DESPITE widespread support for former Senate President, David Mark, for the position of National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar and former Senate President, Bukola Saraki, are still opposed to his emergence, The PUNCH has learnt.
It was gathered in Abuja, on Sunday, that although most stakeholders including the PDP-Governors Forum and the Board of Trustees, have endorsed Mark for the position, the two-party chieftains are said to prefer a candidate from the North West.
A new twist was also added to the chairmanship race with news that the Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, is soliciting support for another Benue son, former Senate President, Iyorchia Ayu.
A usually reliable party source who spoke to our correspondent, on condition of anonymity for fear of retribution, said “Politics is about interests either personal or collective.
“It is public knowledge that both Atiku and Saraki, have Presidential ambitions. A David Mark emerging as National Chairman is likely to alter their calculations.
“For Atiku, Mark is seen as too strong willed and will be uncompromising. For Saraki, a Mark coming from the same north central zone may not work in his favour because it will mean the remaining two zones, the North East and the North West will be the only ones in contention for the Presidential ticket.
“They had both worked hard to make the Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuayi-led zoning committee to throw open the chairmanship position in their recommendations; but it didn’t quite work out.
“What Mark has going for him is apart from his personal attributes have led the Senate without any major rancour for eight straight years, he has remained with the party since inception.”
When contacted, Atiku’s Media Adviser, Mazi Paul Ibe, said, “Everybody knows the Waziri Adamawa is a committed democrat and will, as always, respect the sanctity of the ballot.
“The position was zoned to the north and no individual can determine who becomes chairman, it will require a consensus among party members from the zone.
“The former Vice President as an experienced democrat remains committed ensuring that the party gets the best person to lead the party to victory.”
Also, the Chief Press Secretary to the Benue State Governor Nathaniel Ikyur, said, “His Excellency, the Governor of Benue State, is a team player, he is working with his colleague governors and other party stakeholders to ensure that the best man for the job gets it.
“He, like all loyal party members wants a national chairman who can lead the party to victory. If Benue State gets the privilege to provide this leadership, our party and Nigeria will be the better for it.”
Attempts to get a response from Saraki were futile. Calls to his Media Adviser, Yusuf Olaniyonu were neither picked nor returned. A response to a text message sent to him on the subject was still being awaited as at the time of filing this report.