Former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar’s presidential ambition was hanging in the balance at the weekend, with the governors taking control of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
New power brokers have emerged in the party — courtesy of the Saturday national convention where erstwhile leaders’ influence took a big bashing.
Some of their candidates for National Working Committee (NWC) positions were rejected by governors based on a “Unity List” produced by the new power brokers whose emergence has shattered Atiku’s hope of securing with ease the party’s 2019 presidential ticket.
Atiku has just quit the All Progressives Congress (APC) for the main opposition party.
The governors are weighing the following aspirants and likely defectors, among others: ex-Governor Ahmed Makarfi; ex-Governor Sule Lamido, ex-Minister of Education Ibrahim Shekarau, Gombe State Governor Ibrahim Dankwambo, ex-Governor Rabiu Kwankwaso (still being wooed by PDP) and Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal (who is a political ally of the coordinator of the power brokers, Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike). Tambuwal is of the APC.
Atiku , who has the backing of ex-Presidents Babangida and Jonathan, will have to court the governors to secure the ticket.
The governors are said to have had their list of presidential aspirants before Atiku rejoined the PDP.
It was learnt that the governors had an “unwritten pact with Makarfi” who fulfilled his part of the bargain, with the election of Prince Uche Secondus as chairman.
Although Tambuwal and Kwankwaso have not shown interest in defecting to PDP, the opposition party is believed to have been pleading with them to come back.
Some of Tambuwal’s supporters reportedly prefer a return to PDP. Kwankwaso’s are thinking of mounting the Peoples Redemption Party (PRP) platform to displace APC in Kano State in 2019.
A party source said: “Atiku has many hurdles to cross before he can get the party’s presidential ticket. He has to convince the governors to support him. He will also face tough primaries with many presidential aspirants who are not ready to step down for him,
“The emergence of Secondus has altered Atiku’s permutations of an automatic presidential ticket.
“Atiku’s case is more complicated by the fact that some of the governors are disposed to Makarfi going by the way he was resilient in tackling the PDP crisis.
“It is an open secret in PDP that there was ‘an unwritten agreement’ between the governors and Makrafi on the election of the new national chairman and 2019 presidential poll. Secondus’ victory showed some signs of a deal by the two camps.
“There are also fears in the party that Wike might woo Tambuwal back to PDP and allow him to try his luck for the presidential ticket. With the huge resources displayed at the convention, Tambuwal may alter equations in the party.
“Atiku is certainly in a tight corner. As an experienced politician, he could see the signs. He has been ingenious politically and he can find his way through the landmines.”
Investigation by our correspondent revealed that the roll call of the new power brokers, who determined the outcome of Saturday elective convention, includes new brigade of leaders taking over the PDP.
The power brokers are Nyesom Wike, Ayo Fayose and nine other governors; former Senate President David Mark, Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu, Senate Minority Leader Godswill Akpabio; ex-Governor Ibrahim Shema; ex-Minister of Women Affairs Hajiya Zainab Maina; ex-Governor Gabriel Suswam; a businessman, Ladi Adebutu; ex-Minister of Special Duties Tanimu Turaki; ex-Governor Babangida Aliyu, ex-Minister Aminu Wali, ex-Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Minister Bala Mohammed; Chief Dan Orbih and others.
It was gathered that the “Unity List”, which facilitated the election of the new PDP National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus and NWC members was the outcome of a tough political compromise by the governors and the new top leaders of the party.
Most of those on the Unity List were anointed candidates of the power brokers.
A breakdown of the list of the concessions by the power brokers is as follows:
National Chairman—(Uche Secondus)——Governor Nyesom Wike(Rivers)
Deputy National Chairman(South) —(Elder Yemi Akinwonmi) by Ladi Adebutu(Ogun)
Deputy National Chairman(North)—(Sen. Gamawa Babawa Garba) by ex-Minister of FCT, Sen. Bala Mohammed
National Secretary——(Sen. Ibrahim Tsauri)—by ex-Governor Ibrahim Shema(Bauchi)
Deputy National Secretary—(Dr. Agbo Emmanuel)—by ex-Governor Gabriel Suswam(Benue)
National Treasurer—(Hon. Aribisala Adewale)—produced by Governor Ayo Fayose(Ekiti)
Deputy National Treasurer—(Alh. Wada Masu) —a Personal Assistant to ex-Minister of Foreign Affairs, Amb. Aminu Wali(Kano)
Financial Secretary—(Abdullahi Husseini Maibasara)—handpicked by ex-Governor Babangida Aliyu
National Organising Secretary—(Col. Austin Akobundu)—by Governor Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State
National Publicity Secretary—(Mr. Kola Ologbodiyan) —slot conceded to Mark.
Deputy National Publicity Secretary—(Diran Odeyemi) produced by Governor Ayo Fayose.
National Legal Adviser—(Emmanuel Enoidem)— by the Senate Minority Leader, Sen. Godswill Akpabio and Governor Emmanuel Udom
National Youth Leader— (Ude Okoye)—by Ekweremadu and Governor Ugwuanyi of Enugu State.
Deputy National Youth Leader—(Umar Babangida Maina)—son of a former Minister of Women Affairs, Hajiya Zainab Maina.
It was learnt that others were products of zonal consensus and micro-zoning.
A source, who spoke in confidence, said: “The PDP governors decided to do away with the old order in the party by engaging in fresh political permutations on how to win the general election in 2019.
“In some states, they threw away the baby with the bathwater to please some power brokers. For instance in Ogun State, they opted for Ladi Adebutu’s candidate instead of deferring to ex-Governor Gbenga Daniel.
“In Niger State, the governors romanced ex-Governor Babangida Aliyu and abandoned the likes of a former Minister of Information, Prof. Jerry Gana.
“The governors are hopeful that the Unity List can take the party far in 2019. And they are likely to dictate who will be the party’s candidates for some offices, it is evident that they are now in charge of the party.”
But, to another party source, the “so-called Unity List is an ambitious agenda to take over the structure of PDP by the governors”. “We believe that the politics behind the list is projection for 2019 general election,” he said, pleading not to be named.
“They also used the list to split the North in order to test the waters for 2019. For instance, the North agreed to vote en masse for a former Minister of Education, Prof. Tunde Adeniran until the Unity List was released and the story changed at the last minutes,” the source added.
The governors’ joker has created a setback for some leaders who indirectly and covertly supported some candidates.
These leaders include ex-Military President, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida, ex-President Goodluck Jonathan, ex-Vice President Namadi Sambo, ex-Governors Gbenga Daniel, Rashidi Ladoja, Ibrahim Idris, Idris Wada, and Ramalan Yero; Prof. Jerry Gana, Jimi Agbaje, Raymond Dokpesi and ex-Deputy President of the Senate, Ibrahim Mantu, who supported Adeniran.
Others are ex-Minister of Finance Nenadi Usman, ex-Deputy Governor of Bauchi State Abdulmalik Mahmood, former Woman Leader Hajiya Inna Ciroma (the wife of one of the founders of PDP, Alh. Adamu Ciroma).
A PDP leader said: “The advice of some of these leaders did not count. For instance, Gen. Babangida wanted the chairmanship slot for the Southwest but the governors ignored his permutations.
“ If ex-President Jonathan had his way, he would have loved a former Minister of National Planning, Prof. Abubakar Olarewaju Suleiman, to be the party’s National Publicity Secretary. The governors thought otherwise.
“Mantu and Gana did not hide their preference for Adeniran for national chairman, but the intrigues surrounding the election of Secondus caused them a setback.
“Sambo backed Abubakar Mustapha from Kaduna for National Secretary but his candidate lost to the governors’ choice.”
How national chairman, others won
Prince Uche Secondus scored 2,000 votes out of 2,396 votes cast at the party’s national convention, which ended in the early hours yesterday at the Eagle Square, Abuja.
Chairman of the Electoral Sub-Committee of the convention and former Governor of Benue, Gabriel Suswan, announced the results.
“In this contest, nine gentlemen indicated their interests to contest, but here, four of them sent letters of withdrawal and so four were left.
“The other ones we were told have withdrawn but there was no letter to that effect.
“The four gentlemen that contested were Uche Secondus, Chief Raymond Dokpesi, Founder of Daar Communications; Prof. Tunde Adeniran, former Education Minister and Prof. Taoheed Adedoja, former Minister of Sports and Special Duties.
“Secondus scored 2,000 votes; Dokpesi, 66; Adeniran, 230 while Adedoja scored no vote,” Suswan said.
The candidates that withdrew are: Chief Bode George, former Deputy National Chairman; Gbenga Daniel, Rasheed Ladoja, erstwhile Governors of Ogun and Oyo States, respectively, and Jimi Agbaje, PDP governorship candidate in Lagos State in 2015 elections.
Other elected officers are Sen. Babayo Garmawa, Deputy National Chairman (North); Mr Yemi Akinwunmi, Deputy National Chairman (South); Sen. Umar Tsauri National Secretary and Mr Agbo Emmanuel, Deputy National Secretary.
Retired Col. Austin Akobundu is National Organising Secretary, Yakubu Hassan, Deputy National Organizing Secretary; Mr Kola Ologbondiyan, National Publicity Secretary and Diran Odeyemi, Deputy National Publicity Secretary.
Mr Abdullahi Maibasira emerged National Financial Secretary, Irona Gerald, Deputy National Financial Secretary; Aribisala Adewale, National Treasurer; Wada Masu, Deputy National Treasurer; Adamu Mustapha, National Auditor and Arong Divine, Deputy National Auditor.
Mariya Umar was elected National Women Leader, Umoru Hadiza, Deputy National Women Leader, and Emmanuel Enoidem, National Youth Leader.