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2011: Govs Sambo, Shekarau in race for Presidency

By  Emeka Mamah & Henry Umoru
PDP vows to make contest all-comers’ affair
Kaduna—Opposi-tion against President Umaru Yar’Adua’s second term in 2011 appears to have heightened with the preparation of some Northern governors to have a shot at the presidency.

Meanwhile, the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP), Deputy National Chairman, Dr. Bello Haliru, said the party’s presidential ticket in 2011 will be opened to any interested member.

Sources said apart from a former Head of State, General  Mohammadu Buhari and former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar, the governors of Kaduna and Kano states are said to be interested in vying for the top position in the country.

While Buhari, Atiku and Ibrahim Shekarau of Kano State are said to be getting ready to  try their luck in opposition parties, the Governor of Kaduna State, Alhaji Namadi Sambo, is said to be getting ready to vie for the position on the platform of PDP.

Under PDP’s zoning arrangement, Yar’Adua has a chance to vie for a second term in 2011, but, the general opinion in the North is that he may be too weak to carry on with state duties.

Recently, the Northern Union (NU), led by the former Senate leader and father of Kwara State Governor,  Dr. Olusola Saraki, visited some political leaders and traditional rulers in the North to seek their support for President Yar’Adua’s second term.

However, while some of the monarchs, including those of  Katsina, Yar’Adua’s home state, supported the second term move, others were said to have opposed it.

They were said to have declared that there was a limit to which Nigerians can endure the alleged non-performance of the administration.

In Kaduna, weekend, there were indications that Gov. Sambo was gunning for the presidency as top members of PDP alleged that President Yar’Adua may vacate office at the expiration of his first term.

It was claimed that Yar’Adua has been under intense pressure from top Northern leaders and  the PDP leadership to review his decision to run for a second term,  because of his health.

But, a cabal in the Presidency, which was said to be benefitting from the situation, it was claimed, had been nudging him on.

However, speaking  to Vanguard on telephone yesterday, Haliru said: “everyone will be free to contest and everyone will have an opportunity to do so. We are going to apply internal democracy and party guidelines.”

An aide to Sambo noted that, “we are aware of the development and as a loyal member of PDP, Gov. Sambo will serve in any position the party wants him.”

“The President has indeed accepted not to go for a second term because the pressure has become too much on him to relinquish power and take adequate care of his health. He is a true democrat and Yar’Adua loves this country.

“If he were as strong as he used to be, Yar’Adua would have performed much better than he has done so far.
“Due to his failing health, the President is constrained to work for just a few hours daily as he delegates functions to a number of other people including the Vice President.

“In as much as I would not want to preempt the outcome of a special meeting sometime next year, every machinery has been put in place for the President to make his intentions public and your governor here (Sambo) will be a good replacement as the PDP presidential candidate for 2011,” the source said.

“However, the governor is presently concerned with his own second term in office as governor of Kaduna until the situation changes.”

Sambo emerged as the PDP governorship candidate in 2007 in a hotly contested primaries  with Senator Isaiah Balat.
Sambo has since started subtle campaigns for re-election in 2011 even as reports indicate that the opposition within the PDP in the state is trying to scuttle his efforts over allegations of marginalization of a section of members.

Apart from the opposition, Sambo is also said not to be in good terms with his political godfather and predecessor, Senator Ahmed Mohammed Makarfi, who is alleged to be regretting ever assisting him to become governor.


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