By Stephen Ubanna
The Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Board of Trustees, BOT, have begun moves to sensitize the 10 Presidential Aspirants who had paid the party N22 million party nomination form to contest the party Presidential primaries on September 30, 2018, on the need for a Consensus Candidate.
Walid Jibrin, the party BOT Chairman confirmed that they had to step in to ensure a crisis free party and forge a common front for the 2019 general election. Given the determination of the party to form the next government , Jibrin, disclosed that the party BOT, had to set up a Committee to liaise with the Presidential Aspirants to discuss the possibility of having a consensus Candidate to avoid giving undue advantage to President Muhammdu Buhari of the ruling All Progressive Congress, APC, to be re-elected.
He disclosed that the decision to set up the Committee was taken after a meeting of the BOT last Sunday, September 10, 2018 . The members of the Board were said to have been warned never to support any Aspirant to avoid polarising the party . Given past experience, Uche Secondudus, National Chairman and other officials of the party were said to have be advised to ensure that they manage carefully the intentions of the APC defectors which include Bukola Saraki, a former governor of Kwarra state and incumbent Senate President and others who have Presidential ambition. They are Aminu Tambuwal, former Speaker , House of Representatives and governor of Sokoto state, Atiku Abubakar, a former Vice President, Rabiu Kwankwaso, former governor of Nigeria’s most populous state, kano. The Board was said to have advised Secondus and his team that they must consider the ”role played by old members to keep the party together but are now jostling to contest the 2019 Presidential election on the party platform.
The PDP BOT members may have alluded to Sule Lamido , Seminu Turaki and Jonah Jang, former governors of Jigawa, Zamfara and Plateau states respectively, This is in addition to Hassan Dakwambo, incumbent governor of Gombe state, Ahmed Maikharfi, a former governor of Kaduna state, David Mark, a former Senate President and Datti Ahmed.
Sources told the Magazine that the party leadership may have sought the intervention of the Jibrin led BOT to bring the Presidential Aspirants into a roundtable for discussion on the need to select a Candidate that would be supported by the other Aspirants in the 2019 general election to ppreempt crisis. The party leadership may have feared that any direct involvement in championing the moves for a Consensus Candidate may be viewed with suspicision by some Candidates who were alreading nursing the feeling and were ready to foment trouble in the party.
Perhaps, to avoid throwing the door open to party Chieftains with Presidential ambition in the six geopolitical regions in the country: north west, north east, north Central, south west, south east and south-south, the party was said to have zoned it to the north, which is made up of three geo-political regions: north west, north east and north central.
The Magazine gathered that Mark and Saraki are pushing for the party Presidential ticket to be micro-zoned to north Central in order to also have a test of the political leadership of the country. Saraki who was said to be in the forefront of the agitation claimed that since the return of Democratic governance in the country in 1999, the south west had produced Olusegun Obasanjo, a retired Army General, who ruled the country for eight years, the north west had produced Late Musa Yar’adua, but could not complete his first four years in office while Goodluck Jonathan from the south-south and a former Vice President Completed his tenure in office and went ahead to win the 2015 general election. This is agaainst the zoning policy of the party. Ordinarily thenorth west ought to have produced the 2015 Presidential Candidate on the platform of the party. He also alluded that Buhari of the APC, who is currently ruling the country was also from the north west as well.
His argument was that Kwankwaso, Tambuwal and other Presidential Candidates from the north west must step down for a north Central Presidential Aspirant. Incidentally there were three of them from the region on the race: Saraki, Mark and Jang.
The Magazine findings shows that in spite of the party BOT to sell the idea of a Consensus Candidate to the Presidential Aspirants, no one , wants to step down for the other. Atiku, Saraki and Kwankwaso, at seperate interviews was said to have made it clear to those that care to listen of their readiness for the party primaries than step down for another Presidential Aspirant .
The argument in both official and unofficial circles was the need for the PDP to present a popular and crdible Presidential Aspirant from the north, particular the north west to give Buhari, of the APC, who is also from the region a run for his money.
Political analysts believe that among the PDP Presidential Aspirants were pretenders , negotiators and the serious ones. The analysts had described Ahmed, Lamido, Maikharfiand Dakwambo as Presidential pretenders who have no chances at all to win the party nomination. They described Saraki, Marki and Jang, the Presidential Candidates from the north Central geo-political region as having entered the PDP Presidential race to be in strong position to negotiate out something for their respective states with the eventual winner of the party Presidential primary.
Given the zoning of the party Presidential Candidate to the north, there are speculations that it may be micro-zoned to the north west geo-political region, made up of seven states: Kaduna, Katsina, Kano, Jigawa, Sokoto, Kebbi and Zamfara. The Magazine learnt that there had been pressures on Tambuwal, Maikharfi, Lamido, Turaki and Ahmed to step down for Kwankwaso to avoid sharing the votes from the region. Those championing the Candidature of Kwankwaso believes that the is the only PDP Presidential Aspirant for now who stands a chance of beating Buhari of the APC at the polls. They have their reason. He was said to have inherited the late Aminu Kano of the defunct Peoples Redemption Party, PRP, political machine which had the support of the talakawas in the north, particular Kano state.
Party sources believed that fielding the former Kano state governor, who who had earlier decamped to APC , with his supporters and facilitated the winning of the state by Buhari, of the APC,in the 2015, general election, as the slogan then, became ”Sai Baba” will be difficult to repeat by Buhari in 2019 as he had returned to PDP.
The popularity of the Kano state born politician is not negotiable as Hafiz Abubakar, Deputy governor of the state had resigned the APC government to support his Presidential ambition. His resignation may not be unconnected to the frosty relationship between Ganduje, the APC , governor of the state and former political ally of Kwankwaso.
But Abdullahi Umar Gadunje had made it clear to people that care to listen that Kwankwaso is no match to Buhari, the APC, Presidential Candidate, in the north west geopolitical region. He disclosed that Buhari would not lose a night sleep if the PDP fields Kwankwaso as its Presidential flag bearer in the 2019 general election.
As at press time , icould not be confirmed whether the Presidential Aspirants from the north west have agreed to step down for Kwankwaso to be sole Candidate from the region. But the Kano state born politician had faulted Ganduje’s claim that he could not stand Buhari say in the polls, stressing that ” I am the only PDP Candidate that can defeat Buhari in the polls”.
Many believe that the PDP primaries will be a straight fight between Atiku, the Turaki of Adamawa , Saraki and Kwankwaso. It was gathered that the Aspirants had reached a compromise that whoever emerges as the Presidential Candidate of the party in a free and fair primaries would be supported by all to dislodge Buhari from the Presidential Villa in 2019.