…How Mark lost out
By Dirisu Yakubu
THE search for the next national chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, remains open as the three geo-political zones in the North intensify effort to outwit one another for the plum office.
Although the race is no longer rowdy as it was once expected following North Central adoption of former Senate President, Dr. Iyorchia Ayu, the various interest camps in the North-West are soliciting support for the duo of Ahmed Makarfi and Ibrahim Shema, ex-governors of Kaduna and Katsina states respectively.
Vanguard reliably gathered that while former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, Adamawa state governor, Ahmadu Fintiri and the Bauchi state governor, Senator Bala Mohammed prefer Makarfi, their Sokoto and Rivers state counterparts, Aminu Tambuwal and Nysom Wike see Shema as the kind of leader the party needs at the helms of affairs ahead of a major test of its popularity and acceptance by Nigerians in the 2023 general elections.
Atiku is said to be very impressed with the manner Makarfi steered the wheel of the party as chairman of the caretaker committee which birthed the outgoing National Working Committee, NWC in 2017. Similarly, his easy-going disposition and work ethic, this medium gathered, has wooed a good number of party leaders to his camp in the past few days.
Although, Governor Wike has tremendous respect for Makarfi, the latter’s closeness to Atiku who is nursing a Presidential ambition in 2023 is believed to have swayed his support in favour of Shema.
So far, Shema is the leading choice of the North-West but that has not stopped supporters of Makarfi for advancing their own cause.
Meanwhile, details have emerged of how Ayu whom many gave little chances, beat formidable aspirants, particularly ex-Senate President, David Mark to emergence the consensus choice of the North Central.
Before his sudden emergence Tuesday night, Ayu trailed the likes of Mark, former Kogi state governor, Ibrahim Idris and others in the chairmanship race.
But in what is fast becoming the gradual take over of the party by the governors, Ortom leveraged on his status as the undisputed leader of the PDP in the North Central to pick Ayu, leaving Mark, Bukola Saraki, Babangida Aliyu, Jerry Gana and a few others with no choice but to accept.
“He (Ortom) is the only PDP governor in the North Central. Other PDP governors gave him that respect and tasked him to make his choice for the zone. That is how Mark, Saraki and others lost out,” a former NWC member of the PDP told Vanguard in confidence.
With Makarfi and Shema joining the fray, delegates are likely to pick the next chairman of the party from this pack of three at the October 31 national elective convention billed to hold in Abuja.
At press time yesterday, Atiku and Bala Mohammed appeared to be running a futile race to prevent Senator Suleiman Nazif from contesting the national chairmanship election.
‘The duo, who both hail from the North East, do not want a chairman from the zone, due to their Presidential aspiration.
However, Nazif, who is the acting National Vice Chairman (North) of the PDP is said to have told close associates that he would pick his nomination form today.