A Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential aspirant and Sokoto State Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal yesterday confirmed that the party is consulting on who to present as its flag bearer for the 2019 presidential election.
The PDP Board of Trustees had set up a panel to interface with the party’s presidential aspirants over the possibility of reaching a consensus or trimming the number to a ‘manageable few’.
Daily Trust reports that the PDP aspirants who had obtained forms for the presidential primary include former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, Senate President Bukola Saraki, Senators Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, David Mark, and Jonah Jang.
Others are former governors Ahmed Makarfi, Attahiru Bafarawa, Sule Lamido, Governors Ibrahim Dankwambo, Tambuwal, Yusuf Datti Baba-Ahmed and Kabiru Tanimu Turaki (SAN).
Tambuwal, who spoke yesterday in Birnin Kebbi after a meeting with stakeholders of the party, “Our party is still consulting the stakeholders on who to present to contest for the presidential position.”
“I deem it appropriate to start the visit with Kebbi State being my home as Sokoto and Zamfara. If the consultation fails, we will do the primary [scheduled for between Oct. 5 and Oct. 6 in Port Harcourt] and I will accept the outcome and support whoever emerges as our candidate,” Tambuwal said.
“I had left PDP for APC in view of the situation we found ourselves under PDP in the last government and joined APC for our conviction and presumption that the party would do the expected,’’ he added.
He promised to address the security challenges in Zamfara, Birnin Gwari in Kaduna, Benue, Taraba as well as Kebbi if elected the president. Earlier, the Deputy State Chairman of the party, Alhaji Musa Argungu, assured Tambuwal that party members would support his aspiration.
The PDP BoT is working to come up with a consensus to avert the looming confusion and possible crisis that may arise from a crowded exercise.
Chairman of the Board, Sen. Walid Jibrin in a statement on Sept. 10 said the BoT had constituted a committee to discuss with all the aspirants with a view to reaching a consensus.
“A committee has been set up to discuss with all presidential aspirants to come up with one of them as our candidate. There are now 12 contestants.
“The party has been warned to manage the situation of new defectors to the party and also consider the role played by old members.
“As provided in the party’s constitution, the board is empowered to regulate its proceedings and draw code of conduct for its members,” he said.
However, details about the composition of the committee set up by the BoT, including the time frame given to them remained secret amidst speculations the target is to trim the presidential aspirants to three.
Sources said the BoT and the PDP leadership, using certain variables, was trying to convince at least nine of the aspirants to shelve their ambition so as to manage the primary election with ease.
Findings by our correspondents also revealed that while some of the 12 aspirants are divided over consensus, with some kicking against the BoT’s move, describing it as an attempt to injure their ambition.
What the aspirants say
When contacted on the issue, Makarfi, a former Chairman of National Caretaker Committee of the PDP, said in a text message, “I was at the BoT meeting and that was not my recollection of the discussion.
“I believe what I heard was a Committee to interface with aspirants with a view to either prune down number based on free will of the aspirants or minimum promote togetherness in case all aspirants prefer to go through the convention.
“In any case, there are many other groups interfacing with the aspirants in similar directions but nobody is going to be forced to step down for anybody,” he said.
“It is up to aspirants and as far as I know the party is not forcing or even thinking of forcing anybody to step down,” he said.
He said if he eventually got the ticket, he would carry all other aspirants along.
For his part, the Founder of Baze University, Sen. Datti Baba-Ahmed, said, “I must not speak for BoT but BoT’s general disposition to issues is broadly speaking conciliatory and protective of the party’s Soul.
As an aspirant, all I can say is that I’m still contesting and I welcome any other aspirants for any consideration to step down for me. Chances of me doing so are, however, hardly possible as the only true representative of the new generation desired the world over, and due to other unique advantages.”
Similarly, Director of Media and Publicity, Atiku Presidential Campaign Organisation, Segun Showunmi told, the Daily Trust that Atiku is not ready to step down for another aspirant.
The spokesman said the feeling of Atiku is that he should be the one to emerge as consensus candidate considering his track records of experience and political sagacity, if the idea of consensus must be implemented.
“In trying to do consensus, party leaders must be free, fair and transparent. They must also look at the chances of who they are presenting and the person’s relationship with stakeholders across the six geopolitical zones.
And in a telephone interview, Lamido told the Daily Trust he will not step down for Atiku and if anything, it is Atiku who should support him.
“While it is true he is older than me age wise, I am his senior politically because I was in the House of Representatives in 1979 when he was an employee of Nigerian Customs Services. And if age is the criterion for standing election, then he should drop out for Buhari,” he said.