IN a Move geared towards taking the 2019 political battle directly to President Muhammadu Buhari, the members of the All Progressives Congress loyal to the Kawu Baraje-led faction, new Peoples Democratic Party (nPDP) have demanded for the Presidential ticket from the main opposition- Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as one of four conditions to rejoin the party they left in 2014.In a high delegation meeting last week in Abuja, the leaders of the nPDP communicated this demand to the PDP National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus, two Governors, some Senators and top party leaders.
The demand was further conveyed to a bigger meeting of PDP national party leaders at another meeting which also held shortly a er the Ramadan fast in Abuja with the PDP negotiation team comprising of Chief Tom Ikimi, Senator Liyel Imoke, Former Senate President, David Mark among others.
According to a source present at the second PDP meeting, who spoke to DAILY ASSET on condition of anonymity, the nPDP demand of having the presidential ticket come 2019 triggered mixed responses from leaders of the party, with some governors and senators giving a nod to the request while others and notably former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, former Kano State governor, Malam Ibrahim Shekarau and former Jigawa State Governor, Alhaji Sule Lamido openly objecting to the demand.
“Atiku, Shekarau and Sule Lamido rejected the nPDP demand which is understandable considering their open presidential aspirations but Gombe state Governor, Ibrahim Hassan Dankwambo accepted the demand stating that he wants what is best for the party”, the source said.
To give vent to their position, the presidential aspirants of the PDP intensified their nation- wide consultations with the view to clinching the presidential ticket shortly a er the Sallah holidays.
Former. Vice President, Atiku Abubakar took his campaign to Bayelsa and Rivers states last week while former National Caretaker Committee Chairman and a frontline aspirant, Senator Ahmed Makar was in Benue, Nasarawa and Plateau last week to meet with party members.
Former Minister of Education, Ibrahim Shekarau who launched his campaign in Kano two months ago was also said to have been preparing to kick- start his nationwide campaign tours.
Two other aspirants Dr Datti Baba- AHMED and Alhaji Kabiru Turaki Hassan also joined the race making the nPDP demand more complicated to address.
In making the demand, the nPDP did not state categorically their choice for the presidential ticket but it was learnt that Sokoto State Governor, Rt. Hon Amina Waziri Tambuwal, Senate President, Bukola Saraki and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara were on the cards as possible candidates to be presented for consideration. Another demand of the nPDP was for the incorporation of their members into the State executive committee members of the party in each state depending on the strength of the members.
The other demand was assurances that new members will not be marginalized against in the scheme of a airs of the party, the source further told DAILY ASSET.
The Ikimi Committee was scheduled to submit a report on its activities this week to the National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus, the source added.
DAILY ASSET recalls that former Kano state governor, Malam Ibrahim Shekarau had earlier con rmed the Abuja meeting on popular political radio talkshow ‘Kowanne Gauta’ aired on Freedom Radio Kano.
According to the former minister of education, he was in Abuja for a meeting to woo the members of the nPDP back to the opposition party and it will be a good thing for Kano state and Nigeria as a whole if his arch political rival and former Kano state Governor, Senator Rabi’u Musa Kwankwaso and his People return to the PDP.
“Kwankwaso and his people are always welcome to join me in the PDP. I don’t have any issues with that, we will join hands to work for the progress of Kano state and Nigeria as a whole’, Shekarau stressed.
Apart from the demand for the presidential ticket, the nPDP were said to have demanded automatic tickets for their elected members who wanted to seek re- election for the same positions they were occupying at the moment is position, our source said was canvassed specifically to take care of the political interests of Senators and members of the House of Representatives who wanted to rejoin the PDP.
However, the PDP negotiation committee was said to have shown preference to discuss the demands of the nPDP on a case by case basis instead of a blanket decision on the issue of the tickets to contest the 2019 elections.
Special Adviser to National Chairman of PDP on Media and Publicity, Ike Abonyi, who spoke to DAILY ASSET on the matter said PDP was open to discussions with all groups but said he was not aware of a decision on the issue of automatic tickets for the nPDP members and other returnees to the party’s fold.
“ The National Chairman is very open, he will definitely speak if the party has taken such an important decision” he said in a telephone interview.