At a public dialogue in Abuja organised by #NotTooYoungToRun movement on Thursday, Senate President Bukola Saraki formally announced his intention to run for the President in 2019 on the platform of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
By this announcement, he put paid to the speculations about his political ambition and perhaps made known the reason for his recent peripatetic “consultations” across the country. But it is unlikely he will win the PDP presidential ticket much less succeed Muhammadu Buhari in May 2019, and here are a few reasons why.
SARAKI MORE FEARED THAN LOVED
Believe it or not, any man whose residence a siege is laid to, regardless of the motive, is considered a threat. And whatever we fear we are always wary of, if not seek a means to destroy. Though the siege happened to Saraki in the twilight of his membership in the APC, it’s an event that speaks volumes of how power-brokers across the spectrum of political parties perceive him. The PDP only condemned the Nigeria Police’s move to spite the APC-led Federal Government and gain political mileage. The political heavyweights in the PDP do not see Saraki in any way better than the ruling party sees him. The reaction of Akogun Iyiola Oyedepo, former PDP state chairman in Kwara, to Saraki’s return to the PDP is a reflection of how most PDP bigwigs see the Senate President. Iyiola said he could not work with Saraki and therefore defected to the APC. Other political bigwigs have refused to voice their feelings because in politics, there is safety in numbers and Saraki is a cult figure, especially in Kwara state, with massive following. So they welcomed him with bear hug. The decision makers in the PDP just want to use him as leverage to wrest the reins of power from the APC, especially at the federal level, but they will work against his emergence as their presidential candidate.
HIS POLITICAL CLOUT IS OVERRATED
It will be too dismissive to say a two-time former Governor of a state and current Senate President is a political midget. Saraki, in his own right, is a force to reckon with politically. But his current, oversized political stature was handed to him on a silver platter by the APC courtesy of its garrulous National Chairman and the party’s unwitting but needless making of a mountain of every molehill of an action by Saraki. The APC unwittingly turned Saraki into a victim; and he played the victim card with all smartness to win the sympathy of a large section of the public. This the power-brokers in the PDP know because they contributed to his oversized stature in their own way to denigrate the APC, but they are not under any form of illusion as to his real political stature which is no match for the sitting President’s, especially in their shared northern enclave. This will inform their decision to work against his candidature in the primaries. They desperately need a match for Buhari from the North, where the position has been zoned to.
SARAKI A HARD NUT TO CRACK
It is always the desire of power-brokers in a political party to field a politician whose ears they have regardless of his political clout. But Saraki has shown during his APC years that he is no political lapdog whose skin they can stroke for fun or a dog they can easily, on a leash, walk down the corridors of power. Saraki is that kind of politician who prefers having things on his own terms regardless of whether it is through fair or foul means. He exhibited this trait again on Thursday when he usurped and seized upon an event organized for a completely different purpose to announce his 2019 presidential ambition. The power-brokers can not forget how he emerged as Senate President in the APC, too. These, among others, will make them have misgivings about entrusting him with the highest political office.
UNFAVOURABLE VOTING DEMOGRAPHY
Saraki’s political spread of influence is strongest in Kwara State, which happens to be in the North Central geopolitical zone. The voting strength of Kwara is 1,115,665 — greater only than that of Niger that has 721,478 in the geopolitical zone. The total number of registered voters in the zone is7,675,369. These are paltry figures compared to the 2,931,668 of Katsina the sitting president’s State and the 18,900,543 total number of registered voters in the Northwest where Katsina belongs. Safe to say, then, that Saraki is a ‘major in the minor and a minor in the major’. As things stand, to field Saraki against Buhari is to commit political hara-kiri. This the PDP leaders surely understand.
THE ‘SKELETON’ IN HIS CUPBOARD
Saraki and the APC are sworn enemies. Having failed in its previous attempts to stop him from defecting to the PDP by tightening and loosening — depending on his body language — the noose of litigation around his neck through the court, they will not want him to have the last laugh. Consequently, the APC will dust the ‘dirty’ dossier on him should he win the PDP presidential ticket. They are reserving the Offa banks robbery case for this purpose; the case is a convenient stuff for propaganda. Should PDP field him as presidential candidate, APC will ensure the platform becomes the scaffold on which he is hanged with the noose of propaganda. PDP knows this and will guard against it.