Tambuwal as PDP’s Albatross

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The last may not have been heard about the controversies surrounding the ambition of Hon Aminu Tambuwal, writes James Obute

Keen watchers alleged that Speaker Aminu Tambuwal may have jettisoned the governorship ambition for presidential race due to a grand plot to give the PDP a run for their money. Some quarters maintained that at the recent meetings, of APC’s Northern caucus which includes the governors, national officials and presidential candidates in Kaduna on October 18 and in Abuja, last week it was discussed at length how to reduce the possibility of rancour after one of the aspirants might have won the party’s ticket.

The leaders said such rancour could mar the party’s chances of success in next year’s elections and they discussed ways of pruning down the number of aspirants. The source maintained that it is on this note Tambuwal deiced to drop his governorship ambition.

“The Right Honourable Speaker was present at all those meetings and he fully agreed with the observations made. There was heavy pressure mounted on him from all parts of the country to seek APC’s presidential ticket. Those who were mounting the pressure pointed to opinion polls which found that he is the potential aspirant with the nationwide appeal to defeat President Jonathan in next year’s election. Pressure is also being mounted on him to go home to Sokoto and seek the governorship ticket”, the source said.

The source further maintained that he considered all the issues and decided that he must help the process of reducing rancour in the presidential race which could affect the party’s chances of success.

“ Since the party already has four declared presidential aspirants and efforts are being made by elders to prune down the number, the Speaker decided not to compound the problem. He will, instead, consider the call for him to seek the Sokoto governorship ticket,” the source said. The source noted that age is on the speaker’s side so he is in a good position to make sacrifices.

Tambuwal, according to the source is also ready to play any role that will enhance the party’s chances of success in the elections, given his broad appeal across the country.

However, when Desert Herald contacted Imam Imam, the spokesperson of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Aminu Tambuwal Penultimate Friday November 14 over the ambition of Tambuwal as regard governorship and presidential race he confirmed the purchase of expression of interest and nomination form of the All Progressive Congress for the next presidential election by Tambuwal.

Imam however, maintained that the close associates of the Speaker purchased the form for him. He however, said is not aware of Tambuwal has settled down for governorship race of Tambuwal.

This is development is coming as the battle between senators and governors elected on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, over the issue of automatic tickets for the lawmakers may have been intensified. It is alleged that the moves by governors of the party to upturn the automatic tickets promised the lawmakers by the party leadership and the Presidency recently has raised the tension in National Assembly as some of the lawmakers threaten to dump the ruling party for the opposition APC.

Tambuwal, reportedly picked up his forms on Monday November 10, though Imam Imam confirmed it about four days later. He was believed to have been motivated by the growing clamour within the power blocs in the APC for a game changer who could be presented to the Nigerian people, signalling a departure from the veterans and early starters in the presidential race.

Before this development, the duo of Gen Mohammed Buhari rtd and Atiku Abubakar had remained the frontrunners in the presidential race, while Governor Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso and Nda-Isaiah were deemed the dark horses.

But with Tambuwal throwing his hat into the ring, the niggling issue of who would end up with the presidential ticket of the APC may have changed significantly.

One of the reasons some quarters said he might have dropped his presidential race is the fears that Jonathan Administration may scuttle Tambuwal plan through any desperate plan. Already his security aides have been withdrawn by the police, the move that had come under serious criticism formseveral quarters.

Some pundits argued that if Tambuwal is eventually impeached as a speaker it may affect APC chances in the presidential election if he eventually picks the APC Flag for the presidential race.

Tambuwal, party sources should not be dismissed as a lightweight as the likes of former Lagos State Governor and a National Leader of the party, Senator Bola Tinubu, may be favourably disposed to his emergence. Although Buhari is still the frontrunner in the race despite Tambuwal’s entry, his major undoing however remains his alleged religious extremism, even though this is a misconception that has gained currency over time.

Despite this, Buhari is believed to still boast of unalloyed support within the APC hierarchy, especially amongst the governors. Some of those believed to be pushing for his candidacy include Governors Chibuike Amaechi of Rivers State and Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun State as well as former Kwara State Governor, Senator Bukola Saraki, among others believed to be funding his campaign.

Atiku, unlike Buhari, does not seem to have as much support among the governors but might be banking on his personal resources should a primary where delegates are allowed to vote take place as opposed to a consensus arrangement which is Buhari’s preference. Whilst he does not carry the kind of religious baggage that seems the lot of Buhari, his candidacy does not also seem to catch the fancy of the top players in the APC hierarchy.

Kwankwaso, is unmistakably has the support of former President Olusegun Obasanjo. Kwankwaso’s support base in the APC is also strong as far as the presidential primary is concerned. He is believed to command support of some of the governors.

Nda-Isaiah, Publisher of Leadership Newspaper, itching to cash in on the religious tag that the party has battled lately. According to observers, Nda-Isaiah is of the view that for the APC to upturn the religious tag that has been levelled against it, it would need a Christian candidate like him to face President Goodluck Jonathan in the 2015 general election.

It is against this backdrop that the Tambuwal option is being mooted by a few of the leaders in the APC. But for the Tambuwal candidacy to fly, it would have to be sold and accepted by a few of the camps within the APC, some of which are insisting that a governor must be on the ticket, either as the presidential candidate or as running mate. But already, there are strong indications that if Tambuwal secures the push, it could get the backing of Tinubu and even Buhari, both of whom may not mind the change in the larger interest of the party.

In fact, Tambuwal, sources said, met with Buhari on Friday7 November to compare notes before picking the form on Monday. Tambuwal equally met with Atiku last Wednesday with some party officials. The meetings afforded him the opportunity to intimate them on his intention and the need to work together as one family in the nation’s interest.

It was observed that one of the major challenge of APC is its presidential primaries. If the party can overcome the challenge of the presidential primaries, it will face the ruling PDP which is already divided against itself in view of the ongoing battle of supremacy between governors and federal lawmakers.

As a result of alleged hijack of the recent ward congresses of the party by the governors and the tacit approval of automatic ticket for some of them who were completing their second term in office to go to the senate, PDP Senators recently shunned their legislative duties.

But after a meeting the senators had with the party’s executive led by the National Chairman, Alhaji Adamu Muazu and President Goodluck Jonathan at the Presidential Villa, on Friday 8 November it was gathered that there was a promise of handing over two tickets out of three to the senators planning to return to the senate in 2015.

However, governors elected on the platform of the PDP, had stoutly opposed the alleged truce the senators led by the Senate President, David Mark, had with the party’s hierarchy and the president.

This development forced Senators of the ruling party to embark on emergency meeting immediately after plenary last Wednesday November 12, where it was gathered that they reviewed the situation so as to take a common position.

Although, the senators after the meeting, refused to brief the press, close sources revealed that the lawmakers resolved to renew their agitation with the party as well as shut down the National Assembly following indications that the party and the Presidency would go back on the agreement with the lawmakers due to pressures from the governors.

Sources in the National Assembly confirmed last Wednesday that PDP governors held a meeting with President Jonathan after his formal declaration on Tuesday 11 November where the governors urged the President to take another look at the issue of automatic tickets to Senators.

The source said that the governors insisted that instead of granting 40 automatic tickets to Senators, the governors should be allowed to take up the issue and review it on a state by state basis.

It was further gathered that since the ward congresses were conducted, most of the PDP governors had been spending most of their time in Abuja, lobbying the party’s leadership to reverse any position taken in favour of the senators especially on the automatic ticket.

It was gathered that the Senators saw the move by the Governors as a fresh move to outwit them and short-change the lawmakers.

The source further said that the Senators were suspicious of the plan by the governors and resolved to send Senate President David Mark to the President and the party.

According to the source “We were told at the meeting that governors met with the President late on Tuesday and resolved that the party should allow them review the issue of automatic tickets to the governors on a state by state basis instead of granting automatic tickets to the Senators just like that. We see this as a ploy to outwit the senators and undermine our agreement with President Jonathan and the party.

“We believe that the move by the Governors is a fresh bid to short-change the lawmakers and reverse the conclusion of the meeting we held with the President and the party. Senators are not happy and I can tell you that a number of people are already contemplating ditching the party.”

The source further hinted that 11 Senators of the PDP from the North West have threatened to dump the party in view of what was considered high handedness of the party.

The source at the meeting also said that the Senators who frowned at the development lamented that ticket of the PDP was fast becoming a “poisoned chalice” in the zone and that the treatment being meted out to them by the governors was further compounding the situation.

It was gathered that the Senators decided to strengthen the hands of David Mark by asking him to take up the matter and brief them regularly.

Another source said that the senate unanimously said, “If care is not taken, the PDP could become a minority in the Senate before the end of the year. The danger again is that going back and forth on agreements reached with the highest organs of the PDP is painting a bad picture of the party.”

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