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2019: PDP Strong Presidential Aspirants and Their Chances

Ahead of the highly anticipated 2019 general elections in Nigeria, the PDP is the party to watch, especially because the ruling APC has a sole candidate. Some of the aspirants in the PDP are seen as jokers.

Let's look at how the strong aspirants stand presently;

...as put together by The Nation

SARAKI 
Saraki has a strong bond with many statutory delegates including members of the National Assembly and state Houses of Assembly. By virtue of his position as a former governor, he is also at home with governors and others. The emergence of the President of the Senate as the National Leader of PDP has caused some political quake in the camps of Atiku and Tambuwal who hitherto felt Saraki would work for them. They are yet to recover from the declaration of Saraki for President.

He has a huge war chest and as a risk taker, he can deploy his fortunes to secure the ticket. Apart from his romance with one of the foreign missions in the country, Saraki is well-connected in the business community such that sponsorship will not be a problem if he gets the PDP ticket.

He has been going round the country to talk to delegates.

This is likely to fetch him goodwill from Northcentral, some parts of the Southeast like Enugu where his political Siamese twin, the Deputy President of the Senate, Dr. Ike Ekweremadu comes from.

But what might work against him is the allegation that he is over-ambitious, which some PDP governors detest. His candidature might be a liability to PDP’s electoral fortunes in the North where he is regarded more as a Southerner than a Northerner. This same feeling affected the presidential ambition of his late father, Dr. Olusola Saraki in the defunct National Party of Nigeria (NPN) in the First Republic (1979-1983).

Contrary to his assumption, PDP bigwigs will not forgive him for making the party lose in 2015. All his recent trips to ex-President Goodluck Jonathan and others may amount to nothing.

Saraki might have noticed the slippery terrain when in his state, nomination for Kwara Central Senatorial District is still left open. He might seek solace in a return to the Senate. He has a subsisting agreement to re-emerge as Senate President if PDP wins the 2019 poll.

ATIKU ABUBAKAR 
He is a serial presidential aspirant and the most experienced political tactician among the lot although his “magic wand” has always failed him. He is also the oldest presidential aspirant in the PDP having been in the struggle since 1992. Apart from his ambition to lead the nation, Atiku’s main problem is from the elites who do not want him for unknown reasons. If the race is credible and transparent, the ex-VP has enormous resources to outwit all other aspirants. But the conspiracy of the PDP governor may rob him of votes.

He has what it takes in terms of vision, economic roadmap, commitment to national unity and cosmopolitan outlook to give Buhari a fight but some power brokers like ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo will oppose him. Obasanjo, some weeks ago, said God would not forgive him if he supported Atiku’s aspiration. But the former VP still enjoys goodwill nationwide.

TAMBUWAL 
He appeared to be the leading aspirant until the coming of Abubakar and Saraki. In the past few weeks, the tempo of his activities has been very slow because of the heavyweight presidential aspirants in PDP. The declaration of ex-Governor Attahiru Bafarawa for presidency is also a major setback because the former governor had the control of PDP structure in Sokoto State before Tambuwal defected. He has a big problem at home following the collapse of his alliance with Bafarawa and his campaign reach is limited nationwide. He relies much on Governor Nyesom Wike, his bosom friend, and a prominent traditional ruler in the North to do the magic of delivering the ticket to him. But the Wike factor might also turn out to be Tambuwal’s undoing.

Sources say Tambuwal has a Plan B in the event that he fails to get the presidential ticket: a return to the Sokoto Government House. The risk appears enormous.

He has a big acceptability problem with the Jonathan elements in the party.

ATTAHIRU BAFARAWA 
An astute businessman, Bafarawa’s ambition is causing ripples and nightmare for Tambuwal. Although he has a rich political experience, he does not have the financial wherewithal to prosecute a presidential campaign that can match other moneybags in the race. His lingering case with the EFCC might be a slight problem despite the fact that he recently survived 11-year trial by the same anti-graft agency. The general feeling in PDP is that he might step down for a stronger candidate.

TANIMU KABIRU TURAKI 
Some see him as an underdog but his campaign organization has input from the loyalists of Jonathan, strategists of ex-President Ibrahim Babangida and ex-VP Namadi Sambo. He is intellectually deeper than some of the aspirants and his blueprint for economic recovery is outstanding. But he is a rookie presidential aspirant because the highest office he has occupied is that of Minister of Special Duties under Jonathan.

An aspirant without blemish, Tanimu has had campaign runs nationwide more than any of the aspirants. He has gained mileage in Kebbi, Akwa Ibom, Edo, Cross River, Taraba, Oyo, Bayelsa, Ondo, Osun, Sokoto and Niger. He might split the votes from Kwara and Adamawa at the convention.

AHMED MAKARFI 
A brilliant chef whose cuisine revived the PDP, Makarfi is intelligent, cool-headed, contented and visionary. His success story in Kaduna State as a governor makes him to fit into the bill of a leader who can address the security and ethnocentric challenges facing the nation. He had an unwritten agreement with PDP governors who have jettisoned the pact. He is on his own with limited resources but exotic ideas. If PDP is a conscientious party, Makarfi should be its candidate. Despite his tortuous campaign nationwide, he is still a laggard.

SULE LAMIDO 
An experienced politician whose fortress is party management, Lamido left worthy legacies in Jigawa State as a governor. His moral credentials for the presidency have been tainted by his implications in alleged contract scam alongside his children. With the smear, his campaign is dead on arrival despite his closeness to ex-President Obasanjo. The desolate nature of his campaign secretariat in an obscure place Abuja speaks volume of his mileage.

RABIU KWANKWASO 
Kwankwaso is a political asset no doubt but he has a restricted politically volatile constituency in Kano State. Apart from his stint as a former Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives and Minister of Defence, he does not command national appeal compared to some of his co-aspirants. His delivery of Kano State to APC in 2015 remains his reference point. But he was on a self-imposed exile in the last three years culminating in a diminishing return for his political empire. For his loyalty to Obasanjo, he was early in the race regarded as the “anointed” candidate of PDP but political calculations have not favoured him. Despite his presidential aspiration, he has a senatorial ticket tucked somewhere.

The recent defection of ex-Governor Ibrahim Shekarau and his irresolvable differences with Governor Abdullahi Ganduje made his chances very slim. Although he came second during the APC presidential primaries for the 2015 poll, he lacks the resources to repeat the feat now.

He might win sympathy votes from PDP delegates from states in the Northwest during the primaries.

DAVID MARK 
The erudite but forgotten former President of the Senate, Sen. David Mark, is banking on past military glory and the agitation of the Middle Belt for proper integration to seek PDP presidential ticket. His campaign has a bedroom colour because he is not known to be keen. As a military strategist, PDP leaders are anxious to know what he is up to after being a benchwarmer in the Senate since 2015. He is gifted in all ramifications but his shuttles to states lacked any significant bite.

DAVID JANG

Another late comer in the race, ex-Governor Jang’s presidential race is belated because when he had the opportunity, he did not throw his hat into the ring at the right time. He is a Middle Belt emancipation zealot, a disposition which has limited his political horizon. Many PDP leaders and members are of the opinion that Jang’s aspiration is designed to cover up his ongoing trial by the EFCC.

DATTI BABA-AHMED 
Datti, the owner of the famous Baze University in Abuja, is known for his sustained advertisements on the front page of some newspapers. He is erudite but apart from being a former Senator, his ambition is a matter of the future. He cannot even match Makarfi in Kaduna State much more nationwide.

IBRAHIM DANKWAMBO 
A suave accountant, Governor Dankwambo has earned much respect with his commitment to grassroots development. A former Accountant-General of the Federation, the governor is noted for prudence. He has vigorously campaigned in all the 36 states but as a neophyte in politics, he has a slim edge of emerging PDP candidate. He has age on his side which qualifies him if PDP wants power to shift to younger generation.