By Chuks Okocha
Sokoto State Governor, Hon. Aminu Tambuwal, has begun consultations with some notable political leaders over his presidential aspiration on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
THISDAY gathered that the consultations started last Thursday when he met former Senate President, Senator David Mark, during which he discussed his ambition with him.
Tambuwal was to continue the consultation on Saturday with visits to a former president, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, and a former Minister of Defence, Lt. Gen. Theophilus Danjuma (rtd).
The governor had met behind closed doors with Obasanjo for about an hour in his Presidential Library Pent House in Abeokuta.
A statement by Obasanjo’s Special Assistant on Media, Mr. Kehinde Akinyemi, had quoted the governor as saying he visited the former president to consult with him on issues concerning governance and others.
“You know Baba is our leader, statesman. And it is always good for us to come around to see how he is doing, pay homage and consult him on many issues of governance. That is why we have come this afternoon. And, we brought him the greetings and felicitations of the good people of Sokoto State,” the statement had quoted the governor, who was a leading contender for the presidential ticket of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the 2019 election season, as saying.
However, THISDAY learnt yesterday that the main reason for the visit, which the former president’s aide described as unscheduled, was for Tambuwal to feel Obasanjo’s pulse on his presidential bid.
Sources told THISDAY that after the meeting with Obasanjo, Tambuwal headed for Lagos where he held talks with Danjuma in his residence.
He was said to have briefed the former minister on his decision to vie for the presidency in 2023.
The meeting was said to have lasted for over two hours before the governor departed for Sokoto.
Investigation also revealed that as part of the series of consultations, Tambuwal had on Thursday met with Mark in his Abuja residence.
However, PDP National Working Committee (NWC) has not officially announced the party’s zoning arrangement for 2023 presidential ticket, as THISDAY gathered that the main opposition party is said to be waiting for the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) to make a decision before announcing from which zone its candidate would come from.
When THISDAY contacted PDP National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, for his comment on Tambuwal’s consultations, he said zoning was not yet on the agenda of PDP.
According to him, the party is concentrating on the governorship elections in Edo, Ondo and other by-elections slated for September and October, 2020.
But another party source, who spoke on Tambuwal’s consultations, told THISDAY: “In PDP, the manner of zoning is not clear, but the governor of Sokoto State, Hon. Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, stands out clearly.
“He is the youngest in the race with a loaded credentials both in the executive and legislature arms of government. Moreover, he is a lawyer. That is the judicial arm.”
According to him, Tambuwal has solid credentials that makes him fit for the job.
The governor was Speaker of the House of Representatives for four years and is about to complete his two-term tenure of eight years as governor of Sokoto State, he said, adding that he is currently the deputy chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) and also the chairman of PDP Governors’ Forum.
The source explained that Tambuwal also enjoys the support of PDP governors, who form a critical power bloc in the party.
“Take it or leave it, political pundits say that he is the aspirant to beat. He carries PDP governors along with him and the South-east is merely jostling for the vice presidential position,” the source said.
The source, however, added that from the body language of a former vice president, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, he is also interested in contesting the 2023 presidential election.
But he said age might not be on his side as he would be 77 years by then, noting that the belief that the performance of President Muhammadu Buhari has been impaired by old age and health challenges may make Nigerians wary of entrusting another near septuagenarian with power in 2023.
A former aide of the late President Shehu Shagari, Alhaji Tanko Yakassai, had also told THISDAY that any opposition party must adopt a zoning system that would earn it votes if it is serious about winning the next presidential election.
Yakassai explained that the other political parties which are also operating a zoning principle must not tailor their zoning arrangement to suit that the ruling party.
“It does not mean that opposition party must align with the zoning arrangement of the other party. In other words, if one party produces a candidate from the North, the next one should produce from the South. But zoning arrangement cannot prevent another party from producing candidate from the zone where the other party had produced a candidate that occupy that office at one time,” he stated.
Dogara: My Defection to APC is to Rebuild Party, Not for Presidential Ambition
Meanwhile, a former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara, who recently defected to APC, has said his ambition for now is on how to rebuild the ruling party and not becoming a vice presidential candidate in the 2023 presidential election as being rumoured.
In a statement issued yesterday by his media aide, Mr. Turaki Hassan, Dogara said: “It has come to our notice that stories and images are being circulated on social media to the effect that Hon. Yakubu Dogara is running for the office of the vice president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria with the National Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu, for the president in 2023.
“Our initial decision was to ignore them since they are utterly baseless but it appears that the promoters of this fallacy are unrelenting in spreading the falsehood and have now succeeded in making it sound believable to the extent that even some conventional and ‘credible’ media platforms are beginning to take it up.”
Dogara urged the public to disregard the story and pictures, which he described as the handiwork of mischief makers.
He accused Bauchi State Government of sponsoring the stories and pictures to give traction to their allegation that he left PDP just because he was deceived by APC with the promise of a position in 2023.
Dogara said: “2023 is still years away, therefore, it is unnecessary, distracting and insensitive to start making unfounded declarations at this time when all hands ought to be on deck in tackling the challenges of nationhood.”
The statement added that no political party sells nomination and expression of interest forms for the post of a running mate, as a running mate is only appointed or selected by a flag bearer.
Dogara said it was preposterous for anyone to claim that someone is running for the position of vice president when no flag bearer has emerged.