General Muhammadu Buhari yesterday said he may change his mind to run for president in 2015 if his party decides to field him as a candidate.
Buhari had said in the run up to the 2011 elections that that was the last time he would be participating in the presidential race.
Since he lost the election, loyalists and other supporters have been nudging the former head of state to change his mind.
Speaking in Abuja yesterday at the inauguration of the Congress for Progressive Change merger committee, Buhari said he is likely to buckle under the pressure on him to contest in 2015.
“I have been saying it and it is on record before the last general election that I will not present myself again for election. But after that I explained it so many times that members of my party said I don’t belong to myself, I belong to them and they belong to me,” he said.
“For that reason I told them (to) go and organise a party and if you approach me I may consider it. This is the stage we are (at).”
The CPC merger committee, which is headed by former Bauchi State deputy governor Garba Gadi, is expected to represent the party in talks with the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN). The two parties tried unsuccessfully to form an alliance in the 2011 polls.
Buhari said yesterday he was waiting to see the result of the merger talks, and whether the new party would offer him its platform to stand for election.
“I am waiting for my party and if we have a merger, it will make it easier for me as the new party will decide whether it will offer me the ticket and it will be up to me to accept it or reject it,” he said.
In the renewed merger talks, Buhari’s former party All Nigeria Peoples Party had been mentioned as a likely participant.
But Buhari hinted that CPC may discuss with ACN only for the time being.
“I don’t think any party is dropping out but if you can recall that in 2010 we went far with ACN and we are picking priority and we are going to exhaustively go through our terms of reference with ACN before we attend to other parties,” he said.
He told the committee to go into the negotiation with the objective of “negotiating the best deal for Nigeria.”
“Your task is national. Petty personal interest should not stand in the way of a great opportunity to build and run a better Nigeria, which will happen once CPC and ACN come together,” he said.
“Right now, so strong is the belief in unity as seen in the merger of our two parties that the sentiments expressed on both sides sound as if the two parties may merge on their own even before their representatives reach the roundtable.
“The sentiment today is for a full merger between the CPC and ACN, not an alliance or an electoral understanding or anything of the sort. What Nigerians want is merger, and that is what you are going to negotiate and bring home to them.”
Buhari said the ground work has already been done in previous abortive alliance talks with ACN.
He said “there is already in existence an unexecuted understanding between the CPC and ACN for the creation of a new party, with a brand new logo and a new flag already designed and all other paraphernalia of a political party put in place.
“All these should be dusted up and built upon so that we do not waste valuable time revisiting ground that has already been covered. Your committee should go back and pick up matters from there. At the risk of sounding overly too optimistic, I may suggest that you should be able to finish your work in six weeks, at the end of which the CPC and ACN should be in position to sign a declaration of intent to fuse their two parties into one.”
He said after the first six weeks, not more than another six weeks should be taken to fulfil the legal conditions to consummate the merger.
“It is not impossible that the new party is presented to the people of Nigeria by the middle of this year,”
He said the new party would promote the restructuring of the country into a “proper federation”, creation of new security architecture, and reforming the public service, among others.
Members of the merger committee are Nasarawa State Governor Umaru Tanko Al-Makura, former petroleum minister Prof. Tam David-West, former member of the House of Representatives Dr. Haruna Yerima, Alhaji Sabo Nanono, Senator Hadi Sirika, Chief Okoi Obono Obla, Owelle Oscar Udoji, Engr. Ife Oyedele, Mr Osita Okechukwu, Chief Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, Mrs Lucy Ajayi, retired Air Cdre Bernard Banfa), Engr. B. D. Lawal, Mr James Ocholi SAN, Barrister Adebayo Shittu, Prof. Buba Bajoga and Dr. Osagie Ehanire.