Fresh battles for PDP’s presidential asipirants

presidential pdpDays after the presidential primary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) was won by former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar, other aspirants in the contest, including Senate President Bukola Saraki, Senator Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, Governor Aminu Tambuwal and others have moved on to the next political battles of their lives. Muhammad Sabiu, Biola Azeez, Kola Oyelere, and Olakunle Maruf write on the new arenas and future battles of these political warlords.

For a couple of the 11 aspirants that contested for the presidential ticket of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on October 6, they appear now to have some moments to cool off. After the energy-sapping contest, they might not be under the kind of intense pressure witnessed when they had to crisscross the country to rally delegates for their bid for the ticket at the party’s convention held in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.

The heat is currently on the winner of the primary election, former Vice-President Abubakar Atiku as he has to lobby the other challengers in their comfort zones, because of the need for synergy by the PDP candidate to guarantee victory at the presidential election next February.

The scenario will be different in the camps of the first three runners-up at the PDP presidential primaries, as the outcome has heralded a new phase in the political battle of contenders like the Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, Senator Musa Kwankwaso, Governor Aminu Tambuwal and former Governor Ahmed Makarfi. There were wide speculations concerning their individual Plan B in case the primary election did not go their way, some of which have turned to be real.

The options were deemed necessary because of the awesome influence they wield in their individual constituencies and in mainstream national politics.  While those juggernauts were digging in, in their quest for the PDP ticket, rivals in the opposition, made frenetic moves to upstage them or whittle down their influence in their constituencies. But with the Port Harcourt battle over, the political machinery of Saraki, Tambuwal and Kwankwaso have zoomed into action to reclaim their territories in Kwara, Sokoto and Kano states, respectively. But will they have it easy as usual or face uphill tasks in their bid to retain the relevance in these strongholds? What is the shape of the things to come for these former presidential aspirants? How will things pan out for them ahead of the epic 2019 battle, which will see some of them work their fingers to the bone in efforts for individual victories as candidates or continued control of the political machineries of their respective states? These and many more are the questions that will agitate the minds of Nigerians interested in the political development in some of the states of these individuals and their individual politics, with the answer lying solely in the underbelly of time.


Battle ahead of Saraki in Kwara politics

With the dream of the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, of becoming Nigeria’s president in 2019 on the platform Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) having become unrealisable following the party’s last weekend presidential primary, the former Kwara State governor has now shifted his focus to Kwara State.

With the aim of consolidating his influence on the politics of the state by winning the Kwara Central Senate seat as well as ensuring that the PDP, and by extension, the Saraki political dynasty retains its hold on power in the state, the Senate President can be said to have many things on his plate.

Following a robust and competitive PDP governorship primary in the state, the party elected former speaker of the state House of Assembly and a serving member of the National Assembly representing Ilorin West/Asa Federal Constituency, Abdulrazaq Atunwa, as its governorship candidate for the February 2019 general election.

Though the cloud is yet to settle on the choice of the All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship candidate for the same election after its controversial party primaries, the National Working Committee of the APC has announced an oil magnate, Alhaji Abdulrahaman Abdulrazaq as its standard-bearer.

With the stage set for the epic clash between the APC, which was until a few months ago the ruling party in the state and the PDP, which gained in the new power balance following the defection of Saraki and the state governor, Alhaji Abdufatah Ahmed to the party, many political observers in the state have viewed the battle ahead as the real battle of Saraki’s political career ahead of his strive to continue to remain relevant in the politics of the country. The observers justified their position with the high number of aspirants that entered the contest for various legislative and executive positions in the coming elections, especially from the Kwara Central senatorial district where the Senate President hails from. The observers also believe that some associates of the Senate President, who defected from his political structure, were determined to prove one or two points on their own individual political strengths, especially in their various constituencies.

Notable individuals who were in the Saraki political structure and now in the opposition party include his former senior special adviser and 2019 governorship aspirant in the APC, Alhaji Moshood Mustapha and former Commissioner for Information, Alhaji Raheem Adedoyin, among others.

The analysts also said that conscious and deliberate attempts should be made by the Saraki camp to assuage the feelings of the people of the Kwara North senatorial district after aspirants from the Kwara North District lost out of the PDP governorship contest where a Kwara Central candidate emerged.

The people of the Kwara North senatorial district had claimed that it was their turn to produce the next governor of the state, noting that the Kwara Central had done 12 years with the late Mohammed Lawal’s four years and former Governor Saraki’s eight years uninterrupted, while the Kwara South District was said to have enjoyed its turn with the eight years of the incumbent governor.

Many people had also expressed the fear that recent electoral processes that brought about the success of the APC in Ekiti and Osun states, where allegations of vote buying and alleged intimidation of people by security personnel could repeat itself in the state to possibly cause an upset.

Despite the present crisis in the opposition APC in the state, following allegations of imposition of candidates by the national leadership of the party in the just-concluded party’s primaries, some party faithful still expressed that they remained resolved at wresting power from the incumbent government in 2019.

Speaking after he lost out in the controversial APC governorship primary, one of the aspirants, who is also the proprietor of a privately-owned radio station, Alhaji Mustapha, said that he remained committed to the party and birthing a truly prosperous Kwara State for the benefit of all.

“I stand here today in the full glare of the world to affirm that the exercise was laced with sharp practices, lack of organisation, faulty and embarrassing process thereby depriving us of victory as we were clearly the most popular aspirant with wide acceptance, especially on the street. This has deprived us of implementing our well-researched blueprint, which would have turned Kwara around for good across all sectors.”

However, Mustapha said that, regardless of the fact that he was allegedly hedged out of the governorship race by irregularities and electoral malpractices, he remained committed to the party and to birthing a truly prosperous Kwara State for the benefit of all.

“It is consequent upon this fact that I, Lukman Olayiwola Mustapha, state on behalf of all members of the Rebirth Movement that we respect the supremacy of our party and accept the outcome of the primaries in good faith.

“We understand that in every contest, there will always be a victor and a vanquished. In this case, however, we are all winners as we are poised and remain committed to winning Kwara State for Kwarans. I appeal to all my compatriots in this struggle to accept the outcome in good faith and let us rededicate ourselves by standing firm for the party and the ultimate goal of emancipating the people of the state from the current hegemony that has held our state by the jugular for decades,” he said.

As the opposition war against the Saraki political dynasty and the PDP rages, however, it was gathered that conscious efforts and moves had already been made by the Saraki structure to mend all broken relationships that might have been brought about by the outcome of the PDP primaries.

For instance, a reliable source said that one of the governorship aspirants, who is a three-term member of the National Assembly from Kwara North, Alhaji Ahman Pategi, has been reportedly penciled in to become the next Speaker of the Kwara State House of Assembly in 2019, in a move meant to give the people of the area a sense of belonging and brotherhood in the Saraki political dynasty.

Also, the PDP leader in the state has reportedly fulfilled his promise of ensuring a level playing field among the old and new members of the party, particularly the pledge made when Saraki led members of his structure from the APC to the PDP in the state.

It is recalled that after the governorship primary of the PDP, the primaries for the national and state assemblies were either carried out through affirmation or consensus arrangement, according to the tradition of the Saraki political dynasty, especially where members were reassured of benefits of their loyalty.

Political analysts are unanimous in the belief that supporters of the Saraki political structure are ready for the battle ahead, while elective positions are being considered for right members of the fold in different constituencies of the state.

For instance, the former commissioner for Special Duties and state secretary of the PDP, Alhaji Rasaq Lawal, has emerged as the PDP’s candidate for the Ilorin West/Asa House of Representatives seat.

Lawal, a grassroot politician emerged unopposed and his election was officially affirmed by delegates from his federal constituency at the Kwara Central zonal office of the party in Ilorin. Lawal’s candidature is seen as a popular decision and reward for loyalty because of the critical role he played in attracting stalwarts and large number of the old PDP members to the Saraki political dynasty.

The Kwara Central zonal chairman of the PDP, Alhaji Adesina Jimoh, had, while commenting on Saraki’s leadership of the party with regards to the primaries, poured encomiums on him for providing effective and efficient leadership for the PDP and the Saraki political structure in the state.

Adesina described Saraki as a fair and selfless leader whose only interest in politics is the development of his people and growth of Kwara state.

He said the Senate President’s unique leadership has put the PDP in more advantage position over opposition parties in the state.

Few months to the 2019 general election, the stage is now set for the battle ahead in Kwara, with the Saraki forces and those seeking to end the hold of the dynasty on the politics of the state set to lock horns across the state. Analysts have maintained that only the team with technically organised and valuable players as well as articulate plans and most importantly, the people on its side, will win the battle if it is a free and fair contest. But will the forces against Saraki fight fair?


2019: Kwankwaso and the battle this time

THE former governor of Kano State, Senator Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, is one of the strong political forces in the state whose name always rings a bell whenever issues of having die-hard supporters and a strong political base is discussed.

But can that still be said of the Senator representing Kano Central following his losing out in the contest for the presidential ticket of the PDP penultimate weekend? What does the future hold for the politician who will now have to battle against the All Progressives Congress (APC) structure, which he abandoned after falling out with his predecessor in office, Governor Abdullahi Ganduje? Where will the lawmaker sojourn next if claim that he is set to dump the PDP following disagreement over sharing of elective positions? These are the questions that will begin to agitate the minds of Kwankwaso’s followers going forward into the 2019 general election.

Kwankwaso, who ruled the state from 1999 to 2003, before he was defeated by a former governor, Malam Ibrahim Shekarau, and 2011 to 2015, is the head of the popular Kwankwasiyya group, a support base that is entrenched in the politics of Kano State.

But will the Kwankwassiya movement’s support be enough for the former governor in the battle for the soul of Kano, which he is waging against the incumbent government and the ruling party, which considers Kano as its strongest stronghold, with the governor often boasting that he would deliver 5 million votes to the APC in the 2019 election.

Following the loss of the PDP presidential ticket to former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar, Kwankwaso, who came fourth in the contest, according to the national leadership of the PDP, would be given the ticket for Kano Central Senatorial District, which he currently represents. However, he would have a new hurdle to cross in that he would face a former PDP leader and former governor, Malam Shekarau, among others.

Though some analysts would be quick to dispel the threats posed by Shekarau, citing how Kwankwaso’s political machinery had routed Shekarau’s in 2011 on the way to the latter’s return to the Kano Government House and how the latter had also taken great spoils for the APC in the 2015 general election in Kano, those informed have noted that the dynamics of the game have changed. For those in the latter category, Kwankwaso’s battles will now be multi-faceted: he would contend against the state governor, who has become his sworn enemy following their fallout, he would also have to contend with former friends who have now become foes, including an internal wrangling within the PDP, which is threatening to send the former governor out of the party.

For Kwankwaso, the 2019 battle will be a battle for personal political survival and overall relevance of his ideology in the years to come, as he, along with his senatorial ambition, nurses the ambition to establish his hold on the politics of the state as its undisputed godfather.

The 2019 contest would be crucial in the sense that both Kwankwaso and Shekarau are heavyweight politicians as former governors, while the former will also be locking horns with his former ally who now enjoys the backing of the Federal Government. Beyond the individuals in the contest, Kano State will be the largest arena for the APC versus PDP rumble, which will determine the winner of the 2019 presidential election in the country.

Kwankwaso has fought and won many battles, including coming back to become governor after eight years in the cold, but will he survive the political onslaught of the APC, Shekarau and Ganduje on one hand and the rampage of aggrieved old PDP elements seeking for equal sharing of elective positions on the other?


Sokoto 2019: One more bridge to cross for Tambuwal

Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal of Sokoto State may have contested and lost the Peoples Democratic Party presidential primary election held in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, there are still more fights for the governor ahead of 2019.

Following his loss in the primary, Tambuwal is set to benefit from the PDP hierarchy’s decision to give the party’s tickets for various positions to participants in the presidential primary who lost out, a development that meant that the incumbent governor of Sokoto State is set to reclaim the governorship ticket earlier given to his Commissioner for Local Government and Community Development, Hon. Manir Dan-Iya.

Dan-Iya, who has been pencilled in for the position of deputy governor before now, according to a party source, was asked to hold the party’s gubernatorial ticket on behalf of Tambuwal in case he failed to get the presidential ticket.

But in a recent interview, the state chairman of the PDP, Alhaji Ibrahim Milgoma, dispelled the rumour that the party has substituted its stand-bearer, Dan-Iya for the incumbent governor, saying the party would make its position known to the public at the appropriate time. He reaffirmed that Alhaji Dan-Iya remained the party’s gubernatorial candidate in the state for now.

But political observers stated that the party was only taking its time before making the official announcement, citing how Tambuwal is still eligible to run for second term.

There were strong indications that Tambuwal would be handed the party’s ticket during the substitution window to be announced by INEC, a development that will only open a new chapter for the governor in the battles ahead of 2019, as he will have former friends turned foes and an opposition party that won the state in the 2015 election to contend with.

Among those ready to block Tambuwal’s re-election are his erstwhile political benefactor, Senator Aliyu Magatakarda Wamakko, who vowed to teach the governor a bitter lesson in politics when he defected to the PDP recently. Another Tambuwal challenger is the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Alhaji Ahmad Aliyu Sokoto, who is currently his deputy governor. Notably, Ahmad Aliyu is having the full backing of Senator Wamakko to defeat his present boss at the poll.

It would be recalled that Tambuwal and the immediate past governor of the state and leader of the APC in the state, Senator Wamakko parted ways politically few months ago following the governor’s defection to the PDP to pursue his presidential ambition.

The defection of the governor, however, changed the dynamic of Sokoto politics and also the perception of most political observers in the state, from a usual one-horse race to a two-horse race that will involve the PDP and the APC. Many pundits have said that the governorship race is now between Buharists-backed Wamakko and Tambuwal.

Other APC bigwigs that Wamakko may deploy in the fight against Tambuwal’s re-election include a former Minister of Transport, Alhaji Yusuf Suleiman and Honourable Faruk Malami Yabo, among other APC chieftains in the state, while Tambuwal on his part is relying on the support of some of the old politicians in the state, whose objective is to reclaim the political power in Sokoto from Wamakko.

The list include Wamakko’s former political godfather and former governor of the state, Alhaji Attahiru Dalhathu Bafarawa; former deputy governor to Wamakko, Bar. Mukhtar Shagari; Senator Abdullahi Wali; Alhaji Ahmed Chiso; Hon. Dahiru Yusuf Yabo; Senator Danbaba Danbuwa; Alhaji Ibrahim Milgoma and some other political leaders in the state.

But while the governor smarts for the battle against the opposition, Sunday Tribune has gathered that is an ongoing battle within his government by forces allegedly hell-bent on derailing the governor’s second term dream. These forces, which include some of Tambuwal’s appointees, a source close to government said, had deployed different strategies including causing a division within the ruling party in the state by trying to set Tambuwal against Bafarawa.

There are insinuations that the governorship race may have already divided the ranks of the PDP in Sokoto State, as it was gathered that a rift caused by party men loyal to the governor and ex-governor Bafarawa. The two are the leaders of the party in the state.

The source said: “Imagine a situation where the governor’s camp produced the governorship candidate, the deputy governorship candidate, the three senatorial candidates, six out of the seven House of Representatives candidates and 28 out of 30 House of Assembly candidates.

“All the members of the old PDP in the state want from Governor Tambuwal is to carry our leader, Alhaji Attahiru Dalhathu Bafarawa along in his decision-making about the politics of the party in the state. Let him concede some of the positions to the former governor so as to fight the common enemy in the state together and deliver the state to our party,” the source said.

For observers of political events in Sokoto, no matter the situation in the PDP, the duo of Tambuwal and Bafarawa would still be on the same side going into the battle ahead, as the battle ahead has been described as a battle involving the quartet of Bafarawa, Wamakko, Tambuwal and Aliyu. While Bafarawa and Wamakko’s battle would be a clash of godfathers and a contest between the old orders of politicians to determine who would continue to remain relevant in the next few years, the version of the battle between Tambuwal and Aliyu is a clash of the new order to determine the new power blocs. All indications point to the fact that the battle will be the biggest political battle yet in the state, but who will come out victorious has remained a mystery that only time can unravel.


The battle ahead for Makarfi in Kaduna politics

Following the emergence of Atiku Abubakar as the presidential candidate of the PDP, Nigerians have begun to ask questions about the future of other aspirants who contested with the former vice-president. One of such aspirants is Senator Ahmed Makarfi.

Having lost to the battle to become the PDP party’s standard-bearer and with the ticket of the Kaduna North Senatorial seat already given to Senator Suleiman Hunkuyi, observers have begun to ask: what is the fate of the former national chairman of the PDP caretaker committee?

Some 18 years ago, when Makarfi emerged on the political landscape of the state from the banking sector, he was not known across the length and breadth of the state. However, with his emergence as the governor of Kaduna State, he stamped his authority on the politics of the state, going ahead to serve for two terms. His style of governance won him a lot of accolades. It was on record he superintended a state that witnessed over five religious crises during his reign, but he was able to weather the storms and provide a meaningful leadership and development.


How the vice-president portfolio eluded him

At the tail end of his tenure as governor, Makarfi anointed a successor in the person of Alhaji Namadi Sambo. However, when death snatched away the then President Umaru Musa Yar’adua and his deputy, Goodluck Jonathan succeeded him as president, Makarfi, who was a senator, was tipped by former President Olusegun Obasanjo to become the vice-president. However, last minute horse-trading changed the political equation, with Sambo, who was the then governor of Kaduna picked as the country’s vice-president. Indeed, the emergence of Sambo did not go down well with the Makarfi camp, though Sambo became the leader of the party in the state by virtue of his position.

But in 2015, when the party tasted its first defeat in the hands of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Sambo went into temporary exile, leaving the political space to Makarfi to operate. Thus, he became a rally point for the party, having refused to jump on the bandwagon by defecting to the APC. No major decision was taken on Kaduna APC without Makarfi’s input, it was gathered, with the former governor said to have influenced the formation of the state executive committee under the leadership of Mr Hassan Hyet.

Interestingly too, at the national level when the party was in crisis, almost at the brink of collapse, Makarfi was elected the National Caretaker Committee chairman of the party, a post he held successfully, organising a crisis-free convention that saw to the emergence of Uche Secondus.

In the politics of Kaduna, Makarfi has continued to earn the respect of party members owing to the role he played when the party was in crisis. This respect, analysts noted, might have culminated in his becoming the biggest decider in who gets the party’s governorship ticket for the 2019 election. Analysts noted that it was Makarfi who convinced the party’s governorship standard-bearer, Isa Ashiru, to dump APC for PDP.

According to a close aide of the former governor who wouldn’t want his name in print, Makarfi realised that the PDP needed someone who could face Governor Nasir el-Rufai on all fronts and that he was convinced only Ashiru was in better place to do so.

With the presidential primary of the PDP now over, the battle for Makarfi has shifted to Kaduna, where he would be leading the charge to reclaim the state. Makarfi seems to have strategically placed himself as the man who calls the shots. Not only that, he seems to have brought the former number two man, Namadi Sambo, to his side. According to pundits, the two leaders are on the same page with one mission to return PDP in the state back to Sir Kashim Ibrahim Government House, Kaduna.

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