By Ayo Fadimu
The ambition of the Senate President, Dr Olusola Saraki, former Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and former Kano State governor, Sen Rabiu Kwankwaso is causing ripples among the members of National Working Committee and Board of Trustees of the Peolples Democratic Party (PDP).
The three leading aspirants are causing ripples among the members of NWC and BOT of the party over whom to support and which part of the North, where the party had ceded presidency would have edge over President Buhari in 2019.
Saraki is from the North central, Atiku is from the North East while Kwankwaso is from Kano State. Although other aspirants like former Caretaker Chairman of the party, Alhaji Ahmed Makarfi, former Senate President, David Mark and the Gombe state governor, Ibrahim Dankwambo as well as Sokoto state governor, Aminu Tambuwal are also in the race, the three are largely seen as having enough human and financial resources to contest and win President Buhari in 2019.
Saraki, who is the highest ranking political office holder in the party has financial war chest and his close ally with Senators who represent different senatorial district in the country will also give him advantage to know who and who to contact in each zone. He is also from North Central where the menace of fulani herdsmen has turned the people against the ruling All Progressives Party (APC).
Atiku on his part has been a torn in the flesh of presidency lately. He disagreed with Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo on Restructuring of the country and also described Buhari as a man who compromises on corruption when it affects his close aides.
Atiku has very deep pocket and also friends all over the country who can turn his aspiration to reality but the corruption tag hanging on his neck is the task is giving his aspiration nightmare.
On his part, Kwankwaso hails from Kano State. In the history of Nigeria democracy, no one has ever won Presidency of Nigeria if he loses in Kano. All elected Presidents of Nigeria had won in Kano. In 2019, Kano gave President Buhari highest number of votes. Kwankwaso was the governor of the Northwest state when Buhari won then in 2015.
Some of the PDP core supporters want a candidate from Northwest just like Buhari while other zones can then decide their fate while some want candidate from other parts of the north which will have resemblance of one geo-political zone against another.
In his response to Nigerian NewsDirect enquiry, Makarfi said he does not know what happens in BOT and NWC of the party as he is not a member.
However, he believes PDP has potential to defeat President Buhari in the 2019 general election.
“We can defeat the President next year, I am sure we can” Makarfi told our Correspondent.
A member of NWC of PDP who spoke under condition of anonymity said the party will conduct a free and fair primary for all the aspirants and debunked the rumour that the party prefers one aspirants to others.
“All our aspirants are credible and formidable. We don’t have any favourite” he said.
However he confirmed that the BOT members have been warned from endorsing and openly campaigning for any of the aspirants as it may send wrong signals to others.
In the meantime, Saraki has called on the leadership of PDP to conduct transparent primaries to pick its Presidential flag bearer for the 2019 elections.
Saraki who made the call Monday shortly after submitting the Expression of Interest and Nomination Forms to run for the Office of the President on the platform of the PDP also ruled out a consensus option, saying it is not an issue for the 12 aspirants.
The former governor of Kwara state also noted that Nigerian youths want a President who in 2019 will tackle the problem of unemployment
He said: “I don’t think the consensus thing is an issue before us because we are trying to make ensure that there is internal democracy in the system and a very credible primaries.
“What is important is that at the end of the day, we have something that is rancour free”