Though all 19 Northern states in the country have been given the nod to produce candidates for the chairmanship position of the main opposition’s Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), latest development suggests that the race is set to be keenly contested by four big gladiators in the party.
This is as former Governor of Gombe state, Ibrahim Hassan Dankwambo, former Governor of Kaduna state Ahmed Makarfi; former Governor of Kastina state, Ibrahim Shema and former Senate President David Mark, have reportedly expressed intentions to jostle for the highest office in the party.
Recall the zoning committee headed by the Enugu State Governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi had earlier resolved to zone its national chairmanship position to the northern part of the country.
Following the resolution of the zoning committee, the Northern Caucus of the party resolved to throw the race open as each Northern state gets to nominate a candidate. Meanwhile, other members of the party were said to have favoured a consensus chairmanship candidate ahead of the upcoming PDP national convention later this month.
While Mark seems to be enjoying the support of chieftains of the party, there are some other members who are opposed to the emergence of the former Senate president as the National Chairman of the party.
According to reports, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar and former Senate President, Bukola Saraki, and Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue state are said to be indifferent about the candidacy of Mark.
A source privy to the matter disclosed that some Northern PDP governors have shown their preference for North-central to produce the next national chairman, a move which Saraki was said to have rejected.
Saraki is said to be opposing Mark on the grounds that they are both from north central zone. The source disclosed that the emergence of Mark as National chairman may affect the purported presidential ambition of Saraki.
“Politics is about interests either personal or collective. It is public knowledge that both Atiku and Saraki, have Presidential ambitions. A David Mark emerging as National Chairman is likely to alter their calculations.
“For Atiku, Mark is seen as too strong-willed and will be uncompromising. For Saraki, a Mark coming from the same north central zone may not work in his favour because it will mean the remaining two zones, the North East and the North West will be the only ones in contention for the Presidential ticket.
“They had both worked hard to make the Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuayi-led zoning committee to throw open the chairmanship position in their recommendations; but it didn’t quite work out,” a source reportedly said.
Ortom is also said to be soliciting for former President of the Senate, Iyorchia Ayu, who also hails from Benue state, but the move is yet to sail among major powerbrokers in the party.
Also, top names being bandied around as contenders for the position include former Kogi State Governor Idris Ibrahim, Professor Jerry Gana and former Niger State Governor, Babangida Aliyu.
Barring any high-level machinations that could torpedo the current calculations in the PDP, developments currently favour one of Mark, Makarfi, Shema and Dankwambo to become the party’s next national chairman as party members have been throwing their enormous weight behind them.
Shema was born on 22 September 1952 at Dutsin-Ma town in Katsina State. He attended Nasarawa Primary School, Katsina (1964–1971) and Government Secondary School, Kafanchan (1972–1976). He studied at the College of Arts, Science & Technology, Zaria from 1977 to 1980. He owns a LLB degree from Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria. He served as the governor of Kastina from 29 May 2007 to 29 May 2015.
Makarfi was born on 8th of August 1956 in Kaduna State. He attended primary school from 1965 to 1973. He then attended the Federal Government College Enugu from 1973 to 1978. In 1979, Makarfi was admitted to the School of Basic Studies at Ahmadu Bello University in Zaria where he obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting. He served as the governor of Kaduna state from 29 May 1999 to May 2007. He also served as a senator representing Kaduna North senatorial district from in May 2007 till 2011.
Dankwmbo was born on 4 April 1962 at Herwagana Gombe. He graduated from Ahmadu Bello University in 1985, with a degree in Accounting. He obtained a Master of Science degree in Economics from the University of Lagos in 1992 and a PhD in Accounting from Igbinedion University. He served as the governor of Gombe state from 29 May 2011 to 29 May 2019.