The national leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) appears to be at the crossroads over what to do with the high number of aspirants jostling for the party’s presidential ticket.
So far, 13 aspirants have indicated interest in the ticket and there were indications at the weekend that the number may increase in the days ahead.
Those in the race are former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar; Sokoto State Governor, Aminu Tambuwal; Gombe State Governor, Ibrahim Dankwabo; President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki; former Governor of Jigawa State, Sule Lamido; former Governor of Kaduna State, Ahmed Makarfi; and a former Special Duties Minister, Tanimu Turaki.
Others are a former Governor of Kano State, Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso; another former Kano Governor, Ibrahim Shekarau; former Governor of Sokoto State, Attahiru Bafarawa; a former Plateau State Governor, Jonah Jang; an industrialist, Dr. Baba Datti Ahmed; and one Ahmed Buhari
It was gathered that several meetings the leadership of the party held with the aspirants seeking the possibility of pruning down the number have so far proved futile.
It was also learnt that fears expressed by the leadership of the party over the unwieldy number of the aspirants were said to have been waved the contestants, as they were all said to have insisted on contesting.
Fearing recriminations that the outcome of the primaries might engender, the party is said to be rallying the aspirants to sign an undertaking to accept and embrace the eventual winner.
Similarly, the party is also working on them to agree to join the eventual winner in the electioneering, with a proviso that none of them would defect from the PDP zone on account of losing the primaries.
Investigation revealed that the party’s governors have been in consultations with the leadership of the party and other key stakeholders, with the view to projecting one of the aspirants as a preferred candidate.
Discussants at the various fora during consultations were said to have put forward Tambuwal, Kwankwaso and Atiku for consideration.
It was reliably gathered that some powerful members of the northern establishment are split down the middle over Tambuwal and Kwankwaso.
It is said that the thinking in the camp of the northern power brokers centred on the need for the PDP to field a candidate from one of the states in the Northwest where Tambuwal and Kwankwaso hailed from.
Some of the party’s governors, particularly a vocal one from one of the states in the South-South, are said to have bought into the idea of making a pick from the Northwest.
Those that expressed preference for Tambuwal cited his relatively young age and the fact that he is not known to have any baggage that the government at the centre could hang on him.
Similarly, they were also said to have reasoned that his constitutional immunity as a serving governor would shield him from unnecessary distractions from security agencies during electioneering campaign.
On the other hand, they considered Kwankwaso very popular in Kano, with enough clout to challenge the cult-like following of the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), President Muhammadu Buhari, in the Northwest, particularly in Kano.
Kwankwaso’s chances were also weighed with the large voter population in the Northwest, particularly Kano where the former governor hails from and where he controls a large grassroots political group, the Kwankwasiyya Movement.
His performance in the 2014 primary election of the APC where he came a close second to Buahri, was also said to have come under consideration during the consultations.
Atiku was highly rated with having built functional political bridges across the six geopolitical zones and established goodwill across the socio-economic strata.
However, not a few of the stakeholders and the governors were said to have consider his advance age a drawback to his aspiration. Atiku will be over 72 before the presidential election.
So far, Bafarawa, Tambuwal, Dankwabo and Datti Ahmed had come to obtain their nomination papers in person. Others aspirants have been obtaining their nomination documents through proxies.
Kwankwaso personally picked his documents at 6.15 pm yesterday, while Atiku and Saraki obtained their forms earlier in the day through proxies.
Lamido was said to have quietly obtained his form in a similar manner earlier in the week. However, Makarfi, Shekarau, Jang and Ahmed Buhari were yet to pick the forms by close of work yesterday.
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