Concerns Mount over PDP Presidential Aspirants’ Rising Numbers

    •   Babangida, others intervene Text Box: Party’s spokesman allays fear

    Iyobosa Uwugiaren in Abuja

    Ahead of the presidential primary election of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), scheduled for next month, some influential stakeholders in the North are worried over the increasing numbers of aspirants on the platform of the party from the zone and are said to be working assiduously to prune the numbers to a manageable size to avoid post-primary conflicts within the party, THISDAY has learnt.

    However, PDP National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, has dismissed the seeming fear over the development, saying the party’s primary election would be free, fair and transparent.

    A member of the party’s Board of Trustees (BoT), who told THISDAY in Abuja yesterday, that the move to persuade some of the aspirants to drop their aspirations for their colleagues became necessary because the party’s governors are also sharply divided along the aspirations of the presidential contenders.

    As at the last count, there are eight contenders in the PDP, who are interested in President Muhammadu Buhari’s plum position.

    They include former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar; Senate President Bukola Saraki; former governor of Kano State, Senator Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso; Governor Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State; former governor of Kano State, Malam Ibrahim Shekarau; former governor of Kaduna State, Ahmed Markafi; former governor of Jigawa State, Alhaji Sule Lamido and former Minister of Special Duties, Mr. Tanimu Turaki (SAN).

    The party’s BoT member said the growing number of the presidential contenders within the major opposition party has become “a source of huge concern’’ for some political forces plotting to dislodge President Buhari in the 2019 general election.

    “While we are happy that our rebranded party has become very attractive to many presidential hopefuls, because of the failure of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC)/Muhammadu Buhari administration in the past three years; it is also a source of concern to us,’’ the BoT member stated.

    He added: “As at today, all our presidential aspirants are eminently qualified to occupy the position. But there is need to ensure that their aspirations don’t create post-primary conflict that might weaken our capacity to collectively go into the election and defeat President Buhari roundly.

    “We are happy that our leaders, being spearheaded by General Ibrahim Babangida (rtd), are already intervening. The aspirants are being engaged in order to reduce the number of the contenders, so that the outcome can be properly managed.’’

    The BoT member added that there is no better time to dislodge APC than the 2019 general election, adding that, ‘’PDP needs to get it right in picking the right, credible and acceptable candidate,’’ who will face President Buhari.

    However, Ologbondiyan dismissed the seeming fear concerning the increasing numbers of the presidential aspirants.

    Speaking with THISDAY, he said what matters is the process that would produce the candidate of the party, adding that once the process is credible and transparent, the defeated aspirants would have no problem working with the winner.

    “We have no fear at all that other aspirants will not cooperate with the winner of the primaries. What is important is the process; we will ensure the process is transparent and credible. Once the process is transparent everybody will accept the outcome,’’ the party’s spokesman stated.

    “All the aspirants are currently mobilising Nigerians for our party; it is in the interest of democracy; on the other hand, the APC has no alternative than Buhari, who cannot win the election for APC. That is why they are currently confused.’’

    Ologbondiyan said PDP would emerge victorious in the general election.