Intrigues, tension as PDP, APC elect presidential candidates

There is palpable tension as aspirants engage in intrigues to outsmart one another as the major opposition party, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and the ruling All Progressives Party (APC) hold national conventions to elect 2023 presidential candidates, ABDULRAHMAN ZAKARIYAU and BODE OLAGOKE write.

The fate of 14 presidential aspirants on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) would, Saturday, be decided by 811 delegates of the party.

President Muhammadu Buhari refusal to sign the amended Electoral Act to allow statutory delegates, including present and past party officials, and former party members who held political offices, had led to reduction of the number of delegates for the primaries from over 3000 to 811.

In the PDP, the elected delegates consist of one national delegate from each of the 774 local government areas and one special delegate of Persons Living With Disabilities (PLWD) from the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

A breakdown of the figures by region revealed that the North-west zone has 193 delegates; the South-west zone has 193 delegates; the North-central zone has 130 delegates; the South-south zone has 129 delegates; North-east has 116 delegates; and South-east has 100 delegates.

The delegates are to choice the party’s flag bearer from the 14 PDP presidential aspirants including the 2019 presidential candidate of the party, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar; Sokoto State Governor and former Speaker House of Representatives, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal; two-time Governor of Kwara state and immediate past President of the Senate, Dr Abubakar Bukola Saraki; former President of the Senate and former Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Anyim Pius Anyim.

Other aspirants are: the Bauchi State Governor and former Minister of FCT, Senator Bala Mohammed Rivers state Governor and former Minister of State for Education, Nyesom Wike; Akwa Ibom state Governor, Udom Emmanuel; former Ekiti state Governor, Ayodele Fayose; and the Media Mogul, Dele Momodu.

Others are Investment Banker and Economist, Mohammed Hayatu-Deen; former President, Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria, Sam Ohuabunwa; Charles Ugwu, Rt Hon Chikwendu Kalu, as well as the only female aspirant in the race, Tareila Diana.

Major contenders, their chances

Blueprint Weekend investigation revealed that many things, especially financial inducement, are likely to influence the outcome of the PDP national convention. However, for most aspirants, aside from their financial muscle, their political network would also determine the number of votes they are likely to get.

Atiku Abubakar

Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, who was the 2019 presidential candidate of the PDP, is a major contender and the most experience PDP presidential aspirant.

In recent times, Atiku had travelled the length and breadth of the country consulting with party faithful and other stakeholders to support his intention.

Many believe because of his network of friends, support and political clout, accompanied with his financial war chest, the Waziri Adamawa would throw his everything in the race to succeed President Buhari.

It is expected that Atiku would get the votes of most of the North-east 116 delegates. He enjoys the support of the Governor Adamawa state, Umar Fintiri, and Governor Taraba state, Arch. Darius Ishaku.

Atiku will also get measurable votes in the North-central, North-west and South-west relying on old political allies, and regardless of the opposition from Saraki, Tambuwal and Wike.

Some political pundits believe that aside from age, Atiku’s ambition may suffer setback as he is perceived as desperate, having run for the presidency a record five times, and a disloyal party man, who abandoned his party severally in his quest to clinch the presidential seat.

Aminu Waziri Tambuwal

Tambuwal, who finished second in the PDP presidential primary 2018, is also not a pushover. Though he is no longer in the good book of his old friend and ally, Governor Wike, who is also contesting for the presidency, his position as chairman of the PDP Governors’ Forum which gave him opportunity to visit almost all the PDP states and the geo-political zones as well as top leaders of the country including former Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo and Ibrahim Babangida, in the past three years may be to his advantage.

Tambuwal, who is former speaker House of Representatives, has the political network and as the only PDP aspirant from North West, he will get some votes from the zone and battle to get a few from other zones.

Pundits believe that the setback for Tambuwal remains how to convince delegates that he can succeed Buhari despite coming from the same zone with the president.

Nyesom Wike

The Rivers state governor is no doubt a major contender. Wike was in all the states, met with party delegates and consulted national stakeholders within and outside the PDP.

With a huge financial war chest and the support of most governors, underrate Wike at your peril. His agitation for power to shift to the South and insistence that PDP reward those who have remained steadfast to the party since 1999 are considered a genuine argument that may work in his favour.

The results from the House of Representatives, Senate and governorship primaries in various part of the country shows that Wike would get most delegates votes from the South, especially South-south, South-east, South-west, get a few in North-central and with the support of some former governors he would struggle to get North-east and North-west delegates votes.

However, Wike’s chances would be dependent on whether delegates would overlook his seeming overbearing personality.

Bala Mohammed, Saraki

With endorsement by the Northern Elders of the duo as the northern consensus candidate for the PDP presidential ticket, their age and experiences the Bauchi state governor and immediate past President of the Senate are also considered major contenders.

Both have consulted widely. Saraki is projected to win Kwara and some North-central states, but he would struggle for delegate’s votes in North-west, North-east and South generally.

Like Saraki, the Bauchi state governor is expected to win votes in Bauchi and some North-east states. He would, however, have a tough battle in North-central and North-west. He would equally fight for votes in the South.

Candidate’ll determine PDP’s chances – analyst

A political analyst, who understands the workings of parties and Nigeria elections, Aminu Mohammed, said any of the aspirants who emerged as the candidate of the PDP would determine its chances in the 2023 polls.

In a phone chat with Blueprint Weekend Mohammed said, “The 811 PDP national delegates and all party stakeholders should be concerned about the personality of their would-be candidate because that will determine how far they will go in the 2023 election.

“They should look out for candidates with the ability and the required experience to lead Nigeria. This candidate would also have to be accepted first by party members and a reasonable amount of Nigeria, any things short of this will be at the detriment of the party in 2023.”

When asked about the major contenders he said, “It is a known fact that Atiku, Wike and Tambuwal are major contenders for the party’s ticket. Though the exercise will be heavily dollarised, delegates and stakeholders in the party should not lose focus.”

Marks assures of level playing field

The Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) 2023 National Convention Organising Committee, Senator David Mark, has assured the presidential aspirants of a level playing field.

The former president of the senate urged party faithful across the country to imbibe the spirit of sportsmanship in the conduct of the exercises.

Mark said, “The party has clear guidelines and rules for the exercises. Every aspirant should be guided by the processes. The party will not compromise any of the rules.”

28 aspirants jostle for APC ticket

Barley last minute changes, members of the APC would converge on Eagles Square, Abuja on May 29, 2022, to elect the party’s presidential candidates.

About 2,340 delegates across the country are expected to gather in the nation’s capital to elect the presidential candidate.

Of the 28 aspirants who purchased the N100 million Nomination and Expression of Interest Forms, only 24 are still in the race.

Contenders and Buhari Factor

The major contenders in the APC include the former Lagos state Governor, Bola Ahmed Tinubu; immediate past Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Amaechi; the incumbent Senate President, Ahmed Lawan; Vice President Yemi Osinbajo; and former President, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan.

Tinubu’s performance as governor of Lagos state, his large political support base across the country, within and outside the APC and his financial muscle makes him a candidate to beat.

However, though the condition of his health remains an issue and the question of who would be a running mate, as a southern Muslim presidential candidate, is also baggage for Asiwaju’s camp.

Like Tinubu, Ameachi’s contributions to APC, performance in the oil rich Rivers state and ministry of transportation have equipped himself with the required experience to lead, however, the national political clout to pursue his ambition is in doubt.

Osinbajo, as the incumbent vice president is hoping and banking on President Muhammadu Buhari’s endorsement as the party’s consensus candidate. While Ahmed Lawan is in the race should in event the cabal in the Borth decides to go North.

Though with a few political friends in most of the country, pundits believe this won’t get him the party’s ticket without the president’s approval.

Former President Goodluck Jonathan, with his experience, political support base and war chest is equipped to pursue his ambition.

This is as Friday’s ruling by a Bayelsa Court confirming that his was eligible to contest the 2023 presidential poll may have put him on even more solid ground

Like Osinbajo, Lawan, Ameachi, and Jonathan also want the president to signal the party so they could be granted express waiver and support to win the party’s ticket.

Sources within the ruling party said the Senator Abdullahi Adamu-led National Working Committee (NWC) may settle for a consensus arrangement to elect the flag bearer of the party.

As at Friday, there were rumours that former President Jonathan might be unveiled as the preferred candidate for the president. However, Muhammadu Buhari, who met with governors on the platform of the APC, Thursday behind closed doors, was yet to show interest in any of the presidential aspirants.

APC may shift convention

Less than 24 hours to the scheduled May 29 presidential primary of the ruling APC, Blueprint Weekend gathered that there are no indications that the all-important exercise would hold as scheduled.

A visit by our correspondent, Friday to the Eagles Square the scheduled venue of the APC special convention, revealed that usual preparations ahead of the said convergence were yet to commence.