…Ayu, Shema in pole position
…How Mark lost out
By Dirisu Yakubu
ABUJA- The search for a consensus national chairmanship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, suffered setback Wednesday night as a scheduled meeting of the Northern stakeholders did not hold.
The botched meeting billed to hold at the Bauchi Governor’s lodge had the presence of Governors Bala Mohammed, Samuel Ortom, Aminu Tambuwal and Ahmadu Fintiri of Bauchi, Benue, Sokoto and Adamawa states respectively.
Others were former Senate President, Bukola Saraki, former Minister of Special Duties and Intergovernmental Relations, Tanimu Turaki amongst others.
Following Tuesday’s emergence of former Senate President, Dr. Iyorchia Ayu as the consensus choice of the North Central, the North East and North West were expected to make their positions known, as former governors of Katsina and Kaduna states, Ibrahim Shema and Ahmed Makarfi have emerged frontrunners alongside Ayu for the plum office.
Briefing newsmen at the event, Governor Fintiri blamed the development on poor communication gap.
“We could not go on because we had a communication gap with some of our leaders. Some of those expected at this meeting did not show up so we have scheduled another meeting for tomorrow (today). All the zones in the North have shown interest in the race, ” he said in a brief chat with the media.
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.
As at the time of filing this report, 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 owing to their Presidential aspiration. However, Nazif who is the outing National Vice Chairman (North) of the PDP is said to have told close associates that he would pick his nomination form on Thursday (today).
The absence of Atiku, Mark, Ayu, Gana and many other chieftains of the PDP is seen as an indication that the party may fail in its bid to have a consensus chairmanship candidate for the convention that os barely two weeks away.