New Telegraph - The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has begun in earnest its plans to snatch power back from the governing All Progressives Congress (APC) in 2019. To this end, some leaders of the party and members have started oiling their machines towards the presidential election coming up in three years’ time.
Aside the plot of the opposition party to take over the leadership of the National Assembly, the party has put machinery in place for the 2019 presidency.
New Telegraph gathered from highly reliable sources within the PDP that currently, about five people from the North- West and North-East are bracing up for the challenge to oust President Muhammadu Buhari and the APC in the 2019 general elections from the presidency.
Most of the PDP presidential hopefuls are from the North-West and North-East. Incidentally, all the presidential hopefuls are either former or serving governors. Among those who have thrown their hats into the race are a former Governor of Jigawa State, Alhaji Sule Lamido; the National Chairman of the party and former Governor of Borno State, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff; a former Governor of Kano State, Malam Ibrahim Shekarau and Governor of Gombe State, Ibrahim Dankwambo.
Other names on the presidential card are former governors of Kaduna and Katsina states, Mohammed Markarfi and Ibrahim Shema, respectively.
Former Vice- President Nnamadi Sambo is said to have taken the backseat. That is apart from former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, who by some calculations of some elements within the party may be willing to take up the battle if Buhari decides to run in 2019.
It was learnt that Lamido has revved up his machinery to run for the presidency in 2019. A source close to the former governor told New Telegraph “we are considering giving it a shot in 2019.” In the run-up to the 2015 election, Lamido was former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s preferred candidate in the PDP to replace former President Goodluck Jonathan. Lamido was also a member of the G7 group of governors who formed a rebel group in the party.
But while Rotimi Amaechi, Aliyu Wamakko, Rabiu Kwankwaso, Abdufatah Ahmed and Muritala Nyako of Rivers, Sokoto, Kano, Kwara and Adamawa states, who formed part of the group went to the APC, Lamido and Babangida Aliyu of Niger State refused to move.
Lamido said he saw no reasons in leaving a party he was a founding member to an unknown candidestination. Lamido is currently on trial with his two sons for corruption-related charges. But New Telegraph was informed that he was ready to run. Shekarau, a two-term governor of Kano State and one-time presidential candidate, is also warming up for the PDP presidential ticket.
He is considered very credible and is looked at as being in the good books of former President Jonathan.Sources close to Shekarau said that the former governor is favoured because he is from Kano, in the North-West which has the highest number of voters per zone.
The source insisted that even if Buhari wants to run, Shekarau would give him a good fight since the votes from the North-West would be shared. Then, the PDP would battle for the North-East and South- West with the APC, with the hope that the PDP has control of the South-East and the South-South “Shekarau has been consulting widely on his presidential ambition in 2019.
Don’t forget he is familiar with the game, having contested the 2011 presidential election on the platform of the All Nigeria People’s Party (ANPP). Some stakeholders in the North and the PDP are urging him to contest for the presidency and he has started consultations,” a source close to the former governor told New Telegraph. Shekarau is a former Minister of Education in Jonathan’s cabinet. The Gombe State governor, Dankwambo, is said to have assembled a team working for him to realise his 2019 presidential dream.
A former Accountant- General of the Federation, he and Darius Ishiaku of Taraba State, are the only PDP governors from the North. Dankwambo and Ishiaku will battle Sheriff if the PDP zones the presidency to the zone. Dankwambo is deep in pocket, but his political clout in the North is ‘restricted and minimal’ that cannot give the opposition the needed victory.
But the PDP’s calculation for the North-East is based on the fact that both Buhari and the late Umaru Yar’Adua, two former presidents from the North since 1999 are from the North-West. Sheriff has his eyes on the big prize. This is the reason behind the current plot by the national chairman and the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party to have their tenure extended beyond May this year, which is slated for the National Convention of the party.
The plot was made open by some leaders of the South-West chapter of the PDP, led by the Senator representing Ogun East, Buruji Kashamu, who visited Sheriff about three weeks ago and asked him to stay further “because they did not want to weaken the party in the North”.
That position was reaffirmed last week, when leaders of the zone met in Ibadan. Although that has been kicked against by another section of the zone, it is believed that Sheriff wants to hold on to the position, consolidate and resign close to the elections.
Thus, he would be able to transmute into the presidential candidate easily. A top member of the party in the zone, who is against Sheriff ’s plot, told New Telegraph that it would not be out of place to suspect that the party boss was working for himself for 2019. “Are you still doubting that the plot is on? What was Olisa Metuh doing at the Ibadan meeting last week?
Believe me, they are working at it, but let’s see how far it would go,” he said. Just like his opponents in the South-West, a close source to one of the prospects from the North-West said that what was expected of Sheriff is to conduct a national convention first, so that the party would have a strong leadership in the first place. “If he emerges again, we wish him luck,” he said.
Atiku is currently an outsider in the race. He is in the APC and has not indicated any intention to run for the presidency because of his closeness to Buhari. A top PDP source said that at the right time, they would persuade Atiku to come back to the PDP and pick the ticket.
He said that with the no vacancy in Aso Rock declared by the APC leaders at the last National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting, it is clear that Atiku would struggle in APC in 2019 because of Buhari. “See, the PDP is thinking of zoning the presidency to the North-East in 2019.
Who is the strongest man in that zone to pick the ticket? Yes, he is still in APC now, but when 2019 comes, we will see if APC is comfortable for him or not. I promise you that he will be the next president whether Buhari runs or not. What the north wants is the presidency. We will give them Atiku, who is popular there,” said a PDP leader from the South-West.
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Reviewed by Link Naija