…Gombe Gov in presidential race with Atiku, Sen Datti, others
…Enjoys support from PDP Govs, technocrats, other stakeholders
As the 2019 election inches closer, political fireworks, horse trading and nocturnal meetings are in top gear towards picking a credible presidential candidate for the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), a party struggling to get back to political reckoning after losing power to the ruling All Progressives Congress(APC) in 2015.
But the entry of the incumbent Gombe State Governor Ibrahim Dankwambo has changed the permutations within the party as some PDP stakeholders believe that the governor may be the dark horse in the presidential race.
Incidentally, Dankwambo has about 13 months left in office as governor.
It is instructive to note that early this year, an Enugu based cleric, Reverend Father Ejike Mbaka, in a new year message endorsed Dakwambo as president in 2019. This was closely followed by Gombe State Chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria under the chairmanship of Rev. Isa Uba.
With Dankwambo throwing his hat into the presidential ring, his entrance will definitely alter certain existing calculations in the party.
Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, Pro- Chancellor of the Baze University, Abuja , Senator Datti Baba Ahmed, former Jigawa State Governor Sule Lamido are already in the presidential race, strategizing on how to win the PDP ticket for the highest post in the country.
Speaking on why Dankwambo is in the race, a source close to the governor said the PDP must depart from its past activities and chose a credible candidate that will slug it out with the candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in 2019.
The source, who spoke in confidence, told The Daily Times last night that, “The PDP needs a candidate who in the first place must be acceptable across board within the organs and structures of party, a candidate who can win acceptance of the majority of the entire North.
“A candidate who must be acceptable to the nation’s economic and business society, and above all, a candidate with little or no burden of corruption charges hanging on his neck.
“ That candidate is Governor Ibrahim Dankwambo.
“ Please note that the PDP leadership has made it clear for the umpteenth time that the presidential ticket is not automatic for anybody and at the December 9, 2017 national convention made it clear that it will give room for a credible primary to avoid the pitfall of endorsement that was the party’s undoing in the past.”
Putting the spiritual aspect of his link with 2019 presidency aside, the source claimed that Dankwambo’s preference by some members and certain blocs within the party might be due to his sterling performance as governor and his profound economic and financial management skills that have been brought to bear in Gombe.
He said, “ Little wonder that Rev. Isa Uba said the antecedents and educational qualifications of Dankwambo cut him out as the best man to salvage the nation at this critical period of economic downturn.
“He was recently adjudged the best performing governor in the northern part of the country.
“ Please note that most of the PDP governors (a very powerful organ of the party) are solidly behind Dankwambo, since he is one of them.”
To pave way for his clinching the presidential ticket, it was further learnt that both Governors Nyesom Wike and Ayo Fayose are rooting for the emergence of the former governor of Cross River State, Donald Duke as Dankwambo running mate.
The governors were said to have started consultations on Dankwambo’s behalf and reportedly trying to convince other organs of PDP why the Dakwambo/Duke ticket can bring the party back to power in 2019. They believe that the party could not have hoped for a better opportunity and time to return to power than now.
The duo of Dankwambo and Duke, it is being canvassed, have no corruption cases, considered as technocrats and performers in their states, have academic ability and above all, have age on their side.
The source further disclosed that, “Some stakeholders also believe that Dankwambo, who has never had an appointment with any of the anti-corruption agencies, can get the votes of Nigerians in any presidential poll.
“In tune with the widespread yearnings for younger leaders, Dakwambo who will be 57 next year, is a relatively young man, he is also roundly experienced, exposed and educated. “He is educated to the level of PhD and a member of seven professional bodies.
His career achievements in the private and public sectors is another major attribute that cut him out as the ideal presidential candidate of the PDP.
“A shrewd accountant, he began his career at the Coopers and Lybrand International, now PriceWaterHouseCoopers, as a chartered accountant from 1985 to 1988. It is on record that he became a chartered accountant at a record time of one year after his graduation from the university.
“He later joined the Central Bank of Nigeria in 1988 and worked with the apex bank until 1999 when then Governor Abubakar Habu Hashidu appointed him as the Accountant General of Gombe State.
“ He was appointed by former President Olusegun Obasanjo as the Accountant General of the Federation in 2005. During his tenure, he introduced the Integrated Payroll Personnel Information System (IPPIS). Central payment of salaries of staff in all the ministries, departments and agencies using an automated system.
“He was part of the revolution in the public sector that brought e-payment system. He also ensured that the financial statements of the Federal Government which were in arrears were brought up to date, prepared, audited and published before he left office.
“Dakwambo equally completed the Treasury House, the magnificent edifices of the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation.
The solid credentials Dankwambo has earned in the public and private sectors will obviously speak for him in the contest for the PDP presidential ticket.”
The Daily Times recalls that only Atiku Abubakar has openly declared his intention to contest the party’s ticket in Port Harcourt, Rivers State while others have kept their intentions closely to their chests while supporters keep on rooting for them.
The Turaki Adamawa, as Atiku is fondly called, no doubt seems to be a serious contender for the top job because it was obvious that the deft move to realise his ambition drove him back to PDP and he has been consulting across geo-political zones.
Atiku has a strong political machinery and was about the most formidable aspirants in PDP before former President Goodluck Jonathan was considered in 2011, which of course led to Atiku’s departure to APC.
His exit then altered his structure within the PDP because while some of his supporters stayed back in the party, some others followed him to APC, creating a divided political camp for him. Likewise, on his return to PDP, some of his men remained in APC.
Though tedious, Atiku has been trying to piece together his fragmented political family, reaching out to aggrieved persons, smoothing frayed nerves, all in an attempt to once again have that strong, articulate block across the six geo-political zones.
It was authoritatively gathered that he has already made certain concessions to groups considered powerful in the party to pave way for a smooth presidential primary for him ahead of 2019.
Part of the deal has either Governor Nyesome Wike of Rivers State or Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti State as his running mate.
Atiku, it was further learnt, is making an appreciable inroad into the North West zone which may prove difficult to his ambition. A source said he has a ready list of juicy positions reserved for the zone.
Another aspirant being touted is Sule Lamido, former governor of Jigawa State, who also has not formally declared his intention.
But, Lamido’s aspiration may be tainted by his current corrupt charges for which he is standing trial. The party may definitely try to avoid a candidate with tainted reputation.
The immediate past caretaker chairman of the party, Ahmed Makarfi is also been linked with the race but his seriousness is in doubt. He only made a passing comment to dissuade the belief that the party leadership persuaded Atiku to come back and pick the ticket on a platter of gold. So, except proved otherwise, Makarfi’s aspiration is in doubt.