State governors elected on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) were pulling in different directions last night on the party’s presidential choice as delegates prepared to commence voting at the Port Harcourt national convention.
Intense horse-trading by the party’s 13 presidential aspirants pervaded the city ahead of voting, and for the last time, the 13 aspirants jostling for the PDP ticket rejected pressure to consider adopting a consensus candidate.
Two of them -Senator Ahmed Makarfi and Kabiru Tanimu Turaki – dismissed speculations that they had stepped them.
The Nation gathered authoritatively that some of the governors were rooting for Governor Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State.
Delegates from Cross Rivers, River, Ekiti and Edo States were particularly enthusiastic about him.
Those from Benue, home state of Senator David Mark, said they would cast their votes for the immediate past senate president.
But they said that in the event that he reconsiders his interest in the race, they would cast their lot with whoever he directs them to support.
Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar was unrelenting in his campaign and continued to meet with as many delegates as possible ahead of voting.
Governor Ibrahim Dankwabo of Gombe State, according to sources, was reaching out to his fellow governors to back his aspiration on account of his loyalty to the party during its trying period.
The governor reminded them that he remained the only PDP governor in the North when others had left.
Worried by the tension sparked in the party by the primary, a former National Security Adviser (NSA), Gen. Aliyu Gusau held a closed door session yesterday with Atiku and 11 other aspirants.
He pleaded with them to place the survival of PDP above any personal interest.
He also asked the aspirants to be magnanimous in victory and defeat.
Multiple sources told The Nation that PDP governors turned down suggestion by one of them, Nyesom Wike (Rivers) to agree on a presidential candidate.
All the aspirants insisted on going ahead to try their luck through the ballot.
Gusau and other founding fathers of PDP were said to be concerned about stability in the party after the National Convention.
A presidential aspirant said: “Gen. Gusau only advised us to avoid rancour during the convention by subjecting ourselves to a free and fair process.
“He asked us to keep the party united irrespective of the outcome of the contest for the presidential ticket of the party.
“It was a moral suasion session and we have all decided to go into the race.”
On the suggestion for a consensus candidate allegedly promoted by Wike, one of the governors said: “As part of the horse-trading, one of us was pushing for an agreement on a candidate but we all rebuffed the suggestion.
“We knew the mindset of the governor, we did not allow him to ambush us. We told him to leave all the aspirants to slug it out.”