By Dirisu Yakubu
It is a busy time for the National Working Committee (NWC) of the Peoples Democratic Party as aspirants for the 2019 Presidency and governorship positions daily throng its headquarters to purchase Expression of Interest and Nomination Forms.
With demand almost outstripping supply, the party has raked in quite a kingly amount of money; a positive development considering the huge financial implication of prosecuting the 2019 general elections. However, the good news has also fetched the party, a worrisome ailment in need of urgent surgery.
Earlier in the week, immediate past President of the Nigerian Senate, David Mark, joined the race for the sole Presidential ticket of the party; a development that surprised not a few Nigerians.
Mark, the longest serving Senator in the red chamber, joined his successor, Bukola Saraki as two aspirants of North Central extraction, seeking the highest elective office in the land on the platform of the PDP.
Mark’s aspiration, according to insider sources, makes the quest for a consensus candidate a difficult one for the party.
One of the sources who spoke with Saturday Vanguard on Thursday said anyone dismissing the aspiration of the former Communications Minister has no understanding of Nigerian politics and “The rich of the man who has shown political consistency in the past 19 years.”
His words: “David Mark is a man of few words but his relationship with top military stalwarts, religious and traditional leaders, captains of industry, corporate gurus and of course, the international community cannot be dismissed.
“Apart from this, Mark is an experienced politician. Why did he choose to join the race so late? Is it possible that it is a game plan perfectly executed in his interest?, ” he asked, even as argued that the former Senate President would have a say on who becomes the party flag bearer.
Unlike Mark, Saraki who last week, appointed former Minister of state (Power), Mohammed Wakil as Director General of his Presidential Campaign Council, has no military links but has within a period of two weeks, intensified consultations with leaders across the country.
Saraki says he is the man to beat and has in the past few weeks been telling Nigerians how he intends to make governance count if elected as President.
Based on their political reach and visibility, it is becoming difficult for the party to decide on any of the 13 aspirants that have so far joined the race for the Presidency on the platform of the PDP.
Saturday Vanguard gathered that the difficulty in picking any of the aspirants over the other is what forced the hand of the Board of Trustees (BoT) of the party to set up a committee to look into the possibility of pruning the number of Presidential aspirants ahead of the primaries.
The move, according to dependable sources, would leave the party with no more than four aspirants, as the leadership of the party believes a manageable number would make the process of selection of the candidate less tedious and cumbersome.
As early as next week, the committee is expected to come up with a list of four or five aspirants with the hope that those who may be asked to drop their ambitions would work hand-in-hand with the party to conduct a credible primary election devoid of rancour.