By Eric Elezuo
With all eyes on the October 5 Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Presidential Primaries ahead of the February 2019 elections, the stage is set for not less than 12 heavyweights of the Nigerian political space to slug it in a winner takes all contest to determine the best among the rest. Not only will the best among the rest be determined, also that single individual with the political, social and economic clout to unseat President Muhammadu Buhari, will be expected to emerge.
Already, political intrigues and maneuvers have become the other of the day as aspirants have begun a sensitization tour of all PDP formations across the Federation to canvass for votes as the big day speedily approaches.
Among the presidential hopefuls are four bigwigs who just defected from the ruling All Progressives Party (APC) to pull their weights towards wrestling power from the incumbent president and party – they are a former Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, Governor of Sokoto State, Alhaji Aminu Tambuwal, former Governor of Kano State, Alhaji Rabiu Kwankwaso and the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki. These men, in their respective rights cannot be dismissed as ordinary. They are in the words of late Dr. Ozumba Mbadiwe, ‘men of timbre and calibre’. The list just thinned down however, with the decamping on Friday of one of the aspirants, Alhaji Ibrahim Shekarau to the ruling APC. He had alleged injustice and dissolution of the Kano PDP executive to favour new entrant, Kwankwaso, as his reason for decamping.
The beauty of their campaign so far is that none of them has called the other any names nor engaged in campaign of castigation or calumny against another since they declared their intentions. In fact, the likes of Atiku Abubakar is not limiting his consultations to PDP formations, but to fellow aspirants as well.
With just about 25 days left before the D-day, the identity of the man who will carry the day is still not known or speculated as the aspirants are riding high in the wave of nationwide consultations.
Below is a brief of the aspirants and their individual chances:
Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar is probably the first of the aspirants who showed serious intention to vie for the number one seat since defecting from the APC in December 2017. He has not hidden his desire to be president for a very long time. He served as former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s deputy from 1999 to 2007.
However, as a result of personality clash with his boss as the build up to the 2015 general elections gained ground, he defected to the APC where he contested the APC presidential ticket but lost to President Muhammadu Buhari, coming a distant third.
Many believed that Atiku’s return to the PDP is as a result of a near impossible chance of getting the APC against Buhari who has declared to run for a second term in office.
It is not known if Obasanjo, touted as one of the kingmakers of Nigerian politics has forgiven him wholeheartedly to give his support, otherwise, Atiku, who has eyed the presidency on four occasions may be heading for another fall at the primaries. Not wonder why he cried bitterly on the day he picked up his nomination forms. Again, his trump card of promising to restructure the country within six months in power may somehow boost his chances. If Atiku fails this time, it may be absolutely difficult for him to get another shot. But nothing is impossible!
A former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal is the current governor of Sokoto State, who recently defected from the APC to the PDP. The man, who stakeholders believe has the backing of the Sultanate, is hinging on the support he had while supervising the affairs of the House of Representatives. However, his stand in his home state is divided as not all apparatuses of his government defected with him to the opposition. He is however, so confident of emerging the flag bearer of the party.
A former governor of Kano State, Senator Rabiu Kwankwaso like the previously discussed recently defected back to the PDP after a long-running superiority battle with his successor, Governor Abdullahi Ganduje. He has a cult-like followership as the leader of the popular political movement called Kwankwassiya movement. In his first attempt at a shot to the presidency, he finished behind Buhari.
Kwankwaso’s intention to declare for the presidency on August 29 at the Eagle Square was thwarted and he ended up using the Chiba Hotel on Solomon Lar road.
He is also a former two-time governor, but of Kaduna state and has also spent eight years as a senator in the National Assembly. Makarfi is known to have held the PDP together shortly after it lost the 2015 Presidential election, the running battle with Alhaji Modo Sheriff notwithstanding He has said that he is the only one who can dethrone the incumbent president, adding that he has what it takes to rule the nation after successfully governing “a complex state like Kaduna for eight years”.
Also a two-time governor of Jigawa state, Lamido is another prominent member of the PDP who did not join the fray of defection when the situation was bad for the party. He has remained with party even when he was prosecuted and jailed. He served as Nigeria’s foreign minister from 1999 to 2003 and was elected Governor of Jigawa state in April 2007 and April 2011. Lamido is 70, and insists he has the qualities needed to move Nigeria forward.
Also a two-time governor of Kwara state, Saraki is Senate President of Nigeria, and has been for three years. His three years as National Assembly leader has been characterized by what he described as government persecution as he had hopped from tribunal to another, answering one case after another. His uhuru came when the Supreme Court declared that he has no case to answer, and afterwards he defected to the PDP, a party he left in 2014.
His three years in the Senate has been described by many as wholesome though the ruling party thinks otherwise. Under his leadership, the Senate has passed more bills than any Senate so far, and he is still not completed a tenure.
He is the incumbent Governor of Gombe State, the only state controlled by the PDP or any opposition in the North East. Dankwanbo believes his intention to run for the presidency is a response to the call by his people to come and deliver good governance. He said he decided to contest to “consolidate on the gains of democracy and save the country from hunger and starvation”. He had lamented the inability of the Northeast zone to produce a leader since late Abubakar Tafawa Balewa and says its time for the zone to bounce back to reckoning
Anothet two terms governor, Alhaji Attahiru Dalhatu Bafarawa was the governor of Sokoto state from 29 May 1999 to 29 May 2007. He is 64 years, and is bent on having another shot at the presidency after a failed first attempt in 2007 under the platform of the Democratic Peoples Party (DPP) which he formed.
An experienced lawmaker, Yusuf Datti Baba-Ahmed was elected a member of House of Representatives in 2003 under the All Nigeria People’s Party (ANPP) representing Zaria federal constituency in Kaduna state. He has boasted that he has the capacity to demystify the power of incumbency with a track record of defeating in 2011, Ahmed Makarfi, the incumbent senator and former governor of Kaduna state, for the Kaduna North senatorial seat. He said with that, he would also demystify the incumbency of President Buhari if he secures the ticket of his party.
Tanimu Turaki Kabiru
Known simply as Tanimu Turaki, the Kebbi State born presidential aspirant is a former Minister of Special Duties and Inter-governmental Affairs during the administration of Goodluck Jonathan. He was also Supervising Minister, Ministry of Labour and Productivity between 2014 and 2015, and current chairman of PDP Former Ministers’ Forum of Nigeria.
Tanimu is one of the earliest aspirants that declared their ambition, and is counting on his wealth of experience in the public sector to put Nigeria back on track. These he said stand him out among the rest. He has also been very vocal as regards his desire to occupy Aso Rock.
Jonah David Jang
A serving Senator and former two terms governor of Plateau State, Jonah Jang is of the opinion that it is time for the Middle Belt to rule Nigeria. Though he is facing a 12-count charge of diverting N6.3 billion alongside a former cashier in the office of the Secretary to the State Government, Yusuf Pam, a charge he believes is politically motivated, Jang is so sure that he has a track record that will deliver the PDP ticket to him.
When Senator David Mark threw his hat into the ring of presidential aspirants, he actually took most people by surprise; not many people expected it. The reason according to some stakeholders lies in the fact that since he left the office of the Senate president in 2015, he has contributed little or nothing in national discourse. His silence, they say, was no longer golden, even in the face of much killings in his home state, Benue.
Mark, however, will not be forgotten for his ‘doctrine of necessity’ which conferred acting president status on Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, when a so called ‘cabal’ was alleged to hold the country to ransom. Again, his aspiration is backed a group of retired army officers.