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PDP CHAIR:MEET THE FIRST ELEVEN

By NBF News
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BY HENRY UMORU
ABUJA, the nation's capital city will tomorrow, March 24 play host to well over 4,500 delegates of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, from across the country, who will converge to elect the new national executive committee that will form the National Working Committee, NWC to run the affairs of the party for the next four years.

In the last few months, the major issue in the party is the contest for positions especially that of the National Chairman, which has been zoned to the North East and has witnessed a swelled number of aspirants.

Like what happened in 2008 when the slot was zoned to South East, the North East geo-political zone has on parade a long list of the high and mighty jostling for the top job.

The states in the North East where the battle field has shifted to with governors becoming the brides and the aspirants as suitors are Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Gombe,  Taraba and Yobe. Political gladiators from this zone are getting set to slug it out with one another for the coveted seat with no sign of consensus candidate emerging.

If the party did not arrive at a consensus, the 11 persons, who will contest for the position of National Chairman, tomorrow are Bamanga Tukur, Adamawa; Shettima Mustapha, Borno; Adamu Waziri, Taraba; Abba Aji, Borno; Adamu Bello, Adamawa; Gambo Lawan, Borno; Musa Babayo, Bauchi; Rufai Ahmed Alkali, Gombe; Ibrahim Bunu, Borno; Ahmed Adamu Mauzu, Bauchi and Ibrahim Shehu Birma, Borno.

These aspirants have shown seriousness with posters, bill boards in strategic areas of the nation's capital city, just as they have campaign offices in Abuja and interestingly, all the aspirants have exciting credentials and experience to pick the job.

Though the stage is set for a battle that will be domesticated in the northeast zone for the position of National Chair, but the aspirants will expectedly draw their troops from the remaining five geo-political zones.

However, the question of who would mount the saddle tomorrow remains a thorny one.  A peep into the credentials, political prowess, strengths and weaknesses of the 11 aspirants, who have purchased, filled and submitted nomination forms, indicate that the delegates have a touch task at hand. Here are some of the aspirants:

Bamanga Muhammed Tukur
The 77-year old Tukur was a top civil servant and Governor of the Old Gongola State in the defunct Second Republic. In the mid-1970s, he was appointed General Manager of the Nigerian Ports Authority  (NPA) and in 1982, he left his position as General Manager to contest for the old Gongola gubernatorial race and was elected as governor.

However, he served for only three months before the democratic administration was truncated by the military.

Tukur was a presidential aspirant on the platform of the defunct National Republican Convention (NRC) in the botched Third Republic. He thereafter was appointed Minister of Industries in the Interim National Government (ING) of Ernest Shonekan.

He was one of the founding fathers of the PDP and he is a member of the party's Board of trustees (BoT).

He also has his footprints in the world of business as the Executive President of the African Business Roundtable and Chairman, New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD).

He equally functions as Advisory Board member of the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO). He is the current President/Chairman of the Council of Chartered Institute of Administration.

Since the campaign started, Bamanga Tukur has toured almost all the states of the federation where he was well received by the governors, who promised their support. He is considered to have intimidating credentials to run the party and has the backing of some key PDP members, stakeholders and leaders, who are bent on anointing him as the consensus candidate.

However, his critics see age as one of his major limiting factors. At 77, they say age is certainly not on his side and he may not have the physical energy that the reconciliation and restructuring of the PDP require especially as he will preside over the party till another presidential election year.

But Tukur has insisted that he had no problem with age. It is to be seen if the leadership of the party and delegates would take him by his words and vote form.

Alkali, Abba Aji, Waziri, Tukur
Dr. Musa Babayo
Dr. Musa Babayo, until last week, was the acting National Secretary of the PDP after functioning as Deputy National Secretary from March 2008. Born on March 21, 1957, he hails from Azare, Katagum Local Local Government Area of Bauchi State. The Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria graduate is a banker, an administrator, a politician of repute and a founding member of the PDP.

Babayo has also opened his campaign office in Abuja, gone round the country campaigning and he is young, especially for the generational change that is urgently required for the self acclaimed largest party in Africa. He is perceived to have the physical energy to run the affairs of the party as he understands the running of the party having being a member of the NWC since 2008.

He is one of the major contenders for the position and they are two from the same state. If Tukur fails to arrive as a consensus candidate because of age, Babayo with the support of his governor, Isa Yuguda will pull strings at Eagle square.

Senator Muhammed Abba Aji
Senator Aji is 60 years old, former Special Adviser to the President on National Assembly Matters and hails from Borno State. Although his state is being governed by the rival All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), his supporters say he is young and has the energy needed to run the party.

He has promised to reposition the PDP ahead of the next general election. Before the rumoured adoption of Bamanga, Aji was believed to be an anointed candidate of the presidency.

It will be recalled that he became very prominent during the controversy that surrounded the health condition of late President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua.

He was alleged to have refused to transmit to the National Assembly the letter of the late president. The reason is not far-fetched. In the run up to the last election and the intrigues of zoning arrangement, Abba Aji was the first to stretch out his neck to announce to the world that Jonathan would seek the party's presidential nomination. He was one of the first aspirants to open a campaign office in Abuja with his bill boards in strategic areas of the territory.

One major challenge he has to grapple with is his public image. Many people hold it against him that he led opposition against the Freedom of Information Bill in the last regime of former President Olusegun Obasanjo.

Shettima Mustafa
Born on November 26, 1939, the Botany graduate of Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria was a Minister of Agriculture in the Second Republic and Minister of Defence in the Yar'Adua cabinet. He was a member of Great Nigeria People's Party, GNPP; contested for the office of Vice President and was a running mate to late Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe in 1983.

He was also a member of the Northern Peoples Congress, NPC from 1956-1966. He was involved in the formation of the Peoples Solidarity Party, PSP in 1988. He is a member of the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the PDP and Board of Trustees, BoT. Though he understands the PDP, its problems, challenges, but already in his 70s, age may be a major factor against him.

Barrister Ibrahim Shehu Birma
He was born June 10, 1960 and hails from Biu in Borno State. Birma, a graduate of Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria and a lawyer by profession, is one of those, who have the advantage of age on their side. Owing to his legal practice of over 27 years, he has over the years garnered enough private sector experience that he plans to infuse into the party as National Chairman.

Birma, a stakeholder of PDP in Borno, was the Secretary, Borno State chapter of the PDP Campaign Organization during the April 2011 general election. The opinion of his backers is that others from Borno State should give him the opportunity because his Senatorial District, Borno South has not benefited much from the present arrangement. Borno Central, where Shettima, Bunu, Aji come from, has a Minister, the state PDP Chairman, BoT members.

Prof Rufai Ahmed Alkali
Rufai Ahmed Alkali, who is the outgoing National Publicity Secretary of PDP, was born in Hashidu, Dukku Local Government of Gombe State to an Islamic scholar, teacher and farmer in July 20, 1954.

He is the immediate past Chairman, Governing Board of the Federal University of Technology, Minna and an erudite professor of Political Economy. At various times, he had served his state in different capacities. He was Commissioner for Agriculture and Water Resources and later Commissioner of Education and Youth Development under two different military administrations between 1997 and 1998.

With his position as the party's spokesperson for four years, he has acquired administrative experience to provide quality leadership for the party. His age also makes him a good candidate for those yearning for generational change in PDP's leadership.

He is also being favoured in his state, at least, to compensate him having lost out in the governorship struggle to his governor, Ibrahim Hassan Dankwanbo at the PDP governorship primaries. Alkali also lost out in the Ministerial game as he was replaced with Senator Idris Umar, the Minister of Transport. Senator Umar was also compensated for allowing the former governor, Danjuma Goje become the Senator representing Gombe Central.

Idris Adamu Waziri
Ambassador Idris Waziri from Taraba State was born in Ibi, old Gongola State and now Taraba on October 12, 1952. He attended Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria where he read Political Science. A former Nigeria Ambassador to Pakistan, former Minister of Commerce under the Olusegun Obasanjo's administration, he is the only aspirant from his state is said to have the support of his governor, Danbaba Suntai.

Ahmadu Adamu Mu'azu
Mu'azu was governor of Bauchi State from May 1999 to May 2007. He is currently, the chairman, board of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA. From 1980 to 1983, he worked as a Quantity Surveyor/Project Manager in the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Social Welfare, Youth, Sports and Culture in Kano State.

He had also served as property manager of the Bauchi State Investment and Property Development Company. Between 1984 and 1987, he was the Chairman of the Federal Polytechnic Idah and Chairman of the Benue-Plateau Construction Company in Jos from 1986 to 1990. He also had a stint as a director in the Nigeria Ports Authority and was a member of the Bauchi State Rural Development Council.

In 2007, he contested for a Senate seat but lost the election. The young and agile Mu'azu has friends across the country and has what it takes to lead the party. But his greatest opposition is likely to come from his state because his governor, Mallam Isa Yuguda may not support him.

Gambo Lawan
Gambo Lawan is 53 years old, interestingly, the same age with President Goodluck Jonathan. He is young and experienced.

He was elected Councilor/Vice Chairman, Maiduguri Metropolitan Council; Executive Chairman, Maiduguri Metropolitan Council under the defunct Social Democratic Party (SDP); Forum Chairman, Borno State Elected Council of Chairmen; and Deputy National Chairman, National Conference of Local Government Chairmen of Nigeria (now ALGON).

He was member, National Presidential Campaign Committee [Abiola-Kingibe] Ticket of SDP; National Chairman, Grassroots Democratic Movement (GDM); Chairman, Publicity Committee, Barnabas Gemade Campaign Organization for PDP National Chairmanship; and Special Adviser on National Assembly Matters to PDP National Chairman.

He was also Chairman /Director-General Audu Ogbe, 'Unity Team' Campaign Organization for PDP National Officers; member, Presidential Campaign Committee, Obasanjo-Atiku Ticket; member, Presidential Campaign Committee Yar'adua-Goodluck Ticket; member, Presidential Campaign Committee Goodluck-Sambo Ticket.

He is coming to the job with his wealth of experience as GDM national chair. He is also from Borno State. He had said repeatedly that he would bring the needed transformation to the party, and ensure internal democracy, if elected.

Architect Ibrahim Bunu
Ibrahim Bunu was born in December 1950. He graduated from the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria with a Bachelor and Masters degrees in Architecture in 1978.

After working for five years in various capacities in the Borno State Civil Service, he resigned in early 1981 and set up Sheltarch Associates, an international architectural consultancy firm. While in the Civil Service, Arc. Bunu had a strong sympathy for the Great Nigeria Peoples Party (GNPP) even though he was not a card-carrying member.

Not long thereafter, he was appointed a Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and posted to the Ministry of Housing and Environment as Minister of State, in January 1982. As a Minister in Shagari's National Party of Nigeria (NPN) Cabinet, it was irresistible for Arc. Ibrahim Bunu to join the party and he joined the NPN in December, 1982.

While serving as Minister, he also served as Chairman of the Cabinet Committee set up to probe and recover advance payment proceeds from defaulting suppliers under the National Housing Scheme. He was also in 1999 appointed Minister of the Federal Capital Territory.

Mallam Adamu Bello
Mallam Adamu Bello hails from Numan, Adamawa State and he was born on 20 May 1951 to late Justice Mohammed Bello. Hhe had a comfortable childhood with a complete education. Justice Bello died in 1956 leaving young Adamu to be taken care of by his eldest brother, Justice Aminu Bello. Mallam Adamu Bello is married to a pharmacist, Mrs Lubabatu Bello and has six children.

Bello, who was one of the longest serving Ministers in the history of Nigeria, graduated from Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Economics in 1975. He also holds a Master of Business Administration (MBA) Degree from University of Pittsburgh.

An accomplished banker, Mallam Bello worked with New Nigerian Development Company (NNDC) and rose to become the General Manager of New-Devco Finance, a subsidiary of NNDC.