By Jaafar Jaafar
It is another season of electioneering. Aspirants, mostly from northern part of the country, are flexing their muscles, showcasing their clouts and electoral potentials.
In the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, the weak and the weakling, the lightweight and the heavyweight, the haves and the have-nots, are all in the ring fighting for the ticket, while in the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, Muhammadu Buhari is apparently seeded by his party to contest against candidates fielded by other parties.
Although I have personal relations with at least 4 PDP aspirants, nevertheless I will analyse the strengths, weaknesses and opportunities of each one them – not in any order – dispassionately.
The Gombe State governor stands the chance of picking the party ticket if the party leaders decided to give it to a serving governor or take ticket to the North East. That isn’t bad idea though, looking at the fact that nearly all the past and present (Buhari) democratically elected leaders came from North West. With the exception of Tafawa Balewa, all the political leaders (Ahmadu Bello Sardauna, Shehu Shagari, Umaru Yar’Adua and Muhammadu Buhari) came from North West.
Dankwambo’s major problem is slowness, a la President Buhari, in acting. Dankwambo spent more than one year without forming a cabinet in his first tenure and spent at least one year in his second coming before forming his cabinet/appointing commissioners. Since 2014, he ran his government without a spokesman. With files clogging his table and decisions needing executive council approval kept in view, this avoidable administrative procrastination made governance a one-track affair and suffocated the tiny state. The result is abandoned and white elephant projects.
Against the wider narrative that only a candidate from the North West can give a good fight or deliver, I believe with teamwork, adequate resources, all the Muslim candidates from North have nearly same potentials. In the long run, there won’t be much variance between Dankwambo and, say Tambuwal’s performance in the elections.
With the immunity he enjoys and clamour for powershift to North East, Dankwambo may not be a hard sell.
Attahiru Dalhatu Bafarawa
Forget Bafarawa’s ‘serious’ posters and early purchase of form, the fact is that he is among the unlikeliest aspirants to pick the ticket. Bafarawa lacks the charisma, the carriage and the popularity needed for a presidential candidate. Bafarawa has all the charisma of an NURTW leader but political accident shot him to Sokoto Government House. His corruption trial, which he is standing alongside his son, is also a snag to his aspiration.
What manner of leadership will the nation’s biggest prayer contractor give us?
Aminu Waziri Tambuwal
Tambuwal took the nation by storm when he dumped the ruling APC without perceivable provocation, persecution or alienation. In the North, where he is expected to get massive support, he is currently running the gauntlet for dumping the APC without clear reasons. While some view his action as inordinate ambition, insiders believe he defected to the party well-prepared to take the ticket.
Supported by Governor Nyesom Wike on one hand and his former deputy Emeka Ihedioha on another, these two political leaders are some of his pillars of strength. Although he also enjoys the support of members of the House of Reps, that may not add much value to his ticket chase as governors and other political leaders in each state run the gamut of intricate decisions that will settle for the standard bearer.
Tambuwal’s major strength is humility, kindness and relative “youthfulness”. His major undoing is alleged underperformance and truancy in Sokoto, triggered, I believe, by desire to actualize his presidential dreams
With poor media handling of his rallies and affairs, especially the sacking/resignation of his 252 aides, Tambuwal is made to appear a political weakling even in Sokoto politics.
Malam Ibrahim Shekarau
While other aspirants’ chances of picking the ticket are as bright as spotlight, the chances of the former governor of Kano State are at best dim, and at worse opaque. Shekarau truly lacks the popularity, the resources and the support of the party leaders to pick the ticket. Even PDP neophytes such as Kwankwaso, Tambuwal and Saraki have more advantage than him. My major grouse about the Shekarau presidency is that he is a weak leader, weaker than Goodluck Jonathan. If you are looking for a perfect misfit for executive position, Shekarau is one.
Apart from his inability to put his commissioners in check as governor of Kano State between 2003 and 2007, Shekarau’s ideas were primitive.
Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso
Kwankwaso has the advantage of mass/fanatical support in the Northern part of the country more than all the PDP aspirants, but he may not be acceptable to the powerbrokers. Having led the exit of five governors out of the PDP and greatly contributed to the party’s loss in 2015, the party still sees him as a fair-weather candidate who returned to the party to tap from its auspicious future.
In Nigerian politics, the qualities that attract godfathers are submissiveness, subservience, humility, levelheadedness and even dumbness. The fact of the matter is that Kwankwaso is neither submissive, nor humble, nor dumb. It is also unlikely if loyal party leaders who remained in the party in its trying times would settle for him despite his popularity, leadership qualities, cult following and capacity to deliver.
As president, Kwankwaso may be absolutist, but Nigeria will surely witness rapid infrastructural development, reduction of wastages, education reform, power reform, among others.
Dr Datti Baba-Ahmed, the Pro-Chancellor of BAZE University, Abuja, never failed to add PhD appellation to his name, perhaps because it’s the quality other aspirants are lacking. Apparently the youngest of all them, Datti was a member of the House of Representatives and briefly a senator. Datti has the charisma, education and youthfulness to his advantage but his chances of picking the ticket are as higher as a dog’s chances of snatching a kill from a pride of lions.
Abubakar Bukola Saraki
If lawmakers were the holders of the aces in Nigerian politics, the embattled President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, would easily pick the PDP ticket. As I noted earlier, governors and/or political leaders in each state hold the aces.
Saraki is resilient and insanely rich politician. He is a dogged fighter who survived countless political mines buried on his pathways. His political minesweeping aptitude always leaves me in awe.
He alone it was, I gathered reliably, who financed Buhari’s election with over N13billion, contributing to bringing PDP’s 16-year rule to an end. He is also the one footed Buhari’s legal bills when agents of the PDP took him to court over his school certificate issue.
Will the PDP leaders forgive and forget to adopt Saraki? I doubt. Another problem with the Saraki presidency is that agents of the ruling party have successfully muddled his image almost beyond repair. Buhari administration had simply animated corruption and put it into his body.
Jonah David Jang
A former military and civilian governor, Jang suddenly decided to join the fray shortly after his release from prison remand. Unless PDP is truly bewitched, fielding a Christian candidate (at this moment) against Buhari is the easiest way to failure. Nobody knows exactly why Jang decided to try his luck but I will hazard a guess: Jang wants to remain relevant. Period.
If you are looking for a loyal party leader, a founding member and acerbic critic of the Buhari administration, Lamido is one. Lamido is that dyed-in-the-wool partyman who saw the good, the bad and the ugly side of party loyalty. Lamido has all it takes to pick the ticket if PDP were to reward royalty. Sadly for him, that may hardly play a chief role in the selection process. Another problem with Lamido’s aspiration is the corruption trial he is standing alongside his children. Although a lawyer had once plausibly explained the ‘hollowness’ of case to me, the aspirant needs to do more to correct public perception.
Being one of the arrowheads who, out of sheer political prescience, brought Uche Secondus as national chairman of the party to pave way for a Yoruba vice president, Lamido may enjoy the support of some of the party leaders.
Lamido is truly a nationalist, a performer with penchant for quality delivery — both as minister and governor– but his inability to keep his children away from government may be one of his greatest undoing.
Kabiru Tanimu Turaki
A Senior Advocate of Nigeria, KT Turaki is one of the earliest birds who expressed interest to vie for president on the platform of PDP. If politics rewards early birds, this seasoned lawyer could have been the standard bearer. But that isn’t the case.
A former minister in the Jonathan administration, Turaki is the least, in terms of political experience, of all the aspirants. All the aspirants but KT Turaki and Datti Baba-Ahmed were, in the least, either former or incumbent governors.
Political observers believe his major strength is his closeness to former President Goodluck Jonathan. But the reality of the situation is that no single person can determine who should get the ticket.
To understand that KT Turaki ticket may hardly fly, just chew over this question: Will a group about 10 former and serving governors eat a humble pie to support a former minister?
Atiku is the most experienced of all the aspirants. A veteran presidential aspirant, a former vice president and a serial defector, Atiku began chasing presidential dreams in 1993 on the platform of SDP, and subsequently in 2003 (PDP); in 2007 (ACN); in 2011 (PDP); in 2015 (APC) and; now in PDP.
But in Nigerian politics, cross-titution is legal, and so Atiku, like many others, can go away with it. I know the narcissism, the hubris of serving and former governors. They look down upon everyone who is below their rank. In this equation, Atiku takes the primacy.
But the problem with the Atiku candidature is that his popularity among the Northern youth is relatively low, just as corruption label diminishes his integrity rating.
Aside being the most experienced, Atiku is the wealthiest of all aspirants. Atiku is a one-man government who can match government’s election spending kobo-to-kobo, naira-to-naira. With political structure and network of friends and associates across the country, Atiku has advantage over many others to give a good fight or deliver.
Ahmed Makarfi, a former governor of Kaduna State, is the leading voice in the campaign for rewarding loyalty among the candidates. If this idea is, quite unlikely, adopted, the ticket will simply go to either him or Lamido.
With neither EFCC case nor corruption tag on him, Makarfi prides himself as the “cleanest” of all the aspirants. I really can’t remember how he ran Kaduna, but I know he isn’t a bad leader.
But with more powerful candidates joining the contest, Makarfi does not appear have the physical and fiscal strength to wrestle out the ticket from the machos prancing around the ring.