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Tuesday, 27 January 2015

February polls: PDP governors panic over Buhari

As campaigns for next month’s general elec­tions gradually rise to a crescendo, there are indications that members and supporters of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) have been gripped by panic over the rising popu­larity of the presidential can­didate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), General Muhammadu Buhari (retd).
Sunday Sun gathered that some PDP governors, espe­cially those who had crisis in their states during their prima­ries are already losing sleep over the increasing popularity of Buhari as evident from the huge crowd that has continued to greet his campaign train in almost all the geo-political zones of the country. The source, who pleaded anonym­ity, said the concerned gov­ernors have already taken measures to avert defeat of the PDP candidates and in­cumbent president, Goodluck Jonathan at the polls on Febru­ary 14.
In Adamawa State, reports say that disgruntled members of the ruling PDP who are un­happyw over the shifting of the governorship primary to Abuja are threatening to take their own pound of flesh by giving their protest votes to the presidential candidate of the APC. Consequently, some of the aggrieved party supporters who feel very strongly about the injustice visited on them during the primaries have abandoned the PDP and joined forces with Buhari and APC governorship candidate, Sena­tor Bindo Jibrila, to oust the PDP-led administration in the state. As elections draw near­er, Governor Ngilari is said to be having a difficult challenge in ensuring that discipline and cohesion are maintained within the party, as many sup­porters who are yet to formerly decamp to APC are engaged in anti-party activities.
The lingering crisis is fur­ther worsened by the raging controversy over the tenure of the present governor. While the APC supporters are warm­ing up for the governorship election, a stalwart of PDP in the state, Dr Umar Ardo, in­sisted that it would be an error of law to conduct gubernato­rial election in the state along other states of the federation on February 28 2015, as the ten­ure of the incumbent expires in August this year.
Gombe and Bauchi states have equally been marked out as strongholds of the opposi­tion. In Bauchi State, Sunday Sun findings revealed that the level of acceptance of Bu­hari’s candidature has reached a level where it is now dif­ficult for PDP candidates for various offices to come out to campaign. Although Governor Isa Yuguda of Bauchi State is not seeking re-election, he has signified his intention to run for the Senate. In his bid to avoid a defeat by the All Pro­gressives Congress, Yuguda now relies on Islamic groups like Al-Ilam, and Shura coun­cil and Alshabab to campaign for him. Yuguda’s dilemma worsened when during one of his recent campaign tours, he asked people who they want­ed as their president and the crowd responded with a loud Sai Buhari. The situation is not quite different in Gombe. Although Governor Hassan Dankwambo is the Northeast Director of Goodluck Jonathan Campaign Organisation, he is nonetheless facing a strong opposition from the teeming supporters of the APC presi­dential candidate. Buhari’s vis­ible presence in Gombe State has been further consolidated by the influence of the former governor of the state, Alhaji Danjuma Goje, who has de­camped to the APC.
Sunday Sun further learnt that Ebonyi State PDP crisis has also not abated. There are strong indications that the face-off between Governor Martins Elechi and the ag­grieved stakeholders over the party’s primaries might not have been finally laid to rest. In spite of the intervention by the National Working Commit­tee of the party late last year to reach an amicable peaceful resolution, some stakeholders are still threatening to pay El­echi in his own coin. A mem­ber of the party, who pleaded anonymity, said the aggrieved party supporters were already working on plan B in case of any eventuality.
His words: “We still remain PDP members. But I cannot deny the fact that the wounds are still there. Although we have not taken a final position on this election, we already have our plan B in case of any eventuality.”
In Buhari’s home state, Kat­sina, the latest gesture by the state government to distribute vehicles and bikes in the guise of poverty alleviation to some beneficiaries has been inter­preted as a deliberate measure to further enhance the fortunes of the ruling PDP in the state in the coming polls. Mallam Ahmed Kofar Bai, a resident of Katsina metropolis, who spoke with Sunday Sun, main­tained that the gesture was part of measures by Governor Ibra­him Shema to get at least 25 per cent of the votes in Katsina in the February 14 presidential election and also ensure vic­tory of the PDP in the gover­norship election.
Even though the PDP stal­warts in Benue State have con­tinued to carry on as if they are not moved by Buhari’s rising political influence, their body language shows otherwise as some members who confided in the Sunday Sun correspon­dent expressed worry over the growing popularity of the former Head of State. Interest­ingly, the APC governorship candidate, Chief Samuel Or­tom, was a former Minister of Trade, Investment and Indus­try in the cabinet of President Jonathan. He dumped PDP when he failed to pick the gov­ernorship ticket of the party. His influence combined with the rising popularity of Buhari, Sunday Sun learnt, is giving some headache to the ruling PDP in the state. On Febru­ary 28, Ortom is going to slug it out with Prince Terhemen Tarzoor of the PDP. To many political ponders, the race is too close to call.
Buhari and incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan are the two leading contend­ers in this year’s presidential race. While Buhari had taken the shot at the presidency three times and suffered defeat, Jon­athan is seeking re-election for a second term. But unlike the previous elections, this is the first time the PDP really feels challenged with Buhari’s can­didacy. For many Nigerians, this is one of the reasons why the PDP is making Buhari’s certificate an issue of cam­paign this time around. How­ever, a chieftain of the PDP in the Southwest and former Minister of Transport, Chief Ebenezer Babatope, dismissed the insinuation as propaganda of the APC. Speaking with Sunday Sun, he expressed confidence that PDP would win the election: “I am sure it is APC that keeps conjuring events that have no existence. Our governors, our ministers are very confident that we are going to win this election. He (Buhari) drew a crowd in Kano; we drew a crowd in Kano. He drew a crowd in Jigawa, we drew a crowd in Jigawa. Look at Benue State rally, the PDP drew a big crowd. Everywhere we go, we pull a mammoth crowd. Don’t mind them; it’s all tissues of lies. Buhari is no threat at all. Buhari is a very bad and poor candidate.”
On February 14, Nigerians will once again file out to elect the presidential candidate of their choice. Expectation is, therefore, high that the Inde­pendent National Electoral Commission (INEC) will put in place adequate logistic ar­rangements that will ensure a free and credible election.

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