As at the close of date for return of expression of interest forms, the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) had a record number of 12 aspirants who have picked and returned their form to fly the party’s flag in the February 16 2019 Presidential election. In this report, Correspondent, MYKE UZENDU, looks at the aspirants, their strengths and low points ahead of the PDP presidential primaries
Political activities at the National secretariat of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) came to its climax over the weekend as politicians used the last minute extension window to procure and submit their Nomination and Expression of interest forms for various political positions.
About 12 Presidential aspirants, an admixture of the young and old heavy weight politicians have indicated interest in the primary slated to hold on the 5th and 6th of October in Port Harcourt.
Some of the aspirants include former vice president, Atiku Abubakar, the Senate President, Bukola Saraki; as well as his predecessor, David Mark.
Also in the race are Governors of Sokoto State, Aminu Tambuwal and Gombe State, Ibrahim Dankwambo as well as former governors of Jigawa State, Sule Lamido, Kaduna State, Ahmed Makarfi and Kano State, Rabi’u Musa Kwankwaso, Sokoto State, Attahiru Bafarawa and Plateau State, David Jang.
Others are former Minister of Special Duties Kabiru Tanimu Turaki (SAN) and Senator, Datti Baba-Ahmed.
Attahiru Bafarawa (64) was the governor of Sokoto State between 1999 and 2007 on the ticket of the defunct All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP). He ran for President on DPP platform in 2007 but lost and later joined the PDP.
He was a member of the House of Representatives in the Second Republic and later joined forces with others known as the G-23 to announce the merger that produced the APC.
Bafrawa is known for being frank and telling the truth to power and has resisted financial overtures to join the bandwagon. In an interview, he claimed that former Governors Rabiu Kwankwaso (Kano), Aliyu Magatakarda Wamakko (Sokoto), Rotimi Amaechi (Rivers), Murtala Nyako (Adamawa) and current Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed (Kwara), who defected from the PDP in 2014, paid N100million each to be admitted into the APC.
But in 2015, Bafarawa, his son, Sagir, a former National Security Adviser (NSA), Sambo Dasuki were arraigned in a 22 count charges for money laundering, criminal breach of trust, misappropriation and breach of public trust to the tune of N19.4 billion in a Sokoto High Court. Also another fresh charge of diverting N4.6 billion from the NSA’s office was slamed on him by an Abuja High court for which he also pleaded not guilty.
However, the High Court in July this year discharged and acquitted them of the charges, an action the EFCC described as “shocking and unacceptable.”
Jonah David Jang
Jonah Jang (74), is a retired Air commodore, former military governor of Benue and old Gongola States (1985 – 1987), immediate past governor of Plateau State and Senator representing Plateau North Senatorial District.
The soft spoken politician said his number one priority will be to restructure and make Nigeria one of the top nations of the world.
However Jang and his former cashier in the Office of the Secretary to the State Government, Yusuf Pam, were fingered in the diversion of N6.3 billion belonging to the Plateau State Government. He had earlier dragged the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed to court for including his name in a controversial looters’ list for N12 billion from the state’s treasury while in office. Jang has been granted bail while trial is still ongoing.
Kabiru Tanimu Turaki
Kabiru Tanimu Turaki (SAN), (61) (Dan Masanin Gwandu) is a legal luminary who believes that only obedience to the rule of law can lead to the development of any nation.
He was former Secretary of the Youth Wing of the National Party of Nigeria (NPN) in 1981, a former Minister of Special Duties and Inter-Governmental Affairs (2013 – 2015), former Supervising Minister, Ministry of Labour and Productivity (2014 – 2015), a gubernatorial aspirations for Kebbi Sate under the United Nigeria Congress Party (UNCP|) in 1996, the All People’s Party (APP) in 1998; the United Peoples Party in 2003 and PDP in 2007 the current Chairman of PDP Former Ministers’ Forum of Nigeria and member of Peoples Democratic Party’s Board of Trustees (BoT).
Addressing his supporters in one of his rallies, he said: “If voted into power, I will implement policies and programmes that will bring smiles to the faces of Nigerians. I have all that is needed to improve the country.”
Turaki is of the Fulani stock and is favourably positioned to clinch the number one position if the Fulani oligarchy goes for a less controversial figure.
Engr. Rabiu Musa Kwankwso
Rabiu Musa Kwankwso (62) is a grassroots politician with mass followership in Kano State. He was the former Governor of Kano state (1999 – 2003, 2007 – 2011) under ANPP and PDP, Minister of Defence (2003 – 2006) and also as Special Adviser to the President on Darfur and Somalia (2006 – 2007).
Kwankwaso worked with Kano State government for 17 years and rose through the cadre of the civil service to the rank of Principal Engineer. His first significant act as a politician was when he was elected into the official of the Kano State Students Association.
In 1991, he resigned from civil service and was elected into the Federal House of Representatives.
Kwankwaso contested the presidential primaries of APC in 2014 and came second to the current president Muhammad Buhari but later swapped position to contest the senatorial seat for Kano Central Senatorial District which he won and is now serving in the committee for National Planning & Economic Affairs.
His popularity in Kano led to the formation of the ‘kwankwasiyya’ movement comprising of about 1 million followers, identified with his red cap mode of dressing, who has described him as “the architect of modern Kano”. He is a bold and courageous leader and has the followership to emerge as the PDP flag bearer.
Aminu Tambuwal (52) started learning the legislative ropes (1999 – 2000) while working as Personal Assistant on Legislative Affairs to Senator Abdullahi Wali, the then Senate Leader.
In 2003, he decided to run for the House of Representatives to represent Kebbe/Tambuwal Federal Constituency. He was elected into the House of Representatives on the platform of the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP).
Few months to the 2007 general elections, he defected to the Democratic People’s Party (DPP) but when DPP denied him return ticket, he swung back to the ANPP and was re elected.
Tambuwal in 2005 became the Minority Leader of the House until he defected to the PDP in 2007 and was elected the Deputy Chief Whip. In 2014, as Speaker under the PDP, he decamped to the APC where he contested and won the governorship election of Sokoto State, only to return to the PDP in August 2018 to actualize his presidential ambition.
Tambuwal enjoys the blessing of PDP governors who see him as a unifier and nationalist, with cross regional, ethnic and religious acceptance among the sociopolitical elite. He has earned a lot of the trust and confidence of the international community, global organizations and also won UNESCO Award in 2018 for investment in education.
Baba Ahmed Datti
Yusuf Datti Baba-Ahmed Ph.D (48) a British-trained economist was a member of the House of Representatives (2003 – 2007) and Senate (2011) on the platform of CPC.
He is a fearless and blunt professional, Pro-chancellor, Baze University Abuja. He was a close ally of President Buhari but recently dumped the APC, stating that “Buhari’s second term will destroy Nigeria and unsettle the rest of Africa”.
The Presidential hopeful says he will fight injustice, throw off tyranny, ensure security, rebuild the economy, approve a living wage for workers and cause a revolution in the education sector.
According to Datti, “If you want to destroy a country, you don’t need to attack it by air or bomb, simply attack the educational institutions and you have succeeded. Nobody had destroyed ours, but we found our education system deteriorating. Along with it goes the whole Nigerian society because the security forces are not doing their jobs well. So are medical doctors, nurses, engineers, bankers, and some politicians. I want to lead a quality revolution through education, training and a vibrant economy to solve our security challenges.”
While PDP National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus, has assured that the era of imposition of candidates are over, assuring of level playing ground for all aspirants, all eyes will also on the party to provide a credible alternative that will match the APC’s sole , Muhammadu Buhari, vote for vote and restore confidence of Nigerians on the party.