The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is reportedly banking on seven people to challenge the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the presidential contest ahead of the 2019 general elections whether or not President Muhammadu Buhari is going to seek re-election in the poll scheduled to hold on February 16, 2019.
Sources within the main opposition party, revealed that the PDP is banking on the candidacy of five of its members and two others expected to come from the APC.
The two APC stalwarts expected to join the PDP are:
1. Former Governor of Kano State, Senator Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso
2. A serving Northern governor.
“The PDP is working on one of the APC governors as its presidential candidate. The governor has a broad-based support and acceptable to many of the PDP governors and stakeholders.
“I can tell you that some powerful forces in the opposition party are rooting for the APC governor as the possible presidential candidate of the PDP in 2019 election,” a stalwart of the PDP says
The PDP members, who are expected to run for the presidency, are:
1. A former Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar
2. A former Governor of Jigawa State, Alhaji Sule Lamido
3. A former Governor of Kaduna State and the immediate past chairman of the National Caretaker Committee of the party, Senator Ahmed Makarfi.
4. A former Kano State governor, Malam Ibrahim Shekarau
5. The Governor of Gombe State, Ibrahim Dankwambo.
It was gathered that Atiku currently ranks highest in the party’s consideration, with Dankwambo, Makarfi, Shekarau and Lamido following. That is based on the fact that Kwankwaso and the governor have not formally defected.
“For now, these are the seven candidates we are working with. We may eventually prune them down to only two when the time comes. But that would not happen by fiat. It would just be for the candidates to come out in the open, make themselves visible to the people. We will look at their acceptability and know which direction we would go,” he said.
On Kwankwaso and the governor, the official said: “Do you think that many people are in APC with their full hearts? Some are just staying there for now.”
It was further learnt that while many in the party consider Atiku as the most formidable, many also think that considering his age and the likely opposition to his candidacy by some major power brokers in the country, chief of who is former President Olusegun Obasanjo, there is need for caution.
“Atiku, for now, is our strongest card. But you know what former President Goodluck Jonathan said about him, that he needed to sort himself out with Obasanjo. That is the only problem he has. Except he decides to damn Obasanjo, it might be hard to give him the ticket,”
But Atiku is said to be at peace with the National Working Committee (NWC) of the PDP led by the National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus. Previously, it was thought that Secondus and his crew might not want to dine with Atiku, particularly after the Jonathan counseling.
But sources close to Atiku insisted that he has a close relationship with former First Lady, Dame Patience Jonathan, who is a major influence on the Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike. Wike is, by extension, a major influence on Secondus.
“We are not worried by the NWC for now. We have a good working relationship with them. They would not work against us,” said a source in Atiku’s camp.
Further, it was gathered that much as Atiku may not seek or get Obasanjo’s seal to run for the presidency, there is an understanding Atiku and Obasanjo would maintain respectable distance.
“We believe that if Obasanjo would not support us, he should leave us. He should not criticize us. We will not mention him in our campaign,” said a source close to the Atiku’s camp.