2023 polls: Why Atiku appointed Saraki, others into campaign machinery
The decision by the former Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar to appoint former Senate President, Dr Abubakar Olusola Saraki, as the Special Envoy for the Atiku/Okowa Presidential Campaign Council, is seen as one of the strategies to bring all tendencies within the party to work for the success of the election.
Until May 30, 2022 when Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) held its presidential primaries, Saraki was the head of the national reconciliation committee of the party and the success recorded paved way for the peaceful conduct of the primary.
Unknown to many, immediately after the presidential primary, which Saraki was also an aspirant, he indicated to party leaders and the faithful that he is moving on and that his next goal is the victory of the PDP in the 2023 presidential election.
As is typical of him, he has embarked on subtle, quiet engagement with stakeholders in the party on how to resolve the disagreements arising from the presidential primaries.
While he maintains a close relationship with Atiku and has given his words to the former Vice President on his readiness to support him, he has also made it clear to Waziri Adamawa that the right move is to bring everybody on board and make the party approach the next election as a united, indivisible and solid platform. Unlike some elements in the party, he has made contact with the various aggrieved groups to achieve genuine reconciliation.
Up till now, he remains one of the leaders behind Atiku that all the various tendencies in the party can trust and relate with. This is because of the general perception that Saraki stands for justice, fairness, equity, inclusivity, and peace.
More importantly, Saraki is highly regarded as the only presidential aspirant in the party who has the most support among youths within and outside the PDP. The youths see him as one politician who understands their language, hopes, and aspirations and can relate very well with them.
It is for these reasons that Atiku has always believed that Saraki is an important mobiliser, who will not only strengthen his campaign for the presidency but can also add value to his plan to provide effective and efficient leadership to the people.
His appointment by Atiku as Special Envoy was designed as a unique post that will make him an interventionist with an open-ended assignment. As special envoy, he is expected to bring on board his capacity, competence, and experience for devising a strategy that will keep the PDP candidate ahead of the opposition.
It is believed that his organisational ability, energy, and reach will be needed on the Atiku/Okowa campaign train.
He is also expected to use his reach to function as a bridge between the various groups in the electorate – the old and the young, the north and the south, the private sector and the political class, the Muslims and the Christians, It is expected that he will be deployed by Atiku to reach the various divides in our country.
As a consensus builder, he is also expected to deploy the skill he used in welding the 8th National Assembly together in the aftermath of the unprecedented change of party in government at the federal level.
Therefore, many see his role as special envoy as being Atiku’s emissary in addressing the issue of reconciliation at the national and state chapter of the party. The new appointment is not just a move by Atiku to officially endorse the mediatory role that Saraki has been playing, it is also a continuation of the last assignment he handled for the PDP national headquarters where he served as chairman of the National Reconciliation and Strategy Committee (NRSC).
It will be recalled that the NRSC saved the PDP from hemorrhaging last year when most of the party’s state branches were engulfed in crisis. The committee headed by Saraki eventually resolved the crisis in Osun, Ogun, Borno, Niger, Lagos, Nasarawa, Plateau, and other states. It was the intervention of the committee that led to the successful national convention of the party last October in which members of the current National Working Committee (NWC) were elected.
It is also believed that Saraki will bring to the table his international connections and good relationship with the foreign diplomats here in Nigeria and their home governments. He is also somebody with the right connections with necessary international bodies and groups needed to further get acceptance for Atiku in international circles.
It was gathered that part of Saraki’s brief is also to rally the private sector behind Atiku’s candidacy and also get them to support the campaigns with much-needed funds, ideas, and facilities.
Many also see the appointment of Saraki by Atiku as recognition of his ability to represent Atiku at high-level meetings and with various key stakeholders. Saraki has both executive and legislative experience having served at the highest levels at both levels.
With the appointment of Saraki, Akwa Ibom State governor, Emmanuel Udom, former governor of Kano State, Ibrahin Shekarau, and former Senate President, Anyin Pius Anyim into top campaign positions, the PDP presidential candidate has again proved to be ready to bring on board all tendencies. It is believed that he will soon resolve the problem with other groups. This aspect of the challenge is where Saraki’s acumen in reconciliation and bridge building will be much needed.
Adeniran is an Abuja based public affairs analyst.