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2019: Dankwambo Declares For President



The Gombe State governor, Dr Ibrahim Dankwambo, has declared his intention to run for president in the 2019 general election on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party.

Dankwambo, who made his intention known yesterday during a meeting with the delegates of the party from the North East geopolitical zone, called for their support ahead of the party’s presidential primary election.

At the meeting held at the new Banquet Hall of the Government House in Gombe State yesterday, the governor said consultations were ongoing on the need for the party to pick its candidate from the zone.

He said: “We have been making consultations and those consultations are ongoing. We felt, this time around, our zone should be given opportunity to conduct and preside over the affairs of the country.”

“We have sent delegations to various zones so that they can have the taste of the North East this time. On that note, I think all of us in this room are on the same page. Since all of us are from the same zone, whoever is qualified to contest that position should be encouraged to contest.”

He noted that power comes from God and when he has ordained a position of leadership for anyone, there is nothing anybody can do to alter it.

Dankwambo, who is in his second and final term as governor, said whoever is seeking the position of president must show he has the capacity  to the job.

“For us to do it, we must be able to showcase somebody that has done it before . Whoever is given the opportunity to contest for the position should be encouraged.

“If the problem is security, you cannot say you will finish Boko Haram in three months when you have not done it before . If the problem is our economy , we have to be able to present a candidate that has worked on the economy . You cannot just sit down and say ‘I will resolve the problem of the economy now.

“We need to present a candidate that has a template on what he has done on economy before . To resolve the problem of hunger in Nigeria is not (by just making) a statement.”

He said he had come to consult with members of his party  in his zone about his aspiration and to seek their support going forward.

“After a lot of consultation, my people felt we should consult with you , so that apart from other candidates from the zone that have indicated interest , I should also show interest, consult you and go round to seek support of other members of our great party,” he said.

Speaking on the state of the party, Dankwambo said, “Our great party ,PDP, is undergoing a lot of reform. We are making the party more attractive. We are seeing people coming back to the party . For the people that are coming back , I want appeal to all of us, ‘Don’t close doors; let those who want to come be welcomed . Accept returnees with open hand and heart. Let us continue to support the National Working Committee of our great party in their reforms so that, one day, we will be where we were from 1999 to 2015.”

in his speech, the director-general, Dankwambo Campaign Organisation, Prof Terhemba Shija, urged the zone to speak with one voice during the forthcoming primary election of the party.

He noted that even though the zone had always been significant to the history of the country, it had not been able to produce the president of the country.

“If we want to change the state of our economy and improve security in the country, we have Dankwambo, somebody who is committed, whose life is synonymous with the country. He is young, dynamic and available to rebuild the country. There is something special in Dankwambo.” he added.

Disquiet In PDP Over Presidential Ticket

Meanwhile, the influx of defectors to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has created panic and suspicion within the camp of some presidential aspirants in the party, it was gathered yesterday.

LEADERSHIP Sunday learnt that some presidential aspirants have therefore threatened that unless there is a free and fair primary to produce the candidate of the party, they might discontinue their support for the party.

A party source revealed that the concern of some of the aspirants is fuelled by the perception that the party’s presidential ticket seems to have been reserved for one of the recent returnees into the party.

It was also learnt that there is a fresh clamour by some stakeholders within and outside the party for a much younger candidate to fly the flag of the party in the coming presidential election.

Senate President Bukola Saraki, Sokoto State Governor Aminu Tambuwal, Benue Governor Samuel Ortom, and former Kano Governor Musa Kwankwaso formalised their return to the PDP at its 81st National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting, the second highest ranking body of the party, on Thursday.

While Kwankwaso has hinted at an ambition to contest the presidential election, it is strongly speculated that Saraki and Tambuwal will join the race.

Before the recent arrival of Saraki, Tambuwal and Kwankwaso, those said to be eyeing the party’s presidential ticket were former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, former governors, Sule Lamido (Jigawa), Sen Ahmed Makarfi (Kaduna), Ibrahim Shekarau (Kano) and  Attahiru Bafarawa (Sokoto). Others are former minister of state for special duties, Kabiru Tanimu Turaki, Sen Datti Baba-Ahmed.

The Gombe State governor, Ibrahim Dankwambo, yesterday publicised his aspiration for the nation’s top job in 2019.

A source in one the camps of the presidential aspirants, however, told LEADERSHIP Sunday yesterday that they would not take it lightly if the processes for the emergence of the party’s flagbearer is skewed in favour of any particular aspirant, saying such an act would hand victory to the ruling All Progressives Congress  (APC) on a platter and possibly cause the demise of the PDP as a party.

“The least we expect from the party is a free and fair primary.  We cannot afford to bungle it this time. The stakes in the 2019 presidential election is too high for such manipulations to be made. If they try it, it won’t only consume us but the party as well,” he said.

The source further referred to the complaint raised by Makarfi while on a campaign tour in Kogi State, where he cautioned the party not to destroy the zeal and determination of its members that had remained loyal and dedicated to the ideals of the party by unduly favouring the new entrants.

Speaking on the issue, the Atiku Campaign Organisation told LEADERSHIP Sunday  that it was confident in the ability of the PDP to manage the calibre of members coming into the party.

The campaign spokesman, Segun Sowunmi, said: “We welcome all democrats into the PDP; indeed, we welcome all Nigerians to join and partner with PDP on this renewed journey of nation building. We trust the leadership of PDP under Prince Uche Secondus.

“The reformed PDP is able to manage the new influx of people especially the quality and calibre of people that are coming from the APC. We look forward to a free, fair and transparent all-inclusive primaries where the party will have a chance to pick its flag bearer.”

Sowunmi expressed confidence in his principal’s suitability for task of putting Nigeria on the right track.

“I am bold to say that given the issues that confront our country now and where we need to take the country, plus the requisite experience required to manage Nigeria at this time, Atiku Abubakar is best suited to get Nigeria working again,” he said.

On his part, former minister, Kabiru Tanimu Turaki, welcomed the idea of the returnees joining the race, saying they will help to broaden the playing field.

He said,  “I believe the more people we get into the race the better. And I see their coming more as expanding the horizon.”

Expectedly, the national leadership of the PDP  has assured its members of adequate protection, accommodation and a level playing ground at every level of political engagement and aspirations ahead of the 2019 general elections.

PDP, in a statement by its national publicity secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, yesterday, said it had taken note of all concerns raised by highly respected and committed leaders of the party as it concerns accommodation of interests as well as new alignments, and had since taken extensive measures that would ultimately ensure that no person or group is short-changed in anyway.

“While the PDP appreciates and values such concerns, it is instructive to inform all concerned that the national leadership of our party has already envisaged the challenges of an enlarged family and has since made adequate arrangements that would effectively cover all interests for the task ahead.

“The repositioned PDP has amply learnt from the past. All members must therefore dispel every fear in relation to control of our structure as well as processes for selection of candidates for election, especially on the choice of our presidential candidate, as such will be handled with the strictest adherence to the principles of internal democracy and zero tolerance for imposition.

“Our great party has now, more than ever before, become a centre of the new patriotic and broad-based engagements by the overwhelming majority of Nigerians, across board, in the renewed democratic realignment that places priority on rescuing our nation from the misrule of President Muhammadu Buhari and his anti-people All Progressives Congress (APC).”

According to him, the PDP is open for all Nigerians to democratically and transparently coalesce and throw up a credible pan-Nigerian president and a government of national unity “to move the nation out of the woods which we have been plunged by the dysfunctional APC.”

The PDP further urged all members of the party to join forces with millions of compatriots who are already rallying “on our rebranded platform to achieve this collective quest, which has become to them a national emergency come 2019.”

I’d Rather Retire From Politics Than Defect – Makarfi

In a season of defections, not every politician is willing to join the train as Senator Ahmed Makarfi has declared that he would rather quit politics than leave the PDP for another political party.

Makarfi, a former governor of Kaduna State  and  presidential aspirant  of the PDP, said yesterday that he would not contemplate defecting from the party even if he loses the presidential ticket, adding that he would rather retire from politics than jump ship.

Makarfi who is a senator in the 8th National Assembly made this comment in Minna, Niger State, yesterday after a consultation visit to PDP Secretariat and former military head of state, Gen Ibrahim  Babngida.

He said, “I cannot contemplate defecting from PDP to another party; I will rather resign from politics because I don’t believe in defecting”.

While explaining that there was nothing wrong in defecting, he added that he had never warned his party against giving preference to defectors  and other associated issues.

“I made a statement in Lokoja (Kogi State capital)  which was somehow twisted; I’m 100 percent in support of those who defected; in fact, I predicted that after the APC convention, there will be a lot of defections. We are still expecting more people to join our party but the challenge is how to manage this success. If we mange it well, it will be to our advantage but if we fail to do so, there will be a backlash. That is what I said.”

The former PDP caretaker chairman posited that  there was  enough room in the party to accommodate everybody. He, however, urged the party to  work out an enduring system that could  take care of the dissenting  interests of those who are coming in and those already within the system.

“All of us should be prepared to make sacrifices for the collective  interest of the party and Nigeria as a whole,”  he said.

Speaking on the call by the APC leadership on the Senate president, Bukola Saraki, to resign his position following his defection to the PDP, he said it was a constitutional matter and not a party affair.

Makarfi said, “The Senate president and his deputy as well as the Speaker and his deputy were elected by all irrespective of political parties they belong to, based on the stipulation of the constitution. So the call on them by the APC leadership to step aside is misplaced, unlawful and unconstitutional.”

On his plans for Nigeria, he gave assurance that he would bring visionary leadership to the country, adding that even the rail line between Kaduna and Abuja being celebrated by the present administration was conceptualised by him in a committee set up during the administration of President Olusegun Obasanjo.