2023: Bala Mohammed in top contention, Atiku, Saraki sure of victory  




Atiku, Bala, Tambuwal and Saraki

With less than a week to the presidential primaries of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Abuja, top contenders are putting finishing touches to their strategies to emerge as the party’s presidential candidate for the 2023 presidential election.

With former Anambra state Governor Peter Obi pulling out of the party, fourteen party chieftains are now left in the race for the PDP presidential ticket.

They are former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, Bauchi state Governor Bala Mohammed, Sokoto state Governor Aminu Tambuwal; former President of the Senate Bukola Saraki, erstwhile Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) and former President of the Senate Anyim Pius Anyim; Rivers state Governor Nyesom Wike and Akwa Ibom state Governor Udom Emmanuel.

The rest are former Ekiti state Governor Ayodele Fayose; celebrated publisher, Mr Dele Momodu; renowned   banker  and economist, Mr Mohammed Hayatu-Deen; ex-president of Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN), Mr Sam Ohuabunwa; Mr Charles Ugwu, Hon Chikwendu Kalu and Mr Tareila Diana.

As a demonstration of their readiness, some of the aspirants had traversed the length and breadth of the country soliciting support from party stakeholders, including the delegates.

But as things stand and the stakes getting higher, the contest, according to Blueprint’s findings,  may have been narrowed to  Atiku, Bala Mohammed, Wike, Obi, Udom, Saraki and to some extent, Tambuwal.

A quick look at the frontrunners shows four from the north and 3 from the south.

With the party’s decision to jettison zoning for an open contest, it has become a straight contest between the north and the south.

The frontrunners, it was gathered, are now in the “final push for endorsement by party delegates.”

How they stand

But with the decision of an open contest by the party hierarchy, there are strong indications that the party’s leadership is favourably disposed to having a candidate of northern extraction, particularly the North-east geopolitical zone, which throws up Atiku,   Mohammed and Hayatu-Deen.

A top party source said: “This position was informed by priority the party accords to winning the election over zoning.”  

Before now, four out of the five presidential aspirants from the North namely, Saraki, Tambuwal, Mohammed and Hayatu-Deen, had initially met and opted for consensus among themselves.

The quartet were moving from one part of the country to the other with a message of consensus on the front burner. .  

Former VP Atiku was never part of the arrangement because of “his political structure and financial muscle to pick the PDP ticket.”

The effort yielded some results as Governor Mohammed and Saraki came top in a shadow poll conducted by the General Ibrahim Babangida-led Northern Elders, as joint northern presidential consensus aspirants. But the duo and Tambuwal and Hayatou-deen kicked.

Bauchi gov

And notwithstanding the seeming disagreement, there are strong indications that certain odds appear to be favour of the Bauchi state governor and seen “as being rightly positioned to cause an upset as his ambition has continued to gain traction ahead of the primary election.”

A top party source said: “Governor Mohammed is being considered by most PDP stakeholders on the basis of his education, experience in both the legislative and executive arms of government.

“Besides experience, acceptability is the most significant factor being considered by party stakeholders, who are insisting on Governor Mohammed’s candidacy.

“The Bauchi State governor is well accepted by the various parts of the country, a factor which cannot be overlooked by the PDP we are serious about winning election.”

Blueprint further gathered that delegates were swayed by what they described as “Governor Mohammed’s excellent performance during his visits to the states to engage stakeholders and prospective delegates in candid discussions over the state of the country.

“Loyalty to the party is also said to be another factor going for the Bauchi State governor. His financial support to keep the party afloat cannot be overemphasised.”

Obi

Another aspirant who enjoyed a reasonable level of support was Obi, who recently dumped the party, owing to some “irreconcilable differences.” He is seeking to realise his ambition on a yet-to-be disclosed platform.  

Tambuwal and Saraki

For the duo of Tambuwal and Saraki, both of whom have requisite legislative and executive experience, they are also in good stead to pick the ticket.

But a party chieftain said: “Yes, they have needed legislative experience, but the party cannot forget in a hurry their role in the event leading to the near breakup of the party in the build-up to the 2015 general elections.

“Besides, Governor Mohammed’s legislative experience as senator combined with his  stint as Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), which gave him the opportunity of being a member of the Federal Executive Council (FEC), are, in no small way, a great edge over others.”   

Atiku

The former VP is yet another strong contender for the office as he is  considered an experienced politician with huge war chest.

“Atiku is a leader of the party and a respected one at that.  But like Saraki and Tambuwal, he was , at different times, in and out of the party. Further to this, the age consideration is one thing the party leadership and its youth wing are looking at. Nigeria is yearning for young leadership to bail the nation out of the many woes presently facing the people.”

Despite all the seeming challenges, the trio of Atiku, Saraki and Tambuwal are upbeat as they continue to intensify consultations with major stakeholders.

Tambuwal

Meanwhile, Governor Tambuwal  has continued his consultation with an appeal to the 811 delegates to vote right and ensure their votes count.

The former Speaker House of Representatives said he has all that is required to tackle all the terrifying challenges in the country in all sectors.

Spokesperson of the Tambuwal Presidential Campaign Organisation, Prince Daniel made the appeal Wednesday in Abuja.

He noted that the PDP required a candidate “that is indisputably fit, acceptable and someone with the right temperament.” 

He said the political trend took a new dimension recently with the overwhelming number of candidates vying for the presidential seat on the PDP and those of other political parties.

“However, while the large number of political gladiators in the presidential race may be unprecedented and could be overwhelming for delegates across the board, the wheat can be separated from the chaff by the assessment of their evidence-based track record and undefiled antecedent as well as the will power to act, he stated.

The campaign team said:  “We are living witnesses to the daunting challenges facing our nation. It is needless to start mentioning them because Nigerians are wearing the shoe and they know where it pinches. Also, the solutions to these challenges are well known and some are even documented in blueprints of various Ministries, Departments and (MDAs) of government at all levels. The only missing link is the political will to act.

“Another campaign cycle is upon us, the PDP, having lost two consecutive presidential elections in the last seven years, now has another opportunity to elect a qualified candidate who knows his onions to face the ruling party in the contest and deliver victory to the main opposition party, hence the popular choice of His Excellency, Rt. Hon. Aminu Waziri Tambuwal.

“I plead with us to vote with nobility remembering that we have no other country than Nigeria and we are all in this ship together. The choice you make at the primaries will determine if the ship successfully sails to shore or sinks in the deep seas.

“Nigeria’s fate is pinned on you to present a credible and detribalized candidate. We are counting on your patriotism to vote right and ensure your votes count.

“With our aggravated challenges, bringing our country back from the brink is an economic, moral, political and social imperative. Nigeria is at a crossroads and needs to make effective decisions on its next political and governance steps and we believe that the Mutawallen Sokoto is capable to deliver,” the  team further stated.

Ekweremadu withdraws from primaries

In a related development, former Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu, has withdrawn from the PDP governorship primaries.

The lawmaker announced his withdrawal Wednesday through the Director-General of Ikeoha Campaign Organisation (ICO) Charles Asogwa in a statement.

It said: “We wish to inform our supporters and Nigeria that the former deputy president of the senate and foremost governorship aspirant in Enugu State, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, will not be participating in the PDP governorship primary election scheduled for this Wednesday, May 25, 2022,” Asogwa said.

The withdrawal was announced just few hours to Wednesday’s governorship primaries of the party in the state.

The statement was however silent on reasons behind his withdrawal from the contest.

However, Blueprint reports that the decision might not be unconnected with the friction between Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi and the leadership of the state chapter of the PDP over the battle for the party’s governorship ticket in the state.

Recent alleged moves to dump PDP

The lawmaker reportedly met with the state leadership of All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) over a possible switch to the opposition party in the state.

The details of the meeting with APGA are still sketchy, but Premium Times gathered that the meeting ended in a stalemate as the both parties could not reach any agreement.

Also, earlier on Tuesday, indications emerged that Mr Ekweremadu might defect to the All Progressive Congress (APC) to contest the party’s governorship ticket for the 2023 general elections.

Late the same day, Ekweremadu was spotted at the campaign office of the chairman of Abuja chapter of the APC holding talks in what appeared to be a last-minute effort to join forces with the APC to unseat PDP in the 2023 general election in the state.

Abaribe withdraws from Abia PDP guber primaries

Similarly, Senate Minority Leader Enyinnaya Abaribe also withdrew from the PDP governorship primaries in Abia state, less than 24 hours to the exercise.

Abaribe disclosed this in a statement Tuesday.

Abaribe regretted that his attempts to emancipate the state from what he termed “the drudgery of imposition and godfatherism” have been frustrated by the selfish ambition of unnamed persons to maintain “wicked governance” in the state.

“Accordingly, I, Senator Enyinnaya Harcourt Abaribe, will not be part of this charade. I am therefore withdrawing from the exercise, which means that I will not be part of the PDP governorship election that holds in Abia State,” he said.

The lawmaker explained that going ahead to participate in the primaries would amount to “endorsement of an illegality that is already being challenged in the courts.”

The senate minority leader, who described the implication of the party’s position as grave, however, urged his supporters to be calm in the face of the development.

“I therefore, ask all our people, our teeming supporters and Ndigbo to remain calm, keep the faith and wait for the new direction, which will be announced soon,” Abaribe added.

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