THE defection gale that further depopulated the hierarchy of the All Progressives Congress, APC, is set to upset the 2019 presidential permutations in the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, which was the major beneficiary of the losses by the ruling party.
At least three of the defectors from the APC, Saturday Vanguard gathered, have indicated interest to contest the presidential ticket of the PDP. The three are Senate President Bukola Saraki, Governor Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State and Senator Rabiu Kwankwanso from Kano State. The inclination of the three will add to the plethora of aspirants in the opposition party foremost among who are Atiku Abubakar, Senator Ahmed Makarfi, Tanimu Turaki, Sule Lamido, and Attahiru Bafarawa, among many others.
The PDP Saturday Vanguard gathered is set to give each of the new defector’s equal opportunities with other aspirants of the party already in the race for the ticket.
The party had envisaged the possible entry of the presidential aspirants at its national convention last December when it amended its constitution to allow a one-month membership for anyone seeking its ticket at any primary election. Section 50 (4) of the party constitution states that: “ There shall be a minimum of one-month membership span for a member to be eligible to stand for election into any public office unless the appropriate executive committee gives a waiver or rule to the contrary.
While the entry of the trio of Saraki, Tambuwal, and Kwankwanso would look like compounding the choices from an already rich list of aspirants, Saturday Vanguard gathered that party leaders and the aspirants are themselves not worried. “Every stakeholder focuses on removing this APC government. So for us, that is not an issue,” a party official said.
Ahead of his defection, close associates of Saraki had already started sensitising stakeholders of his possible ambition.
Saraki who came third in the 2010 search for a consensus candidate by the Adamu Ciroma led Northern Leaders Political Forum, NPLF, it was gathered is already revamping his political machinery to vie for the ticket.
A source embedded with his machine told Saturday Vanguard yesterday:
“His prospects are very good in the South-South and Southeast and the North Central is him.”
The longtime Saraki associate said the Senate President’s chances in the Southeast were brightened by the fact that he braved the odds to run with Senator Ike Ekweremadu in the Senate leadership contest, a development he said brought the Southeast into the leadership of the legislature. “If not for Saraki’s decision inclination towards Ekweremadu, the Southeast would not have been in any leadership position in the country.”
Governor Tambuwal’s presidential bid multiple sources say has been a long going project which has been helped by the relationships he built in the federal legislature.
Even while he was in the APC, many serving and former PDP members of the House of Representatives were working to build structures for him across the country.
Senator Kwankwanso who contested the 2015 presidential ticket with Gen. Muhammadu Buhari and Atiku had been organising also for another bid. However, his defection and reconciliation with his one-time bitter rival, Ibrahim Shekarau who was his successor and predecessor as governor in his two disparate terms in office are believed to be changing the permutations.
Saturday Vanguard learned that Kwankwanso, Saraki and all the other presidential aspirants have been brought to an informal arrangement of projecting two options: With Option A as the presidential ticket and Option B as a Senate ticket or any other position for the presidential aspirants.
The thrust of the arrangement according to party sources and associates of the aspirants is for the aspirants who fail to get the ticket to hold their respective bases with the common agenda of forcing out the APC. It is in the wake of this development that the party leadership has at different times sought to stir cordiality among the major aspirants so that there would be no bad blood among them.
The PDP national convention at which the party’s presidential flag bearer would emerge is scheduled to hold between late September and early October.