A fresh horse trading is gathering steam in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as Northern gladiators in the forthcoming presidential primaries criss-cross the country for support.
Party sources said the main presidential aspirants from the North – Ex-Vice President Atiku Abubakar, former Senate President Bukola Saraki, Sokoto State Governor Aminu Tambuwal, Bauchi State Governor Bala Mohammed and investment banker Mohammed Hayatu-Deen – may have been closing ranks and patching up their differences caused by the collapsed consensus talks.
Atiku is regarded as the likely biggest beneficiary of the latest horse trading.
He is projected to vie for the PDP presidential ticket with aspirants from the South if the negotiation terms are acceptable to the other Northern aspirants.
Some political heavyweights, according to party sources, have facilitated talks and under the table agreement between Atiku and some of his co-aspirants.
It was gathered that the fresh talks or negotiations followed the collapse of the consensus option mooted by some Northern elders, led by Prof. Ango Abdullahi.
It was learnt that the talks may have encouraged Bala Mohammed to seek a second term ticket as governor.
The deal may also earn Tambuwal the Senate Presidency should Atiku win the 2023 presidential election.
Saraki is tipped as possible Chief of Staff although some of those conversant with the deal have reservations because he might be too powerful in that position.
It was gathered that a return to the Senate was considered as “politically low” for Saraki.
While some suggested a ministerial appointment for Saraki, others said he would prefer ceding such to any of his political mentees.
For Mohammed Hayatu-Deen, it was proposed that he could be a minister and then a gubernatorial candidate in 2027.
A top source, who spoke in confidence, said: “From the horse trading so far, I think it is only Bala who appears amenable because of his commitment to the PDP regaining power at the centre in 2023.
“You know, he has a second term gubernatorial window to fall back on.
“It is not clear if the new deal, being brokered by some powers that be, will be acceptable to Tambuwal, Saraki and Hayatudeen.
“Left to Tambuwal, it is either being a President or a Vice President. In politics, however, the dynamics keep changing. The changes will persist till the end of the presidential primaries.
“So far, the general feeling is that the North should present a common candidate against other aspirants from the South.”
A nine-man PDP screening committee, led by ex-President of the Senate, Chief David Mark, had screened 17 presidential aspirants.
But the panel disqualified two: a former lawmaker, Cosmas Ndukwe, and a US-based medical doctor, Nwachukwu Anakwenze.
The remaining 15 aspirants include ex-Vice President Atiku Abubakar; former Senate President, Bukola Saraki; a former Anambra State Governor, Mr. Peter Obi; a former Ekiti State Governor, Ayo Fayose; and the only female aspirant, Teriela Oliver.
Also in the race are governors Aminu Tambuwal (Sokoto); Nyesom Wike (Rivers); Bala Mohammed (Bauchi); Udom Emmanuel ( Akwa Ibom) ; and an Investment Banker and Economist, Mohammed Hayatu-Deen.
Others are former Senate President Pius Anyim; ex-President of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria, Sam Ohuabunwa; the Publisher Ovation Magazine, Dele Momodu; Charles Ugwu and Chikwendu Kalu.
Sources said if Atiku gets the PDP ticket, he will be looking in the direction of the South-East or the South-South for his running mate.
“The permutations are tilting towards either Obi or the Governor of Delta State, Ifeanyi Arthur Okowa, depending on the prospect of huge votes because of APC and its incumbent factor,” a source said.
“Both the South-East and South-South are traditional PDP enclaves. But we need to be careful and sensitive to the agitations of the South-East, especially the secessionist bid the nation has been trying to curtail.”
Atiku in Lagos, charges party leaders on national unity
Alhaji Atiku Abubakar on Friday met with Lagos State PDP delegates to seek their support.
His audience included present and former PDP Chairmen, Local Government Area Chairmen, Youth Leaders, and members of the State Working Committee. While reiterating his promise of 40% youth and women representation in his cabinet, the former Vice President expressed his desire to restore a sense of belonging to marginalised Nigerians.
Decrying the state of governance in the nation, he urged the party faithful in Lagos to make the right choice during the 2023 primary election of the party by supporting the most experienced and competent presidential contender with a proven track record of leadership, especially in the areas of security, the economy, and infrastructural development.
“Even during the civil war, it’s never been this bad. Now, more than ever, we are so divided, because people across this country have been treated unfairly under the current administration,” he said.
“This country has never seen the level of insecurity that we are facing today. I am here because I have the requisite experience to govern this country well and equitably, to give everyone a sense of belonging. I am here to appeal to your conscience; you have a historic responsibility to bail out this country.”
The former Vice President, who presented letters of appeal to each delegate, counselled the youth leaders to seek the progress of the nation and shun aspirants offering to buy their votes.
“If another aspirant gives you money, take it. But do the right thing for the sake of your own future,” Atiku stated.
In his opening remarks, the incumbent Lagos PDP Chairman, Mr. Philip Aivoji, welcomed the PDP presidential aspirant and called on the state delegates to ensure the party wins at all levels during the forthcoming elections.
“I’m glad to receive our presidential candidate. He remains our candidate until we have another congress. All the LGA Chairmen and I are here together as one body. In 2023, by God’s grace, PDP will win all elections, from presidential, House of Representatives, and Senate to governorship and state assembly. In Lagos, everything will be won by the PDP,” Aivoji said.
A former Minister of Cooperation and Integration in Africa, Dr Abimbola Ogunkelu, in his welcome address, highlighted the track record of the former Vice President, adding that Nigerians have all they need to galvanize their institutional processes and fight their problems.
Other party leaders in attendance included former Lagos PDP Chairmen, Alhaji Muritala Ashorobi and Captain Tunji Shelle; PDP Board of Trustees Member Emeritus, Chief Mrs. Aduke Maina; former Deputy Governor of Lagos State, Chief Mrs. Kofoworola Akerele-Bucknor; Member of House of Representatives for Ojo Federal Constituency, Hon. Adekunle Obasa; Member of the House of Representatives for Amuwo Odofin Federal Constituency, Hon. Oghene Egoh.
Others are former Member, State Caretaker Committee, Mrs. Bisi Odunsi; former PDP Women Leaders, Alhaja Atinuke Babs-Olorunkemi and Chief Mrs. Onikepo Oshodi; Alhaji Tanwa Olunsi; Hon. Wahab Owokoniran; Evang. Israel Ogunrinde; former state youth leader, Hon. Niyi Adams; Sen. Sumbo Onitiri; Hon. Tolani Animashaun; Alhaji Nurudeen Lawal; Senator Dino Melaye and Chief Raymond Dokpesi.
I will support whoever wins PDP’s ticket, says Wike
Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, yesterday promised to support whoever emerges the presidential flag bearer of the PDP.
Addressing Katsina State PDP leaders and delegates at the party’s secretariat in Katsina, Wike said his main interest was ensuring the party’s victory.
His Special Assistant, Media, Kelvin Ebiri, quoted him as saying: “If I don’t get the ticket, I will still work for anybody who emerges as the candidate of the party, because what we are talking about is how PDP will take back power, how we can solve the problem of insecurity, how we can solve the problem of hunger.
“You cannot go to the farm again. Your wives cannot go to the farm. When they go to the farm, they will be kidnapped, they will be raped. Can we continue to live in fear? Can we continue to leave this country to these people that have failed us?”
The governor boasted that he was the most prepared aspirant among all the persons vying for the party’s presidential ticket.
The governor said he had a clear plan to counter the activities of marauding bandits in Katsina and other parts of the country if elected president.
He regretted that President Muhammadu Buhari, who hails from Katsina, had failed to stem the activities of marauding bandits responsible for the wanton destruction of lives and property in the state.
He said: “You require somebody who will give you security in Katsina State. You require somebody who will bring projects to Katsina State. You require somebody who will appreciate the people of Katsina State.
“APC will not give you power. We will take this power back from APC and give it back to PDP on behalf of Nigeria. I am that person who can withstand APC and win them. I am not going to run election to bear former presidential candidate. I came out because I know I would win the election.”
Wike urged the delegates not to vote for any aspirant on the basis of ethno-religious sentiments.
In his remarks, former Katsina State governor, Ibrahim Shehu Shema, said Wike had demonstrated in the course of his nationwide campaign that he had the capacity to lead Nigeria and resolve the issues of insecurity, poverty, hunger, illiteracy and unemployment.
He said: “Anybody who is not willing to take up this challenge and look at the populace and address what their true and genuine concerns are will only be interested in power for himself.
“I am glad, Your Excellency, we share the same vision. We are thinking in the same direction and we hope Nigeria after 2023 will be a better, more prosperous, more focus and more and more leader of Africa and the black world.”