2019 Elections: Kwankwaso, Saraki’s Ambitions Unsettle PDP

The problem of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in choosing its presidential candidate for the 2019 is being compounded with the entrance of the President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki, and former Kano State governor, Senator Rabiu Kwankwaso, into the race.

At the close of work last Friday, nine out of the 12 presidential aspirants on the platform of the party have obtained their nomination forms, signalling their intention to vie for the ticket.

Those who paid the N12 million expression of interest and nomination forms were Saraki, Kwankwaso, Atiku Abubakar, Aminu Tambuwal, Attahiru Bafarawa, Datti Baba Ahmed, Kabiru Tanimu Turaki, Sule Lamido and Ibrahim Dankwambo.

Former Chairman of the National Caretaker Committee, Ahmed Makarfi; former Kano State governor, Mallam Ibrahim Shekarau and former Plateau State governor, Jonah Jang, are expected to obtain their forms this week. Aspirants to various positions in the party have till Thursday, September 6 to obtain and submit their nomination forms.

The high number of presidential aspirants is a source for concern to the party. PDP National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus, last Wednesday, met with nine of the presidential aspirants who honoured his invitation for a meeting with the aspirants.

A source privy to the decisions reached at the meeting said the aspirants were told to go back and talk to themselves on how to reduce the number. “But if none of them agrees to step down, then they go to the field. What the chairman (Prince Secondus) told them is that there will be a level playing field,” the source disclosed.

He also said the aspirants would be made to sign an undertaking not to leave PDP after the primaries and to support whoever emerges as the presidential candidate, adding that about two of such meetings would be held before the presidential primaries. New Telegraph reported two weeks ago of the division in the party between the governors and stakeholders over Atiku and Tambuwal’s ambitions.

The decision of Saraki and Kwankwaso to join the race has altered the political permutations. A source revealed that Tambuwal is fast losing support because some party stakeholders believe he is not yet ripe for presidency.

“It is believed that the Sultanate is lobbying for him, but the refusal of (Senator Aliyu) Wamakko to join him in PDP is rubbing off on him. “Whether you like it or not, what Tambuwal is today in politics is made possible by Wamakko. So, it is doubtful if he can pull the crowd even in Sokoto State if Wamakko is not behind him.

”And don’t forget, some people are still holding it against him that he stabbed the party in 2011 by working with the opposition and became speaker of the House of Representatives against the wish of the party. All these things are counting against him,” he added.

PDP believes that Kwankwaso’s candidacy would divide Buhari’s support base, especially in Kano and some other states in North-West. But the party is worried of his reception in other parts of the country, especially in the South where he is seen as a fanatic.

“With Kwankwaso as candidate, PDP is sure of, at least 35 per cent (of the votes) in Kano. He still has supporters there despite what (Governor Umar) Ganduje is doing. He can also win in some other states in the North-West. But he is not liked in the South.
He just asked the party to keep his Senate seat for him in case he loses (the presidential ticket),” he stated. The PDP National Working Committee (NWC), on Friday, dissolved the executive committee in Kano State and replaced it with a caretaker committee.

The move, it was believed, is to enable Kwankwaso take control of the party structure in the state.
The source said Saraki has the identity problem because the North has not yet seen him as one of its own.

According to him, Saraki’s entrance into the race has pitched the governors against members of the National Assembly. “Some of the governors may want one of their own to pick the ticket, but Saraki will have the sympathy of members of the National Assembly.

Some will vote for Kwankwaso because he is one of them, but majority will vote for Saraki,” he said. He, however, noted that Atiku is still the candidate to beat among all the aspirants.

“He is still the strongest person,” he said, adding that some notable politicians are likely to defect to PDP if he picks the party’s ticket.

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