2019 presidential candidates: Fresh faces, little presence – Part 2
Donald Duke–Social Democratic Party (SDP)
Duke is former governor of Cross River State. He was governor from 1999-2007. He was among the best governors of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party. He is very amiable and articulate, perhaps in line with his background as a lawyer.
At the expiration of his second term in 2007, he aspired to be President on PDP platform, but lost to late Umaru Musa Yar Adua. He was among the outgoing Southsouth governors, who were considered to serve as Yar Adua’s running mate. After leaving office as governor, Duke went into political hibernation for years as he stayed away from active politics.
Ahead of 2019 elections, Duke has returned to political limelight in association with Nigerians Intervention Movement (NIM) group. Many had thought Duke would seek to actualise his political ambition on the platform of NIM or Action Democratic Congress (ADC), considering that both groups enjoy the backing and support of ex-President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo.
But that was not to be as Duke declared to contest the 2019 presidential election on the stable of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). It was not quite long Duke made a u-turn and pitched his tenth with Social Democratic Party (SDP) that has the likes of Prof. Jerry Gana as frontline presidential aspirant.
Justifying his decision to dump PDP for SDP, Duke said he left PDP because the party had unconstitutionally zoned political offices.
Condemning the zoning of political offices, Duke said it remained unconstitutional, as it limits the choices we have as a country to a section of the country.”
SDP has no serious presence in Duke’s home state of Cross River, as the battle for elective positions in 2019 is between the PDP and APC. Duke’s popularity’ while served as governor has not been replicated since he emerged SDP presidential candidate amidst obvious opposition. Not even his colleagues-former governors have shown commitment to his presidential ambition. The situation is not different with his loyalists in his state.
It is not wrong to say that Duke’s presidential ambition is his constitutional right, but it’s actualisation is going to be a herculean task that may not be accomplished in 2019. Besides, Gana is challenging his emergence as presidential candidate of SDP.
Gbenga Olawepo-Hashim – Alliance for New Nigeria (ANN)
Apart from being a successful businessman of many years with interest in oil, he is not a political greenhorn. His political activism dated back to his days in school. While at the School of Basic Studies, he was elected General Secretary of the Anti-Apartheid Association, Youth Solidarity on Southern Africa. In 1988, he was elected one of the leaders of the very active National Association of Nigeria Students (NANS). He was incarcerated under the Detention of Persons Decree 2 of 1984 (as amended in 1989) for his leadership role in the 1989 anti-Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) protests and his pro-democracy activities. He was consequently adopted by the Amnesty International as a Prisoner of Conscience in 1989.
He received mentoring in partisan politics under the progressive leadership of the late Chief Solomon Lar and the late Alhaji Abubakar Rimi. He worked actively in the years of the G-34 initiative at the group’s secretariat, where he was in charge of publicity.
Following Obasanjo’s election as president in 1999, he had, in the intervening transitional period, served as member/secretary, Youth and Women Development sub-committee of the General T.Y. Danjuma-led Policy Advisory Committee with the late Hajia Laila Dogonyaro as chair of the sub-committee.
In 2003, Olawepo-Hashim was appointed as a member of the Political Advisory Committee to the President (in the office of the Political Adviser). He was elected deputy national publicity secretary of the PDP in 1999 and he led a protest within the party for the entrenchment of internal democracy and due process when the leadership set out to illegally extend its two-year tenure other than by constitutional means.
His emergence as the presidential candidate of Alliance for New Nigeria (ANN) is not a surprise to many. But what is left to be seen is how such track record will translate to victory for him in the presidential poll. This is considering that his party ANN has no strong footing either in Kebbi or Kwara, where APC and PDP are dominant parties. Not even many of his people in Kebbi State know him.
Obadiah Mailafia–African Democratic Congress (ADC)
Mailafia is a renowned economist, banker and development specialist with more than two decades experience nationally and internationally. He served as Chief of Staff to the 80-member African, Carribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group of States based in Brussels, Belgium. He served as deputy governor of Central Bank of Nigeria. He has no trace of active partisan politics before now. He is known and seen by many as technocrat and very cerebral.
Mailafia has hinged his campaign on the sentiment that it is the turn of Middle Belt or Northcentral region to produce the president in 2019, the same sentiments that failed the likes of Bukola Saraki, Jonah Jang during the PDP presidential primaries.
Speaking after submitting his nomination form at the party headquarters in Abuja, he said that people of the Middle Belt were in coalition with socio-cultural groups across the country to produce the next President. He disclosed that the Middle Belt was mandated to produce four presidential candidates out of which one would be chosen, he explained that he has been positioned through ADC to pick the job.
According to him, “Since Gen. Yakubu Gowon era, no Middle Belt man has been President despite his huge success as a military man.”
Even though, major political parties-APC and PDP tactically zoned their presidential seat to the North, North central was not favoured in the zoning arrangement. In February 2019, all things will be settled and the votes counted. Then we shall know how much of North-central he has in his kitty.
Major Hamza Al-Mustapha (rtd) Peoples Party of Nigeria (PPN)
He was Chief Security Officer to the then late Head of State General Sani Abacha, between November 1993 to June 8, 1998. He had a Special Strike Force under his control that was mandated to deal with perceived enemies of Abacha government. He wielded enormous power in the corridors of the power. The fear of Al-Mustapha was the beginning of wisdom for even senior officers in Abacha’s government.
With Abacha’s demise, Al-Mustapha was arrested and incarcerated over alleged murder of Kudirat Abiola, wife of the late Chief MKO Abiola. He was tried for years, but was finally acquitted by the Appeal Court in 2013. After regaining freedom, Al-Mustapha tried to rebuild his image by opening up new frontiers of friendship across the country.
In 2013, he said he had no intention or ambition of venturing into murky waters of Nigerian politics. But surprisingly in 2017, he floated the Green Party of Nigeria. So, it is not surprising that he emerged the presidential candidate of the party he founded. The party is in his briefcase and he can decide what to do with it.
Since the party was formed in 2017, its activities seem to be around Al-Mustapha and his allies. Political bigwigs, even in his state Kano have not identified with the party. Not even his ex-military colleagues have been so enthusiastic about the party and its presidential candidate. The party’s presence in Kano is limited, talk less of the Northwest.
Dr. Olusegun Mimiko– Zenith Labour Party ( ZLP)
He is a medical doctor by profession and politician by vocation. He was a former minister and two-term governor of Ondo State. He contested governorship in 2007 on the platform of Labour Party and regained his mandate in court in 2008. Popularly called Iroko by admirers, Mimiko joined PDP from LP before his second term in office. After the expiration of his second term and failure to install his successor, Mimiko left PDP back to Labour Party ahead of 2019 election.
His return to Labour Party was rejected by the party leadership, who accused him of betrayal. That was how he, alongside his longtime political ally and ex-national chairman of Labour Party, Chief Dan Nwanyanwu, registered Zenith Labour Party. Despite all his achievement as governor, his inability to install his successor in office was a big minus for his political career.
One cannot say exactly what he intends to achieve with his presidential ambition, considering that Southwest zone is not favoured to produce the next president. Many believe he is in the race just to remain relevant politically.