Garba Shehu: The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity was the spokesman to the former Vice President for several years. He actually led the media challenge against Pres. Buhari in the APC primary of 2014. His participation in the Buhari campaign was as a result of the collapsing of the structures of the different APC presidential aspirants following Buhari’s victory at the primaries. It would be interesting if he returns to his former, longstanding boss, or sticks with his current, more powerful boss.