• how immunity saved them
DEtErminED to take over power at the centre, the leading opposition party, Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, will be considering a consensus candidate that will run for the presidency in 2019. A highly placed source and former PDP governor told Nigerian pilot Weekend, exclusively, that the party was considering among the governors of Sokoto State, Aminu Tambuwal, and Ibrahim Dankwambo of Gombe State because of the immunity they currently enjoy. He said the party had viewed likely technicalities that opponents could capitalize on. Hence, their would-be presidential flag bearer would need immunity to avoid the clampdown that some members of the opposition are experiencing now. According to the source, some northern elders in the party are to engage the likes of; former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, Senator Rabiu Kwankwaso, Sule Lamido, Ibrahim Shekarau and other presidential aspirants from the northern part of the country to drop their ambitions and work towards emergence of the two serving governors. The source further added that both Tambuwal and Dankwambo were well educated, liberal Muslims, well exposed and most importantly, age is on their sides. But the former governor insisted that the party was avoiding a situation where it would field a candidate who would be deliberately harassed by security agencies over allegations bordering on corruption. “This will not go down well for the party and since Section 308 of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria, as amended, provides immunity for persons holding the office of president or vice president, governor and their deputies,” our source informed. He said that between Tambuwal and Ibrahim Dankwambo, the Sokoto state governor has an edge because he is enjoying the backing of the powerful bloc in the PDP which is championed by the governor of Rivers state, Chief Nyesom Wike. The insider told this paper further that discussion about the consensus presidential candidate of the PDP had commenced already. But asked if the old members of the party would not protest if eventually Tambuwal or Dankwanbo emerged as the flag bearer of the party, the former governor said that the national chairman of the party, Prince Uche Secondus, made it clear in his speech at the NEC meeting that the defectors were free to vie for any position of their choice. According to our source, Secondus assured Saraki and others who defected to the party recently that their efforts would not be in vain. Describing Saraki as key in the renewed struggle to “free” Nigeria, Secondus praised the defectors, saying history would be fair to them. He said, “The bold steps you took to return to the party where you truly belong, is a sacrifice not for yourself but for Nigeria and history will be fair to you. “Today is the beginning of the great journey to freedom, the great journey to free our people
and rescue this country from the damage done to it by the APC in the last three years.” The party chairman expressed regrets that agencies of government established to protect the people had been deployed by the government to assault institutions of democracy. Recall that the party held its NEC meeting of the party held on Thursday last week, with the defecting Senate President Bukola Saraki and two governors – Aminu Tambuwal (Sokoto) and Samuel Ortom (Benue) in attendance.There were also Senators Rabiu Kwankwaso and Barnabas Gemade, who also returned to the PDP last week. Speaking at the event where he was named the national leader of the party, Saraki attributed events of the past week to the “mercy of God,” saying that it was beyond human wisdom. He said: “Anybody that believed this could happen based on the wisdom of just human beings does not know or is not being realistic. It is by the mercy of Almighty God that this has happened. “So, today, as we thank the Almighty God for allowing us to be alive to witness this, for allowing those that are able to be here today, those of my colleagues who had a long journey, tough journey, tortuous journey to be here, those on the side of PDP who made it possible for it to happen, it was because of the intervention of the Almighty God. “I am happy to see some of my colleagues here who have given me faith in this country, who have made me believe there are still men of character, that there are still men who are still ready to make sacrifices for this country.” Saraki went on: “This sacrifice that we are all making is just the first part because we are doing this for Nigerians and that exercise will not be complete until we make a better country for our people.” For his part, Taraba State governor, Darius Ishaku said: “It’s time Nigeria is freed or move 100 years backward. Defectors to the PDP saw tomorrow and they decided to change the situation. “Some of us wake up crying every other day because you see pictures of your people being killed in their homes because they don’t have AK-47 rifles. I cry more than I celebrate. “We must change this government because, with the defectors, the PDP will do better for Nigerians. Corruption is not about stealing money alone. Killings, nepotism and allowing killers to go free are also corruption.” Ortom said he left the APC worse than he joined the party in 2014, stressing that he lost everything he brought into the party. In a statement from his office, Saraki urged members of the PDP to work together in defence of democracy. “Therefore, I want to make an appeal on behalf of all of us — when we get back to our constituencies, please, let us continue to open our arms and receive the people who have the numbers that will give us victory come February 2019. This is because we are all here to work towards a better and greater tomorrow on behalf of all Nigerians,” he said. Saraki thanked the party under the leadership of Secondus, and Senator Walid Jibrin, the chairman of the PDP Board of Trustees, for welcoming him, his state governor, Abdulfatah Ahmed, Ortom and Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal of Sokoto State back to the party.
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