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2019 presidency: The North widens its search


Nigeria’s north knows it has a big problem on its hands concerning the 2019 Presidency, yet it is not prepared for public admission of that fact. It is easy to predict the political behaviour of the north by reading the lips of its opinion leaders and moulders.
But, one stark reality of leadership selection challenge, which the 2019 presidency throws on the laps of northern leaders, especially the Northern Stakeholders Forum is that the incumbent is not the best the north can offer Nigeria.

Being a creation of pedestrian voters and pedantic sentiments, President Muhammadu Buhari underscores what could be called the northern hangover: seeking power for the sake of it and to satisfy group psychedelic flavour.

Although the stakeholders had pointed out the perceived shortcomings of the Buhari Presidency, it appears stuck by the numbing effect of bandwagon fondness for the power of incumbency.

But, thorn between the variety of concerns and considerations, it seems clear as crystal to most northern leaders that the incumbent has fallen far short of average performance.
Nonetheless, the visit by the leaders of Northern Stakeholders Forum to former military President, General Ibrahim Babangida, the subsequent visit by members of the National Working Committee of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), as well as, the unstated reasons for the flurry of activities around retired generals are, but telltale signs of the nature of challenge 2019 poses for the north.

Diffusion Of Party Platforms
A CURSORY look at the major political parties shows that after the north lost its strong presence in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the fusion of some other parties into the All Progressives Congress (APC), none of the major parties tends to have the predominant essence of northern political ideology or drive.
As such, no matter how far President Muhammadu Buhari and his inner Presidency caucus want to renovate it, the APC has more imprints of the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), than even the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) and Congress for Progressive Change (CPC).

Search For Northern Flag Bearers

EVEN if the challenge has to do with just the choice of which among the many presidential aspirants to support, it is still a tall mountain to climb. Virtually all the known faces associated with interest in the 2019 Presidential election come with shining prospects and some grey marks.

Weighing the aspirants on the basis of electoral weaknesses and strengths does not seem an easy an task, especially against the background of the fact of an incumbent that enjoys a somewhat cult following in the region.

Here is a quick sample:
Alhaji Atiku Abubakar

APART from being the only former Vice President eyeing the 2019 Presidency, Atiku Abubakar has aspired for the office four consecutive times, including 1992, 2007, 2011 and 2015, out of which he was able to stand for the main election only once (2007).

In terms of experience and preparedness for the office of President, no sincere appraisal would dismiss the former Vice President. What is well known also is that despite the fact that of recent attack on some of his investments, the former Vice President has substantial pocket power to prosecute a Presidential campaign.

Some northern leaders however point to his nomadic political inclination and over confidence in his funding capacity as some his setbacks. Even within the Northern Political Stakeholders Assembly, Atiku’s decision to return to PDP without waiting for consensus direction is taken as a minus.

Dr. Ibrahim Dankwambo

POPULARLY hailed as the last man standing, Dr. Dankwambo is about the only second term governor associated with the 2019 Presidential race. Again, for now apart from Atiku Abubakar, Dankwambo is the only serious aspirant from the northeast geopolitical zone.

The governor of Gombe seems to enjoy the confidence of other governors and political actors from not only the northeast, but also across the entire north. Shortly after leaving office as Accountant General of the Federation (AGF), Dankwambo joined active politics on the platform of PDP and has remained a loyal member. Thus he does not have the political baggage of moving from one party to another or record of political mischief against any interest group.

Another big plus to the Gombe State governor is his track record of achievement in his state, defined by even distribution of amenities, inclusive politics and spirit of accommodation for opposing views.

Mallam Ibrahim Shekarau

AS governor of Kano State, Mallam Shekarau not only defeated an incumbent, he went on to become the first man to break the jinx and served two consecutive terms as the state chief executive.

Piqued by the decision of promoters of APC to gift defecting PDP governors with the party structures in their states, Mallam Shekarau decided to defect to PDP instead of surrendering political ascendancy to the same man he beat to become a two-term governor of Kano.

After joining the PDP he was appointed as Minister of Education to replace Prof. Ruqyattu Ahmed Rufai.

Earlier in 2011, Shekarau aspired and succeeded in clinching the Presidential ticket of defunct All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP). Most Nigerians remember the sterling performance of the former Kano governor during the Presidential debate.

He has a national outlook, enhanced by his erstwhile Presidential campaigns and ministerial position. If money is all that there is to it, Mallam is not known to possess a deep pocket to oil a presidential contest such as involves an incumbent.

Sule Lamido

ALHAJI Sule Lamido belongs to the Mallam Aminu Kano School of political ideology, vested in morality and social welfare for the masses. Within the eight years he was governor of Jigawa State, Sule Lamido practiced political inclusion for the less privileged and vulnerable citizens.

He insists that the poor mendicant feeding from the garbage is entitled to his/her share of the national patrimony.

In 2015 there was quiet expectation that he would the Presidential flag bearer of PDP, especially against the background of northern optimism that the then President Goodluck Jonathan would not seek a second term having served out the one term interregnum abridging the zoning arrangement.

It was perhaps on account of that general belief that he would challenge President Jonathan for the PDP ticket that some overzealous security operatives ambushed the governor’s son who was taking his family and medically challenged child to Egypt.

With the speed of lightening the young Lamido was detained that same night after being arrested at the Aminu Kano International Airport in possession of $40, 000. Before long the matter was linked to the father, inciting a case of money laundering against them.

Despite the debatable charges, Lamido’s hold on the Talakawas does not seem to abate, such that his supporters believe that he is the man to eat into the vote bank of President Buhari if he gets the PDP ticket.

Senator Ahmed Makarfi

JUST like Lamido, the former Governor of Kaduna State, Senator Ahmed Makarfi was speculated as the favoured pick for the 2007 Presidential ticket of PDP.

But, extraneous political consideration compelled the then President Olusegun Obasanjo to settle for Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, while Makarfi sought and won the election into Kaduna North Senatorial seat.

Yet, when in May 2010 President Yar’Adua kicked the bucket, the popular expectation was that President Jonathan would pick Makarfi to fill the position of Vice President that became vacant upon his ascendance.

It must have been on account of his political pedigree that at the height of estrangement of Senator Ali Modu Sheriff as national chairman of PDP that was selected as the chairman of the national caretaker committee.

That rich background of service to party and cause of peace and conflict resolution make up his bag of positive qualities recommending Makarfi for consideration for the Presidential ticket.

Alhaji Attahiru Bafarawa

AS former governor of Sokoto State, Bafarawa was known to have groomed a lot of young politicians in the state, including Senator Aliu Magatakarda Wamakko, who went ahead from being his deputy to serving two terms as governor.

Bafarawa left the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) in quiet protest of the party’s decision to align with the ruling PDP in a government of national unity. Alongside some like-minded politicians, Bafarawa formed the Democratic Peoples Party (DPP), upon which platform he contested the Presidential election.

Like Mallam Shekarau, Bafarawa, whose party the DPP was involved in the merger arrangement to birth APC, decided to defect to PDP when APC insisted that serving PDP governors should purchase the party structures in their respective states.

The political calculation favoring Bafarawa is that if he flies a Presidential flag in 2019, he might split Buhari’s crowd.

Senator Rabiu Kwankwaso

SENATOR Kwankwaso, like Lamido, is one of the political loyalists of former President Olusegun Obasanjo. In 2015 Kwankwaso became the enfant terrible of PDP when he took it upon himself to battle President Jonathan for his interest in a second term, insisting that power must return to the north.

It was perhaps due to his vociferous clamour to return to the north that when he contested the APC presidential ticket, he came second to President Buhari.

Emboldened by that good showing, Kwankwaso, who is currently representing Kano Central in the Senate believes he has very bright chances to become President in 2019.

He has a fanatical following of supporters, especially under his Kwankwasiyya movement. Shortly after the 2015 election, Kwankwaso fell out with his political protégé, the incumbent governor of Kano, Dr. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, whom he single handedly imposed on the state.

Destabilised by the fight for control of Kano politics and President Buhari’s expressed interest in a second term, Kwankwaso has become a scout for party platform to ventilate his ambition.

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