2019 Joint Presidential Ticket: PDP, Coalition Screen APC Senator, Atiku, Others | News Proof

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2019 Joint Presidential Ticket: PDP, Coalition Screen APC Senator, Atiku, Others

Culled From ThePoint

atiku and Makarfi
As alliance talks among opposition political parties and groups reach a critical stage, stakeholders in the grand alliance project have begun an assessment of three top contestants for the Presidency, The Point has reliably gathered.

The three contestants will be screened to determine who will hold the joint presidential ticket of parties forming the mega-alliance, while one of the parties in the alliance, likely the Peoples Democratic Party, will come as banner name, a top source within the opposition disclosed.

Two of the gladiators, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar and Governor Ibrahim Dankwambo of Gombe State, are from the PDP; while a third consideration, a former Governor of Kano State, Senator Rabiu Kwankwaso, is still in the ruling All Progressives Party. 

Also being reportedly screened by the grand alliance elders are Senator Ben Murray-Bruce (PDP, Bayelsa); Prof. Kingsley Moghalu, a Young Progressive Party presidential aspirant and former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria; former Governor of Cross River State, Donald Duke; and Rev. David Ize-Iyamu, an Edo State-born Lagos cleric and national coordinator of the Youth Revolution Movement. These aforementioned politicians, it was learnt, are being considered for the vice president slot.

An impeccable source revealed to our correspondent that former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s Coalition for Nigeria Movement, which has now dissolved into the African Democratic Congress, along with the Olisa Agbakoba-led National Intervention Movement, the PDP, the Social Democratic Party, the Abundant Nigeria Renewal Party, the All Progressives Grand Alliance, the Fresh Democratic Party, and the YPP, among others, had begun the nomination of high-level representatives into a screening committee to assess the various presidential aspirants.

The source hinted that the screening committee might be chaired by Obasanjo and would begin sitting very soon.

The source, who preferred anonymity, owing to the sensitivity of the issue, revealed, “The committee has been mandated to look beyond the existing zoning arrangements of the PDP and other parties and consider factors such as candidate’s electoral value, acceptability across the geo-political zones and calibre of followers.

“They are also to ensure that the candidate to be finally picked is such that has no blemish and is not under any probe for corruption or any crime whatsoever; and then, he or she must be acceptable to the international community.”

But the National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, said he was not aware of the grand alliance’s screening committee, although his party had already set up a contact and reconciliation committee.

Speaking with The Point, Ologbondiyan said, “My simple reaction is that I’m not aware of such a committee. The only committee I’m aware of is the one on contact and reconciliation, set up by our party to liaise with the other parties, who are interested in working with our party. That is what we have done.

“As a member of the National Working Committee of the party, I’ve not been briefed about such a committee. But what I suspect is the possibility that our contact committee is into other discussions.”

Former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar, who is said to be under consideration as a joint presidential candidate, it was learnt, would have to first emerge as his party’s preferred candidate. The same reportedly applies to Dankwambo.

The ex-VP, who is well respected for his strong political structures, is reportedly under pressure to step down, owing to age factor. Atiku will be 73 years old next year.

It was learnt that the PDP governors, who were to be represented in the grand alliance’s screening committee, were divided on the choice of Atiku. The Governors Nyesom Wike/Ayo Fayose faction of the governors’ forum is said to be favourably disposed to making a serving governor the PDP candidate. Besides, sources said the former VP’s lingering disagreement with ex-President Obasanjo might be a damper for his aspiration.

But while speaking with our correspondent, spokesman for Atiku, Mr. Paul Ibe, said, “Former Vice President Atiku is most suitable for the job, as he has his blueprint on how to revamp the Nigerian economy and provide 10,000 jobs in his first six months in office. Again, the rumour that he is fighting Obasanjo should be over, as the two of them are in touch.”

There are, however, strong indications that some of the PDP governors are rooting for 54-year-old Governor of Gombe State, Alhaji Ibrahim Dankwambo, being one of their own.

A reliable source said the governors, led by Rivers’ Wike and Ekiti’s Fayose, were particularly keen to see Dankwambo win the party’s presidential ticket and also emerge as the consensus candidate for the mega alliance.

But a major obstacle for the governor may be his limited political structure, a factor that is crucial under the circumstance.

A source within the PDP alluded to this when he told our correspondent, “What we need at a time like this is a man who has strong political structures across the country to tackle President Muhammadu Buhari. We need somebody who can give us bloc votes as the coming battle is going to be very tough.”

However, other sources revealed that there was already a sustained pressure on Dankwambo to step down for Atiku and be compensated with a plum ministerial appointment once the latter wins.

But sneering at insinuations that Dankwambo would step down for Atiku, the Governor’s Senior Special Assistant on Press Affairs, Mr. Junaidu Usman, said there was no basis for his boss to step down for anybody.

“Which criteria are they using to determine who will step down for whom? The office of the President is for public service and they should come to Gombe to see the numerous achievements of Governor Dankwambo,” Usman countered. 

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