The former Special Assistant to ex-President Goodluck Jonathan, Doyin Okupe on Thursday insisted that the Senate President, Bukola Saraki will emerge as the Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, on Saturday.
The former Special Assistant to ex-President Goodluck Jonathan, Doyin Okupe on Thursday insisted that the Senate President, Bukola Saraki will emerge as the Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, on Saturday.
From left, Regional Medical Detailing Manager, FrieslandCampina WAMCO, Mr. Iheanacho Ikpeama; Brand Manager Specialised Nutrition, Emem Uwatt; ATP volunteer Nurse Motunrayo Ajayi; with Outreach Coordinator, Ask the Paediatrician (ATP) Foundation, Dr. Rotimi Adesanya, at one of the ATP community outreaches supported by Peak 456 Growing Up Milk in Ikorodu, Lagos State, recently.
The Nigeria Customs Federal Operations Unit, Zone ‘A’ has intercepted a bus carrying two big sacks containing military uniforms and boots along the Ijebu-Ode expressway.
Out of 13 aspirants that purchased and submitted the nomination forms for the People’s Democratic Party’s presidential election, one will be selected on October 6, to flag the party’s flag in the 2019 presidential election. Abuja Bureau Chief, OBIORA IFOH takes a look at the men, their promises and chances of picking the sole ticket.
The presidential primaries and National Convention of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is expected to hold on Saturday, October 6, 2018 and as expected 12 aspirants will be slugging it out to choose the party’s flag bearer for the epic political contest in March 2019. Aspirants that returned their forms include Senate President Bukola Saraki, Former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, Former Plateau State Governor, Senator Jonah Jang, Sokoto State Governor, Aminu Tambuwal and former Sokoto State Governor Attahiru Bafarawa.
Others include former senate president David Mark, former lawmaker Ahmed Datti, Gombe state Governor, Ibrahim Dankwanbo, former Jigawa state governor Sule Lamido, former Chairman of the PDP Caretaker Committee Senator Ahmed Makarafi, Senator Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso and Kabir Tanimu Turaki, SAN.
The PDP Board of Trustees thinks that the huge number of aspirants can still be trimmed to ensure that the contest is healthy and that the post election crisis will be minimal. Some of the aspirants have also been speaking to one another to step down but up till this moment, none of them has agreed to heed the pleas.
The Rivers state governor, Nyesom Wike recently revealed that among the aspirants are moles working for the ruling party, the All Progressives Congress, APC however efforts to persuade the governor to name names have not been fruitful. The party, nonetheless are gradually warming up to the convention having successfully conducted the 3 man ad-hoc delegate election at the over five thousand political wards across the country and every other congresses.
But a look at the aspirants, one would sum up that they are men with impeccable qualities and rich resume. They all eminently qualify to lead this nation; unfortunately the constitution only guarantees one candidate per party. So who will the cap fit?
Dr. Bukola Saraki:
Saraki was a former governor of Kwara state between 2003 and 2011 and ever since he has remained a senator representing Kwara Central. He became the Senate President in 2015 and that was after he first aspired to be the president earlier. Ever since then the thought of becoming the president has not left him.
His emergence as the senate president was without the endorsement of his party, the APC and that pitched him with his party. Saraki had a tumultuous reign as the Senate president and until now, the impeachment threat against him has not ceased.
Saraki whose father, Olusola was a second Republic Senate leader, says that his chances of becoming the President is high and he believes that his antecedents as banker, governor, lawmaker and administrator put him far ahead other aspirants.
According to him, “from our antecedents I have had the opportunity of serving as governor on the executive side and also being on the legislative side now, it is important that the country has a president that can bring all parties on board.”
On whether he can step down for consensus candidate, he said, “I don’t think the consensus thing is the issue before us because we are trying to ensure that there is internal democracy in the system and a very credible primaries. I believe at the end of the day, we will have a process that whoever emerges will be supported by all of us. So that there will be no need dividing ourselves.”
Saraki’s strength lies on his young age, his rich resume, his huge political connection across the nation having served as governor and the senate president as well his huge financial war chest.
Senator David Mark:
The Benue state born former military General and political colossus has been in the corridors of power since his 30s, first as military governor, minister of communication and also a member of the Armed Forces Ruling Council. He left the military to contest the Benue South senatorial district in 1999 and won. A five times senator, he holds the enviable position as the longest serving senator of the Republic and senate president for 8 years.
Not known for loquacious behaviour of some politicians, Mark who was the most stabilizing force in the Goodluck Jonathan administration was mostly favored to succeed him in 2019 had PDP remained in power. Though he still commands such respects amongst his colleagues but his popularity has waned since PDP lost power in 2015.
He has since indicated interest to abdicate his senatorial seat in pursuit of his presidential aspiration but political watchers think he wants to bow out from politics on a high, hence his foray into the presidential contest. His chances to clinch the ticket have tremendously trimmed down. However, his experience in the power game is unmatched.
Senator Mark restated that he joined the presidential race because “I believe I can make a positive difference in Nigeria. Nobody can shy away from the fact that Nigeria is currently faced with intractable security, economic and socio-political challenges that unarguably threatens the corporality of the country.”
He expressed optimism that his road map to economic recovery and prosperity tagged 730 model will turn around the economy of the nation within two years of his administration if elected President.
On what stands you out from other aspirants, he said, “The issue is that the party has zoned the presidential vacancy to the North. Whether you are from North East, North West or North Central, we are all northerners. And I think that that is what qualifies me in the first place. Secondly, I think I have something to offer. I got s wealth of experience in administration. And you recognise that I was also President of the Senate for eight years. So, I think I have garnered a lot of experience to be able to move the country in the direction that all Nigerians want. And that is the direction of prosperity, good economic policies, reduce the level of insecurity, get Nigerians to become very proud citizens, create job opportunities for the teeming youths and change the economy.”
Dr. Ibrahim Dankwabo:
Dankwambo was appointed Accountant-General of the Federation (AGF) in three successive governments, first by President Olusegun Obasanjo and further served Late President Umar Musa Yar’adua and President Jonathan Goodluck meritoriously before he was elected as the Governor of Gombe State in a record-breaking election in 2011. He was thereafter elected for a second term in 2015. His record speaks for itself as he is known to have transformed the state through aggressive infrastructure and agricultural revolution.
Though in his 50s, Dankwambo passes as another silent achiever and one other factor that speaks for him is his consistence in the party politics. According to his campaign office, “he has never decamped or allied with the opposition for any political reason even when the Buhari political tsunami swept across Northern Nigeria at the 2015 polls – Dankwambo stood firm and returned as Governor of Gombe state with overwhelming votes.”
Recall that Gombe and Taraba states were the only states out of the 19 states in the north that survived the Buhari Tsunami in 2015 election; and the governor is making political gain out of that achievement
According to his campaign office, “Ibrahim Dankwambo will declare war on poverty and injustices in Nigeria if elected president come 2019. Nigerians will soon see a wind of genuine renaissance blowing all over their land. What Nigeria needs at this time is a man who can take the country on a journey to its best self, a man who can re-energise a people who have been so badly led that they have accepted certain impotence as the reality of their lives. Nigeria needs a man who can fire its imagination, release the people from shackles and make them blossom. Dr. Ibrahim Hassan Dankwambo is that man. What Nigeria needs is a leader, a warrior on the frontline in the fight against poverty and all kinds of injustices our people are suffering today and Dr. Ibrahim Hassan Dankwambo is the type of leader our founding fathers envisaged for Nigerians – a complete Statesman.”
Senator Rabiu Kwankwaso :
Kwankwaso was elected governor under the PDP ticket in 1999 however his bid for reelection in 2003 suffered a rude shock as the then APP candidate and a class room teacher Ibrahim Shekarau dusted him in the polls. He was however compensated by the Obasanjo government with the prestigious defense ministry as the minister. He resurfaced again in 2011 after Shekarau’s eight years in power to force the ANPP government out of Kano government house. As a governor, he teamed up with the New PDP to defect to the newly formed APC in 2014. And in 2015 he enthroned his very loyal deputy, Ganduje to succeed him while he easily got elected into the senate. Kwankwaso also came second to Buhari in the APC presidential primaries in 2014.
Kwankwaso who patterns his politics after the late political legend, Aminu Kano is believed to have one of the most ardent and vociferous supporters in the northern nigeria today known as the Kwankwasiyya Movenment. This group cuts across all homes in the north as attested by the former governor.
However, his control structure has been injured by his former deputy and now the Kano governor who refused to subsume his power under the Kwankwasiyya larger family. That of course breed animosity in the family with Governor Ganduje breaking away from the Kwankwasiyyan family and working hard to create his own follower-ship.
Rabiu Kwankwaso who only recently reunited with PDP thinks that of all the PDP presidential aspirants, he is the only one that can defeat President Buhari. He said what stands him out from other presidential aspirants include his political connection since his days as deputy speaker of the House of Representatives in 1992; being from Kano, the most populous state and North west, the most populous geopolitical zone; and retinue of political associates.
“In addition, we have also worked as a movement – the Kwankwasiyya Movement. I can tell you today in Northern Nigeria, it will be a great surprise if you get to one house without a member of Kwankwasiyya there. And you must have known by now that the Kwankwasiyya Group is a well disciplined group. We are so committed to Project Nigeria. These are people who are not looking for money to go for election. These are people who are determined to vote and protect their votes,” he said.
Alhaji Atiku Abubarkar:
A household name, the Wazirin Adamawa has being and remains a political juggernaut. A political associate and apostle of the famous General Shehu Yar’Adua, the former Customs officer cut his political teeth way back in 1990 when he flagged off his political career during the Option A4 era before he was halted by the military regime. In 1998, he led the search for a suitable presidential candidate from the South West which eventually produced President Obasanjo in 1999. He stooped to contest for Adamawa governorship which he won but only for Obasanjo to appoint him as his deputy. On that capacity, he assumed the political leadership and backbone of that administration. But shortly after his reelection in 2003, Atiku fell out with his principal, Obasanjo and that became the major undoing of the man then popularly known as Turaki. He is yet to recover from that hiatus.
Atiku ostracized by his party and rejected by his boss began to swim in the turbulent mucky waters of politics. He survived impeachment attempts. He formed Action Congress along with his associates to contest the 2007 presidential election but of course lost to the PDP. His attempts to contest in subsequent presidential elections in 2011 and 2015 were unsuccessful having changed parties regularly and being unable to pick ticket. He came. Distance fourth behind Buhari in the APC presidential primaries ahead 2015 election.
Now back to PDP, the stupendously wealthy politician has thrown his hat again to the ring for the fourth time and it appears that the coast seems clearer for him to pick the ticket if all permutations turn right. Atiku is reputed to be the only candidate who has and maintained structures in every ward in Nigeria. He is also believed to be more prepared and hungry for leadership.
In his emotional declaration of interest to run again, Atiku who openly wept for the nation said “I have tried to present myself as a candidate for the office of the president in a number of elections. The only time I succeeded of being on the ballot was in 2007. In 2007, I was on the ballot not because I believe I was going to win but because I wanted to prove a constitutional issue so that all Nigerians can avail themselves quite the constitutional protection and I succeeded at the Supreme Court. And that is why today no Nigerian can be stopped from contesting an election unless he has been convicted by a court of law.”
Only last week he inaugurated his campaign committee with very prominent Nigerians led by a philanthropist and publisher, Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu. Atiku appears to be the candidate to beat and within the political circle, he is believed to be a candidate who will give the APC candidate a run for his popularity.
Dr. Sule Lamido:
As the former Jigawa state governor Sule Lamido had enviable eight years tenure at the helms of affairs in Dutse and arguable one of the finest political leaders in the North. Not just a founding member of the PDP but also one of the last members of G.8 that plotted the birth of the party. He was known for his love for the Talakawas after his mentor, Mallam Aminu Kano.
During those early days, he was jailed by the Abacha regime for his vociferous attack against the junta and his insistence on democratic rebirth. He was rewarded with an appointment as the Foreign Affairs minister by President Obasanjo. He later became the governor between 2007 and 2015.
He remained political associate of Obasanjo and his inability to pick PDP presidential ticket in 2015 majorly caused President Obasanjo to severe ties with the then ruling party. In Jigawa he is still adored as the political godfather and King maker. He also supported Buhari in 2015 against his party’s candidate, a decision which he paid dearly for as his party lost out in all cadre of election.
Now he wants PDP to give him the ticket but not a few think that he will not muster enough patronage and support enough to clinch him the exalted position of the president even if he wins the party ticket.
Atiku Abubakar was recently reported to have asked the former Dr. Lamido to step down for him in the presidential primary being his younger brother. But in a response Lamido through his aide said “I’m senior to him politically because I was in the House of Representatives in 1979 when he was an employee of Nigerian Customs Services. And if age is the criterion for standing election, then he should drop out for Buhari ”
According to his aide, “Despite all odds, Lamido has been patient, loyal, committed and consistence. Even if Lamido did not shows interest to contest, PDP should have called Lamido to be the flag bearer and if there is anyone the other aspirants should step down for, it should be Sule Lamido because he has the good and political will, experienced and capacity to confront the ruling party, APC. Also if Lamido is to step down, why would he aspire in the first place? Sule Lamido is out to run for the president come 2019 God willing. Adamu
Hon. Aminu Tambuwal:
The Sokoto State Governor, Tambuwal is just about completing his first tenure as the governor but his greatest height in politics was his four years as the Speaker of the House of Representatives between 2011 and 2015. He along his mentor and predecessor Senator Magatakadwa Wammako joined the New PDP to form the APC in 2014.
He became the natural successor having worked closely and loyally with the former governor. He was very popular amongst his colleges in the National Assembly and he hopes to leverage on that popularity to seek for the ticket of the PDP. Also working for him is his age, believed to be in his forties, he is expected to earn the support of the younger generation which see him as role model. However, the youths will play very little role in the party primaries which will be indirect primaries. So, his chances of picking the ticket appears very distance.
Tambuwwal also has the support of the caliphate and very good number of the traditional institution across the north. He has since severed ties with his mentor, Wammako, a development that may likely hurt his ambition.
He is one of the aspirants that is not averse to a consensus arrangement. He said, “I can’t say there is no need for consensus; it is part of democratic process. If there is a possibility of it, why not? If it is not possible, then, we all go for the primaries. But I believe that PDP of today is capable of organising free, fair, credible and transparent primaries.
Alhaji Attahiru Bafarawa:
Another former governor of Sokoto State, Bafarawa served as the governor since 1999 to 2007 before handing over to Wamakko. He left PDP after he fell out with his successor, Wamakko only to return again after this same successor left the party in 2014.
His first attempt at the presidency was in 2011 but that was unsuccessful. He has remained dogged in his desire to rule Nigeria in spite of intimidation by both the anti corruption agencies and the then opposition party, the APC.
Under his government, Sokoto state achieved very little in terms of development but he had the support of the sultanate and his reign was most peaceful at the time.
Asked if he was not worried at the growing number of aspirants in PDP, Bafarawa said, “Honestly speaking, is giving us encouragement. That shows that our party is a democratic party and is a popular party, acceptable by Nigerians. That’s why people are aspiring, more are interested in joining the party unlike other parties that are not democratic parties where they run a one-man show. So, it’s very encouraging to all of us who are aspiring for this seat. We are brothers, we are families. Our ambition is to get rid of APC. Therefore forget about the number of aspirants of the PDP. At the end of the day, we are all democrats, we must accept (the outcome of the primary) win or defeat. Therefore, anybody who wins, I believe collectively we are going to work together and see that website this country from this mess.”
Though he is one aspirant who has being going round campaigning but his chances of clinching the ticket is still remote but in politics, predictions usually do not come true.
Senator Jona Jang
The former governor of Plateau State, Senator Jang first retired as a military officer where he gained experience as military governor in two states. He took over from Senator Joshua Dariye as the PDP governor of the state and had eight years of peaceful reign. He was elected into the senate in 2015 but though he claimed his aspiration is real but many watchers think that he was already working out a plan for retirement from public life. He is the last to come into the contest but the goodwill which he built overtime as military officer, governor and now lawmaker may speak for him. He is certainly not among the front runners.
Senator Ahmed Makarafi:
Before he assumed the Chairmanship of the PDP Caretaker Committee in its most turbulent period, Senator Ahmed Makarafi had already made his mark as the two time governor of Kaduna state between 1999 and 2007. He thereafter was elected into the senate where he did two terms until 2015. He is known as a thorough grassroot politician whose actions speak more than his voice.
Under his guidance, he ensured that PDP remained united and for the period Senator Amodu Sheriff wrecked havoc in PDP, the Makarfi rose beyond his frail looks to fight Sheriff to standstill. He became an instant hero in the party. His leadership role became very obvious; little wonder his supporters urged him to go into the presidential contest. He expects a pay back from the party and several party leaders who gained from his unbiased and sterling qualities in administration.
But the question is should he win the PDP ticket, can he be able to win the final contest. Many people are of the view that he does not possess the sucker punch to knock out a Buhari who already clinched the APC ticket as the sole aspirant.
Dr. Ahmed Datti:
The former member of the House of Representatives and also a one time senator, Ahmed Datti has proved himself in politics. Reputed to be the youngest among the aspirants being only in his early forties, Datti Ahmed chose to do his campaign differently choosing to a campaign more in the media.
The educationists who owns one the largest private universities in Abuja also has eloquence going for him. And if he becomes the president, he said that the nation will witness a generation shift in all aspect of the nation.
His support base is among the intelligentsia, the academic and the numerous lawmakers he has associated with in the past. Dr. Ahmed will come across as one of the pretenders but far from it. It will interest to know that he was among the very first to commence his campaign and he said that million of Nigerians have bought into his program.
Dr. Kabir Tanimu Turaki, SAN:
Kabir Tanimu Turaki can be classified as one of the best brains among the PDP aspirants. Still in his fifties, he has a Ph.D in law and also attained the height of the legal practitioner as Senior Advocate of Nigeria.
He served as the Minister of Special Duties under President Jonathan’s government and he played a key role in the committee for the dialogue with the Insurgents. He is versed in law and lately he formed the former Ministers forum which he chaired.
In his campaign team are most of the ministers who served since 1999 and his campaign Director General is Boni Haruna a former Adamawa state governor who also served as a minister. Most pundits believe that Taminu will be the dark horse in the race and he has been consulting widely.
Finally, the primaries comes up in a fortnight and many observers are keen to know what will be the outcome of the contest but one thing one can be sure of is that it would not be a mean contest as all the aspirants have proved their mettle in the past and potentially and eminently qualified to lead this nation. However, the onus is on the party to ensure a free and transparent primaries, acceptable to all aspirants; that and only that will ensure that the party remains united and rancor-free ahead the general election.
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