Names of key contenders have come up in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) with the endorsement of the report of the Enugu State Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi-led Zoning Committee which zoned the position of the party’s next national chairman to the North by the National Executive Committee (NEC) last Thursday.

The committee had recommended that the current elective National Working Committee (NWC) positions in the party should be swapped between the North and the South ahead of the party’s national convention scheduled for October 30.

Already, Governor Ahmadu Fintiri of Adamawa State, it was gathered, will head the 20-member committee to screen aspirants from the North interested in the position of national chairman of the party as part of the outcome of the caucus meeting held behind closed doors at the Bauchi State Governor’s Lodge in Asokoro, Abuja, after the NEC resolution.

We learnt that all the 19 states in the North, including Federal Capital Territory (FCT), are expected to nominate one person each to the Fintiri committee.

The camps of former Vice President Atiku Abubakar and immediate past president of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, were said to have moved the suggestion that the Northern Caucus be allowed to micro-zone the office, while the Fintiri committee is expected to recommend not more than three aspirants to the larger NEC before the national convention billed for October 30 and 31, 2021.

Just as the North and South begin to micro-zone the positions to the geopolitical zones to enable aspirants to start obtaining forms, Daily Trust gathered that not less than nine party stalwarts had been tipped to be the likely successor of the suspended national chairman, Prince Uche Secondus.

These main challengers include two from the North East, Sen. Suleiman Nazif and Dr. Ibrahim Dankwambo; two from North West, Senator Ahmed Makarfi, and Barrister Ibrahim Shema; as well as five personalities from the North Central, Senator David Mark, Dr Babangida Aliyu, Professor Jerry Gana, Dr Iorchia Ayu, and Alhaji Ibrahim Idris.

David Mark

Senator Mark, who is a former President of the Senate, is from Benue State, North Central geo-political zone. Daily Trust gathered that the former chairman of the National Assembly was being promoted by PDP governors who saw him as a stabiliser and a personality with wider acceptability.

We also learnt that as soon as the NEC of the PDP approved the zoning of the position to the North, particularly the North-Central, the enlarged NEC zeroed in on the former Senate president as the best candidate to lead the party out of the woods.

The Northern Caucus, it was learnt, suggested that any person interested in the position should express such interest before the Fintiri committee despite being zoned to the North Central where Mark is seen as a favourite aspirant with stable and consistent character to lead the party at this time.

The PDP governors led by Sokoto State Governor Aminu Tambuwal, it was gathered, agreed that Senator Mark, judging by his track record of stable leadership especially as president of the Senate, will bring sanity and stability to the party.

‘Inasmuch we respect the wishes of our members from the North, virtually all the stakeholders have agreed on Senator Mark as the preferred choice because of his consistency and pedigree.

“The NEC fears that handing over the party to unpredictable persons may spell doom for the PDP,” a source conversant with what happened at the NEC said.

Ahmed Makarfi

Senator Makarfi from the North West is a former Governor of Kaduna State between 1999 and 2007. The 65-year-old politician, who has been a member of the PDP since 1999, represented Kaduna North Senatorial District between 2007 and 2011.

Makarfi, who briefly steered the ship of the party, is said to enjoy the support of key political leaders from the North despite feigning ignorance of such move when contacted earlier by our correspondent.

Senator Suleiman Nazif

Senator Nazif is the incumbent PDP Deputy National Chairman (North) from the North East geo-political zone.

The 51-year-old Bauchi State-born politician ran in the 2011 governorship election on the platform of the defunct All Nigeria People’s Party (ANPP) where he came fourth.

The former member of the House of Representatives between 2003 and 2007 also represented Bauchi North Senatorial District in the Senate.

Dr Ibrahim Dankwambo

Dankwambo is a former governor of Gombe State between 2011 and 2019. The 59-year-old politician is also a former Accountant General of the Federation. The two-term PDP governor is currently party leader in his state where has been playing key role to ensure that the party reclaims power in 2023.

Barr. Ibrahim Shema

Shema is a former governor of Katsina State on the platform of PDP between 2007 and 2015. The 65-year-old two-term governor has remained PDP leader after losing power to the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in 2015.

Dr Babangida Aliyu

Dr Aliyu is a former governor of Niger State on the platform of the PDP between 2007 and 2015. Daily Trust gathered that the former senior civil servant from North Central geo-political zone, believed to have indicated interest in the chairmanship position, would need to reach out to adversaries because of comments he had made on the current challenges facing the party.

Prof Jerry Gana

Professor Gana has been a foundation member of the PDP before a brief exit to run for the 2019 presidential election on the platform of the Social Democratic Party (SDP). He lost the ticket to former governor Donald Duke of Cross River State.

The 75-year-old politician from Niger State, North Central geo-political zone, is believed to be an ally of former Vice President Atiku Abubakar who called him at last Thursday’s emergency NEC meeting to give credence to his argument on why Nigerians had always maintained a sense of fairness at past constitutional conferences.

Dr Iorchia Ayu

Ayu, from the North Central, is a former president of the Senate during the Third Republic – between 1992 and 1993. He was a minister between 1999 and 2007 under the Olusegun Obasanjo administration.

His candidacy is said to have been put forward lately by Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State.

Alhaji Ibrahim Idris

Idris is a former Governor of Kogi State from 2003 to 2011 on the platform of the PDP. The 72-year-old politician and businessman from the North Central geo-political zone remains a key party leader in his state who was instrumental in the election of former governor Idris Wada in 2011.

(Daily Trust)