By Henry Umoru & Dapo Akinrefon
ABUJA— BARELY three weeks to the National Convention of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, to select a presidential candidate for the 2019 election, strong indications emerged, yesterday, that PDP Senators have resolved to give bloc votes to Senate President Bukola Saraki.
A source told Vanguard that the PDP Senators may have taken the decision as a payback to Saraki for carrying them along since June 2015 when he emerged as the Senate President against all odds from his former party, the All Progressives Congress, APC.
According to the source, the Senate President first entered into a very strong covenant with the PDP, which led to the emergence of Senator Ike Ekweremadu,a PDP senator as deputy Senate President.
The PDP Senators, a source said are not happy with the way the former Senate President, Senator David Mark, edged out the former National Chairman of the party, who recently returned, Senator Barnabas Gemade, who has moved to the Social Democratic, SDP.
A very senior lawmaker in the National Assembly said, “Senators are going to support Senate President Bukola Saraki. The Senate President held us together; we are supporting him in spite of former Senate President, Senator David Mark being in the presidential race.’’
Three PDP Senators – Saraki, Mark and Jonah Jang (former Plateau State governor) are running for the PDP presidential ticket.
A source also told Vanguard that the PDP is worried over how it would organise primaries to select one out of a crowd of 14 of presidential aspirants during the exercise scheduled for October 5-6, adding that the National Chairman of the party, Prince Uche Secondus has called on some very prominent members of the party to come to Abuja and help him address the very big problem.
The source said the party cannot afford to explode now, which explains why they are coming up with some trouble-shooting methods like the Board of Trustees, BoT under Senator Walid Jubrin holding series of meetings to see how there could be a consensus candidate.
However, with the level of seriousness on the part of the aspirants, the issue of having a consensus may not be feasible.
Vanguard also gathered that as part of moves to have a united party at the end of the day, all the aspirants may feature for the convention.
Vanguard gathered that since the position is zoned to the North, the issue will first be addressed at the zonal level where the North-West, North-East and North-Central will be asked to go to the drawing table to resolve the issue before the National Convention.
Those, who have picked the presidential nomination and expression of interest forms are Atiku Abubakar; Senator Bukola Saraki; Ahmed Makarfi; Sokoto State Governor, Aminu Tambuwal; Gombe State Governor, Ibrahim Dankwambo and former Minister of Special Duties, Taminu Turaki.
Others are Senator David Mark; Senator Rabiu Kwankwaso; former governor of Jigawa State, Sule Lamido; former governor of Sokoto State, Attahiru Bafarawa; former governor of Plateau State, Jonah Jang; the founder of Baze University, Senator Datti Baba-Ahmed; and Stanley Osifo from Edo State.
Bafarawa upbeat about S’West endorsements
Meanwhile, Bafarawa, has expressed satisfaction with the outcome of his tour of the six South-West states.
The consultations with party faithful, stakeholders and delegates started from Ondo state and ended in Lagos.
A statement from the Media and Publicity Directorate of the Bafarawa Campaign Organisation, said that the former governor was particularly touched by the endorsements he got from leaders and stakeholders of the party in the six states.
In Ondo State, Bafarawa was excited by the reception organised for him in the residence of a prominent Yoruba leader and leader of Afenifere, Pa Reuben Fasoranti in Akure.
While with Fasoranti and other Afenifere leaders, Bafarawa told them that he came to seek their prayer, advice and blessing.
Bafarawa recounted his political career over the years and achievements as governor and told his audience that he is seeking office in order to better the lot of Nigerians.
He said he would embark on damage control in the areas of the economy, security, education, health and infrastructure development among others, where the All Progressives Congress, APC- led government of President Muhammadu Buhari has not fared well.
Bafarawa further said that he will not probe Buhari if elected president but rather will go to work with a view to righting the wrongs of the past.
On restructuring, Bafarawa said that he is happy about the clamour because it will favour the North. Restructuring, he said, is about development. It is about improvement in education, healthcare, infrastructural development and more. Bafarawa said the North needs all of these more than the South. He therefore promised that if elected, he would, within the first three months, set up a committee that will review the reports of the past conferences we have had and come up with a blueprint on how to restructure the country.