It was the Daily Trust newspaper last Saturday that painted the dilemma of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) with its 10-man array of presidential àspirants. But there may be more on the way.
Two of the speculated names and recent defectors (actually they defected from the PDP in 2014 and merely returned to pursue their presidential ambitions): Senate President Bukola Saraki and Sokoto Governor, Aminu Tambuwal have confirmed they are in the race.
Governor of Sokoto state, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, Wednesday, disclosed that he has been under tremendous pressure to join the presidential race for the 2019 elections.
Tambuwal told youths and students who visited him ìn his office in Sokoto: ” I’ve been under intense pressure from various quarters in Nigeria including leaders of the country and friends of Nigeria outside the country to seek the presidency.
“But leadership is a collective decision and I have never asked to be made a leader at anytime in my life. So,my aspiration will be determined by my people and after that,I will make my political decision known in a matter of days.
“We supported Muhammadu Buhari in 2015 to become President unconditionally and we admit that Buhari has personal integrity but that’s not the only requirement for leadership.
“We are aware that the President is besotted by serious challenges of health and is being held captive by a cabal that run Nigeria for their personal interests.”
“… Someone recently referred to me as “a boy”, which is really a compliment that puts me on the side of youths, who are the strength of our nation”.
Saraki, on his part told Bloomberg, a business and market news outfit on Tuesday, “I am consulting and actively considering it (presidential aspiration)… I believe I can make the change.”
But none of the two has promised to serve a four-year term of office as has former Vice President Atiku Abubakar did, so that power will revert to the southern part of the country as part of Nigeria’s unwritten code of power rotation.
Former President Goodluck Jonathan’s reluctance to abide by the code is often cited as reason for his been voted out of power by a mass of northern voters.
Atiku, Saraki, Tambuwal, and former Kano Governor, Senator Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso are believed to have left the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) because they fear that a level playing field to realise their long-nurtured presidential ambitions, like other mute APC chieftains, cannot be realised in the ruling party with the overwhelming presence of President Muhammadu Buhari, who has indicated an interest in running again.
The option of using another party appears unattractive, according to analysts, because they do not have the structure the PDP has on ground.
The ambitions of the defectors, analysts say, will have to contend with those of others, who through thick and thin, including the onslaught and persecutions from the APC-controlled administrat, remained loyal to the PDP.
They include former Governor of Kaduna State and PDP Caretaker Committee Chairman, Senator Ahmed Makarfi; former Jigawa Governor, Sule Lamido; and Governor Ibrahim Dankwabo of Gombe State.
Others touted to be interested in the office are former Sokoto Governor, Attahiru Bafarawa; former Kano Governor, Abu Shekarau; Senator Datti Baba-Ahmed.
A former Senate President, David Mark, is believed to be keeping his ambition under wraps until he gets the endorsement of prominent and powerful members of his former military constituency. Another former military officer and former Plateau Governor, Senator Jonah Jang, is also said to be nursing a presidential ambition.
With the array of aspirants, many fear that the PDP is primed to implode after its primaries in October. And with the presence of some of those known to be treacherous in party affiliations, the APC may sail smoothly into power next year.
Another school believes that the morbid fear of Buhari’s vengeful second term may, however, keep defeated aspirants in-ship, as comments the President made on his plans to deal with any whiff of corruption is said to have leaked to politicians and lawmakers, even within his party.
If there was any doubt on the comments, Lai Mohammed, the Information and Culture Minister, tacitly confirmed it in a recent comment.
“Many of them have this morbid fear of the President being re-elected because they know that in his second term, the war against corruption will start yielding fruits. There are so many cases in court today and they are just praying and doing everything to distract the government so that their cases will be scuttled,” he stated on a visit to the Authority newspaper.