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Friday, 31 August 2018

PDP Presidential Aspirants: See the Contenders and Pretenders

PDP Presidential Aspirants:  See the Contenders and Pretenders

*Also On Ibrahim Dankwambo’s Drinking Problem

For the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), it has been floodgates of presidential aspirations as February 2019 general elections draw closer.

From one intriguing moment to another, the party has been receiving rave reviews since it rose from the ashes of morbidity when the Supreme Court rescued it from the asphyxiating grip of the former Borno State Governor, Ali Modu Sheriff, who almost spelt eternal doom for the party.

Resuscitated from this gloomy past, the party has suddenly become a beautiful bride looking very appealing to every suitor of note who is aspiring to oust President Muhammadu Buhari in 2019. It is a common occurrence to have the political space saturated with all sort of contenders and pretenders in every election cycle.

There are some whose ambition remains as bright as their chances at the primary elections and general poll while others only make up the number. With all the surreptitious negotiations, clandestine gerrymandering and cross-carpeting blowing across the country’s political landscape, it is imperative to analytically separate the wheat from the chaff among the top contenders jostling to fly the PDP presidential flag in the party primary election slated for October 2018.

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Abubakar Atiku

Former Vice-President Abubakar Atiku is on the march again in what looks like his last attempt at becoming Nigeria’s President, an ambition that took off twenty six years ago. Atiku’s dogged resolve has seen him change parties severally in search of a winning platform, all to no avail. His return to the PDP, of which he was once the most influential leader, has since changed the game.

There is no doubting that Atiku is a household name known all over the country; his broad-based disposition counts for little when one considers the fact that his absence from the party for a period has whittled down his influence among the crop of leaders who presently hold the party by the jugular, especially the governors.

Atiku’s penchant for head-hunting technocrats for public offices may stand against him in the party which prefers party patronage.

Atiku is also largely perceived as too independent-mindedness to be susceptible to the whims of the governors who largely control the party, and may not have their support for the party ticket. Should Atiku scale the governors’ hurdle, he stands a better chance at the general elections than any other candidate due to his cosmopolitan demeanour.

Rabiu Kwankwaso

He might have failed to win the party ticket, the former Governor of Kano State, Rabiu Kwankwaso made a surprising showing at the All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential primary held in 2014 when he came second behind President Buhari and dusted Atiku to a distant third.

The leader of the red cap-wearing ‘Kwankwasiyya Movement’ is back to the drawing table fine-tuning strategies to edge out his opponents this time around in the PDP. Kwankwaso is not known to be a heavy spender but his political deftness is widely acknowledged by those conversant with his politics.

The lawmaker has a fairly moderate, nomadic following in the North. Despite his cult-like following, Kwankwaso appears to have some troubles in the home-front where his successor-cum-predecessor, Ibrahim Shekarau has refused to relinquish the leadership of the Kano PDP to him, as Shekarau equally has his eyes on the presidential goal.

Another hurdle mounted stoutly against Kwankwaso is his former deputy, his successor and the incumbent governor, Abdullahi Ganduje, who has not only turned against him and decimated his influence, but also formed a silent alliance with Shekarau all in a bid to clip Kwankwaso’s wing. Kwankwaso’s exit from the PDP in the run-up to 2015 may also turn out to be a disadvantage.

Bukola Saraki

Bukola Saraki’s throwing his heart into the ring is a partial fulfilment of an ambition long foretold before he eventually defected from the APC last month. That the Senate President has his eyes glued on the coveted seat first came to the national fore in 2015. But the PDP was not conducive enough and he had to leave with others.

It is 2018 and he feels he stands the best chance next year? How bright are his chances? Saraki’s state of origin is his major albatross. An indigene of Kwara State, which is situated as a Northern state but largely populated with Yoruba, Saraki may not be accepted as one of core northerners.

In fact, his name, Bukola, gives him away as more of Yoruba than Fulani from which he has his ancestral roots as claimed by many. His is a case of not being Arewa enough as much as being very little of Yoruba. Northern votes are as instrument to his victory as much as the Yorubas’.

The perception of Saraki as a clog (real or imagined) in Buhari’s government has a denting effect on his popularity in the North where Buhari’s fame is legendary. These factors would definitely come to play during the PDP primaries as the leaders might not want to risk a Saraki candidacy that has no national appeal.

Aminu Tambuwal

Sokoto State Governor, Aminu Tambuwal has also jumped in the fray, defecting from the APC to PDP. The popular perception about Tambuwal prior to his cross-carpeting was that he was politically in charge in Sokoto, until his defection was derided by over 200 of his appointees who refused to buy into his aspiration and immediately resigned from his cabinet.

The former Speaker of the House of Representatives is young and represents the aspiration of many young Nigerians clamouring for youthfulness.

Tambuwal does not have the political clout to stand shoulder to shoulder with Buhari both in the Northwest and Northeast. He does not also have the financial war chest to prosecute a presidential election. Tambuwal was said to have struck a deal with Saraki before decamping.

Saraki was reported to have assured Tambuwal that he would deploy his resources to Tambuwal’s presidential ambition, only for Saraki himself to declare his intention to run. Tambuwal does not have the cross-regional appeal to win a national election, a trait that may count against him in October during the PDP primaries.

Ibrahim Dankwambo

As things stand, Ibrahim Dankwambo, Governor of Gombe State, stands the brightest chance because he is in the good books of the governors of the PDP extraction. His emergence and readiness to negotiate with them is seen as further consummation of the power block.

Vibrant, urbane and extensively educated, the Ph.D holder is said to have given a good account of himself as a performing governor, which was responsible for his ability to weather the APC storm that swept all other PDP governors and aspirants in the North in 2015.

Dankwambo’s political standing soared in 2015 when he emerged as the sole governor of the PDP stock in the entire core North without having to rely on the name Buhari in 2015.

This feat has made him the rallying point of the governors from other regions. His times as the Accountant-General of the Federation were also said to be of fond memories. Rising through the ranks in the private sector and public sector where he held top offices, Dankwambo has a deep pocket to prosecute his presidential dream.

Fears being expressed about Dankwambo’s candidacy are founded on his wayward life, which may be his undoing if untamed. People, who are close to the former Accountant-General, marvel at how the man with personable mien has little or no control over booze and women. A connoisseur of sort when it comes to choice drinks; he knows wines and cognacs as intimately as a child knows his sandbox.

He is a man-about-town; a jolly good fellow who comes across as having no worries in life. Every day for him is Christmas, or, at least a day to celebrate with rounds and rounds of expensive drinks. A night crawler par excellence, He is a force on the social fixture of Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory.

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Sule Lamido

If the PDP presidential flag should be given to a man whose loyalty to the party can never be question, nobody among the crop of aspirants has more rights than Sule Lamido, former Governor of Jigawa and Minister of Foreign Affairs under President Olusegun Obasanjo. He was a founding member of the party and has never for one day exited it.

His depth in international relations and good governance stands him far above his peers. Many have said that he should be rewarded for standing strong for PDP, but in a clime where money plays a very vital role, it remains to be seen how this radical populist and successor of the late Aminu Kano, would outspend the heavy spenders in whose hand PDP rests at the moment.

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