Senator Ahmed Makarfi was governor of Kaduna State from 1999 to 2007. Within the eight years he was in office, he was able to mitigate religious and ethnic violence in the state and has through that feat projected himself as an objective and fair-minded leader. His outstanding performance in the state shot him into national limelight, seeing him clinch a seat at the Senate in 2007, even though he lost the bid to return a third time in 2015. But by then, his profile in the PDP had risen and party members appointed him Chairman of the party at a convention which held in Port-Harcourt last year.
Since then he has been battling for the position with former governor of Borno State, Ali Modu Sheriff. As the PDP has made it clear that its presidential candidate in the 2019 elections would be from the North, there is the possibility that given the trust key members of the party — especially serving governors — have in him, and given his image as an objective leader and acceptability across geopolitical divides, he might be convinced to run for the party’s presidential ticket in 2019. He recently said in an interview in Lagos that he may likely go for the No.1 office. However, his handicap may likely be the platform, because it is not yet clear if the PDP will ever be the same again.
But it was gathered that Makarfi’s faction of the party is seeking for the registration of a new platform, the Advanced Peoples Democratic Party (APDP). If they succeed, he may easily get the ticket and slug it out with anyone paraded by the APC or other parties.
Currently the governor of Kaduna State, El-Rufai has been in the news for long as one of those likely to run for the presidency in 2019. This is given his popularity and acceptability across the country. But it is not likely he will show any interest if President Muhammadu Buhari is contesting, as he would not stand any chance in the North and may also stand the risk of losing his political investments, given Buhari’s acceptability in the region.
The current twist in events, where Buhari has been on vacation for a while, has however raised the hope that he might contest as he is said to be one of the top three northerners being considered for the vice presidential slot if Buhari decides on more rest. If that happens, many say it is likely that el-Rufai may latch in on the issue of zoning to contest in 2019, given that the sympathy may be for a northern candidate.
Ali Modu Sheriff
Sheriff is at present the recognized National Chairman of the PDP. He was a two-time governor of Borno State and three times a senator representing Borno Central. When he wanted to be governor in 2003, he chased a sitting governor in Borno, the Late Mai Mala Kachalla out of the APP and got the ticket. Indeed, he did not only win the election but broke the Borno jinx and won a second term. He was however demystified in 2011 when he wanted to go to the Senate for the fourth time but was defeated by a PDP candidate, the Late Ahmed Zannah Khalifa.
That notwithstanding, analysts say Sheriff lost out because of his poor handling of the Boko Haram crisis. A vicious fighter, and mass mobilizer, Sheriff is seen as someone who never runs away from a fight. Despite the fact that PDP governors, ex-ministers, former governors and other organs of the PDP had made many attempts to oust him as chairman of the PDP, Sheriff has defied them. Sources said he may end up easing out as PDP chairman and ultimately get its presidential ticket which has been zoned to the North.
From all indications, Sheriff may get the PDP ticket, as he has already liberalized many impediments on his way as some chieftains of the party are already contemplating dumping it for another platform. His albatross may likely be acceptability as a presidential candidate by Nigerians despite the fact that he has enough resources.