2019: Who Clinches PDP Presidential Ticket?

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.

Walid Jibrin
Walid Jibrin: PDP BOT, Chairman, Supports A Consensus Presidential Candidate

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.

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