There was initial subtle consensus in many quarters that the end of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) was near, with some projecting that it would happen during the ruling party’s national convention. That didn’t happen, and instead, all eyes are now on which PDP hopeful will challenge President Buhari come 2019.
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) held its national convention in December 2017, meaning the two dominant political parties have so far produced new set of leaders that would lead them to the 2019 general elections. Insiders are, however, of the opinion that All People’s Congress (APC)’s convention had reportedly “spoiled” the predictions of the PDP which was to cash in on the anticipated crisis that would trail the gathering at Eagle Square. Though the outcome of the convention is not perfect, analysts believe there are jitters among the ranks of the PDP, and other political parties who would have to go back to the drawing board.
There was fighting at Eagle Square, especially by delegates from Imo and Delta states, and many parallel delegates from some states such as Zamfara, Kogi, Sokoto, among others were denied entry into the convention venue. But ultimately, last-minute realignments and compromises allowed many stakeholders within the party to go home with some concessions. At least each of the 24 APC governors have won their candidates membership of the National Working Committee (NWC), President Muhammadu Buhari has had his candidates in vantage position.
The PDP, through its information unit, was so angry with the outcome of the convention that it quickly looked for another excuse, asking INEC not to recognize Comrade Adams Oshiomhole on the ground that he was elected through affirmation and that the EFCC should prosecute the APC governors for allegedly using state monies to fund the election.
The APC, through its re-elected spokesman Malam Bolaji Abdullahi had fired back, saying PDP leaders have lost their sense of reasoning to the extent that they forgot that affirmation and consensus are fully entrenched in the APC Constitution. These counter-accusations might likely continue through the elections next year.
However, the next big challenge for the PDP, and other parties, will be their respective primary elections, which will see the pick a candidate to go up against President Buhari in next year’s election. While the PDP had also zoned its presidential ticket to the North, it nonetheless has to choose among a myriad of aspirants who have shown interest, even as many top politicians have told Daily Trust Saturday that it will not be an easy task. A top politician told Daily Trust that the PDP has work cut out for it, as [the party] “lacks a solid enough candidate so far, one with enough vibrancy, who could match Buhari’s clout and appeal”. But as things are going in the PDP, the following is a list of men from which the PDP’s top contender will be picked:
Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar has thrown himself into the ring, jostling to secure the ticket of the leading opposition party. He has consistently bashed the current government for not living up to its mandate in the areas of security and economy, among others.
Atiku had vied for the presidency in 1993 during then-president Ibrahim Babangida’s aborted transition, when he won third place during the primary election of the defunct Social Democratic Party (SDP) which favoured late MKO Abiola. He also contested the 2007 presidential election on the platform of the defunct Action Congress (AC) after realizing that he could not get the PDP ticket because of his frosty relationship with former President Olusegun Obasanjo.
Atiku also contested the presidential ticket with former President Goodluck Jonathan in 2011. He later dumped the PDP for the APC and contested the 2015 presidential ticket with Buhari and three others, but lost.
Some party leaders say Atiku is not in the good books of some critical stakeholders, including the governors elected on the platform of the PDP who to a large extent determine who picks the ticket.
But the Director, Media and Publicity of the Atiku Presidential Campaign Organisation, Segun Showunmi told our correspondent that Atiku derives his strength from the governors, Board of Trustees (BoT) members, former ministers, NWC members, PDP members and even non-party members across the country. “He is comfortable in all the geo-political zones, he is pan-Nigerian, and understands the contemporary issues. With Atiku flying the PDP’s flag, we can easily say Buhari should go and have a rest,” he said.
Ibrahim Hassan Dankwambo
Dankwambo is a second-term governor of Gombe State who is said to have performed very well there. The governor has age by his side, and enjoys the support of many, including his colleagues in the PDP Governors’ Forum and NWC who see him as a key figure.
Dankwambo’s entry into the race has given hope to some members of the party and non-members in the North-East who feel the region should also take a shot at the presidency, and not the North-West. He was Accountant-General of the Federation, and is said to have the financial strength to run.
An anonymous source told Daily Trust Saturday that if the government of the day continues its alleged clampdown on opposition leaders, the party would have no option than to field the governor who would have immunity till May 29, 2019. “Dankwambo, to me will be a good candidate because he is a young man full of energy. He is well-educated and has done very well as governor. He also has immunity unlike some of these other aspirants that could be picked at any time; I think the party needs to think in that line,” he said.
Duke is a former governor of Cross River State and one of the notable politicians in the former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s Coalition for Nigeria Movement (CNM), who has declared to run for presidency.
Though he was elected on the platform of the PDP as governor, Duke had recently pitched tent with the CNM, but later in April, defended himself that he is still a member of the PDP. Many believe that he too is only angling for the VP slot.
Makarfi served for eight years as governor of Kaduna State and did another eight at the Senate thereafter. He later became Chairman of the PDP National Caretaker Committee during the intense leadership crisis that ravaged the party for 14 months.
Makarfi had after his exit from office in the second week of December, 2017, maintained sealed lips concerning his ambition until a few weeks ago when he declared to run for the party’s ticket.
Insiders believe that the ex-governor has good chances of emerging as the party’s candidate, considering his track record as governor and at the Senate, including his towering credentials in the management of the PDP crisis which subsequently saw Senator Ali Modu Sheriff thrown out by the Supreme Court.
Makarfi was said to have tackled religious and ethnic violence that sprang up during his reign as governor of Kaduna State. That feat, perhaps, brought him to limelight at the national level and since then, his profile has continued to rise.
‘Fix Nigeria’ is the slogan of Senator Datti Baba-Ahmed, whose advertorials are now trending in the pages of newspapers, flyers, posters, banners, and billboards of epic proportions in many states across Nigeria. Unlike most of the other candidates who said they were persuaded to vie for the presidency, the hopeful, who is under-50 said he is convinced that this is his time and he has the requisite education, skills and agility to re-jig Nigeria for the better.
Baba-Ahmed has also said his youthfulness and sense of maturity makes him a bridge-builder. He is a Kaduna State-born politician and the Pro-Chancellor of Baze University, Abuja. He was also elected into the House of Representatives in 2003, and also had a stint in the Senate.
Kabiru Tanimu Turaki
Turaki is a former Minister of Special Duties, and was also chairman of Former Ministers’ Forum during the leadership crisis that tore the party into two parallel pieces. He played key roles towards the revival of the party and always led other ex-ministers on the platform of the party to give direction to the party. He stood by the Senator Ahmed Makarfi-led PDP until Senator Ali Modu Sheriff who refused to leave office was later sacked by the Supreme Court.
Turaki, who is consulting with different stakeholders and bodies within the party, had few days ago met with former principal officers of state Houses of Assembly at Nicon Luxury, in Abuja, and requested their support. He is said to be the choice of some former PDP ministers who collectively sought for the support of ex-president Jonathan who they served as ministers.
Pundits, however, say the former president’s level of influence in the party has diminished.
This stems from the wake of the December 2017 national convention where Jonathan’s preferred chairmanship candidate, Prof. Tunde Adeniran lost to Prince Uche Secondus who was anointed by PDP governors. Adeniran had since defected to the SDP alongside professors Jerry Gana, Rufai Alkali, and other founding members.
The picture is indicative of the fact that Jonathan cannot do much in the selection of the party’s presidential candidate, as governors are likely to hijack the process in conjunction with the NWC.
But the BoT chairman, Senator Walid Jibrin, however, told our correspondent in a telephone interview that the process leading to the selection of presidential candidate would be fair and transparent.
Malam Ibrahim Shekarau
Shekarau is a former governor of Kano State, who also worked relentlessly during the 14-month legal battle within the party under the aegis of PDP Ex-Ministers’ Forum. Like Lamido and Atiku, Shekarau has officially written to the PDP on his intention to vie for the presidency. He is seen as one of those serious about PDP reclaiming power in 2019.
Shekarau is also seen by many as a force. “As far as I am concerned, the issue of contest on the platform of the PDP is a level playing ground for everybody. Each and every member is free to test his popularity and political weight when the time comes,” he had said.
But analysts say Shekarau does not have the clout to defeat an incumbent president if given the ticket. Findings revealed that the former governor does not have much support from power brokers in the party.
Lamido, a former governor of Jigawa State and one of the founding fathers of the PDP, has also indicated interest in the party’s ticket for 2019. Analysts say the onetime Minister of Foreign Affairs has the clout to win the party’s ticket considering his track records of sacrifices made to the party since its formation in 1998. Despite his travails, he has not left the PDP.
It is instructive to note that while the party was experiencing setbacks in other climes after its defeat in 2015, it was thriving in Lamido’s home state of Jigawa to the extent that some members of the ruling APC reportedly defected to the PDP.
Lamido was a member of the House of Representatives in the Second Republic and a leading member of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) in the Third Republic. Despite his track records, insiders say he cannot fly the party’s flag because of corruption allegations hanging on his neck.
Fayose is governor of Ekiti State and Chairman of PDP Governors’ Forum. He declared to run for the party’s ticket in September last year but maintained a low profile few weeks after. His declaration was against the zoning formula in the PDP considering that the ticket had been zoned to the north, while he is from the south.
Insiders, however, disclosed that the governor who would be leaving office in the last quarter of this year, is eyeing the vice presidential ticket and not the apex one. His challenge however, is that there are many contenders.
Daily Trust Saturday gathered that the Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu, former governor of Anambra State Peter Obi, former Minister of Finance Okonjo-Iweala, and former Secretary of the PDP National Caretaker Committee Sen. Ben Obi, are likely to contest the VP slot.
Mark is a four-time serving senator and ex-Senate president. He is former military governor of Niger State and experienced Benue-born politician. During his reign as Senate President, Mark brought stability to the Senate by bringing diplomacy to bear on issues before the floor.
The lawmaker has maintained sealed lips over his ambition, but our reporter gathered that many groups, especially from the North Central, have submitted letters prodding him to run.