Monday, April 21, 2014

2015: Niger Governor, Babangida Aliyu, kick-starts presidential campaign


Governor Muazu Babangida Aliyu of Niger state

The Niger State Governor, Babangida Aliyu, has quietly commenced preparations to run for president in 2015, confirming speculations that he is among the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, governors getting set to contest against President Goodluck Jonathan for the party’s ticket, PREMIUM TIMES has learnt.

PDP Governors are currently in a running battle with Mr. Jonathan over control of the party. While the governors want the National Chairman of the Party, Bamanga Tukur, to leave office, Mr. Tukur has the backing of the president to hold on to his position.

The crisis has already led to the replacement of the National Secretary of the Party, Olagunsoye Oyinlola, after a court annulled his election. His deputy has now been appointed to replace him even as an appeal against the judgment is pending in court.

Mr. Oyinlola, the immediate past Governor of Osun State, is seen as the arrowhead of the anti-Bamanga faction within the leadership of the party, and has gone to the Appeal Court to challenge his removal.

As reported by PREMIUM TIMES, the ongoing crisis, though playing out now, is really a battle for 2015 and Mr. Aliyu, who describes himself as the ‘chief servant’,  seems ready to start early preparations.

The strategy

The first strategy being adopted by the Niger Governor is to send the State Working Committee, SWC, of the PDP on a tour of other state chapters of the party  “on a thank you tour over the election of Umaru Chiza as National Youth Leader of the PDP.”

Mr. Chiza was elected almost a year ago in March 2012 at the same time as other PDP leaders like Messrs Tukur and Oyinlola and party members are reading deeper meaning into his “thank-you” visit at this time.

The delegation, which commenced the tour from the North Central states, was at the PDP secretariat in Jos, the Plateau State capital, on Monday, and was led by the Niger State Chairman of the Party, Mahmud Abdulrahman.

Mr. Abdulrahman in his short remarks said the aim of their visit was to create a lasting relationship among states within the North Central zone with a view to getting their support  to “contesting key positions come 2015 general elections”.

However, in a chat with newsmen after the event, Mr. Abdulrahman denied that Mr. Aliyu is nursing the ambition to run for president.

Our campaign has started 

But a member of the delegation confided in PREMIUM TIMES that the real mission of the group was to solicit cooperation of state chapters in favour of the governor’s presidential ambition, adding also that should that fail, the state plans to present former Head of State, Abdulsalami Abubakar, as a presidential aspirant.

“Our goal is to make sure that the next president comes from Niger State,” he said.

Also speaking, PDP National Youth Leader, Umaru Chiza, debunked insinuations of any disharmony in the party over the crisis within the NWC and the election of a chairman for the party’s of Board of Trustees, BOT.

“The so-called crisis in the PDP is just being over blown out of proportion. Yes, we have little issues here and there but I can assure you that we have the capacity to overcome these minor challenges and come out stronger, “ he said.

In his own remark, the Chairman of Plateau State chapter of the party, Haruna Dabin, assured the delegation of Plateau’s support, and acknowledged that the two states share a lot in common.  He therefore, called on other states in the zone to team up and present a credible candidate who will be acceptable by all.

The delegation is also billed to visit Lafia, the Nassarawa State capital; and Makurdi, Benue State; for the same purpose.

The tour, a source said, will terminate in Abuja on Wednesday, after the delegation’s visit to Kogi and Kwara.

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