By Abdulmalik Suleiman
With a little less than 30 months to the handover of the current All Progressives Congress (APC) led government under the leadership of President MuhammaduBuhari, political activities are reaching their feverish pitch with gladiators in the APC and the opposition Peoples Democratic Party PDP jostling for the souls of the two major political parties.
Having lost power in 2015, the PDP, formerly the ruling party now major opposition platform is desirous of returning back to power and it’s leadership is not in any way making any pretense about the resolve of members to stage a comeback to power.
Owing to its share size and history, PDP parades an array of quality membership within its rank and file hence it would be hard to present a credible, acceptable as well as competent member to fly its flag against anyone arrayed against it by the APC.
Though a long list of aspirants can be drawn as capable of being presented with the flag of the party but owing to some reasons of visibility, support base and accomplishments in the past few years, the prism for search will be narrowed down to three gentlemen.
Those narrowed down to are a former Vice President of the country, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, a former Governor of Kano State, Engineer Rabiu Musa Kwakwanso and the incumbent Sokoto State governor, Honourable AminuTambuwal.
Eminently qualified in terms of educational, occupational and political exposure, the three Nigerians came to the race to succeed Buhari both with their assets as well as drawbacks for the PDP, whose leadership is thirsty for power once again, having been shut out in the last six years.
Of the lot, the Waziri of Adamawa comes with a lot in terms of administrative experience which he has garnered for over four decades. A time tested business and political warlord who can hold his own anytime, anyday by the reason of age, he also holds the ace being well into his seventies.
If the game is the ability to deploy huge financial war chest, then the Jada born politician also holds the ace because he possesses a deep pocket if well utilized, could match whatever is being deployed by the ruling party in any electoral contest.
As strength in the build up, the issue of age in this wise could also be a burden as the Nigerians are currently not too disposed to having old men preside over their affairs judging by their experience in the hands of the incumbent Buhari.
Apart from that, despite his numerous achievements in business and politics over time, the brand Atiku comes with a lot of perception baggage in the eyes of Nigerians who have come to tar it with corruption.
This perception is further nurtured in a number of books written by Atiku’s principal, former President OlusegunObasanjo in some of his books. The former general turned politician in some of his works have described the Adamawa born politician as falling short in terms acceptable conduct as a public servant.
This fact, which has never been addressed comprehensively by Atikuin series of attempts he has made to rule the country in the past. The perception they (the accusations) have formed in the minds of Nigerians still linger and not ready to go away.
This will eventually be one of the major factors that would dodge the attempt of the PDP to come back to power should it field Atiku as its flag bearer in 2023. While the perception might not be too strong in the South, the voters in the North consider them as weighty hence a likelihood of an Atiku candidature would not elicit mass appeal there.
The ruling party APC will easily deploy negative media campaign against his candidature and the party as was seen in the past.
Apart from the fact that it would trigger voter apathy, those who might eventually vote would not be too keen to root for him but would be swayed by the material gains inherent in doing so.
The youngest of the lot, Tambuwal is a lawyer turned politician. He was elected twice into the lower legislative chambers of the National Assembly, the Federal House of Representatives before eventually becoming the speaker of the House in a controversial manner.
The event that led to his emergence was very controversial and has left some sore taste in the mouths of some elements within the South West Caucus of the PDP who were to field the speakership for that House. This is because the position had already been zoned to the South West only for Tambuwal and some elements outside the party to throw away the zoning formula of the party.
The move no doubt left the South West disadvantaged with no visible personality from that zone in the government led by former President Goodluck Jonathan. The likely candidature of Tambuwal will not really gel with the key South West region, which the PDP is still battling to make an inroad into.
Again, the tenures of Tambuwal both as the Speaker of the House of Representatives as well asGovernor of Sokoto State have not been dotted by any remarkable landmark achievements that would put in the glare of voters as a prospective presidential material that the country would need in post-Buhari era.
Currently on a second term tenure as the governor of his home state, the former lawmaker has not been identified with any meaningful project or programme that has etched him into the psyche of Nigerians hence his candidature might not generate the right spark that the PDP would need to throw off the APC from power.
Apart from Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, Kwakwaso has the second largest political network within the PDP. His political platform, the Kwakwansiyya Movement is visible across the country, hence his candidature would have a ready made platform for which to kick start his presidential bid should he be picked by the party. Another important trump card he has is his record of achievements in several public offices he had been opportune to hold.
One interesting thing is that he has garnered and sustained his followership using his goodwill and record of achievements in office and not through patronage or outright purchase of followership often identified with some other politicians.
It won’t be out of place that he ranks second to the incumbent President Buhari in terms of cult followership not only in the north but in some other parts of the country.
It is a known fact that his governorship recorded a lot in terms of impactful performance for the people of Kano in virtually all areas of human spheres such as education, human empowerment, infrastructure, agriculture amongst others.
To his credit, he has not been linked to any financial infraction by the relevant anti-graft agencies both in and out of power, a feat that is very rare amongst politicians who have held one office or the other in the past. This no doubt stands him in good stead to vie and eventually win should the PDP delegates consider him worthy of the plum job.