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PDP may cede Senate presidency to Southwest, SGF to Southeast

By Leo Sobechi (Abuja), Charles Coffie Gyamfi (Abeokuta), Saxone Akhaine (Kaduna) and Emmanuel Samaila (Yola)
04 October 2022   |   4:26 am
Indications emerged, yesterday, that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is working on a power-sharing deal with the Southwest to shore up support for its presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar...

PDP Presidential candidate Atiku Abubakar

It’s Atiku’s turn, Yoruba should not be selfish, says Adebutu
• PDP rallies support for Atiku, blasts Tinubu over fitness video
• Tinubu not on medical trip – APC chieftain
• APC: Northeast content with the vice presidency, can’t produce the next president
• Kwankwaso contesting to win, not stepping down for any candidate, NNPP insists
• Ex-PDP BoT chair urges party leaders, and stakeholders to unite in rescuing Nigeria from APC misrule

Indications emerged, yesterday, that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is working on a power-sharing deal with the Southwest to shore up support for its presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, in the region.

A top member of the party’s National Working Committee (NWC), who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Atiku, in a new regime of concessions, “has agreed that Southwest should produce the next Senate President.

“Also, to give further bite for a possible inroad into the Southeast, the position of Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) has been zoned to the region.”

Recall that the new development is coming on the heels of the boycott of the inauguration of the Presidential Campaign Council by prominent leaders of the PDP from the Southwest as well as the alleged financial scandal in the party, with the return of funds by some NWC members.

Oyo State governor, Seyi Makinde, who is the only PDP governor from the Southwest, is a key figure in Rivers Governor Nyesom Wike’s camp, who had stayed away from the unveiling of the council last week.

The source noted that the coincidence of the two developments, a boycott of the campaign council flag-off and the return of the funds was disturbing to the party.

According to him, “to say that the issues are not disturbing is to be delusional; the coincidence was shocking and meant to destabilise us but we will overcome.

“The national chairman had to cut short his medical leave and return so that the issues could be addressed because the development has really affected the Southwest more. Also, Ayu, Atiku and a few others met over the weekend to review earlier power equations and permutations to strengthen weak areas.

“For instance, before now, the plan was for the SGF to come to the Southwest with the Speakership going to the Southeast, but from all indications, the Southeast power brokers within the party are more interested in the position of the SGF.

“So, as it is now, it is the Southwest that will produce the next Senate President because the earlier permutation would have empowered a section too much; there must be balance.”

THE PDP governorship candidate in Ogun State, Ladi Adebutu, has advised the Yoruba people of Southwest not to be selfish but to support the party’s presidential candidate, Atiku, in the 2023 general elections.

Adebutu spoke in Abeokuta, yesterday, during a campaign to garner support ahead of the 2023 polls.

According to him, former President Olusegun Obasanjo and interim Head of State Ernest Shonekan from the Southwest geopolitical zone have been Nigerian leaders at separate times while nobody from the Northeast has been the first citizen.

He said: “What I want to talk about today is the coexistence of the Yoruba people with others in Nigeria. Earlier, I told some people to support Atiku as the next president for the peace of Nigeria, but some people said no; they insisted that it is the turn of the Yoruba people. The Yoruba people have been in power for a number of times.

“Our father Obasanjo was in power. Our father (Ernest) Shonekan was also there. Let’s not be selfish. Is it only Yoruba that exists? The truth must be said.

“We cannot take Yorubaland out of the mainstream of Nigeria. Yorubaland must remain in the mainstream and PDP is the party that can take you to the mainstream of Nigeria. I believe in one Nigeria. All those calling for the break up of Nigeria cannot withstand the destruction of war. We don’t want war, we cannot afford to be refugees, what we want is peaceful resolutions of our problems.”

Also, in attendance at the rally were former Kano State governor, Ibrahim Shekarau; his Niger State counterpart, Babangida Aliyu and Boni Haruna (Adamawa).

Aliyu, while addressing the crowd of supporters, insisted that Atiku remains the healthiest candidate among those vying for the presidency.

Aliyu, who took a swipe at All Progressives Congress (APC)’s presidential candidate, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, who was seen in a fitness video, said, Nigerians cannot be deceived by APC and its candidate. He insisted that Nigerians know the candidate who is mentally and physically capable of ruling Nigeria.

“I was looking through newspapers today and I saw a picture of somebody trying to prove he is healthy. If there is health, we don’t need to tell people that we are healthy, but we are aware that Atiku is the healthiest of the presidential candidates in this country,” he said.

BUT the Deputy National Publicity Secretary of APC, Yakubu Ajaka, said Tinubu is in good health and not on a medical trip. Concerns had been raised about Tinubu’s whereabouts after he failed to turn up for the peace accord signed by presidential candidates in the coming 2023 elections, last Thursday.

On Sunday, Tinubu, in a tweet, dismissed claims that he had withdrawn from the 2023 presidential race. The tweet was accompanied by a video showing him working out on a fitness bike.

Ajaka, who visited the APC standard bearer in London, disclosed in a statement that Tinubu was healthy.

He said: “Contrary to the widespread speculation in the public space, which was hugely circulated by our political opponents that Tinubu was on a medical trip in London, it is totally false.”

The party chieftain said Tinubu was in the country to meet with different interest groups for the advancement of the country, saying “he is hale and hearty.”

AFTER a successful outing of its ‘show of strength’ rallies at the weekend, a potential dark horse in the 2023 presidential election and candidate of the New Nigerian Peoples Party (NNPP), Senator Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, has said he is in the race to win, not as a spoiler or pretender as widely insinuated.

Several rating polls had placed Kwankwaso as an outsider while favouring Labour Party (LP)’s presidential candidate, Peter Obi, to upset the cart by forcing a three-horse race with the two dominant parties – APC’s Tinubu and PDP’s Atiku.

But the National Secretary of NNPP, Dipo Olayoku, yesterday, in Abuja, after an emergency meeting of the party’s National Working Committee (NWC), said Kwankwaso was a strong contender to win the presidential election next year, insisting that he would not step down for any candidate.

According to him, supporters of a prominent opposition party have been going around with tales that the NNPP presidential contender was merely hanging on for next year’s polls to remain relevant, even as they point at Senator Ibrahim Shekarau’s recent defection as evidence of the confusion within the party.

Olayoku said: “The report alleged that a chieftain of the party is a mole, working for another party and its presidential candidate. However, I want to state that nothing can be farther from the truth than this. We in the NWC consider these reports as the handiwork of fifth columnists, who have been trying to cause disaffection in the party and they will never succeed.”

He remarked that claims that Kwankwaso would step down for another presidential candidate have remained the figment of the imagination of purveyors of fake news, whom he said resorted to planting sundry stories against NNPP.

“As a political party, our mission and vision and that of our presidential candidate are very clear: To win the presidential election next year and to take the country out of the woods it has been in the last seven years.

“The meritorious and distinguished credentials of our candidate in public service and all the political offices that he held are indisputable and no one can fault them. We are therefore calling on all our members and teeming supporters to disregard all misleading and diversionary reports.”

Kwankwaso, who said he is convinced Nigeria has not reached where it should be among world nations, however, expressed hopes that the country is on course to achieve greatness with the abundance of potential in Nigeria.

He expressed his optimism in Jos, Plateau State, yesterday, during an interactive session with newsmen after his meeting with party stakeholders.

He said: “I believe we have seen the least that we are expecting. But on the other hand, I am happy to say that a lot has been achieved because 62 years ago, Nigeria was not like what it is in terms of anything we can think of. Of course, there are areas that you all know that Nigeria could have done better and we can still do better.

“And I think that’s why we’re in politics to have an opportunity to improve the situation of the country; we are in politics to better the lots of these young men and women who wander the streets and those jobless today should get jobs.”

FROM the Northeast came some dampening hopes for Atiku, as APC chieftains in the zone said the region lacks the capacity to produce president in 2023.

While speaking at the APC stakeholders’ meeting yesterday in Yola, Atiku’s home state, the Northeast vice chairman of APC, Comrade Salihu Mustafa, said the zone had settled for the vice president slot.

Mustafa said the Northeast will be embarking on political tourism seeking a presidential seat in 2023, pointing out that the zoning formula of Nigeria has ruled out the North from the contest.

“We in the Northeast are not interested in the Presidency now because a Northerner is about to finish an eight-year term. It will be selfish to think of bringing another Northerner. For unity and partnership, we are behind a Southern president in the person of Tinubu,” he stated.

On the Muslim-Muslim ticket, he dismissed it as cheap political propaganda designed by frustrated politicians to get a shortcut to power.

“When they are sharing our wealth, do they talk about religion? Those politicians talking about religion, gender and other sentiments should tell Nigerians the source of their wealth, whether it was their religion that gave them such wealth or the office they occupied?”

He urged Nigerians to disregard such campaigns and demand merit, not religion, gender or political affiliations.

Mustafa reiterated that Northeast is not prepared to lose the position of vice president, noting that there is no political evidence that the zone can get more than vice presidency in 2023.

He described some of the crises in his party as a welcome development, saying that it will reshape the party for victory in the general elections.

MEANWHILE, the former chairman of PDP’s Board of Trustees (BoT), Senator Walid Jibrin, has advised all leaders and members of the party to remain focused on rescuing the country from the hands of the ruling APC in 2023.

Saying that all efforts are now been made to resolve the differences in the party, Jibrin pointed out that all stakeholders should ensure that they deliver their constituencies in the coming presidential polls to Atiku to save the nation from the present socio-economic problems.

In a statement issued by Jibrin in Kaduna yesterday, he said: “It is important that PDP remains calm and strong; talk with one voice and remain focused to follow the path and objectives of the party and to make sure all the elections are won in 2023.”