Bafarawa, Lamido’s blanket metaphor for Atiku’s 2023 presidential run
Anger Trails Soludo’s Sustained Anti-Obi Beef
Of all the contenders for the 2019 presidential ticket of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), only the incumbent Sokoto State governor, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal; immediate past President of Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki and former Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, participated in the 2022 presidential primary of the party.
While the 2018 straw poll held in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, was an all-northern affair, this year’s edition, which was conducted at the Velodrome of the Moshood Abiola Stadium, Abuja, was all-comers’ affair.
Prominent contenders in the 2018 contest that were absent from the latest exercise included former governors of Jigawa, Kaduna and Sokoto and Jigawa States, Alhaji Sule Lamido, Senator Ahmed Makarfi and Dr. Attahiru Bafarawa, in that order.
However, although some insiders rationalised their non-participation in the run up to the 2023 presidential poll on diminished funding capabilities, actions and utterances of the three, particularly two; of the former presidential runners dictate otherwise.
Apart from Makarfi, both Lamido and Bafarawa refused to seek Senatorial seat after their stints as state governor. Lamido, in an interview with The Guardian said it was ironic that after governing their entire Jigawa State as his constituency, he should retreat to represent just one third of the very area.
“I cannot divide myself into three,” he stated, pointing out that he garnered legislative experience at the National Assembly long before he became state governor.
On his part, the former Sokoto State governor, Bafarawa disclosed that having attained 66 years of age and risen from the position of councilor through governor and party chairman, he was done with elective and appointive positions. He said though he was not quitting politics, he would devote the rest of his days in grooming future leaders.
“I will no longer contest elections, but I will be interested in who becomes my governor, who becomes the President of my country. At 66, I am grateful to God for blessing me. I started as a councilor, became a governor and national chairman of a political party. What else do I want? I should be helping the younger ones,” Bafarawa stated.
Putting their words into action, both former Northwest governors have their sons on the ballot for the 2023 general elections, even as they continue as party elders in the PDP. Lamido’s son, Mustapha, is currently making waves as the PDP gubernatorial candidate for Jigawa State. If Mustapha Sule Lamido, a Masters degree holder in Political Science, wins the March 11, 2023 governorship, he would be making history as the first son of a former governor to succeed his father.
Mustapha’s first attempt at the governorship was in 2019, when Jigawa youth prevailed on him to represent them on the ballot in their resolve for a generational change in leadership of the state. However, the outgoing incumbent, Alhaji Abubakar Badaru, proved a hard nut for him to crack. It was a measure of Mustapha’s confidence in his support base that he dreamed of displacing an incumbent governor of the governing All Progressives Congress (APC).
Although there has been subdued complaints from some disgruntled PDP chieftain that Mustapha was merely a surrogate in the attempt by the elder Lamido to grab a third term as governor, it is obvious that the younger Lamido is reaping from the father’s goodwill and track records of achievements, especially his grounding with the Talakawas.
But, unlike Mustapha Sule Lamido, Hon. Sagir Attahiru Bafarawa is an insider in the outgoing PDP administration of Aminu Waziri Tambuwal. As the former state Commissioner for Environment, soft-spoken Sagir caused a huge stir when he declared his intention to contest the governorship ticket of the party.
Although many stakeholders expressed apprehension that the young Bafarawa was heading for a collision course with Governor Tambuwal, he proved sceptics wrong when he quit the Tambuwal cabinet and proceeded with stakeholder-consultations.
And, being the first gubernatorial aspirant to meet with the leadership of PDP in the state, Sagir gradually showcased the young and emergent politicians rather than his father, a former governor, as his propelling force.
At a meeting with the PDP State Working Committee, Sagir explained that he decided to consult with the leadership out of his belief that the party is supreme, stressing that his declaration to run for governorship followed calls by supporters across the state.
Pledging to continue with the programmes and style of Governor Tambuwal, Sagir noted that as “a commissioner in the present administration, I have learned a lot from the leadership of Governor Tambuwal. Therefore, I will continue in that direction if eventually elected governor of Sokoto State.”
The PDP state chairman, Alhaji Bello Goronyo, who also aspired for the governorship, described Sagir Bafarawa visit on the party as a great honour, noting that he has the party’s blessing to go ahead with public declaration, especially being the first to seek the party’s consent.
However, when the chips were down, Tambuwal revealed his hand and the former Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Umar Ubandoma Saidu, clinched the party’s ticket as most of the rivals step down for the anointed.
Ubandoma, who switched off from private sector into the murky waters of politics served as the Finance Commissioner during Tambuwal’s first term before his appointment as SSG. Shortly after winning the governorship primary, Ubandoma settled for Sagir as his running mate to set up a formidable two at the price of one ticket.
Being the candidates of two governors-the incumbent and former-Ubandoma and Sagir Bafarawa would be meeting in the field with the anointed candidate of another former Sokoto State governor, Senator Aliyu Magatakarda Wamakko, Ahmed Aliyu. Ahmed Aliyu was Tambuwal’s deputy in his first term, but docked from joining his principal during his round defection back to PDP in 2017.
Overshadowing this looming showdown of old political rivals in the candidacy of former Vice President Atiku Abubakar on the PDP presidential ballot for next year’s polls.
Tambuwal and Bafarawa squarely supported Atiku during the PDP presidential primary, so also did the former Jigawa State governor and presidential aspirant, Sule Lamido. There are small talks in the Northwest that while Atiku hopes to reap from the vacant President Muhammadu Buhari’s vote bank through Tambuwal, Bafarawa and Lamido, the troika, particularly Bafarawa and Lamido, are latching on the presidential ticket to rally their sons to the governorship seat.
Nonetheless, Bafarawa and Lamido’s decision to quit the stage for younger generation of politicians is playing in the background voices redefining Atiku’s third presidential contest, given the involvement of former Kano State governor, Senator Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, the presidential candidate of New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP).
Perhaps, the blanket metaphor from Bafarawa and Lamido, seems to have informed the PDP presidential standard bearer’s decided to go in search of his political children in the Southeast.
The former Vice President has promised to serve as the stepping-stone for the Igbo of Southeast to access the Presidency if he wins next year’s poll. The Wazirin Adamawa, while on a courtesy visit on Anambra State governor, Prof. Chukwuma Soludo, disclosed that he has been choosing presidential running mates from Southeast out of his design to handover to Igbo after his Presidency.
From the former Deputy Governor of Nigeria’s Central Bank, Prof. Kingsley Moghalu, through Senator Ben Ndi Obi and Mr. Peter Obi, the former Vice President has always kept a list of potential presidential running mates.
The visit to Government House Awka, came therefore as a morale booster for Prof. Soludo, especially given the popular thinking and unwritten promise that Atiku would serve for just one term due to his age.
Both allies-Soludo and Atiku-seems to be working on the same framework of one term as governor and President. That could explain Soludo’s quip and optimism that Atiku is one of the two frontline presidential hopefuls in the 2023 contest. Although, the Anambra State governor did not specify the other frontline presidential candidate, those in the audience and the state saw his remarks as a continuation of his envious beef against the Labour Party (LP) presidential candidate, Mr. Peter Obi, who is also being reckoned as a front liner.
Soludo’s support for Atiku, despite his membership of All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) as his special purpose vehicle, and antipathy towards Obi’s presidential run, could be understood from the perspective of his anticipation to appropriate Atiku’s promise, which Obi’s victory would invalidate.
The exchanges between Governor Soludo and Atiku during the courtesy visit greatly underscored their stance on the promised handover. While disclosing that his relationship with Soludo transcends partisan politics, Atiku stated: “This is beyond partisan politics, but a commitment to undertake reforms in the Nigerian economy.
“There should be a consensus on how we move forward and I consider Governor Soludo as a partner in that respect. It is my singular respect and honour for him to receive me in the state. In spite of our different political affiliations, there should be some core values we should agree to towards the development of our country.”
Earlier, while welcoming the presidential contender, the governor noted that development of Nigeria should be the utmost priority for any politician or candidate, stressing, “Nigeria is bigger than any political party and the business of building the country is bigger than any politician.”
Pursuing the theme of building Nigeria and possibility of reconciliation, Soludo told Atiku: “In this business of building Nigeria, Anambra and Igboland should be an open place for anyone…Just give us your proposition and tell us how you will fix the country.
“I am very glad you are here to canvass for votes and I believe our people will listen carefully to every word you have to tell them. Our orientation is to have a level playing field for everyone. Our people are all ears. We pray for you, for Nigeria and wish you the very best of luck.”
However, no sooner had Soludo dropped the microphone than heavy backlash trailed his remarks with many describing the governor as an unrepentant betrayer. The governor was also derided for accepting adaka na onu enwe (exchanging chipmunk at the price of a monkey) by acceding to wait for a stepping stone when the Igbo are already on the Rock.
Peter Obi is known as Okwute (the Rock) and most Anambra voters describe the LP presidential candidate as the solid candidate of their choice. Soludo is also being taken to task for shepherding Anambra State traditional rulers to Awka for a political endorsement.
Also, spokesperson of the LP candidate, Tanko Yunusa wrote the Anambra State governor off for being in APGA, but campaigning for Atiku Abubakar.
“If he wants to support Atiku, he should decamp to PDP instead of insulting the party that brought him to power.
“The actions of Governor Chukwuma Soludo are a direct insult to Igbo nation, especially when Igbo have (the) most competent candidate in the person of Peter Obi. I will stop taking Igbo seriously if people of Anambra State vote Chukwuma Soludo for a second term as Governor of Anambra State,” Yunusa declared.
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