It emerged yesterday that leaders of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) are running from pillar to post over the party’s presidential aspirants who seem to be set for a showdown in the battle for the party’s ticket.
So far, there are 12 presidential aspirants in the race and whoever becomes PDP’s presidential candidate is expected to be the main challenger of President Muhammadu Buhari in the 2019 presidential election.
But the prospect of a consensus candidate emerging from the ranks of the PDP presidential aspirants appears slim, as they are all poised to slug it out for the party’s ticket at the party’s primaries scheduled to hold on October 6 this year.
LEADERSHIP gathered that most of the aspirants have resolved to test their popularity at the party’s convention, with the hope that it is going to be a free and fair primaries by the party leadership.
Submitting his presidential nomination forms yesterday, Senate President Bukola Saraki played down the possibility of a consensus candidate emerging, stressing that what is important for the party is having a free and credible primaries.
The senate president who was accompanied by some of his loyalists to the PDP national secretariat, said, “I don’t think the consensus thing is the issue before us because we are trying to ensure that there is internal democracy in the system and a very credible primaries. What is important is that at the end of the day we have something that is rancour-free.
“What I can tell you is that we are working together because we are still part of one family. I believe at the end of the day, we will have a process that whoever emerges will be supported by all of us so that there will be no need dividing ourselves.
“We are happy as a party that we have competent people managing the process. It is your responsibility to ensure that the best man emerges and to ensure that there is credibility in the process so that it will be acceptable to all.”
The Senate president added that what is important for them is the lives of millions of Nigerians who are going through such a tough time and who now believe that it is only through the PDP that that can happen.
He continued: “We will play our own part in ensuring that we unite every body. It has always been my antecedent to provide unity, to provide leadership in this kind of scenario. I can assure you I will play my role in uniting all of us because we are part of one family and we are actually part of one family.
“Our problem is not in PDP but in the other party. So, we will stay united to carry out this exercise as a family affair and we will ensure that the party will also show that we will do something that is respected across the world so that that will give us the platform to go and deliver.”
On his part, another presidential aspirant of the party, Senator Jonah Jang said he will never step down for any other aspirant and that not even his party can ask him to do so.
Speaking with journalists in Abuja yesterday, the former governor of Plateau State said, “If I am to step down, why would I be aspiring in the first place? I am here to run for the presidency and become the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“Who do you want me to step down for? My party cannot ask me to step down because they sold the form to me”.
Also, former Vice President Alhaji Atiku Abubakar who is also one of the PDP presidential aspirants has pleaded with former Jigawa State governor, Alhaji Sule Lamido, to step down for him as a matter of national interest and political brotherhood.
Atiku made the appeal when he visited Jigawa State to solicit the support of PDP delegates for his aspiration to become the party presidential flag bearer in the 2019 general election.
Speaking at PDP state headquarters in Dutse, Atiku told the delegates that he and Sule Lamido belong to the same political family and share the same spirit on the need to rescue the nation from the hands of incompetent leaders.
He noted that the federal government under the APC has failed to address the critical issues that militate against the country’s unity, peace and progress.
Atiku maintained that he and Lamido who he described as his junior brother are capable of taking the country to the Promised Land from its current political and economic quagmire.
Urging Lamido to leave the job for him, his ‘elder brother’, Atiku recalled a scenario that played out with the Yar Adua brothers.
He said, “with the intervention of elders in the state, the junior brother, Umar Musa, stepped down for another aspirant so that the politics will not be a family affair, leaving Shehu Musa to contest for president, while someone from another family vied for governor.
“Sule Lamido is my junior brother and will learn from what transpired between Shehu Musa and Umaru Musa.”
The former vice president noted that his mother hails from Jigawar Sarki, a village in Dutse local government area of Jigawa State before her family migrated to Adamawa State.
In his remark, the state PDP chairman, Salisu Mahmuda, called on the aspirants to be united to prevent what he called an automatic second coming of the APC administration in the country.
Also speaking during the visit, the representative of director general of Atiku presidential campaign team, Senator Abdul Ningi, vowed not to accept anything short of wining in the forthcoming general election.
On his part, another PDP presidential aspirant and former minister of special duties, Kabiru Tanimu Turaki, said he is not aware of plans to produce a consensus candidate for PDP.
Speaking through the director of media and publicity of his campaign organisation, Sola Atere, the former minister said, “We are not aware of any move for a consensus candidacy for now. However, our aspirant is open as loyal party to any credible step taken by the party to produce a candidate that has integrity, credibility, education, knowledge, dynamism, and ability to build bridges of unity, courage and capacity beyond what the APC candidate has to address Nigeria’s challenges.
“The person must be acceptable to Nigerians in view of the reliance they now have in the ability of the PDP to rescue the nation from the problems heaped on them by the current clueless government.”
We Are In Talks With Them – BoT
Meanwhile, the Board of Trustees (BoT) of the PDP has said yesterday that it has set up a 12-member committee to discuss with the 12 presidential aspirants of the party, with a view to picking one of them as consensus candidate.
Chairman of the BoT, Senator Walid Jibrin, who disclosed this in an SMS message to our correspondent, said the committee will make the aspirants realise the dangers inherent in having such a large number of them in the race.
Jibrin who described the present number of aspirants as unwieldy noted that fears of disagreement among the contestants could lead to major divisions after the primaries.
The BoT chairman however said the committee will not compel any of the aspirants to withdraw from the race; adding that, rather, they would be persuaded to put the interest of the party above their personal interests and ambitions.
He said, “A committee has been set up to discuss with all the aspirants to come up with one of them as a consensus candidate. We have 12 of them in the race.
“We have also advised the leadership of the party to regulate the processes and draw a code of conduct to guide the conduct and behaviour of the aspirants and officials to be engaged in the selection process.
“Consequently, the BoT has forwarded its full recommendations to the National Working Committee (NWC) of the PDP for consideration”.
Jibrin, whose tenure has been renewed for another five years, urged members of the BoT to always maintain their honour and integrity by remaining neutral in all the processes leading to the emergence of the candidate.
He further warned the leadership of the party not to overlook the contributions of old party members, insisting that the party leadership must manage the situation of new decampees into the party.
He also congratulated Governor Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti State for withdrawing from the presidential race.
“The party has been warned to manage the situation of new decampees to the party and also consider the role played by old members. As provided in the party constitution the board is empowered to regulate its proceedings and draw code of conduct for its members”, he said.
Those in the race for the presidential ticket of the PDP are former Vice President Atiku Abubakar; Sokoto State governor, Aminu Tambuwal; Gombe State governor, Ibrahim Dankwambo; Senate President Bukola Saraki; former governor of Jigawa State, Sule Lamido; former governor of Kaduna State, Ahmed Makarfi and a former Special Duties minister, Tanimu Turaki.
Others are a former president of the Senate, David Mark; former governor of Kano State, Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso; former governor of Sokoto State, Attahiru Bafarawa; former Plateau State governor, Jonah Jang and Senator Baba Datti Ahmed.
We’re Not Threatened By Consensus Candidate – APC
Meanwhile, the All Progressives Congress (APC) has said it is not threatened at whatever method the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) adopts in producing a presidential candidate ahead of 2019.
The governing party said provided PDP’s process of arriving at the candidate is democratic, it is not its business to interfere.
National publicity secretary of the APC, Mr Yekini Nabena, told LEADERSHIP on phone that APC is also advocating that the PDP should not interfere in APC’s internal affairs.
He said, “This is democracy and if their people want that, that is their business and we will not interfere with their process, the same way we keep telling them not to interfere with ours.
“So far the process is democratic we are Okay. We are not moved by their rhetoric, but let me also say that we are not threatened.”
PMB Receives Presidential Nomination Form Today
Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari will today receive his presidential nomination form of the APC at the presidential villa, Abuja.
LEADERSHIP recalls that a group under the auspices of National Consolidation Ambassadors Network (NCAN) had bought the N45 million All Progressives Congress (APC) Expression of Interest and Nomination Form for President Buhari’s re-election bid in 2019.
However, civil society groups and opposition parties have asked President Buhari to reject the N45.5million APC presidential nomination forms bought for him by the group.
The groups, including Centre for Transparency Advocacy, Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) and Afenifere, as well as the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and African Democratic Congress (ADC), said the NCAN gesture was a violation of S91(9) of Electoral Act 2010, as amended, and asked the president to reject the gift.
The PDP said that if Buhari proceeds to accept the offer, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) should apply the sanction stipulated in S91 (10) (a) of the electoral law.
“The PDP urges the INEC to note that the purchase of the N45 million form by the group directly violates section 91 (9) of the Electoral Act, which provides that “no individual or other entity shall donate more than N1 million to any candidate,” the party said in a statement by its national publicity secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan.
But in its reaction, the APC, in a statement by its acting national publicity secretary, Mr Yekini Nabene, said that it would amount to rushing to quick conclusion based on erroneous legal grounds for anyone to fault the group.
It said, “Aside from the fact that there is a world of difference between an aspirant and a candidate in the eyes of the law, there has been no contravention of the Electoral Act 2010 (As Amended).
“The Nigeria Consolidation Ambassadors Network was responsible for the purchase of the presidential forms for President Buhari and has indicated that it acted as a collection medium to aggregate micro contributions from thousands of Nigerians keen to ensure his re-election.
“While we restate that, as a political party, the APC acted in compliance with the dictates of the law, we also acknowledge that this singular act by thousands of Nigerians severely jolted the ranks of opposition politicians and their paid agents in the media, hence their desperate attempt to tar such a noble gesture with the brush of illegality.”
PDP Govs Pass No Confidence Vote On INEC, Security Agencies
Meanwhile, governors of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) yesterday accused the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and security agencies of conducting themselves as tools of the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led federal government ahead of the 2019 general election.
The governors, under the aegis of PDP Governors Forum, also condemned what it called the surreptitious, selective and suspicious payment of N16 billion purportedly from the Paris Club Refund, adding that the money is meant to fund the corrupt inducement of voters in the forthcoming governorship election in Osun State on September 22.
This was contained in a communiqué issued at the end of an emergency meeting of the PDP Governors Forum last Sunday at the Ekiti State Governor’s Lodge, Asokoro, Abuja.
The communiqué was signed by the chairman of the forum and governor of Ekiti State, Ayo Fayose.
The PDP Governors’ Forum condemned what it termed “the politicisation of security agencies in the country by the federal government” and observed that “security agencies have become organs and tools of the APC-led federal government to harass and intimidate the opposition and dissenting voices.”
They further decried the use of security agencies to perpetrate electoral fraud “as it happened in Ekiti, Osun and Rivers State and urged them to be non-partisan in the performance of their duties in accordance with the provisions of the constitution.
“The Forum further condemned the flagrant violation of democratic ethos by operatives of this government as shown recently in the infamous act by the Police at the residence of Elder Statesman, Pa Edwin Clark, and the harassment on innocent Nigerians across the country on frivolous claims.
“The Forum noted the INEC needs to reinvent itself as a truly independent umpire of the electoral process in the country. For now, we have no confidence in INEC. The commission has conducted itself as a tool of the APC-led federal government, especially with the roles of the chairman, Prof. Mahmud Yakubu, and a national commissioner, Mrs Amina Zakari.”
The governors, however, resolved to have an all-inclusive meeting with all the presidential aspirants, with the national chairman, two national officers of the party, and the leaders of the party in both chambers of the National Assembly in attendance.
“The meeting condemned unequivocally the refusal or failure of the president to sign into law the amended Electoral Act, thereby indicating that the president and his party are afraid of electronic voting or the introduction of technology into the electoral system,” the communiqué further noted.