In less than six months time, active political gymnastics would start across the country in preparation for the 2019 General Elections.
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressives Congress (APC) are the two main parties to look out for because the choice of who gets their tickets for elective positions later in the year especially their presidential candidates would go a long way in determining the strength of supports they would enjoy during next year’s general elections.
From the unfolding political realities, it is most certain that President Muhammadu Buhari is going to pick the Presidential ticket of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), but that of the main opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is still in limbo because they have eminently qualified aspirants interested in the party’s ticket and are waiting in the wing for electoral guidelines by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Some of the aspirants include; the former Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, the former Governor of Jigawa State, Alhaji Sule Lamido, the former Governor of Kano State, Mallam Ibrahim Shekarau, the Governor of Ekiti State, Mr. Ayo Fayose and the performing Governor of Gombe State, Alhaji (Dr.) Ibrahim Hassan Dankwambo. Others may throw their hats in to the presidential ring, but are still watching events with keen interest.
Of these aspirants, it is only Governor Hassan Dankwambo that can lead the PDP back to the Presidential Villa after the February 16 Presidential race.
Without being sycophantic, I want to say that all the political odds favours Dr. Dankwambo because he is the only aspirant that can give the PDP a relax mind from any arrest or trumped-up charge during the campaigns because he is still a serving governor with immunity from arrest and prosecution.
Outside the fact that he enjoys immunity from harassment and intimidation, his giant strides in Gombe State would also speak for him during nationwide campaigns.
Though Alhaji Atiku Abubakar is from the same Northeast region with Dr. Dankwambo; a region that have suffered disturbing political neglect since independence. In fact, since the late Prime Minister, Alhaji Abubakar Tafawa Balewa was assassinated, no person from the zone had being elected President of Nigeria either in democracy or in military. But with Governor Dankwambo coming from the zone, his age would serve as great advantage as he will only turn 56 years on April 4th this year.
Dr. Dankwambo being an erudite Economist himself knows how to revamp our national economy and give it a quick fix from the current recession slowing down every sector in the country.
Besides studying Economics at the Msc level, Dr. Dankwambo also has the needed practical skills and experience required to ‘quick-fix’ the economy as a former senior banker with the Central Bank of Nigeria between 1988 and 1999. His practical knowledge of the nation’s accounting system as former Accountant-General of Gombe State as well as the Accountant-General of the Federation will put more money on government accounts which would be used for the country’s development.
Dr. Dankwambo had been a loyal and committed party man who did not abandon the party during its turbulent times but silently worked for the reinvention of the PDP back to national reckoning.
Despite being a Governor of the Northeastern state of Gombe; a region ravaged by the activities of the dreaded Boko Haram, Dr. Dankwambo still used good governance and democracy dividends to wrestle the state from the violent activities of the sect.
When the Buhari Tsunami wrecked havoc in the entire northern region in 2015, both Sule Lamido and Ibrahim Shekarau fell victims and lost their states to the APC, but Dr. Dankwambo tactically resisted the the Buhari Tsunami by getting himself re-elected as PDP governor. This is a great feat achieved considering what transpired during the election.
Another factor that will work for Dr. Dankwambo is the fact that he a scandal-free aspirant compared to other contestants. For Instance, Sule Lamido has case with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) while Ibrahim Shekarau has similar baggage because of Dasuki-Gate. Alhaji Atiku Abubakar has some perception challenges because at the mention of his name, everyone already knows the reaction to get from the people, but Dr. Dankwambo is a clean aspirant without any issue with any of the anti-graft agencies in the country.
Also, his easy-going stature is an added advantage which he will turn in to great asset for the PDP during polls.
Though Governor Ayo Fayose has declared his intention to run for election under the PDP, but he is technically out of the race already because the PDP has zoned it presidential ticket to the north thereby making Fayose’s aspiration a dead one.
Former Governor Sule Lamido will be turning 70 this August and would not have the strength and the agility required to embark on vigorous campaigns for the party. Apart from EFCC case, his age will not make him a darling of the youths who wants to change the fortunes of their country. Some of them are already complaining that he does not pick calls neither does he responds to text messages nor grant favour.
Another factor working against him is the fact that he is from the Northwest region; a zone that have produced many civilian and military presidents for the country.
Similar thing can be said of Ibrahim Shekarau who is also from the Northwest region, a geo-political zone that produced the incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari of the ruling APC.
Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar has the required war-chest, Nigerians already have fixed mindset about him. Though he has being trying to endear himself to the youths, but his candidacy may chase the youths away because they are fed-up with septuagenarians.
Therefore, judging by all standards, Dr. Dankwambo is the credible and stainless alternative left for the PDP ahead of the February 16 Presidential race.
If Dr. Dankwambo could achieve that feat of stopping Buhari tsunami in Gombe State for PDP when President Buhari was seen as a messiah in the north, he will surpass it now that Buhari has become Baba-Go-Slow.
Therefore, Dr. Ibrahim Hassan Dankwambo is a sure bet for another PDP Presidency come 2019.
Chief Edwin Emeka Aboh is an award-winning Columnist and Author.
He writes from Anambra State.