Preparations towards the 2023 general elections are gathering momentum across political parties in the country. All 18 parties are working on strengthening internal democracy to fortify their performance in the polls.
If there are no last-minute changes, the main opposition People’s Democratic Party PDP will hold its elective National convention in less than three weeks from now. The function has been scheduled for the Eagle Square on 30th and 31st October.
The party is still smarting from its loss of power to the All Progressives Congress, APC in 2015, after holding on firmly to it for 16 years. It sees the imminent election as a good opportunity to reclaim its shattered glory while it hopes to use the convention to sanitize its house ahead of the polls.
Internal wranglings and series of court cases compelled stakeholders of the party to reduce from December to October, the tenure of Prince Uche Secondus, its embattled former National Chairman. The party proceeded to inaugurate a 44-member committee headed by Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State to zone elective offices in the convention.
After painstaking deliberation, the committee recommended that the next National Chairman should come from the North and exchange of all other positions between the North and the South. The PDP Governors Forum has since approved the recommendations after subjecting them to due process. Each region is to further micro-zone the positions reserved for it.
In line with the zoning formulae, aspirants for the elective positions have been pulling the strings and activating the necessary contacts to further their respective ambitions. Predictably, the race for Prince Secondus successor has witnessed the wildest agitations and rumblings. There have been suspense, manipulations, manoeuvres (sometimes bordering on betrayals) and horse-trading as the aspirants seek to outsmart one another in the race to the Apex party position.
No less than nine seasoned politicians and juggernauts are arrayed in battle in the contest. Those who have thrown their hats into the ring include two former President’s of the Senate, six former Governors and a party stalwart. This is even as the party hierarchy is working on choosing its Chairman by consensus arrangement, to ward off tension and acrimony that an election may generate.
Expectedly, all the power blocks in the party, notably Governor’s Forum, National Assembly Caucuses, regional blocks among others are in super active mode for the contest. A major issue taming the discussions is which zone will produce the party’s Presidential candidate in the 2023 election. The following political heavyweights have been mentioned as contending for the top PDP job.
Senator David Mark
Former Military Administrator, former Minister and former President of the Senate, Mark hails from Benue State. Observers say he is a team player who has what it takes to stabilize the PDP and stair back to the Villa.
Mark is said to enjoy support from some Governors. In fact, many analysts say he is a man cut for the job. However his State Governor, Samuel Ortom is said to have his heart somewhere else. In addition, some Presidential hopefuls are said to be uncomfortable with his candidature, over what is tagged as his unbending and principled nature.
Senator Iyorchia Ayu
Born in 1952, Ayu is another former President of the Senate. He was a Minister for many years under President Olusegun Obasanjo. He is also from Benue State and is mentioned as a likely consensus candidate of the Northcentral zone.
The former University teacher is believed to be the favourite of Ortom and he enjoys the support of the PDP Presidental candidate in the last election, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, whose campaign he once coordinated in 2007 as the candidate of the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN..
It was however gathered that former Senate President Bukola Saraki and some Governors are not in full support of his aspiration. In a related development, there is a growing school of thought that the top job should be reserved for someone who has never left the party. Further, since Benue State has produced the National Chairman of the party many times, the office should now rotate to another state in the spirit of national character.
Alhaji Ibrahim Idris
Born in 1949, the astute businessman made his mark in public service during his close to nine years stewardship as Governor of Kogi State, 2003 to 2012.
Humble and deeply reflective he is a team player and ever at home with the masses. His capacity for mass mobilization is one of his strong weapons. He has also been mentioned as a likely zonal consensus candidate.
He is the choice of many stakeholders including some incumbent and former Governors. Saraki is however said not to be comfortable with the aspiration of anyone from the Northcentral because of his rumoured Presidential ambition. His state has also tasted the office of PDP National Chairman in the past.
Muazu Babangida Aliyu
He was born in 1955 in Minna, Niger State. The former Governor was also a Permanent Secretary in the Federal civil service before he retired.
His declining popularity at home and obviously poor relationship with some PDP Governors constitute huge drawbacks to his aspiration.
Prof. Jerry Gana
Born in 1945, the name of the former lawmaker and Minister of Information from Niger State has also come up among aspirants for the party first office.
He newly returned to the PDP from the Social Democratic Party, SDP. He is an orator and notable talent for human resource management.
Senator Ahmed Makarfi
The 65-year-old former Governor of Kaduna State was also at a time caretaker committee chairman of the party. Makarfi once vied unsuccessfully, for the Presidential ticket of the party. He is one of the two aspirants from the northwest.
His aspiration is a major challenge to the Presidential aspiration of is some politicians from the zone.
He is also about 65-year-old and a former Governor of Katsina State. Since the PDP lost power to the APC in 2015, Shema has remained a rallying point for the opposition in the State.
He is favoured to emerge as a consensus candidate from the northwest.
The former Governor of Gombe State also once aspired to be PDP Presidential standard-bearer. Born in 1962, Dakwambo was the Accountant General of the federation before he ventured into politics.
He may emerge as a consensus candidate from his zone.
Senator Suleiman Nazif
At 51, Nazif is the youngest contender for the PDP top job. He is the incumbent PDP Deputy National Chairman, North. He hails from Bauchi State in the North-East geo-political zone.
The former member of the House of Representatives between 2003 and 2007 also represented Bauchi North Senatorial District in the Senate.
Northern stakeholders under a committee headed by Governor Ahmed Fintiri of Adamawa State will later this week taking decisions on all aspirants and the zonal consensus candidates.