By Uche Mbah
The Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, may finally settle for the duo of David Mark and Osita Chidoka in the forthcoming presidential elections, if feelers reaching this Magazine will be believed. Earlier this week, Mark has picked up his expression of interest and nomination form-a final indication that he will finally contest the election under the umbrella of the PDP.
David Mark entrance to the game has substantially changed the political equation. Mark belongs to the group of elite retired military officers whose role in the development of the country’s political structure has been very central. Though he retired as a Brigadier general, he was one of those who, as a member of the ruling council of the military junta, have serious say. Hence he belongs to the small elite group that are allegedly ruling the country by proxy. He has been in the Red chambers for the last nineteen years, eight of which he served as the Senate President. In fact, he was the immediate past president of the senate, before Bukola Saraki, the current senate President, took over power. During his time as the Senate president, the Senate was more stabilized that any other time. Before then, there has been a high turnover of Senate Presidency, particularly under the regime of Olusegun Obasanjo.
This Magazine had reported sometime again that the Serial Senator may have been the anointed of the so called four Musketeers. The King makers-Olusegun Obasanjo, Theophilus Danjuma, Ibrahim Babangida and Abdulsalami Abubakar-has always had a hand in the dictation of who will be president of the country. Another influential member was late Shehu Musa YarAdua. In fact, the duo of Babangida and Danjuma were said to have approached Obasanjo after his prison terms to ask him to become president, but he was not disposed towards the idea. This was when there was need to placate the Southwest because of June twelve annulment. When Obasanjo finally made up his mind, he was said to have driven to the Ikoyi home of Danjuma early one morning to intimate him of his final decision. Danjuma contacted Babangida, or IBB as he is fondly called, to inform him. The following day, IBB allegedly arrived with Campaign seed money. The rest, they say is History.
Obasanjo’s bid for the for third term, which was said to have been scuttled with the help of his Vice then Vice president, Atiku Abubakar, paved way for another president to step in. Indications were that the king makers sat and decided to compensate their former colleague, Shehu, by picking his younger brother, Umaru, who was then the governor of Katsina state. Again, Umaru was reluctant, and had to be persuaded to run. At his death, they allowed Goodluck Jonathan to complete his tenure, and do his first term. Indications were that Danjuma was the last man standing in the support of Jonathan, until they again shopped for a replacement in Buhari, in the spirit of his being one of them, forget they have their own differences. But they all share the same background.
It is clear that the group have turned their back on the incumbent, Muhammadu Buhari. And they are not relenting in using their international connections to pressurize him to leave. Danjuma, in the wake of the Middle belt killings, advised the natives to protect themselves, the military is taking sides against them. It was gathered that this so much piqued the president that he went to visit Danjuma to demand a retraction, and Danjuma allegedly rebuffed him. Soon after, Danjuma was sighted in the United states telling US legislators that there is an ethnic cleansing going on in Nigeria allegedly with tacit approval of the presidency. Since then, he has been on international campaign following the same thought. As at press time, Danjuma is addressing the British House of Commons on the same issue.
When this Magazine reported on the possible endorsement of David Mark, it took only two days before, coincidentally, for the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, invited Mark for interrogation on allegations of financial impropriety during his tenure as senate president. It appeared suspicious that, according to Mark, the Commission only remembered him when rumors of his interest in the presidency were on. “If it is the will of God no one can stop it”, he said. Since then he went underground.
His underground activities since he left the senate presidency has been quite and firm. During the time that Saraki staged a coup against Tinubu to clinch the senate Presidency, it was said the Mark was the unseen hands in the affairs. He was alleged to have been requested to accept the senate presidency but he refused, settling on his erstwhile Deputy, Ike Ekweremadu, retaining his position. Most of the meetings, it was alleged, were taken at his instance.
There may be indications that the Senate President may be a placeholder for Mark. There may be withdrawals from the race. It is expected that in the long run, Jona Jang and Saraki may trade in their ambition. This will make the North central to speak in one voice. Already, Ekweremadu have purchased his nomination form back to the Senate. It is believed that a Mark president with the duo of Saraki and Ekweremadu will make a smooth running. That may have given Mark the confidence to give a time line of two years to reverse the downward trend of the economy.
Meanwhile, Olusegun Obasanjo, who, according to former President Jonathan, you “ignore to your peril’, has made his reconciliation with the PDP, a party he tore their membership card by proxy to indicate that he was done with them. Feelers indicate that part of the reconciliation is that they will seek his endorsement for any candidate they may favor. “Indications are that he accepts any candidate from the North, but preferably North central, a people that has been under siege by herdsmen”, said a source knowledgeable in those things last week. “But Baba would refer an Igbo Vice President-and specifically, Osita Chidoka, former Minister of Aviation”. Chidoka has been recently appointed as an aid to the PDP chairman, Uche Secondus, an indication he may soon return fully to the party.
Interestingly, Obasanjo was said to have been more interested in Donald Duke, former governor of cross River state, but both major parties insisted on Northern Presidential candidates.
The entrance of Duke has already forced Duke to reconsider his ambition in PDP, as he mules decamping to a new party. It is not yet clear which of the parties he may berth.
The pressures on Buhari not to contest allegedly were part of the reason why there has been an influx of European leaders in recent times. This Magazine was informed that pressures on Buhari not to contest subtle threats of economic sanction made him to intensify his romance with China. Parts of the visits were efforts to dissuade him from both contesting and romance with China. As a defiant move, he immediately jetted to china after the visit of Angela Merkel of Germany. American President, Donald Trump, has warned that Nigeria is risking trade enslavements with China.
It is likely that in the coming days, Nigeria will witness what was experienced under Jonathan, when the whole world was against him, using the Chibok girls as fodder canon. Already, a British Member of Parliament has started a one man protest in front of the Nigerian High Commission in London. But it appears Buhari is poised to continue in his agenda. Nigerians are watching.