A Keen Primary
Despite all his intimidating credentials and background, Datti polled only five votes. This showed that winning election in Nigeria is still far from being an intellectual exercise or a matter of how young or sound one is. It is all about having a heavy financial warchest and political structures especially at the grassroots.
Mark’s entry into the presidential race was like an afterthought. Just like Saraki, he joined the race late and has little chance to campaign far and wide. Unlike his co-aspirants from Northcentral, Saraki and Jang, Mark never bought into the idea that it was the turn of his geopolitical zone to produce president.
His position was that the region does matter so far it is one Nigeria and one people. This campaign slogan did not garner votes for him at the convention as he polled a paltry 35 votes.
Mark’s performance at the convention showed that he lacks political following across the country, even after being the longest serving senator and the longest serving Senate President in Nigeria since 1999. Henceforth, it should be known that Mark is not as popular as he may want, rather he has able to latch on opportunities to remain politically relevant since the return of democracy in the country.
The Kebbi-born renowned lawyer was not a heavyweight politician before now. He was more of a professional, until his appointment as Minister of Special Duties during Goodluck Jonathan’s administration.
He banked on the support of the ex-ministers, especially those who served with him in Jonathan government. He was touted to have enjoyed the blessings and support of Jonathan and retired generals, but Atiku’s entry into the race changed the equation for him.
His performance was not a surprise to anybody, considering that he was not among the favourite contenders for the ticket. He was among those aspirants Wike referred as APC moles in PDP, perhaps, because of the professional relationship between him and the Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), who cut been nursing presidential ambition before now.
It would be recalled that in 2015, he tried to contest against the incumbent, President Goodluck Jonathan for the party’s ticket, but was blocked by the party leadership, who gave Jonathan right of first refusal and made him a sole candidate.
Hanging on his neck is the case of alleged fraud by Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). It was one thing, apart from limited education that observers believed worked against his interest. Besides, there were too many presidential aspirants from Northwest region, which brought about splitting of votes among them.
Bafarawa is an ex-governor of Sokoto State and a foundation member of the defunct All Nigerian Peoples Party
(ANPP). He was among those who worked for the successful merger of the major opposition parties to form All Progressives Congress (APC) in 2015. He left APC to PDP before the 2015 general elections, following the defection of his successor, Aliyu Wammako to APC and the party leadership’s directive, making Wammako the party leader in the state. That was how Bafarawa joined PDP at twilight of Jonathan’s administration. Despite his defection, APC won the governorship and presidential elections in Sokoto in 2015.
Before joining the race for the PDP presidential ticket, Bafarawa was discharged and acquitted of fraud charges leveled against him by the EFCC. Many believed he joined the race to pose an obstacle to Tambuwal’s ambition. Tambuwal was at a time, Bafarawa’s godson before they fell apart after 2007 elections. Since then, they have been on different pages politically.
With Tambuwal’s defection to PDP again, it is to be seen how both will work together, having lost the presidential ticket. Bafarawa’s performance during the primaries was not a surprise, because he was not among the top contenders. Besides, he lacks the financial wherewithal to prosecute a serious campaign, hav-
Dankwambo is the outgoing governor of Gombe State and estranged godson of his predecessor, Senator Danjuma Goje. He was among the favourite contenders in the beginning of the race.
At a time, it was rumoured that his colleagues would adopt him as their consensus candidate for the ticket. But along the line, the whole noise about him fizzled out and Dankwambo’s chances began to dim. That was why few days to the convention, he was not counted among the frontrunners. Now that he has lost the presidential ticket, he can pick the senatorial ticket of Senator Bayero Nafada, who is the PDP governorship candidate in the State.
Makarfi, an ex-governor of Kaduna State and Senator was also ex- National Chairman Caretaker Committee of the PDP at the peak of protracted leadership crisis that rocked the party. It was alleged that the governors had promised him the party’s presidential ticket for standing firm during the leadership crisis.
But just like every other political promise or agreement that was never cast in stone, the PDP governors’ failure to reach agreement on a consensus candidate affected Makarfi’s chances. Even at that, it was disappointing that when the governors tried to agree on consensus candidate, Makarfi was not an option. It was as if Makarfi was used to rescue the party and his place in history cannot be denied.
Kwankwaso was one of the aspirants whose performance in the contest surprised many people, considering his seeming popularity at the grassroots. His Kwakwansiya movement has become a household political group across the country with red cap as their trademark.
The basis of Kwankwaso’s campaign was that the Northwest region has the highest number of votes and should be allowed to produce a presidential candidate that can match Buhari’s popularity in the region. But the sentiment did not sway votes in his favour. Besides, the Northwest zone has the highest number of presidential aspirants. Other factors that worked against Kwankwaso were his perceived irredentism, fanaticism and arrogance, coupled with his failure to work with Ibrahim Shekerau and the imposition of his son-in-law and excommissioner, Abba Kabir Yusuf as the PDP governorship candidate in Kano State.
According one of Kwankwaso’s strong supporters, Mallam Buba Galadimma, the alleged support and endorsement of Atiku by the retired military generals in Port Harcourt by the appearance of Major General Aliyu Gusua (rtd) at convention venue affected Kwankwaso’s chance. But some political observers are of the opinion that some of the aspirants, including Kwankwaso and Tambuwal were overrated before the convention.