Another general election is approaching even though it is still almost two years away.  Politicians are already beating their usual drums for power as they get set for an imminent showdown in 2019. And those conversant with the architecture of politics in this clime can easily see the early signs of what to expect in the election.

That the race for the next general elections has started is no more at the realm of speculation nor the subject discussed in hushed tones. As it appears, those who want to throw their hats into the ring can no longer stomach their ambitions. Indeed, there is politics in the air.

For obvious reasons, what many are waiting for is how the game for the presidential election would play out. Characteristically, it would be the grand finale of the entire exercise.

Predictably, among others, two major characters that would largely determine the tenor of the election are President Muhammadu Buhari and former Vice President Atiku Abubakar. Interestingly, both are still in the All Progressives Congress (APC). Based on information already in the public domain, barring unforeseen circumstances, both of them would battle for the presidential seat in 2019. And from whatever angle one looks at it, none of them is a pushover.

Apart from the fact that both are from the North, they are major power brokers in their rights. While Buhari would be banking in the incumbency factor and the cult following he enjoys in the North, the former vice president would likely be capitalizing on his experience in power struggle, political sagacity, the mood of the country and his deep pocket.

But as it appears, while President Buhari and his foot soldiers seem to be avoiding any faceoff with the Atiku camp over the 2019 question, the former vice president is no longer pretentious about his undying presidential ambition and has continued his consultations with major stakeholders across all political parties.

From information available to Saturday Sun, Atiku has been wooing critical stakeholders of his party and other political groups especially in the South, to support his project in 2019. He was said to have spent some days in Lagos recently to hold a number of critical meetings. Some of the stakeholders he is working hard to get their commitment include those close to the last two former governors of Lagos State, Bola Tinubu and Babatunde Fashola.

But in the unfolding drama, the snag is that with Buhari in the APC, the Turaki Adamawa is not at a vantage position to pick the presidential ticket of the party. In the character of elections in Nigeria, Buhari would have the right of first refusal in the APC primaries. The permutation then is that, if that happens, Atiku would continue his oscillate in his search for the elusive presidential seat, which he has been eyeing since 1993. But whatever the development, 2019 is certainly going to be Atiku’s last dance in the nation’s presidential contest as age would no more be on his side. In 2019, he will clock 73 and that leaves him with a slim or no chance to contest for the hot seat again.

Saturday Sun cornered both the Buhari and Atiku camps to see how their minds are working in the build up for the ‘mother of all battles.’ And in the following interviews, it is more than certain that the two sides have already drawn the battle line.



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