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|2019: Middle Belt Leaders Shortlist Olawepo-hashim, Jerry Gana, Others For 2019 by rhythyson: 2:32pm On Jul 02, 2018|
Leaders of the Middle Belt at the weekend in Abuja shortlisted four preferred presidential hopefuls including business man, Mr. Gbenga Olawepo-Hashim and former Minister of Information, Prof Jerry Gana as their preferred candidates for the 2019 presidential election.
The two other listed candidates of the Middle Belt include Dr. Obadiah Mailafia, a former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank Senator Jonah Jang, former Plateau State Governor.
It was gathered that the four emerged after a rigorous screening exercise, featuring dozens of aspirants.
The screening panel, which was Chaired by Air Commodore Dan Suleiman, according to sources shortlisted Olawepo-Hashim as the youngest presidential hopeful from the Middle belt due to his display of verse knowledge in business and economy.
Aside Commodore Dan Suleiman, who is former military administrator and one time Nigerian envoy to Russia, other Middle belt elders on the screening panel include former Adjutant-General of the Nigerian Army, Major-General Zamani Lekwot, former Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen Ishaya Bamaiyi, former Governor of old Gongola State, Mr. Wilberfore Juta, former Governor of old Kwara State, Chief Cornelius Adebayo, Mr. Sam Ada Maagbe, and Chief John Odakun.
The panel, which is working with other ethnic nationality groupings including the Afenifere and Ohanaeze Ndigbo was said to have communicated the choice of the shortlisted to leaders of the other nationalities.
The region comprise states including Kwara, Kogi, Niger, FCT, Benue, Plateau, Adamawa, Borno (South), Bauchi (South), Kaduna, Kebbi, Taraba, and Nassarawa.
The leaders said that the Middle-Belt geographically accounts for fourteen of the nineteen States in the North.
Olawepo-Hashim was the first Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in 1999 and had since got enmeshed in the business world, emerging as chairman of some energy companies, oil and gas firms, communications sector and marketing.
He is described as an urbane businessman with cerebral qualities which was said to have been reflected during his periods at the University of Lagos and the Buckingham University, United Kingdom, where he emerged the best student, winning the MaxBerlof award for Global affairs.
It was learnt that the Middle belt leaders are in picking him targeting the young voters and first time voters who could attract additional nine million votes from the region.
He is also credited with pro-democracy credentials beginning from his University of Lagos days, and growing into his real life experiences, leading to his recognition as Amnesty International Prisoner of Conscience in 1989.
The screening panel is said to comprise detribalized Nigerians picked from among the fourteen Middle-Belt states.
Professor Jerry Gana, one of the other aspirants named in the 2019 contest is a regular face in the politics of the country, having emerged in the limelight in 1986. He had served severally as Minister and recently defected to the Social Democratic Party (SDP).
There is also Senator Jonah Jang, a former Governor of Plateau state and incumbent Senator representing the state.
There is also a former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Dr. Mailafia, who was also picked for showing good understanding of the economy.
The committee said that the four are to be presented to leaders in other geo-political regions including the South-East, the South-West amongst others at a later date
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