Leaders of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in the North-Central zone have resolved to present a consensus candidate for the forthcoming 2019 Presidential Elections. But that is if one their aspirants emerges as candidate from the party’s primaries in October.
There are at least three known aspirants from the zone slugging it out for the party ticket. They are Senate President Bukola Saraki, former Senate President David Mark, and former Plateau Governor, Senator Jonah Jang. The three men have also served as Governors.
Others that have shown interest in the PDP ticket are: Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar; former Chairman of the PDP National Caretaker Committee, Senator Ahmed Makarfi; Governors Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto and Ibrahim Dankwambo of Gombe; and ex-governors Sule Lamido, Attahiru Bafarawa and Rabiu Kwankwaso.
The North-central leaders, including former governors, former and serving legislators, members of the business community and the academia, met Wednesday evening at Grand Ibro Hotel, Abuja.
They emphasised that it is the turn of the North Central region to produce the President of Nigeria, while also mandating the leaders to engage their counterparts in other geopolitical zones with a view to convincing them to support the consensus aspirants that will be produced by from the North-central.
In his opening remarks, the zonal vice chairman of the North-Central, Mr. Theophilus Dakah Shan, agreed that it was true that the North Central serves as a cardinal point for where Nigeria will go.
“Although we are called a conglomerate of minority groups, we are a powerful conglomerate that believes in the unity and stability of Nigeria. We have seen how David Mark held the Senate together for eight years, in the same way that Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, has shown courage, leadership and competence in stabilising the 8th Senate over the past three years — which has helped it to record significant achievements. Saraki is representing the North Central region very well”, he stated.
In his remarks, former Governor of Niger State, Babangida Aliyu, said that the North Central region had to unite, because the insecurity in the country is felt most in the zone.
Speaking to the leaders from the geo-political zone, Saraki stated that the North Central sub-region has been a stabilising factor in Nigeria, and from previous experience, it was clear that its leaders have the capacity and will to unite and develop Nigeria.
“Our zone has been the stabilising factor in Nigeria for many years, and it is clear that we need to continue to fight for the soul of our nation. The 2019 polls is not just an election, it is about winning the soul of Nigeria. Right now, to me, and I’m sure to all the other contestants under the umbrella of our great party, nothing is more important than for us than to rescue our people from the clutch of poverty, insecurity and ensure that we bring development to all Nigerians.
“As we move forward, we all need to be courageous. We must provide compassionate leadership for our people. We must protect our people. We must give them live and hope. Our people are asking: “What did we do wrong?” Therefore, right now, we need to be courageous. We must provide competent and compassionate leadership for this country,” the Senate President said.
Saraki also emphasised that leaders from the North Central have demonstrated great capacity to lead, saying that they have always performed well on national assignments.
“In the last three years, we have struggled and worked to keep the legislature working for the Nigerian people. We need to now lead the country in the right direction. We must create a country that gives opportunity for people to thrive. We need good leadership. This is because, many of the problems that this country is facing is as a result of low performance capacity. We need people who can search for and find the solutions to our problems. We need somebody who can make the country grow, and I believe, that I am this person,” the former Kwara State Governor said.
The Senate President called for the leaders to rally around individuals who have a track record of providing competent and united leadership, stating that a candidate from the North Central would help to bridge the divides across the nation.
“Ladies and gentlemen, this country will only change when those who know what to do are put in charge and when we have the good leadership who know what needs to be done to make the right change. Nigerians need a unifier – somebody who can unite the country and grow the country. At this time, I believe that it is a Presidential candidate from the North Central that can do this for Nigeria.
“Leaders from the North Central need to work together to ensure that a PDP candidate emerges from the zone. It is clear that the only way to achieve unity in the country is when you have a leader who can manage the differences and galvanise our energy towards achieving development.
“It is not about where you come from, but it is about what you can do for our country. If there is anybody who can do better than those of us in the North Central Zone, let them stand up. It is important that in October, our delegates from the North Central should work to ensure that a North Central candidate emerges – and they should work together with delegates from across the country to ensure that a North Central candidate emerges.We request your support,” he said.
A day before the meeting of the North-central leaders, former Senate President David Mark, in a statement by his spokesman, Paul Mumeh, had promised a blue-print he tagged 730 to turn the economy around in two years.
He added: “Irrespective of our political persuasions, it is incontrovertible that restructuring of the nation is an idea whose time has come.
“I believe it will further strengthen our bond of brotherhood and unity more than ever before, because everyone would have a sense of belonging and live in harmony in any part of Nigeria without any fear of molestation and intimidation.”
“We will concentrate on developing our infrastructure, delivering on affordable housing, roads, rails and power. We will focus on education and create a pool of highly trained citizens with excellent IT skills who will be employable as well as create jobs.
“We will support Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs) as a matter of priority by providing interest free cooperative loans to produce optimally with appropriate technology which will be the main driver of the economy with attendant huge employment opportunities.”