By Omeija Ajayi
Atiku, Saraki, Kwakwanso lead race the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has fixed October 5th and 6th for its Presidential primaries. No less than than 12 aspirants are vying for the sole ticket, with each assuring the party that victory is only inches away provided he is given the flag.
In the week gone by, Wadata Plaza, the edifice housing the PDP secretariat, was a beehive of activities as aspirants made last minute effort to submit their expression of interest and nomination forms for the big test. However, the party which is aiming to reclaim the power it lost at the centre in 2015 is also aware today that the selection of its Presidential candidate may boost or scuttle the lofty aspiration of marching to Aso Rock.
In his bid to realize his age-long dream of presiding over the affairs of the nation, former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar has been meeting with fellow aspirants and only last week, urged Sule Lamido to step down for him on the premise that he (Atiku) was the older of the two. Lamido declined, arguing justifiably that in politics, the Wazirin Adamawa was a greenhorn compared to him.
That brief verbal exchange became a prelude to what was to come much later. While submitting their nomination forms, the duo of Senate President, Bukola Saraki and immediate past governor of Plateau state, Jonah Jang ruled out the possibility of accepting the consensus option. While Saraki said the option was “not an issue,” Jang argued that anything short of allowing all aspirants to test their popularity at the polls may be difficult to accept.
What this portends for the party is that unless these actors change their stand, the party’s only option to picking its flag bearer is the convention.
But for a party that is not in power, a party that lacks the resources it once had in its Kitty for 16 years; a crisis of whatever depth is what the PDP can ill afford today as it prepares for the elections.
Governors’ Forum vs BoT
The PDP Governors’ Forum led by Ekiti state governor, Ayodele Fayose has urged the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party to provide a level playing field for all Presidential aspirants with a warning not to sideline old and faithful leaders who stayed put while others defected during the party’s troubled times.
On the other hand, the Board of Trustees (BoT) is set to meet with the aspirants next week to make them realize the significance of rallying behind a consensus candidate to challenge the All Progressives Congress (APC) in 2019.
Speaking with Saturday Vanguard on the conundrum, Chairman of the BoT, Senator Walid Jibrin said the board is desirous of peace for the party adding that 12 Presidential aspirants make the race was “troubling.”
“We want peace for our party and that is why we will meet the aspirants and urge them to deliberate among themselves so that they can come up with a consensus candidate. But if this is not possible, we will go for credible primary election,” he said on Thursday.
Meanwhile, Saraki and Atiku are taking the game a notch higher as both are neck-deep in talks with governors, all of whom have a say in delegates (statutory and elected) expected to vote at the convention in the event of a failure to agree on a consensus.
Before jetting out to attend the burial of former United Nations Secretary General, Koffi Anan on Thursday, Saraki had won the support of no less than eighth governors out of the fourteen on the party platform. Atiku, Saraki, Kwakwanso appear to be the front-runners in the battle for PDP ticket.