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11 Feb 2018

2019 Presidential Election: Meet 6 Top Contenders For PDP’s ‘Open Ticket’ (Photos)

The People’s Democratic Party (PDP) has resolved that contest for its 2019 presidential ticket is open to all interested party chieftains. There are many stakeholders eying the choice ticket for now but our correspondent forays into the political credentials of six top of them.

Barring any last minute change of decision by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Nigeria will on February 16 and March 2, 2019, witness another milestone in its political history by holding the presidential, National Assembly, governorship and state Houses of Assembly elections.

Sequel to this, politicians have commenced serious politicking ahead of the polls as political parties across the country begin moves to field candidates for various offices.

The PDP, the leading opposition party, is not left out of the scheme as its bigwigs have expressed their determination to take active part in the process to reclaim power.

Unarguably, the new crop of the PDP National Working Committee (NWC) has the herculean task of leading the party into the elections and ensuring that it regains its lost glory.

The PDP has already reached a decision that in order to ensure a transparent process and get the best candidate, none of its organs, including the National Working Committee (NWC), Board of Trustees (BoT), National Executive Committee (NEC), National Assembly Caucus (NAC) is allowed to align with any of the presidential aspirants, meaning the floor should be left for all to contest.

This decision was taken by the NWC and PDP governors at a meeting held last week in Asaba, Delta State.

Similarly, other organs of the party not recognised by its constitution such as the PDP Governors’ Forum, Ex-Ministers’ Forum, Ex-Governors’ Forum and others are also not allowed to make any attempt at imposing any aspirant on the party. Here are the six heavyweights.


Ahmed Makarfi

Makarfi served for eight years as governor of Kaduna State and did another eight years at the Senate thereafter. He later became the PDP National Caretaker Committee chairman during the intense leadership crisis which lasted for 14 months.

Though the party said its organs would not manipulate the process, insiders say Makarfi is being anointed by some governors for the presidential ticket.

The purported anointment was premised on the belief that Makarfi would be a veritable candidate considering his track record as governor and at the Senate, including his towering credentials in the management of the PDP crisis which subsequently saw Senator Ali Modu Sheriff thrown out by the Supreme Court.

Makarfi was said to have tackled religious and ethnic violence that sprang up during his reign as Kaduna governor. His outstanding performance in the state brought him to limelight at the national level and since then, his profile has continued to rise.

Insiders say the ex-governor who has maintained low profile after he handed over the office of PDP national chairman to Prince Uche Secondus, is likely to emerge as the party’s presidential candidate for 2019.

Makarfi had on January 30, 2017 said on a television programme in Lagos that he would consider contesting for the presidential election in 2019 if the party considered him fit.

“If my party considers me fit to be its presidential candidate, I would definitely think about it,” he said.

A source close to him confided in our correspondent: “He will contest the election. He is one of the few credible men in our party to pick the nomination form. He is a man of integrity, so he has confidence in the PDP.”


Atiku Abubakar

Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, a former vice president, has remained determined to take a shot at the presidency. He recently employed a campaign tool that would earn him acceptance. The strategy of restructuring Nigeria, pundits say, is specifically aimed at winning votes in the South-south and South-east if given the presidential ticket.

Atiku who recently dumped the APC for the PDP apparently to seek the presidential ticket, contested the 2007 presidential election on the platform the defunct Action Congress (AC) after realizing that he could not get the PDP ticket because of his frosty relationship with former President Olusegun Obasanjo.

He also contested the presidential ticket with former president Goodluck Jonathan in 2011. He later dumped the PDP for the APC and contested the 2015 presidential ticket with Buhari but lost.

The actions, body language and utterances of the Waziri Adamawa are enough to show that he is still eyeing the presidency. But while he returned to the PDP just a few months ago, he would be required to get a waiver from the party before qualifying to run for any election and this is something not forthcoming.

Analysts say Atiku, a man with deep pocket, would also have to contend with the governors and other stakeholders in his bid to get the ticket.

Insiders say Atiku would have had a soft landing if a former Minister of Education, Prof. Tunde Adeniran who contested the chairmanship at the party’s December 9, 2017 National Convention had won the election. It was believed that Adeniran was his preferred candidate, considering that both of them were founding members of the party and “better understand” what the PDP stands for.


Sule Lamido

Lamido, a former governor of Jigawa State and one of the founding fathers of the PDP, has also indicated interest in the party’s ticket for 2019.

Lamido, who is seen to be passionate about the PDP, believes that his emergence as the party’s candidate would give hope to Nigerians. While the party was suffering in other climes after its defeat in 2015, it was thriving in his home state of Jigawa to the extent that some members of the ruling APC reportedly defected to the PDP.

The ex-governor was a member of the House of Representatives in the Second Republic and a leading member of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) in the Third Republic. Lamido was also a Foreign Affairs Minister between 1999 and 2003 during the reign of former president Olusegun Obasanjo.


Malam Ibrahim Shekarau

Shekarau is former governor of Kano State and ex-minister of Education. He had worked relentlessly during the 14-month legal battle within the party under the aegis of PDP Ex-Ministers’ Forum.

Already, the ex-governor has consulted those that matter in the party including former president Goodluck Jonathan on his ambition. Like Lamido, Shekarau has also officially written to the PDP on his intention to vie for the presidency.

He is seen as one of those serious about the PDP regaining power in 2019. He is also seen by many as a force and potent factor to reckon with. After Atiku’s return to the PDP in November last year, Shekarau in an exclusive interview with Daily Trust through his media aide, Sule Ya’u Sule, said, “I believe the issue of allowing him (Atiku) to secure the party’s ticket on a platter of gold does not even arise.

“As far as I am concerned, the issue of contest on the platform of the PDP is a level playing ground for everybody. Each and every member is free to test his popularity and political weight when the time comes.

“Although we would welcome him back to the PDP, the issue of getting the party’s ticket is left for the delegates to decide in the national convention. I am committed to my political ambition and will pursue it to its logical conclusion.

“I will not feel threatened by Atiku’s return to the PDP. Of course, being an influential politician and a former vice president for that matter, his return to the PDP will add value to the party, but that will not threaten my political ambition at all.”


Ibrahim Hassan Dankwambo

Dankwambo is a second-term governor of Gombe State. Our correspondent learnt that the governor, who is said to have performed well in his state, started nursing the ambition since the PDP lost power in 2015 and its then National Chairman, Alhaji Adamu Mu’azu, threw in the towel on May 20, 2015.

But while Nigerians await the governor’s formal declaration, so many groups have sprung up campaigning for him in the media and asking the party to grant him the ticket.


Senator David Mark

David Mark is a four-time serving senator and ex-senate president. He is a former military governor of Niger State and an experienced politician. During his reign as senate president, Mark brought stability to the Senate sequel to his diplomatic way of handling issues and situations on its floor.

The lawmaker has maintained sealed lips over the contest but our reporter gathered that so many groups have submitted letters to his office calling on him to run. It was learnt that other support groups have submitted proposed names and what they intend to do for him in the build up to the PDP primaries.

While findings by our correspondent revealed that the six political heavyweight politicians are not ready to quit the PDP as a platform for the Obasanjo’s newly ‘invented’ Coalition for Nigeria, it is left to be seen how the top contenders would slug it out at the primaries.
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