Lateef Ibrahim, Abuja
It is barely seven months to the 2019 general elections. The political stage is getting set. The political gladiators are not leaving anything to chances. The political parties, on their parts, are becoming more active and bubbling again, with activities peaking up fast.
After the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, the next visibly active political party among the over seventy existing parties in the land, without any doubt, is the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP. No wonder the PDP remains the leading opposition party in the country as at today. The PDP was in power for sixteen years until the 2015 general elections, when it lost election at the centre to the APC.
As the presidential election, billed for February 2019, gets nearer, the battle as to who gets the presidential ticket of the PDP is becoming intense and fierce.
Those who have publicly indicated interest in getting the PDP presidential ticket are; former Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, erstwhile Governor of Kaduna State and former National Chairman of the PDP, Senator Ahmed Mohammed Makarfi, former Minister of Special Duties, Barrister Tanimu Kabiru Turaki, former Governor of Jigawa state, Alhaji Sule Lamido, former Governor of Kano State and one time Minister of Education, Malam Ibrahim Shekarau, former Senator and pro-chancellor of Baze University, Dr Datti Baba Ahmed.
Also in the race is the Governor of Ekiti State and Chairman of PDP Governors forum, Dr Peter Ayodele Fayose, who was the first to openly declare his interest for the position, through a declaration he made at the Chelsea hotel in Abuja last year. The governor of Gombe state and former accountant-general of the federation, Alhaji Hassan Ibrahim Dankwambo is also believed to be interested in contesting for the presidential ticket of the PDP. His name is being mentioned in some circles. He has however not publicly made any reference to such ambition.
Definitely, the battle for the presidential ticket of the PDP is going to be hot, tough, tasking and highly competitive. The question, which is however in the lips of many political observers, analysts and pundits is: Who will get the PDP presidential ticket? Who is that candidate that will face those of the APC and other parties during the February 2019 presidential election?
ALHAJI ATIKU ABUBAKAR :
Atiku’s political sagacity is certainly not in doubt. Before becoming the vice president to the then President Olusegun Obasanjo between 1999 and 2007, the Wazirin Adamawa has been building his political bridges across the federation. Atiku has been establishing his political base everywhere. He has equally been in one party and the other. In all these parties he had been Atiku has been establishing contacts and connection politically. The former Vice president is known to have a deep financial pocket, judging from his various business concerns within and outside the coyntry. This financial war chest, no doubt, is very germane, pertinent and imperative in the contest for who gets the PDP presidential ticket.
But the former Vice President has assured that he will not defect from the party anymore even if he fails to secure the party’s Presidential ticket for the 2019 general elections.
Rather, Atiku promised that he would continue to discharge his responsibility to the party.
Atiku gave the assurance recently during his visit to the national secretariat of the PDP, popularly known as Wadata house, in Abuja during which he formally informed the National Working Committee (NWC) of his intention to view for the presidential ticket of the party.
According to him, “Whether I become the presidential candidate or not, I want to assure you that I will always discharge my obligations to this party”.
SENATOR AHMED MOHAMMED MAKARFI
Having been a governor of Kaduna State for eight years, Senator representing Kaduna North and National Chairman of the party, both at the level of Chairman of the National Caretaker Committee, NCC, of the PDP and substantive National Chairman do the party, it’s a fact that can not be controverted that Makarfi has come a long way politically. He has his supporters, admirers and fans. Even though, Makarfi may not be a man of too many words, but he is a political tactician and a bridge builder across the country.
The diplomatic and matured manner he handled the leadership crisis that bedeviled the party after the 2015 general election is a clear proof or evidence of his political testimonial and maturity. Makarfi, without any iota of doubt, will be a great asset to the party if he becomes the presidential torch bearer of the opposition party for the 2019 general election.
BARRISTER TANIMU KABIRU TURAKI, SAN:
Turaki, a Lawyer from Kebbi State, was a former Minister of Special Duties under the immediate past administration of President Goodluck Jonathan.
He is currently the Chairman of the forum of former Ministers on the platform of the PDP.
During the 2015 presidential election, he was the deputy Director General of the party presidential campaign committee. Turaki is a young and vibrant politician who has the backing of many people in his aspiration for the nation’s presidency. He is seen by many as a core grassroot politician, who has build a lot of political bridges across the country.
At a recent media parley, Barrister Turaki, who is currently on a consultative meeting to leaders and members of the PDP, across the country, had already expressed the optimism that he will clinch the presidential ticket of the party, stressing that his priority will be to protect the oneness of the country and the survival of the nation’s democracy.
Turaki pointed out that some of the factors that will work for him to emerge as the presidential flag bearer of the PDP are; that he is a bridge builder, a well educated person who doesn’t have any quarrel or issue with anybody as well having no extra baggage whatsoever.
According to him, “my chances are very bright to pick the PDP presidential ticket. I am a bridge builder, well educated and I am not fighting anybody. I also do not have any extra luggage. In all the positions that I had served, I excelled”.
The former Minister of Special Duties made it clear that the indivisibility of Nigeria and survival of Nigeria’s democracy would be of utmost priority and concern to him if elected President.
The aspirant however assured that if he is not able to clinch the PDP ticket, he will still support whoever gets the ticket, stressing that the victory of the party in the 2019 general elections should be of primary interest to all.
ALHAJI SULE LAMIDO:
Lamido was a two-term governor of Jigawa State between 2007 and 2015. He had equally served as Foreign Affairs Minister under the government of former President Olusegun Obasanjo. Lamido, who is popularly known as Jangoran Talakawa (defender of the poor) by his people, is one of the members of G-34, the political group that played a prominent role in ensuring that the military disengaged from governance in 1999, is one of the founders of the PDP. He is undoubtedly popular among his people .Little wonder some people were rooting for him as the presidential candidate of the party before the 2015 election. However, will that same support still be there for him ahead of forthcoming primaries? Time will tell.
MALAM IBRAHIM SHEKARAU:
Shekarau was a two-term governor of Kano State. He was also a Minister of Education under the regime of President Goodluck Jonathan. He is popular among his people. He has been tested in other positions where he excelled. He is a core Educationist. It is however not known if he has the financial war chest to match some of the other aspirants. Money, surely, will play a very vital role in this.
SENATOR DATTI BABA AHMED:
Baba Ahmed was elected into the House of Representatives in 2003, where represented Zaria federal constituency of Kaduna State. It was at the lower arm of the National Assembly that he obviously came into a major political lime light.
In 2011, he was again elected into the Senate to represent Kaduna North constituency of Kaduna State. Athough his stay in the Senate was brief as the Electoral Tribunal upturned his victory and recognized Senator Ahmed Makarfi as the winner of the seat.
Baba Ahmed is the Pro -Chancellor and owner of Baze University, which is situated in Abuja, the nation’s capital. Baba Ahmed is a young and vobrant politician. This is being seen in some quarters as a big plus for him.
PETER AYODELE FAYOSE:
Fayose is presently the governor of Ekiti State and Chairman of PDP Governors’ forum. He was the first to publicly indicate his interest to contest for the nation’s president on the platform of the PDP at a formal declaration in Abuja last year. However, Fayose has, since the national convention of the party in Abuja late last year, during which a southerner, Prince Uche Secondus was elected the National Chairman of the party, gone silence on his ambition. He seems to have accepted the stark reality that the presidential candidate of the party would have to emerge from the North.
In determining who gets the presidential ticket of the PDP for the 2019 general election, the elected governors of the party will have a big say. The governors, without mincing words, have been in the driving seat of the party, deciding who gets what. The power being wielded by the governors got visibly played out during the last national convention of the party at the Eagle Square in Abuja, during which their favoured candidate for chairmanship emerged victorious.
The influence of the Rivers State Governor, Mr Nyeson Wike and his Ekiti State counterpart, Fayose cannot be underestimated.
Although, no date has been set for the primaries, but one thing that is certain is that getting the ticket is not going to be a tea party.
The big question remains: Who gets the presidential ticket of the PDP ahead of the next year’s election? Time will tell.