By Ayo Fadimu
As the 2019 presidential election draws nearer, two northern political heavyweights, former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar and a former Kano State governor, Senator Rabiu Kwankwaso are set to defect to People’s Democratic Party (PDP), the former party they left in the run up to the last general election in 2015.
The two men contested the All Progressive Congress (APC) primary election where President Muhammadu Buhari later emerged as the candidate of the party. Kwankwaso came second while Atiku came third during the primary election.
PDP has zoned its presidential ticket to the north and is presently shopping for credible candidates with large followership who can defeat incumbent President Buhari of APC in 2019.
Kwankwaso installed his erstwhile deputy, Abdullahi Ganduje as his successor but the two soon fell apart and Kwankwaso and his loyalists have been left in the political cold in the state.
Kwankwaso and his loyalists boycotted the weekend’s state congress of the party held at the indoor Hall of the Sani Abacha Stadium. However, Ganduje, federal and state legislators, political office holders and party leaders in the state were present to elect a new state executive committee for the party.
At the state congress, 15 persons loyal to Ganduje were presented unopposed for the various state party offices.
The unopposed nominees include the current acting Chairman of the party Abdullahi Abbas, who want to take the seat in substantive capacity; his deputy, Shehu Maigari; and current Secretary, Ibrahim Sarina.
The Chairman of the Election Committee sent from Abuja, Nwankwo Arinze,, noted that despite the fact that the contestants were unopposed,the laws of the party stipulate strict compliance with the guidelines for election into party offices.
Arinze said his committee was directed by the APC National Headquarters to conduct transparent election at the party congress.
Atiku on the other hand has been very critical of the party in the recent past. With a very large support base in the north, the present agitation for restructuring which Atiku has been clamouring for lately has endeared him to some supporters of restructuring and resource control in the north. He was recently invited to the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Enugu State to speak on restructuring and benefits to the country.
Recently, Atiku has been critical of his party (APC) and recently referred to the party as undemocratic over failure to organise statutory meetings for the organs of the party. He said that the situation shows lack of internal democracy in the ruling party.
Among those in attendance were the APC Deputy National Chairman (North), Shaibu Lawal, who represented the party’s National Chairman, John Odigie-Oyegun.
Nigerian NewsDirect gathered that the two men have set up strategic groups all over the country to actualize their aims of ruling the country.
“As it were today, the two men cannot do anything in APC in 2019, the only option they have is to defect to PDP where they are guaranteed of fair play and where they can actualise their aim,” a top PDP official who is a member of the forthcoming 2017 special non-elective national convention planning committee told Nigerian NewsDirect.
In the meantime, the national leadership of the party has set machinery in motion to organize grand reception for the two politicians when they return to PDP.
“APC snatched our bigwigs to defeat us in 2015, we shall repay them with their coins in 2019” the Chieftain told Nigerian NewsDirect.
However, the two men are not top politicians on the radar of PDP, according to the Spokesperson for the National Caretaker Committee of the party, Prince Dayo Adeyeye, other top politicians of the party intend to lure include the senator representing Kaduna Central in the senate, Shehu Sani.
He has been in political supremacy battle with Kaduna State governor, Nasir El Rufai. Like Kwankwaso, he also lost out in the party congress held a fortnight ago. His return to the senate is already in jeopardy.
A source close to the Senator said he is in talk with the leadership of PDP and will soon declare for the umbrella party.
Similarly, two former governors of Oyo State, Chief Rasheed Ladoja and Otunba Adebayo Alao Akala are expected to join PDP very soon, impeccable source reliably informed Nigerian NewsDirect.