By SUNDAY ODIBASHI
The National Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, on Monday, January 1, 2018, held a closed-door meeting with former President of the Senate, David A.B. Mark, in Abuja. Though, details of the meeting were not revealed; Aides to the two political gladiators were of the view that their principals were merely exchanging the festive pleasantries of the New Year.
The meeting had commenced at about 3.45 pm extended into the early dark hours of the New Year day.
There was initial calculations if the meeting was an overture to Mark to dump the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and pitch tent with the APC. Close sources at the meeting refuted that the discussions were far from that. Aides to the former President of the Senate insisted that nothing will persuade their principal to leave the PDP except on retirement from partisan politics; a resolution, they said, he has made in his political career.
Meanwhile, the seeming surreptitious negotiations for re-alignment among the ruling elite towards 2019 the 2019 General Elections is gradually deepening; and curiously gaining currency beyond the boundaries of political parties. This may have reflected in the New Year closed-door meeting between Tinubu, former Governor of Lagos State, and David Mark, an Idoma political leader from Benue State.
David Mark is currently going through a political travail in the hands of the ruling APC on suspicious corruption accusations. The former President of the Senate has been a guest of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), in the past few weeks, over allegations of illegal acquisition of his official residence as President of the Senate, a transaction that was done in compliance with the federal government monetization policy introduced by former President Olusegun Obasanjo.
However, David Mark has been associated with aspiration for the 2019 presidential race.
His Presidential Campaign Organization has been in full swing of mass mobilization in Benue State and beyond.
Though, Mark has not made formal declaration for the 2019 presidential race, his campaign structure and political machine have been deployed for wide consultations, overtures and horse trading among the ruling elite across the country without the noticeable publicity.
Mark is expected to make public declaration for the 2019 presidential race after the consultations and horse trading have been concluded.
Meanwhile, Governor Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti State, former Governor Shekarau of Kano State, former Governor Sule Lamido of Jigawa State, have declared their intention for the presidential race on the platform of the PDP, seeking the party’s ticket.
Former Governor Rabi’u Musa Kwankwaso of Kano State is also consulting widely with relevant stakeholders in preparation of his declaration for the presidential race.
A major political calculation in the PDP has been the Atiku Abubakar presidential project which made the former vice president dump the ruling APC to re-join the PDP; a party he abandoned in 2015 to join the APC.
The clinical preliminary horse trading embarked by David Mark may constitute a big challenge to Atiku when both aspirants formally declare their presidential ambitions on the platform of the PDP.
The APC is still reserving the presidential ticket for incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari, who is also yet to made formal declaration for the 2019 presidential race apart from perceived body language. President Buhari is being upheld by APC leaders to have the right of first refusal before the ticket will be thrown open for competition in APC, otherwise, APC leaders have settled for automatic ticket for the incumbent president