By G9ija

A group of Northern political leaders and elder statesmen under the aegis of the North West Progressives Forum (NWPF) has adopted Sen. Ahmed Makarfi as the region’s consensus candidate ahead of the People’s Democratic Party’s presidential primary.

The exercise scheduled to hold on Saturday, October 6, 2018, in Port-Harcourt, the Rivers state capital.

Aside Makarfi, others in the race are former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar; Senate President, Bukola Saraki; Sokoto Governor, Aminu Tambuwal; ex-Senate President, David Mark; former Governors of Plateau and Kano, Jona Jang and Rabiu Kwankwaso.

Others are Dr Datti Baba-Ahmed; ex-Minister of Special Duties, Tanimu Turaki (SAN); former Governors of Jigawa and Sokoto, Sule Lamido and Attahiru Bafarawa.

Giving reasons for the adoption of Makarfi in a statement on Wednesday, NWPF spokesman, Mallam Isa Saleh Funtua, explained that the North West had the highest number of registered voters in Nigeria and exerts the most influence on the outcome of presidential elections.

“We considered Sule Lamido, a fine gentleman with the political sagacity to defeat any challenger. Unfortunately, the man has an ongoing EFCC case against him, and Nigerians know how brutal these APC people are, so he was a few people’s first choice but we could not risk it. Funtua said.

“We then looked at Rabiu Kwankwaso. No doubt he is the most popular Northwest candidate, but after a poll among our brothers and sisters in the South, his candidacy did not have enough required support.

“We believe people misunderstood his style of governance when he was governor, and now incorrectly think he is a fundamentalist. Some Yorubas are also unhappy with the vocal positions he took in Ile-Ife during an ethnic clash there. He is a gentleman, but the South has formed a biased opinion against him and will not support him, that is the truth.

“The third aspirant we considered was Aminu Tambuwal. It is unfortunate that this gentleman has allowed his candidacy to be hijacked by Governor Nyesom Wike. Yes, he enjoys immunity, but Tambuwal hasn’t managed to galvanise widespread political support.

“Even worse, it appears Wike wants to impose him and the North West cannot allow Wike from his parlour in Port Harcourt to decide what is best for us, and for Nigeria. That is not democracy! We think it was very politically naïve of Tambuwal to have allowed this happen.

“So we have settled for Sen. Makarfi as the man whose candidacy best protects and promotes the interests of the North West and of Nigeria. He was a governor of Kaduna state; he has been a Federal Senator, and he showed his political dexterity when he held the PDP together as its National Caretaker Chairman.

“Sen. Makarfi is seen by Northerners and Nigerians as a man of integrity and perhaps, more importantly, he is a unifier. Nigeria has never been this divided before, and just as Sen. Makarfi united Kaduna during his tenure as Governor, we expect him to unify Nigeria once he becomes President.

The NWPF say they are currently communicating their decision to prominent leaders of the country like Olusegun Obasanjo, Ibrahim Babangida, Abdulsalami Abubakar, Edwin Clark, Tony Anenih, Ango Abdullahi, Goodluck Jonathan, Ayo Adebanjo, TY Danjuma, Bishop Kukah, the Emir of Kano and the Sultan of Sokoto, and groups such as Afenefere, Ohaneze, PANDEF, and ACF.

“This is not a selfish decision we have reached. We believe the 2019 elections will be a contest for the very soul of Nigeria, and that we cannot afford personal ambition to get in the way of rescuing Nigeria.

“Buhari must go, and even though he is a dark horse, we 100% believe that Sen. Makarfi is the only candidate able to galvanise the national support from North to South needed to remove Buhari in 2019,” Isa Funtua said.

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