A former governor of Jigawa State, Sule Lamido, on Thursday met separately with two other presidential aspirants in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) against the backdrop of a controversy over the venue of the national convention where the party will pick the candidate.
The aspirants are Senate President Bukola Saraki and a former governor of Kano State, Rabiu Kwankwaso.
Another aspirant, Attahiru Bafarawa, who is a former governor of Sokoto State, was also in Dutse, the Jigawa State capital, but had not met with Mr Lamido at the time of filing this report.
There are 13 aspirants seeking to fly the PDP flag in next year’s election.
The National Working Committee of the PDP had indicated the national convention of the party will hold next month in Port Harcourt but the Board of Trustees stated that a decision has not been made on the venue, even as some interests in the party are asking for the event to be in Abuja.
On Thursday, Mr Saraki, was the first to visit Mr Lamido after a meeting with party delegates at the PDP state secretariat in Dutse to solicit support for his ambition.
Mr. Saraki, in a short address in Hausa language, told the party leaders of his ambition of becoming Nigeria’s next president.
The senate president warmed up the occasion when he addressed the gathering in Hausa language, as many had thought he does not speak the language.
After the short address, the director general of his campaign organisation, Mohammed Wakil, commended the orderly manner the party leaders welcomed Mr Saraki in the state.
He said it is the tradition of their campaign that in every state they visit which has a PDP presidential aspirant, they do not do open campaign to the state delegates but rather greet them and meet the aspirant.
“Our presidential aspirant came to Jigawa to greet you. Now, we are heading to Bamaina, Sule Lamido’s country home where we will discuss important issues with regard to the progress of our party,” said Mr. Wakil.
At the event, a senator, Dino Melaye, was compelled by the party leaders to make a comment.
He grabbed the microphone and berated the All Progressives Congress (APC) administration by singing a traditional Hausa song demonising the administration.
After meeting party leaders in Dutse, Mr Saraki left the state capital for a meeting with Mr Lamido in Bamaina.
At the end of the meeting, Mr Saraki told journalists that his visit to the former Jigawa governor was beyond campaign but to exchange ideas and thoughts with Mr Lamido on how to move the country forward.
He said the challenges ahead of them were not for one person but require all the aspirants to come together as a united force for the interest of Nigerians.
“I’m here to dialogue, bridge communication gap, and share ideas because few days ahead of us we’re going to conduct primaries election and that day is only one event,” said Mr Saraki.
“It is after the primaries that real work starts irrespective of whoever emerges winner. That’s what we talked about with my brother, Sule Lamido, and that’s my purpose of coming to Jigawa State.
“Before primaries, there might be those that may consider one way or the other but I doubt if all the aspirants may decide to concede. What is ahead of us is beyond 13 presidential aspirants, there are over 180 millions Nigerians that depend on whatever we do, we have that responsibility on us,” said Mr Saraki.
Kwankwaso in Jigawa
Later, Mr Kwankwaso also met Mr Lamido in Bamaina after the departure of Mr Saraki.
Mr. Kwankwaso, like Mr Saraki, had also visited party leaders at the state party headquarters in Dutse before proceeding to Mr. Lamido’s country home.
Mr. Kwankwaso later told journalists that his crossing over to APC was a mistake which he later realised and corrected by returning to the PDP which he said is a better party.
He said that he did not have an elaborate discussion with Mr. Lamido, but hopes to do so at a subsequent meeting, after which he would address a press conference.
Mr Bafarawa later arrived the state and met party delegates at the party headquarters in Dutse.
At the time of filling this report, Mr. Lamido was yet to meet with Mr Bafarawa and it was not clear if the two aspirants would meet.