The stage is now set for its presidential primary. Rivers State is the host. Both the party and the Police in the state have expressed their readiness for the convention.
Ismail Omipitan, Willy Eya, Ndubuisi Orji and Tony John
The American College football player and coach, Paul Bryant, said “When you make a mistake, there are only three things you should ever do about it: admit it, learn from it, and don’t repeat it.”
Opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) had admitted it made some mistakes in the way it approached the 2015 presidential election. It paid dearly for it. Has the party learn any lesson? Is the party likely to repeat the same mistake again as it gets set to elect its presidential candidate for the 2019 contest today? It seems only time will tell.
One thing is however certain, and that is, how the 12 presidential aspirants manage their personal ambitions will go a long way to determine the party’s fortune in next year’s presidential contest. And unless the party put its house in order, the fate that will befall it, would certainly be worse than what it suffered in 2015.
Regardless, the stage is now set for its presidential primary. Rivers State is the host. Both the party and the Police in the state have expressed their readiness for the convention.
Though the venue, Amiesimaka Stadium, is on the outskirts of Port Harcourt, the state capital, precisely in Igwuruta-Alli, Ikwerre council of the state, however, some of the popular hotels like Hotel Presidential, Le Meridien, Golden Tulip and Landmark Hotel, all in Port Harcourt city, have since been booked.
Security has also been beefed up in and around these areas, as well as the stadium. As at Thursday, minor work was ongoing at the stadium with security apparatus put in place to check unscrupulous elements.
Special Adviser to the state chairman of the party, Jerry Needam, told Saturday Sun that PDP in the state has made adequate arrangements for a successful national convention. He said the choice of Port Harcourt to host the event was divine and apt, adding that it would afford the delegates the opportunity to see and appreciate the landmark achievements of Governor Nyesom Wike.
“Rivers State is a peaceful and hospitable state. We are ready to host all delegates of the PDP coming for the national convention to elect the presidential candidate of the PDP. Everything has been put in place. It will also afford Nigerians the opportunity to see the good network of roads and other infrastructural development of Governor Nyesom Wike. The choice of Rivers State for the PDP convention is apt and divine. It underscores the peaceful and secure environment of Rivers State. It further underscores the fact that Rivers State is safe and a fertile ground for business.
“It also shows that Rivers State is now competing favourably with Lagos. And in the coming years under Governor Wike, Rivers State will move forward, economically , ahead of Lagos State,” Needam said.
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On its part, Police in Rivers State has also expressed its preparedness to make today’s PDP presidential convention a hitch-free one. The Police team, on Thursday, inspected ongoing work at the Amiesimaka Stadium, ahead of the event.
The Police Public Relations Officer, DSP Nnamdi Omoni, told Saturday Sun that the Command would deploy its personnel to the venue of the event and hotels where delegates are lodged, adding that “the CP (Zaki Ahmed) and top officers of the Command were at the stadium to inspect ongoing work. We are going to deploy all our personnel to provide security at the venue of the convention and the hotels, where the delegates are lodging”, Omoni said.
In all, there are 12 presidential aspirants. Barring any change of plan, the 12 of them would be competing for votes from 3, 619 votes.
In the history of the party, this is the first time it will be going into a contest of this nature without clear direction of where the party’s leadership was headed, in terms of who may likely pick the ticket.
Up till the time of filing this report, the governors are still divided over who to back. But sources told Saturday Sun that they may harmonise their positions before the contest starts later today. “It is true, no one is sure. Anyone who tells you he knows who will pick the ticket is just deceiving himself. We know some of our leaders have their preferences. But I tell you, no one has been courageous enough to come forward to tell us, go this way.
“However, today is Friday. There is a meeting this morning. There will be another one in the night. Before Saturday morning, we may have direction. By that time, our leaders would have harmonised their positions. But I doubt if we will witness the zone by zone endorsement of a particular aspirant like we were used to in the past. If you ask me, I think it is good for the system. Let all of them go in and compete.”
Like the governors, the lawmakers too, elected on the platform of the PDP and other critical stakeholders are yet to decide in the open who their choice aspirants are. But if the happenings in the country in recent times are anything to go by, the lawmakers may likely back one of their own, Senator Bukola Saraki. Apart from Saraki, others in the race are: former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar; Governors Aminu Tambuwal (Sokoto); Ibrahim Dankwambo (Gombe); formers governors Rabiu Kwankwaso (Kano); Ahmed Makarfi (Kaduna); Sule Lamido (Jigawa) and Attahiru Bafarawa (Sokoto); Jonah Jang (Plateau), former Senate President ,David Mark; Datti Baba-Ahmed and Tanimu Turaki, former Special Duties minister in the then President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration.
How the aspirants stand
Not much was known about the Sokoto State governor, Aminu Tambuwal, until his sudden emergence as Speaker of the House of Representatives in 2011. After the 2011 general elections, the PDP had zoned the position of the Speaker of the House of Representatives to the South-West.
However, in a twist of events, Tambuwal, who was deputy minority Whip, in the 6th Assembly, before his defection to the PDP, entered into an alliance with lawmakers from the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) to emerge speaker, ahead of PDP’s anointed candidate for the plum seat, Mulikat Akande. That incident was his defining moment in politics, just as it marked the beginning of his ascendancy in national politics. He is from the North-West, a zone with the highest voting population in the country.
Tambuwal, who recently returned to the PDP from the All Progressives Congress (APC), has a lot going for him in the contest for the opposition party’s presidential ticket.
Although the PDP governors, who usually determine where the pendulum swings in the contest for the party’s presidential ticket, are divided this time around, Tambuwal is perceived as the favourite of some of the governors, especially the influential ones among them. Besides, analysts say the presidential hopeful, who is in his early 50s is considered more cosmopolitan and acceptable across the country.
He is believed to enjoy the support of the Sultanate. Tambuwal is expected to galvanise all these supports for his bid for the PDP presidential ticket.
His antecedents as Speaker will also come handy in today’s contest. As Speaker, Tambuwal is believed to have built goodwill among his colleagues in the 360 federal constituencies. Pundits say he would be deploying this goodwill to maximum use in mobilising PDP delegates to support his bid for the party’s presidential ticket.
On the flipside, Tambuwal is considered slippery. Those who share this view are quick to point to how he emerged as Speaker against the dictates of his party, and the role he purportedly played in the emergence of his successor. He supported the emergence Yakubu Dogara as Speaker of the House of Representatives, against the wish of the APC.
Like what obtained in 2011, the APC in 2015 settled for a South-West lawmaker in the person of Femi Gbajabiamila. Again, like what happened four years earlier, Dogara, supposedly aided by Tambuwal clinched the speakership of the House, to the consternation of the leadership of the ruling party.
Repeated efforts to speak to the spokesman of the Tambuwal Campaign Organisation, Dr. Okey Nwosu, was not successful. When Saturday Sun first called him, he told our correspondent to call him back in two hours time. However, he did not answer repeated calls to his mobile phone as at the time of filing this report.
Senator Rabiu Kwankwaso has been around in the political scene in the country for quite some time. He started his politics at the national level in the botched third republic, when he served as the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives. Like Tambuwal, he is also from the North-west.
Kwankwaso was to later serve as governor of Kano State on the platform of the PDP for two terms. In between his terms, he also served as Minister of Defence in the second tenure of former President, Olusegun Obasanjo.
After he left the PDP in the build up to the 2015 general elections, Kwankwaso joined the APC, where he contested for the party’s presidential ticket, and came second in the contest.
Analysts say Kwankwaso’s greatest strength in the contest for the PDP presidential ticket is perhaps his cult-like followership in Kano State and some parts of the north. His political group, the Kwankwasiyya movement, is considered very formidable and would be a ready tool to mobilise delegates to support his aspiration.
Besides, coming from Kano, a state with almost the highest population in the country is also considered a big plus to Kwankwaso.
Also, like Tambuwal, the former governor would be relying on his former colleagues in the House of Representatives in the contest for the presidential ticket and the main election, if he emerges the presidential candidate. He would also be depending on his contacts among the former PDP governors, who served the same time with him.
However, analysts say, though Kwankwaso may be popular in the Kano, there are fears that he may not be able to deliver Kano, since he’s not able to move freely in the state for now, owing to the political war going on between him and the state governor, Dr. Umar Ganduje, whose performance so far as an incumbent, still makes him popular in the state. The greatest drawback to Kwankwaso’s presidential bid is that rightly or wrongly, he is perceived to harbour extreme religious and ethnic views.
Kwankwaso’s spokesperson, Binta Spickin told Saturday Sun that, her boss has a very high chance of picking the PDP presidential ticket at today’s convention.
According to her, “almost all the delegates have given him assurances that they are going to vote for him, that they are convinced about his policies and what he has for Nigerians. It is very likely that Senator Kwankwaso will clinch the ticket.
“If the PDP is bent on winning election, they have to choose somebody, who is grounded all over. Rabiu Kwankwaso is grounded across Nigeria, across all the geopolitical zones. Not only
that, he has proved that he is a leader, who has a vision, who has passion for this country. He is the most detribalised Nigerian you can think of. He has feelings for the youths. He has excellent plan for women. So, with what he has done, what he has promised to do, I think the delegates are wise enough to know that he is the best choice. Not only that. You know the north has the population. The 19 northern states are very populous, especially Kano. He is from Kano and there is nobody, who can win Kano without him.”
He is arguably the most popular politician in the country. His travails in the hands of the ruling APC made him so. He has survived several political landmines placed on his path by the government. Like Tambuwal and Kwankwaso, he is also a returnee to the PDP. He is the current president of the senate. Saraki has always had his eyes on the presidency of the country. He ran in 2011, though he did not go beyond the shadow election conducted by the northern elders, to pick a northern consensus candidate that eventually slugged it out with Jonathan at the time.
He was Kwara State governor twice. He is in his third term as a senator representing Kwara central. In 2015, he was instrumental to APC’s win in Kwara and Kogi, a fact acknowledged by some of the party leaders. But he has what many referred to as” identity crisis.” He is Yoruba from the north; no doubt, his candidature is not likely to sit well with the core northerners who believe that the slot is theirs for the take. But his handlers believe that they do not require many votes from the core north to make their benefactor a president. They supported their position with historical antecedents.
According to them, Alhaji Shehu Shagari won his election in 1979 without much votes from the core north, same with Obasanjo in 1999 and even Jonathan in 2011. They insist that with bloc votes from the North-Central where Saraki comes from, bloc votes from South-South and South-East, and little votes from the core north, are enough to guarantee victory. But it is unlikely if the party leaders are thinking in this direction. The chairman of his Presidential Campaign media committee of, Dr. Doyin Okupe, however expressed optimism that his principal will emerge as PDP presidential standard bearer today.
“We have arrived at the Garden City where the presidential candidate of the PDP will be elected. It is a great event that will determine and shape the future of Nigeria. Dr. Bukola is a man that has been aptly described as a man for this season, a man that has in-born proclivity for leadership. He has an exemplary pedigree that is important for this type of post.
“He is a great, confident, courageous, competent and cerebral personality. He is a shining light in the political firmament of the PDP. Having gone round the country with Dr. Saraki, I am amazed at the level of his acceptability in virtually every zone of the nation. Abubakar Bukola Saraki has become a national phenomenon and his ideology and policy to grow Nigeria has become a doctrine especially amongst young Nigerians,” Okupe said.
Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar had before his defection to the PDP left no one in doubt that he was going to run for the presidency in 2019. This fact was reinforced as early as 2015 shortly after the general election, all through 2016 and even in early 2017, by the Adamawa State governor, Senator Jibrilla Bindow, when he publicly declared that Atiku was the state’s choice in 2019, at a time Atiku was still in the APC.
Atiku is from Adamawa State in the North-East. The zone has been agitating to be given a chance to govern the country after late Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, Nigeria’s former Prime Minister. Adamawa State is one of the states in the zone that has been under the control of the PDP since 1999, until 2015. But apart from 1999, when Atiku, then as the party’s governorship candidate won convincingly, intrigues and controversies have always dogged PDP’s victory, ever since.
Ironically, most of those who have always positioned themselves to challenge the party in the state have always been its former members, who became aggrieved and had to leave the party, for one reason or another. Like in all previous elections since after the 1999 poll, the 2015 election was a straight fight between the PDP and the APC.
Incidentally, the APC’s candidate, who is now the governor, only defected to the APC from the PDP. Feelers also have it he may join Atiku later in the PDP before 2019 contest. If he had joined before today, it would certainly have added weight to Atiku’s bid for the ticket. Like Tambuwal, Kwankwaso and Saraki, Atiku is also a returnee.
In fact, this is Atiku’s second time. He had left in the build up to the 2007 contest, ran the race but lost to PDP’s candidate, late Umaru Musa Yar’Adua. He returned ahead of 2011 election, contested the party’s primary as the north’s consensus candidate, but lost to Jonathan. Again, in the build up to the 2015 contest, he defected to the APC, ran in the primary, but he came a distant third. After this bid, it is unlikely if he would want to try again.
But his campaign spokesperson, Segun Showunmi believes the ticket is theirs for the take. He said” My principal and Nigeria as a nation has never been this ready to initiate a political change that would herald the much desired socioeconomic and political transformation in Nigeria. I wish the primary election of political parties would be like a mini election that would afford all Nigerians the opportunity to participate in selection of the candidates for elections. I would have told you that Atiku Abubakar will win that election landslide. Nevertheless, we have campaigned vigorously and our message of hope and better Nigeria was unambiguous and well received by Nigerians. We met with founders, leaders and members of PDP and they wholeheartedly queued behind our message of hope and new Nigeria. To this end, I can tell you that we are ready for the convention and we look forward to a very transparent process that would afford the party the opportunity to conduct a free, fair and credible primary election. We have confidence and trust in the ability of the people responsible to deliver hitch free convention for members. PDP, undoubtedly, is expected to use the convention as a step to the much expected greatest height that had eluded Nigeria.”
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He was a two term governor of Kaduna State from 29 May 1999 to 29 May 2007. He was subsequently elected a senator for Kaduna North in April 2007. He ran for re-election on the PDP platform and was re-elected in 2011 as senator. Makarfi had earlier served in the Executive Council of Kaduna State as Commissioner of Finance and Economic Planning.
Makarfi had a career with the defunct Nigeria Universal Bank, where he rose to the rank of Assistant General Manager. He had also earlier worked as a part-time Lecturer in the Department of Accounting, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria from 1987 – 1993. He is the immediate past national caretaker Chairman of the PDP. He was appointed at the Port Harcourt Convention. One of the major political achievements of Makarfi was the successful conduct of the elective national convention of the PDP that produced Prince Uche Secondus as the substantive national chairman of the party.
His stabilising role in the party is expected to work in his favour. Unlike the first four aspirants earlier x-rayed, Makarfi, since 1998 when he joined the party has remained in the party. He is also from the North-West. Although, APC is in charge of the state at the moment, Kaduna is one of the APC states in the North-West that are very vulnerable. If the PDP remains the way it is today, it has the capacity to dislodge the APC from the state.
His media aide, Mukhtar Sirajo, believes that the outcome of the contest today will be in their favour. “We are sure of victory. We believe that the delegates will look at issues dispassionately and vote a personality that can lead the party to victory. I believe that having governed Kaduna, which is like a mini Nigeria for eight years, Makarfi has all it takes to govern Nigeria,” Sirajo added.
One of the founding fathers of the PDP, Lamido can be regarded as an old timer in Nigerian politics. He entered politics as a member of the left-of-center People’s Redemption Party (PRP) in the second republic. He was elected into the House of Representatives in 1979. He had gone ahead to become the National Secretary of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) during the third republic, the party which produced winner of the June 12, 1993 presidential election, Chief MKO Abiola.
He was appointed the nation’s Foreign Affairs Minister by Chief Olusegun Obasanjo in 1999 having contested and narrowly lost Jigawa State governorship election. He later contested and won election in 2007. Lamido served two terms as a governor and did his best to transform and reposition the state. Like Makarfi, he has been a consistent party man. He remained in the PDP even in the face of crisis when five governors elected on the platform of the party defected to the then opposition APC in the build up to the 2015 presidential contest.
In 2015, he came under tremendous pressure to run against Jonathan but he declined. He is also from the North-West. His state, Jigawa, like Kaduna, is very vulnerable. The defection of leaders of the APC, led by a serving senator, Ubale Shittu, from the Hadejia axis of the state will further help the PDP reclaim the state. Because Jigawa was carved out of Kano, he has a strong following in Kano State. Till date, he remains the only presidential aspirant that stayed back to receive all the presidential aspirants who visited his state while canvassing for support. The only snag in his bid is his criminal prosecution and that of his sons, for alleged corruption related issue.
But his Personal Assistant on Social Media, Mansur Ahmed, believes it is a non-issue. Hear him “Several investigations on finances of Jigawa were carried out in the past, with the sole aim of getting Lamido prosecuted, but they could not find any fault. The case you are talking about is a political one and leaders of our great party are aware. If they want a courageous and fearless leader who can confront the Buhari’s APC headlong, they should not look further. Lamido is the most credible, competent, courageous and fearless leader to lead PDP to victory. Look, if he gets the ticket, there are so many APC leaders and other notable Nigerians who will deploy support in his favour to sack Buhari and APC. He is the bridge builder between the young and the old. He is the last man standing in PDP.
“Talking about the EFCC case, I have written a lot about it in recent times, but for the benefit of your readers, let me reiterate that none of the charges alleged that Lamido and his sons took any money from Jigawa State coffers, none of the charges alleged Lamido gave his children contracts as government’s publicity against him showed, rather the essential elements of the charges alleged that Lamido as Governor, influenced some two or three private companies to award contracts to two or three companies whose directors are himself and his sons. But they are telling Nigerians that Lamido and sons milked Jigawa dry, just to make them look like common criminals. Today, the case had gone before not less than five Judges with elaborate publicity but less evidence. If Sule Lamido and his sons indeed milked Jigawa dry, as was being insinuated, will there have been money to build the gigantic infrastructure put in place in Jigawa by his administration? The case is on, no doubt. But the constitutional provisions regarding a citizen’s eligibility to contest are all spelt out and Lamido has not breached any of them by his trial,” Ahmed said.
He was a two term governor of Plateau State. He currently represents Plateau North senatorial district. He is viewed with suspicion among his fellow northerners, especially those from the far north, who are of the opinion that he did not do enough to reduce the ethno-religious tensions in the state, as governor for eight years. He is seen largely, as a tribal irredentist. He was military administrator for old Benue and Gongola States. As a military administrator, he once declared one of the states he presided over, a Christian state. For that singular act, he was hurriedly removed from office. He stands little or no chance in the today’s contest.
But his Plateau state coordinator, Prof. Shedrack Best said Jang’s chances are very bright.
“The chances of Senator Jonah David Jang is bright in the PDP presidential primary, he is the most experienced and has the capability to deliver for the party in 2019. Jang is among the founding fathers of the party and has worked tirelessly to protect and ensure the acceptability of the party among Nigerians and we are optimistic that with Jang, PDP will bounce back to power in 2019,” Prof. Best said.
Among the crowd of presidential aspirants on the platform of the PDP, Senator Datti Baba- Ahmed comes well prepared in terms of his educational background and experience in politics.
Many believe that at 48, he has become very successful in academics and business. His supporters would argue that based on his pedigree, he has what it takes to bring about a re-engineering of the Nigerian economy to create jobs for the army of unemployed youths in the country.
In April 2003, he was elected to the House of Representatives for the Zaria Federal Constituency, Kaduna State on the platform of the defunct All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP).
Baba-Ahmed was popular for his principled activism during the administration of former President Olusegun Obasanjo; he was one of the lawmakers who opposed his third term agenda. In May 2006, he said he would not run for re-election unless action was taken to investigate allegations that members had been bribed to support the constitutional changes needed for a third term presidency. Also in 2007, he took the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to court over the conduct of past elections.
He studied Economics at the prestigious University of Westminster, United Kingdom, and at an early age of 41, he had worked for the Security, Printing and Minting Company in Lagos, obtained two different Masters degrees and a PhD. He established one of the top ranking private universities with two other companies employing over 600 people drawn from every state in the country. He has a reputation for speaking fearlessly against corruption, bad governance and societal problems.
His supporters believe that his uncompromising stance against corruption remains an important ingredient needed for a leader that wants to steer the ship of the Nigerian state. He is known for favouring building institutions over creating strong personalities and has also been a proponent of Security, Economy and Education (SEE) programme. His position is that, with the right investment in the critical sectors of the economy, Nigeria will be an inch away from the problems militating against the nation.
What may work in his favour is that most people think that a fresh face should lead to herald a departure from the recycling of leaders that Nigeria has always had for decades.
In the politics of the Fourth Republic, there is no doubt that the image of David Mark looms large. Having been in the senate since 1999, he is one of the most experienced politicians in the country and has carved a niche as a national figure. The retired Nigerian Army Brigadier General and politician who represents Benue South senatorial district, was President of the senate from 2007 to 2015.
Many see the former Senate President as a thoroughbred administrator who will bring his wealth of experience to bear on his government in the event that he emerges the PDP presidential candidate and possibly wins the 2019 poll. His eight years as Senate President were remarkable in terms of achievements and cordial relationship between the executive and legislative arms.
Mark was born in Zungeru, Niger State in April 1948 and attended St. Francis Catholic Practicing School before attending the Nigerian Military School. After that, he attended the Nigerian Defence Academy and was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in 1970 and became a Captain in 1971. He was Commandant of Static Communications in 1974, and then later held a political post as Chairman, Abandoned Properties Implementation Committee in the Eastern region in 1976. He was Minister of Communications under former Head of State, General Ibrahim Babangida.
Another aspirant to look out for is the Gombe State governor, Ibrahim Dankwambo. He is considered as a silent achiever and a leader who can change the status quo in leadership. The chartered accountant has won accolades for his frugality and efficient system of governance. His stoppage of sharing money to friends and cronies as the culture in the state left only those who are development-minded and people-oriented in his government.
Dankwambo’s career began from Coopers & Lybrand and hightails to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). He was Gombe State Accountant General, and later appointed the Accountant General of the Federation before he contested the governorship seat and won in 2011. Many are of the view that, under his stewardship, Gombe has turned out one of the most developed and transformed states in the North-Eastern region. He is believed to have transformed Gombe into the industrial and agrarian hub of the region, a position that it enviably occupied in the past.
It is said that his achievements in Gombe may have been responsible for the reason his supporters urged him to join the race.
One of those battling to fly the flag of the PDP in 2019 is the former Minister of Special Duties and Inter Governmental Relations, Tanimu Turaki (SAN).
Turaki is the first Lawyer from Kebbi State and the entire former North Western States of the country to be elevated to the rank of Senior Advocate Of Nigeria (SAN) in 2002. Heisseenby many as a success story and an uncompromising believer in the continued corporate existence of Nigeria.
While addressing members of the PDP National Working Committee (NWC), on the occasion of his formal presentation of a letter of intent to contest the 2019 Presidential poll, he said: “I can match President Buhari’s integrity for integrity and I have what he does not have: I have education, I have knowledge, I have the fear of God, which he doesn’t have. Even if you have a good sales team, you need a good product. And I am that product. I can assure you that I am not made in Taiwan.”
When the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) was going through one of its trying moments, Turaki was one of those called upon to resolve the crisis in 1993. The Dan Masanin Gwandu was a member of the National Political Reform Conference in 2004, as well as a member of the Board of Trustees of the Team Nigeria Trust Fund, a body that was set up to galvanize private sector participation in the sports development and financing in Nigeria.
When the defunct Bank of the North was in murky waters, Turaki was a member of the intervention Board that was set up by the Regulatory Agencies (CBN/NDIC) to restore the bank that was on the verge of collapse to profitability.
He was at various times a member of the Council of Legal Education, as well as member of the committee for the review of Investment Laws in Nigeria. He was also a member of the Ministerial Committee for the Implementation of Reforms in the Nigeria Police Force as well as the Committee set up by the Body of Benchers to review the laws regulating legal practice in Nigeria.
His contribution to the development of the law and the legal practice in Nigeria led to his appointment as a Notary Public by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, and his elevation to the prestigious rank of SAN in 2002.
Former governor of Sokoto State, Bafarawa has a lot going for him as he has a track record that cannot be overlooked. As governor of Sokoto State for eight years, Bafarawa impacted very positively on the life of the people. His supporters would argue that people of Sokoto still remember his days as governor with nostalgia and they want him to bring that magic to bear on Nigeria. The calculation is that those who aim at weakening President Buhari’s support base will readily tell you that the battleground is the North-West zone from where he garnered his highest number of votes in the 2015 presidential election. To deal a devastating blow to the incumbent, therefore, there is the need to balkanise the North-West zone. If this is a winning strategy, Bafarawa, like the five other aspirants from the zone, may be favoured. The North-West states of Sokoto, Zamfara and Kebbi, which were all part of the old Sokoto State, are all his familiar turf.
He has been around in politics since 1979 when he contested election to the House of Representatives on the platform of the Great Nigeria Peoples Party (GNPP), but lost. He was a member of the National Constitutional Conference of 1994–1995, during the military rule of Sani Abacha.
He was a founding member of the United Nigeria Congress Party (UNCP) and the All Peoples Party (APP). In 1999, he was elected governor of Sokoto State on the platform of the ANPP, and was re-elected for the ANPP in 2003. He was a member of the APC, before defecting to the PDP.