Inside The Camps Of The PDP Presidential Aspirants
Even before the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) released the timetable for the 2019 general elections, the battle for the presidency had already begun.
Before INEC’s release last week, activities within the camps of presidential hopefuls, especially those from the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) had already taken an upward swing.
The release only further revved the machineries of the presidential aspirants particularly those from the Northern part of the country, which appears likely to produce the next President going by the consensus in the two major parties.
With the INEC timetable release, the battle for the PDP has intensified. Aspirants and their sponsors are deploying their political machines for overarching mobilisation and lobby.
Seven heavyweight politicians and a professor are struggling for the presidential ticket of the party.
They are Atiku Abubakar, Sule Lamido, Senator Ahmed Makarfi, Ibrahim Shekarau, Attahiru Bafarawa, Gombe State Governor Ibrahim Dankwambo and his Ekiti State counterpart, Ayodele Fayose.
Then there is Professor Olufunmilayo Adesanya-Davis who is relatively new in politics and may not make any meaningful impact in whoever emerges as the party's candidate.
In the coming days more aspirants may still join the race under the party’s platform.
Of the earlier cited eight, only four have formally declared their intentions - Fayose, Lamido, Shekarau and Davis.
Others are still engaged in preliminary lobbying, political simulation, negotiations, horse trading and consensus building before making formal declaration for the presidential race.
Bounce News looks at the political intrigues going on within the various camps of the aspirants
This would be Atiku's fifth attempt at contesting for the Nigerian presidency, as he had contested for presidency 4 times in 1992, 2006 2011 and 2015.
His return to the PDP from the APC has been seen by many as both an asset and a challenge for the party.
Atiku, apart from being an old battle-tested politician with huge financial strength and a deeply-entrenched structure that cuts across the 36 states and the FCT, appears to be the only presidential contender with the experience and determination to wrestle power from President Muhammadu Buhari.
The Atiku camp, renowned for its massive consultative prowess, had been engaging in series of meetings and efforts to ensure that their principal faces no barrier ahead of the landmark election.
His supporters have discreetly put in place several structures and strongholds in the party to make sure Atiku wins the PDP’s ticket.
The challenge Atiku’s camp is however facing is from the governors of the party, who are now in control of the party machinery.
In spite of Atiku’s financial muscle and experience, he is said to not be enjoying the support of serving and former PDP governors, as a number of them are equally scheming to get the party’s ticket for 2019.
Atiku had initial support from former President Goodluck Jonathan before his defection from APC to PDP. It was on the basis of the support and negotiations that Jonathan advised Atiku to beg former President Olusegun Obasanjo if he must proceed in the presidential race; an advice Atiku accepted to comply with.
Unfortunately, Jonathan could not coordinate the Atiku relationship in the build up to the December 9, 2017, PDP National Convention to guarantee the emergence of party leaders in the National Working Committee (NWC) who would serve the interest of the former vice president in subsequent power games in the party.
The former governor of Jigawa State commenced his 2019 presidential campaign long before Atiku decided he'd had enough of the APC.
There have been social media footages of Lamido holding up a fist from the roof of a car; and saluting chanting crowds in his home State and elsewhere in the north.
As it stands now, Lamido is proving to be a force to reckon with in the power configuration of the PDP. He has sustained his horse trading for the party’s presidential ticket despite his case with the EFCC.
Since the beginning of 2017, Lamido’s campaign posters have flooded several parts of the country, and he has held series of consultations across the length and breadth of Nigeria.
He seems to be relying on the political machine of former President Olusegun Obasanjo in the 2019 presidential race.
One of the groups supporting Lamido’s ambition, the G37 Group, is already planning to organize a fund raiser to generate N50 billion for his 2019 presidential campaign.
Most of his suppoeters are, however, worried that his case befor the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) may affect his chances of picking the party’s ticket. Lamido and his two sons, Aminu and Mustapha Lamido are currently facing an alleged 43 counts of corruption and misappropriation of Jigawa State’s funds totaling N1.35 bn at a Federal High Court in Abuja.
According to EFCC, Lamido was equally alleged to have collected kickbacks from contractors in the state, with the funds allegedly paid into accounts that were managed by his sons
His supporters believed that even if he is eventually exonerated, his image has been dented and many Nigerians who are pleased with current administration’s anti- corruption crusade may not give him their votes.
Former Kaduna Governor, Ahmed Makarfi is preferred by a few Governors within the PDP ranks to fly the party's flag in 2019.
While he has played hide and seek over the issue for months, most of his admirers and supporters have embarked on series of public functions designed to promote his political interest and ambition.
His major selling point has been the way he managed the crisis that almost consigned the PDP to the dustbin of history.
Makarfi’s camp is buoyed by the support it is getting from Gov Nyesom Wike of Rivers State. Wike had traded the PDP National Chairman election won by Uche Secondus, who he sponsored, in a tentative compact to support Makarfi for the PDP presidential ticket.
It is beleieved that Wike, in cooperation with Governor Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti State, may be mobilizing support for Makarfi for the PDP ticket.
Makarfi’s candidature has, however, been generating skepticism over his health status by some PDP stakeholders.
The former governor of Kano is said to be another forerunner for the presidency in 2019.
A few unnamed governors on the PDP platform are name-dropping him as their preferred presidential choice, and his close friends and party members are unrelenting in their quest to make sure he wins the party’s ticket.
His supporters took a number of far-reaching steps towards the end of last year to put the former Minister of Education on a better pedestal, and his camp is very active on social media.
With the PDP zoning its presidential ticket to the north of Nigeria, Ekiti State Governor, Ayodele Fayose stands no chance of emerging president any time soon.
He is however perceived to be positioning himself for the vice presidential ticket of the party.
Fayose, in order to realise his vice presidential ambition, worked underground to take the national chairmanship position away from the South West to another region.
His action was anchored on the reasoning that the region cannot produce both the chairman and vice presidential candidates of the party.
It is certain Attahiru Bafarawa will run for the presidency in 2019.
He is, however, being slowed down by two factors - the initial problems that bogged the PDP leadership at the centre and his case with the EFCC over ex-President Goodluck Jonathan’s 2015 campaign funds.
There are insinuations that though he would run under the PDP, he is exploring other options to fulfil his ambition.
In the event that he is unable to achieve his ambition in the PDP, he may resort to the Democratic People’s Party (DPP), the party he founded and emerged its presidential flag-bearer in the 2007 presidential election.
Sources say once Bafarawa succeeds in dispensing the cases in courts, he would then accelerate his political machinery towards vying for the presidency.
One of the leading presidential aspirants in the PDP is the Gombe State governor, Ibrahim Dankwambo.
Although he has not officially thrown his hat in the ring for the contest; his political camp has been agog with activities regarding the aspiration.
Said to be the anointed candidate of some PDP governors, Dankwambo, a former Accountant-General of the Federation, will have as credentials his prowess as the only sitting governor to win his state for the PDP in the tsunami of the 2015 elections that swept away the PDP in all but one North-East state.
His camp is buoyed by the fact that he is a relatively young man. He is only 55 years of age; which makes him the youngest amongst the contestants.
Another factor going for his camp is the fact that he does not have any allegation or charges of corruption against him.
His political camp is confident that his candidature will readily enjoy huge acceptance and support from millions of Nigerians who are daily yearning for a breath of fresh air and better governance.
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