The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) may have to pick its presidential
flag bearer in next year’s election from the North-West geo political
With over 18 million eligible voters as at last February, the zone has the largest voting population in the country.
The Nation gathered that the main opposition party is taking notice of
the situation and may settle for one of its presidential aspirants from
the zone at its convention next month to slug it out with the incumbent,
President Muhammadu Buhari in the February 2019 poll.
Buhari is on course to emerge as the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate later this month.
Presidential aspirants of the PDP from the Northwest are Senator Ahmed
Maikarfi, Alhaji Sule Lamido, Sokoto State Governor Aminu Tambuwal,
former Special Duties Minister Kabiru Tanimu Turaki, former Kano State
governor Ibrahim Shekarau, former Sokoto State governor Attahiru
Bafarawa and former Kano State governor Rabiu Kwankwaso.
The implication is that the likes of former Vice President Atiku
Abubakar from Adamawa in the Northeast and Senate president Bukola
Saraki from Kwara State in the Northcentral stand a little or no chance
of getting the PDP ticket.
Party source told The Nation that Saraki in particular may be facing
formidable hurdles already from the PDP and the Northwest geo political
in his bid to fly the party’s flag in next year’s presidential election.
Saraki formally declared his presidential aspiration in Abuja on Thursday, citing pressure from Nigerian youths.
However, party source said that the former Kwara State governor has a
long chain of barriers to be broken to achieve his ambition.
One of such is the suggestion by some PDP members that the party’s
presidential candidate has to come from the Northwest zone for the PDP
to stand a good chance of defeating President Muhammadu Buhari.
Buhari is from Daura, Katsina State in the Northwest.
He commands a cult followership not only in the zone but across the northern region.
Pressure is mounting on the PDP leadership to narrow down its ticket to
the Northwest as it is the only way to compete with Buhari.
Kwankwaso from Kano State in the Northwest is one of the leading
advocates for the PDP presidential candidate coming from the Northwest.
Kwankwaso’s view is shared by many in the party.
Their argument is that the only way to whittle down the votes of the APC
and its candidate, Muhammadu Buhari, in the zone is for the PDP to pick
a candidate from the same zone.
Several interest groups from the zone are now promoting the view point in the party.
Speaking with journalists in Abuja on Friday shortly after obtaining his
nomination documents, Kwankwaso said: “everyone knows that the bulk of
the votes come from the Northwest and it would not be wrong for anyone
to suggest that the PDP candidate should come from that zone.
“You all saw from the last general election in 2015 the number of votes
from Kano alone. So it’s just normal to expect the candidate to emerge
from the Northwest. That is the only way to defeat them (APC). But this
is my opinion because everybody has their different opinions”.
Another formidable obstacle to Saraki’s aspiration is the perceived
disposition of Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike who is seen by many as
the de facto leader of the PDP.
Wike, chief backer of the incumbent national chairman of the PDP, Uche
Secondus, is said to be the number one supporter of Tambuwal’s
It is understood that there is an agreement between him and Tambuwal
that he will be the Sokoto State governor’s running mate in the
presidential race if he gets the ticket.
Wike’s disposition on the PDP presidential ticket is suspected to have
informed Secondus’ hurried exit from the venue of Saraki’s formal
declaration for the presidency in Abuja on Thursday.
Secondus had led other members of the national executive committee of
the PDP to the event, at the invitation of the organisers unaware that
Saraki had a different agenda.
It was gathered that neither Secondus nor the organisers of the event
had the slightest inkling that Saraki was going to take advantage of the
forum to declare his aspiration.
Apparently rattled by Saraki’s ambush, the organisers were forced to
issue a disclaimer the following day, expressing their disappointment
and embarrassment at the action of the Senate President.
Meanwhile, the Senate president is continuing his consultations with socio-political and interest groups across the country.
One of his aides who does not want to be named said yesterday that he
met with the Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) headed by Chief Edwin Clark,
the Yoruba group – Afenifere – and a group of northern elders led by
Prof Ango Abdullahi during the week.
He, however, did not venture comments on the outcome of the
consultations, saying Saraki only briefed the groups and explained his
decision to join the race.
“You don’t expect it (consultation) to be a one-off thing because you
are required to lay all your cards on the table through sustained
consultation over time”, the aide added.
My presidential ambition not a betrayal of Atiku, says Saraki
Responding to questions yesterday on Saraki’s ambition, his chief
spokesman, Yusuph Olaniyonu dismissed speculations that Saraki betrayed
former vice president Atiku Abubakar by joining the presidential race.
“No aspirant’s presidential quest is a betrayal of any others”, the
office of the Senate President, Senator Olusola Saraki has said.
Some of Atiku’s supporters had expressed surprised that Senator Saraki
is challenging Atiku who once helped to mobilize support for him to
become Senate President.
He asserted that such assumptions are wrong, unjustifiable and baseless.
“Betrayal? How? Was there an agreement that ‘you will support me for
this, I will support you for that?” Olaniyonu retorted yesterday when he
met The Nation.
He added: “were they not in different political parties before?
“We know that some people have an agenda in all this; they have an
agenda on everything concerning Senator Saraki and there is no point
responding to whatever misinformation they wish to spread.
“There is no betrayal whatsoever between the two eminent citizens.
“Are Governor Tambuwal and Senator Saraki not even much closer than the
relationship between the former Vice President and the Senate President?
“Governor Tambuwal and Senator Saraki are more of brothers but as true
democrats, the two of them are in this race and they do not have any
problem with one another over it; whoever wins the presidential ticket
would get the support of the other,” he said.
According to the Senate President’s spokesman, all PDP presidential
aspirants, including Senator Saraki are now working out an arrangement
to ensure a rancour-free process.
“The agreement that they are working on now is such that whoever wins
the PDP presidential primaries, all of them will rally to support
“In fact, what all of the PDP presidential aspirants are concentrating
on is that they will all work together and ensure that there is an open,
free and fair presidential primaries.
“They are trying to ensure that the process is very free and fair for
all and that whoever emerges will not be a source of bitterness because
the outcome would have been the result of a genuine process.
“PDP presidential aspirants are working together to ensure that all of
them forge a united front and that there will be no reason for the
ruling party to see any of them as a potential ally.
“They are working for a credible process and all of them are going to support the eventual winner.”