By Hamza Idris, Saawua Terzungwe, Yusha’u A. Ibrahim, Romoke W. Ahmad, Hope Abbah & Bashir Liman
Some presidential aspirants on the platform of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) are plotting a fall-back option in the event they fail to get the ticket in the party’s primary election, investigations by Daily Trust have revealed.
Senate President Bukola Saraki, his predecessor David Mark, Senators Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso and Jonah Jang are all vying for the PDP presidential ticket.
But they have all obtained forms – through proxies – that will allow them return to the Senate if the presidential bid fails.
Governors Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto and Ibrahim Dankwambo, who are also aspiring for the presidency, are not leaving anything to chance as the former plots to retain his governorship seat, while the latter keeps a move to the Senate as option.
The PDP had in its latest time table fixed Sept 30 for primary elections into the Senate and House of Representatives and presidential primary for October 5 and 6.
The party’s presidential nomination forms cost N12m, while those for Senate cost N4m. The nominations forms for governorship cost N6m.
PDP walks tight rope
Already, sources at the PDP national secretariat hinted Daily Trust yesterday that the party was walking a tight rope following the emergence of more than 10 aspirants seeking the presidential ticket, thereby allowing some of them to buy other forms as fall-back options.
“It is a secret deal. Of course, politics is about interest and intrigues. So I can assure you that some of the aspirants will later get automatic tickets to retain their seats in the senate. So it is not strange, it is part of democracy,” one of the sources said.
Similarly, a high ranking member of the PDP, Chief Sam Nkire, said “I heard of it but I don’t know specifically who and who bought forms for presidential, governorship and or senatorial race.
“However, that shows that the aspirants are not putting their eggs in one basket. It also shows that the aspirants themselves know that only one of them would emerge at the convention. So for me, it is an indication that all of them will work together after the primaries,” he said.
The PDP National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, did not respond to a text message sent to his mobile phone on the matter.
No famous politician has shown interest in the Kwara Central senatorial seat currently occupied by Senate President Bukola Saraki, which reports that the No 3 citizen had already bought the form through proxy just as he did in 2011.
In 2011, a permanent secretary in Kwara State obtained the senatorial seat ticket but later stepped down for Saraki when he lost to former Vice President Atiku Abubakar Atiku during a northern caucus meeting.
A source said the Secretary to the Kwara State Government, Isiaka Gold, who is from the same senatorial zone with Saraki might hold the ticket in confidence, so that the Senate president would simply take over when he is edged out in the presidential primary.
However, the PDP in the state said many people had purchased the form, but refused to release their names.
In Gombe, the state Commissioner of Special Duties, Alhaji Usman Ribadu, has picked a nomination form for the Gombe-North Senatorial District seat.
Impeccable sources at the state secretariat of the PDP told our correspondent that Ribadu collected the nomination forms silently to avoid suspicion of his motives.
The source told Daily Trust that in the event that Governor Ibrahim Hassan Dankwambo failed to clinch the presidential ticket, Ribadu will step down and hand over his ticket to the governor.
Ribadu and Dankwambo came from the same Gombe-North senatorial zone.
Until his appointment as a commissioner two years ago, Ribadu held sway for several times as chairman of Funakaye LGA. He was also at different times a member of the state House of Assembly.
According to political pundits, Bayero had an arrangement with Governor Dankwambo to swap their positions. It was believed that Bayero helped Dankwambo to retain his seat in 2015, under an unwritten agreement that Dankwambo will support him in 2019.
In Kano, the political scenario that played out in the APC in respect to Kano Central Senatorial slot may repeat itself in PDP in 2019. That time, then Governor Kwankwaso picked the ticket for the APC presidential primary while his personal assistant Alhaji Abba Yusuf held the Senate ticket for him.
Yusuf, a former Commissioner of Works, secured the Senate ticket after the primaries but handed it over to Kwankwaso after he lost the ticket to APC presidential candidate Muhammadu Buhari. Kwankwaso later defeated Senator Bashir Lado of the PDP.
A reliable source within the PDP said “I can confidently tell you that Kwankwaso is planning to fix another person to front for him. So far he has purchased form for Alhaji Abdullahi Sani Rogo for Kano South and anointed another person who will buy the form for him like he did in 2015.”
There is no doubt that the political calculation of the Benue South Senatorial district, where ex-Senate President David Mark, has held sway since the return of democracy in 1999, has changed following his decision to vie for the presidency.
Mark had personally purchased forms to vie for the presidency, and those jostling to take over the baton in the Senate are Comrade Patrick Abba Moro, a former Minister of Interior under the President Goodluck Jonathan’s regime; Chief Steven Lawani, who is a former deputy governor of Benue State; Joseph Ojobo, a two-term legislator in the State’s House of Assembly; and Chief Mike Okibe Onoja, a former permanent secretary in the Federal Ministry of Finance.
Moro is the man to beat, according to pundits, and he is curiously a henchman of the ex-Senate president who sufficiently paid his dues to David Mark.
In fact, it is not hidden to those from the Benue South senatorial district that Moro could do just anything for Mark, including surrendering his senatorial ticket to his principal to run for the senate election for the sixth time.
This is in the event that Mark failed to secure the presidential primaries mandate to become the PDP presidential flag bearer. However, Mark in the eyes of his close associates, would never stoop to such arrangement.
“Mark is very calculative, in the event he does not secure the party’s ticket, he would never descend back to the Senate under such shallow arrangement. People need to understudy this man to understand his kind of person,” one of them said.
The immediate past Commissioner for Local Government in Sokoto State, Alhaji Mannir Dan’iya, is the one who emerged as consensus gubernatorial candidate of the PDP in Sokoto, with analyst saying he is in the race to stand in for Tambuwal, who recently defected to the PDP and purchased the relevant forms.
There are insinuations that in the event that he failed to get the PDP ticket, he would simply go back home and take over the gubernatorial ticket from Dan‘iya.
During the endorsement of Dan ‘iya, it was gathered that former Governor Attahiru Dalhatu Bafarawa, and the former deputy Governor of the state, Alhaji Mukhtari Shagari as well as Ambassador Abdallah Wali were absent at the meeting.
But Governor Tambuwal, who presided over the meeting, said they all sent apology and accepted the decision.
Senator David Jonah Jang who is also one of the PDP presidential aspirants may retain the seat in the event that he did not succeed in getting the highest office in Nigeria.
There was a rumour making the round that Mr. Jang, who represents Plateau North Senatorial District at the national assembly, has picked Istafanus D. Gyang (ID Gyang), a current member representing Riyom/Barikin Ladi constituency in the House of Representatives to replace him at the red chamber.
Gyang is a political godson of Jang who served as a Permanent Secretary, Security when Jang was governor.
He was handpicked by Jang to represent Riyom/Barikin Ladi at the national assembly in 2015.
But on Monday when Jang was speaking with journalists at his residence in Maitama, Abuja before leaving for the PDP National Secretariat to submit his presidential nomination forms, he reportedly said he would not seek re-election to the Senate if he lose the presidential primary.
But Naziru Isa, an activist in Jos, said it was the usual rhetoric by politicians. “We have countless politicians who said they would not seek reelection but you suddenly see them saying they were compelled by the electorate to contest again; so let’s wait and see who among them would live by his words,” he said.