By Eric Elezuo
Later today, 12 formidable aspirants will be jostling for the presidential ticket of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as the race for the 2019 draws closer. They are: Atiku Abubakar, Ahmed Makarfi, Aminu Tambuwal, Datti Baba-Ahmed, Attahiru Bafarawa, Sule Lamido, Bukola Saraki, Sule Lamido, David Mark, Jonah Jang, KabiruTuraki and Rabi Kwankwaso. They have all expressed confidence in their individual abilities to clinch the ticket and face President Muhammadu Buhari as the main challenger in the general election next February.
However, a lot of permutations have been made by those who believe they know as regards what it takes to dethrone the incumbent who seems to have a cult-like followership especially in the northern parts of the country where he hail from.
Consequently, as Port Harcourt, arguably the present day capital of PDP, hosts the election of that one man who will be saddled with the unenviable responsibility of flushing out the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), it is imperative to take a cursory look at some of this aspirants who must have done their homework in readiness to flex muscle against the power of incumbency.
Tambuwal would have gone down in the history books as one of the trusted if not the only trusted northerner among the lot seeking the umbrella of Aso Rock but for his abandonment of the oligarchy when he defected to the PDP. However, he is still seen as the person who will work 100 per cent in the interest of the north.
Earlier in the year, The Boss authoritatively reported that the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) was concluding plans to adopt Tambuwal, as its flag bearer in the forthcoming 2019 presidential election.
The report was based on reliable sources which told TheBoss that the rank and file of the main opposition party is wooing the governor, who about four years ago ditched the party for the APC where he won the Sokoto State governorship election. Today, Taambuwal has returned to the party as a first step towards flying the party’s presidential flag
Tambuwal, who until May 2015, was the Speaker of the House of Representatives, has maintained a low profile in the build-up to the much-talked about 2019 presidential election until penultimate Thursday when he declared his defection in a massive fanfare.
Touted as one of the most qualified to wear the crown of presidency come 2019 because of his youth and sundry achievements within a short period of time, Tambuwal was born on January 10, 1966 in Tambuwal village, Sokoto to Alhaji Waziri Tambuwal.
He attended Town Primary School, Tambuwal, Sokoto State, where he obtained Primary School Leaving Certificate in 1979 before moving to Government Teachers’ College, Dogon-Daji, where he equally obtained the Teachers Grade II Certificate in 1984.
Connected and versed in national and world politics, Tambuwal had his tertiary education at the rated Usman Dan Fodio University where he studied Law, and graduated with a LLB (Hons) degree in 1991. He was called to the bar in 1992 after completing his one year compulsory legal studies at the Nigerian Law School.
From the influential Sokoto Caliphate, those who see Tambuwal as a potential believe that his origin will stand him in good stead to gain the confidence of the Hausa/Fulani traditional rulers as well as gain the trust of the powerful political class. And this happen to be one of the major reasons he is thrust forward.
Another strong point that makes him an attractive candidate is the immense connection that he has across the country. On account of his former position as speaker he has contacts in all parts. In addition, his energy and youthfulness is a big plus. More so, the clamour for a youth president will somehow give me an edge over his closest rival.
Tambuwal’s immense support among the opposition’s inner circles stems from the fact that he is seen as an untainted politician, who can be firm when necessary and also has a squeaky clean image that will adhere him to floating voters.
He started learning the legislative ropes since 1999 while working as Personal Assistant on Legislative Affairs to Senator Abdullahi Wali, the then Senate Leader.
In 2003, he decided to run for a legislative seat as representative of the Kebbe/Tambuwal Federal Constituency. He was elected into the House of Representatives on the platform of the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP).
Articulate and savvy, Tambuwal held several positions in the House. In 2005, he became the Minority Leader of the House until he defected to the PDP. Upon his re-election to the House in 2007, he was also elected to the office of the Deputy Chief Whip.
Tambuwal’s experiences at the bar and in politics have propelled him to enviable of position of one of the most recognizable politicians in Nigeria.
But again, Tambuwal is a core northerner who has little or no influence in the south; either west east or south. His influence dp not even cut across the north central. It is there difficult for Tambuwal to pick the much desired ticket not to talk of defeating Buhari in 2019.
A longtime Presidential hopeful, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar is leaving no stone unturned because by all intent and purpose, this seems to be his last effort to occupy the Aso Rock Presidential Villa, Abuja as president.
He is reputed as the most formidable of all the current Presidential aspirants in terms of clout and connection, and has over the years proved it by physically connecting to all and sundry including showing uncommon love for the people of the South East, including marrying a wife from the region.
The former Customs boss has become the cynosure of all eyes as the race for Aso Rock Villa takes a very important turn today, and the most sought after bride.
Alhaji Atiku Abubakar has remained a force driven and propelled by the desire to achieve whatever he sets out to do, and consequently has a retinue of incredible credential trailing his illustrious civil and political career.
A schemer of great repute, Dele Momodu, after an exclusive interview, described him in a write up earlier in the year as “a man so fastidious about his dream and so obstinate about achieving a lifelong ambition to be the number one Nigerian Citizen.”
Atiku is not hiding the fact that he is the only candidate who can, not only give Buhari a good run for his money, but thoroughly defeat him at the polls when they come face to face in 2019. That explains why all eyes are on him as the one man who has what it takes to send Buhari packing from Aso Rock Villa, and he declared emphatically that ‘I will beat him (Buhari)’.
Today, Atiku has remained the loudest voice in comparison to all that has so far declared presidential ambition, and that explains why all eyes are on him. He has against all odds created a cultlike followership in his trail, and looks unstoppable. But how the Uche Secondus led PDP decides to handle the forthcoming primary will definitely have a multiplier effect on the outcome of the February 2019 Presidential election.
Atiku GCON, born November 25, 1946 is a prolific and successful businessman. He served as the second elected vice-president of Nigeria from 1999 to 2007, on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), with President Olusegun Obasanjo.
Abubakar worked in the Nigeria Customs Service for twenty years, rising to become the Deputy Director, as the second highest position in the Service was then known. He retired in April 1989 and took up full-time business and politics. He ran for the office of governor in the Gongola State (now Adamawa and Taraba States) in 1991, and for the Presidency in 1993, placing third after MKO Abiola and Babagana Kingibe in the Social Democratic Party (SDP) primaries.
In 1998 he was elected Governor of Adamawa State. While still Governor-Elect he was selected by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Presidential candidate Olusegun Obasanjo.
Abubakar is a co-founder of Intels, an oil servicing business with extensive operations in Nigeria and abroad. He is also the founder of Adama Beverages Limited, and the American University of Nigeria (AUN), both in Yola, Adamawa.
Among the political heavyweights into the ring of wrestling the presidency from Buahri and the APC is who have thrown their hats is the strong man of Kano politics, Alhaji Rabiu Musa Kwakwanso, the subject behind the popular Kwankwasiyya Movement that has made and continued to make waves in the Northern political arena and beyond; the reputed former governor of Kano State, who posterity gave pass marks for his eight years stewardship in the ancient city-state.
Kwakwanso first gave a hint of his presidential intention at the funeral ceremony of late elder statesman, Dr. Alex Ekwueme in Anambra State. And since then, he has not looked back. Kwankwazo is another serious contender.
In the prelude to the 2015 General Elections, Kwankwazo narrowly lost to the incumbent President, Muhammadu Buhari, at the party primaries held at the Teslim Balogun Stadium in Lagos. He beat former Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar to the third place. Today, followers of the Kano politician believe that there is a paradigm shift in the affairs of things, and the coast is clear to give President Buhari a trouncing should.
His advantage lies in earlier approval by Ex-President OlusegunObasanjo and former Military President, Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida, to take over from Buhari should his illness become irredeemable Though Buhari madde it back hale and healthy, is not record yet that the plan has changed
According to an APC chieftain at the time: “They may have settled for Kwankwaso, because of certain factors; part of the reasons is that more than any other politician in the North, Kwankwaso is seen as commanding a large followership in Kano and most states of the North-West.’’
Kwankwazo is believed to have the vigour to carry the weight of governance if elected as president as he is said to be very hard working, philanthropic, charismatic, faithful and sincere concerning all his commitments. His followers are also f the view that he will also carry everybody along.
Kwankwaso was born on October 21,1956 in Kwankwaso village of Madobi Local Government Area of Kano State. He attended Kwankwaso Primary School, Gwarzo Boarding Senior Primary School, Wudil Craft School and Kano Technical College before proceeding to Kaduna Polytechnic where he did both his National Diploma, and Higher National Diploma. He did postgraduate studies in the United Kingdom a Middlesex Polytechnic (1982-1983) and Loughborough University of Technology (1983 -1985) where he got his master’s degree in Water Engineering. Kwankwaso was an active student leader during his school days and was an elected official of the Kano State Students Association.
Kwankwaso started work in 1975 at the Kano State Water Resources and Engineering Construction Agency (WRECA), serving as a civil servant for 17 years in various capacities and rising through the ranks as the principal engineer.
In 1992, Kwankwaso was elected as a member of House of Representatives representing Madobi Federal Constituency. His subsequent election as Deputy Speaker in the House brought him to the limelight of national politics.
During the 1995 Constitutional Conference, Kwankwaso was elected as one of the delegates from Kano, as a member of the Peoples Democratic Movement led by Yar’adua. He joined the PDP in 1998 under the platform of Peoples Democratic Movement in Kano led by Mallam Musa Gwadabe, Senator Hamisu Musa and Alhaji Abdullahi Aliyu Sumaila. He was elected governor of Kano State in 2007 and served for two terms before being elected as a senator. He defected from the PDP in 2014 and returned on July 24, 2018.
ABUBAKAR BUKOLA SARAKI
At 56, young and very experience, the President of Senate, Bukola Saraki, like Atiku, is one aspirant who can boast of structures all over the country capable of giving him a solid ground to canvass for votes from Nigerians. Among his strongest selling point is the disillusionment that has so encompassed the Nigerian people that they clamour for urgent attention.
In a bid to provide good and impartial leadership, Saraki has on many occasions come head to head with his former party, the APC, and that explained their continued loggerhead till the day he finally called it quits.
Dr. Saraki is reputed as a leader who does not have any qualms when it comes to working with and giving youths opportunity to prove their mettle. He has that uncanny ability to spot and deploy good talents. This is evident in his ability, during his tenure to give youths in their 30s and early 40s such as Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi, Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed, Zakari Mohammed and Razak Atunwa who is today the governorship candidate of the PDP in Kwara State among others the opportunity to flourish and showcase their potentials.
As a result of his sterling achievements, his colleagues did not think twice in electing him Chairman of Nigerian Governors Forum.
His achievements as governor and senate president speak for themselves, and are very glaring.
The major highlight of his administration as governor could be traced to Kwara becoming the first state to complete the Nigeria Independent Power Project, as well as re energised the Ganmo Power Station, Ilorin in collaboration with PHCN, connecting over 3750 rural communities to the national grid through the development and installation of 725 transformers and 7 substations.
Kwara also completed four electrification projects which meant power became stable 18–22 hours a day. 70% of people living in Kwara had access to electricity, compared to a national average in Nigeria of 30% at the time.
As Senate President, he has passed more bills within his first three years than any leader of the senate ever come close to doing for a whole tenure.
Abubakar Bukola Saraki was born on December 19, 1962 to the family of Olusola Saraki, a senator (1979–1983) and onetime Senate Leader of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and his mother Florence Morenike Saraki. He attended King’s College, Lagos, from 1973 to 1978, and Cheltenham College in the United Kingdom from 1979 to 1981 for his High School Certificate. He then studied at the London Hospital Medical College of the University of London from 1982 to 1987, where he obtained his M.B.B.S (London).
Saraki worked as a medical officer at Rush Green Hospital, Essex, from 1988 to 1989. He was a director of Société Générale Bank (Nig) Ltd from 1990 to 2000.
In 2000, President Olusegun Obasanjo appointed Saraki as Special Assistant to the President on Budget. During his tenure, Saraki initiated the Fiscal Responsibility Bill. Saraki also served on the Economic Policy Coordination Committee, where he was responsible for the formulation and implementation of several key economic policies for Nigeria.
In 2003, he ran for the office of governor of Kwara State on the platform of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), and won. He was sworn into office in May 2003. He ran again for re-election in 2007 and won his second term. As governor of Kwara, he led reforms in agriculture, health, education, finance and environment policy. One of his major achievements was inviting displaced white farmers from Zimbabwe to Kwara State and offering them an opportunity to farm. This led to the establishment of Shonga Farms programme, which is now being replicated across Nigeria. He also served as chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ forum.