Thursday, 1st December 2022
Breaking News:

Dangerous cracks as Aspirants Jostle for PDP’s Presidential ticket

By Azimazi Momoh Jimoh, Abuja 
06 March 2022   |   2:52 am
As aspirants intensify campaigns ahead of the presidential primary elections which the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has fixed to take place between

Iyorchia Ayu. Photo/facebook/iyorchia.ayu

As aspirants intensify campaigns ahead of the presidential primary elections which the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has fixed to take place between April 4 and June 3, 2022, key stakeholders in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) are worried about dangerous signs of acrimony within the party.

There are signs that tension and disharmony which began after the PDP’s national convention in October 2021 have worsened. Topmost leaders of the party who are in the presidential race have locked horns as intrigues, machinations, wit games and horse-trading take centre stage.

The list of aspirants includes the PDP’s candidate in the 2019 presidential election and former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar; former Senate Presidents – Abubakar Bukola Saraki, Anyim Pius Anyim; and governors of Sokoto, Bauchi, Rivers, Akwa-Ibom states.

A more interesting dimension is whether or not support for Atiku Abubakar for the presidential ticket is still intact. This was brought to the foremost recently with the visit of the former vice president to his boss and former President, Olusegun Obasanjo in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital.

Comments reportedly made by Atiku to the effect that he was sure of getting PDP’s ticket for 2023 attracted deadly political missiles from his opponents, particularly the Rivers State governor, Nyesom Wike, who took exception to Atiku’s remarks, saying it undermined the integrity of the would-be delegates to the party’s primary.

As the attacks on Atiku grew, his media advisers had defended the remarks credited to him and pointed out that, “What His Excellency (former vice president) said was to give assurance to his supporters about his prospect in the contest if he eventually decides to run.”

But Wike insisted the statement attributed to the former vice president amounted to taking convention delegates of the party for granted. He said: “I didn’t expect him frankly speaking to say that he will always take the ticket of the party. That is going too far and taking the delegates for granted.” The governor said the outcome of the forthcoming presidential primary of the PDP would shock many people.

He, however, said whoever emerged of all the aspirants should rest assured that the entire party would rally around him for victory at the 2023 presidential election. Wike, who reinstated his commitment to do everything that would ensure the return of the PDP to power in 2023, urged members of the party to resist divisive utterances. He urged party faithful to watch keenly the outcome of the primary election.

Another attack came from one of Atiku’s former campaign spokespersons, Kassim Afegbua who described the bid by the former Vice President to seek the presidential ticket of PDP again as selfish, noting that he has not been involved in recent efforts by members of the party to campaign for and win elections at different levels. Afegbua also said Atiku’s ambition is against the call for the shift of the presidency to the Southern part of Nigeria in 2023.

He said, “I read with dismay the statement credited to former Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar where he boasted that he would always get the presidential ticket of the Peoples’ Democratic Party, PDP. At a time when the former Vice President should be working towards strengthening the structures of the party for more electoral victories, the only thing that bothers him is all about his selfish aspiration.”

Worries by party leaders
NOT very impressed about the hostile exchanges, some leaders of the party have called for caution and insisted on peace and unity. National chairman of the PDP, Iyorchia Ayu, who has been preaching peace to all organs of the party, insisted that it is the only way to restore PDP to its winning ways.

He noted that “It is very important that the entire party work as a team. Not just leaders, but including other members down the line, in states, local councils and the wards. The members of the National Assembly make up an important number in the party, so it is necessary we meet to exchange ideas on the state of the party, not only at the national level but also at all other levels.”

The PDP National Chairman expressed hope that all party leaders will interact with one another to provide solutions to the party’s problems. Ayu, who promised to enhance the unity among members of the party, assured that “very soon, we will return the party to winning ways.”

In the same vein, the minority leader of the House of Representatives, opened up when he had the opportunity to meet Atiku and urged him to mend fences with other aspirants and leaders in the best interest of the party.

Elumelu cautioned against talks and actions that could threaten the unity of the party. “But what we have always said is that we are not happy with the way and manners we are not trying to unite ourselves. What is important is that we must unite ourselves to take over from APC led government.

“We need to avoid any form of assault or attack on ourselves, it will not help us. Sometimes, we read in the newspapers where people from the same party are fighting themselves, I do not think that it will be a very healthy development for us to gather the momentum that we require to take over. So, I believe that it is the unity that we will need to get the power.”

Intrigues, suspicion mar Governors’ consensus talks
AND the 13 governors of the PDP have continued to strengthen their strategies to get one of them elected to fly the flag of the party. Among the recent strategies is the revival of the peer review mechanism among PDP states. The programme entails a project tour of governors to states with a view to showcasing their achievements and also improving on their unity.

The first such peer review visit since it was reviewed a few weeks ago was in Sokoto and ended last weekend. This is in addition to regular meetings of the governors in states they control. The last of such visits was in Yenagoa, the capital of Bayelsa State.

In a bid to remove every element of suspicion and distrust among them, the governors recently embarked on some peace and consultative trips outside the shores of the country.

Accordingly, opinion is being built on how to forge a consensus arrangement to pick one of the governors as presidential flagbearer. 

However, the bid to sustain the consensus the governors achieved in the election of Iyorchia Ayu as PDP National chairman last October is not achieving the desired result yet.

The problem of zoning has come back to split the union established before the October convention. Moreover, the problem of zoning has continued to haunt the governors who had shown interest in the presidential race.

Atiku’s chances
FROM observation, the greatest source of hope for the former vice president remains the difficulty the governors face in strengthening their unity for the purpose of picking a consensus candidate. The political dexterity and unwavering campaigns targeted at strategic blocs within the party is another factor working in favour of the former vice president. 

He has since commenced political lobby visits to the National Assembly and other caucuses in the party. At one of such campaign visits last Tuesday in Abuja, he told the PDP members in the House of Representatives, “I have experience at the highest and lowest levels. As the Vice President of Nigeria, I ensured many progressive and national transformations and constitutional law. As a businessman, I have solved grassroots problems and provided jobs for thousands of people.

“Above all, it is my passion for the progress of this country that drives my quest for the presidency of this country,” he said.

The Waziri Adamawa said that he is articulating a policy document that will drive his administration. He said that the victory of the PDP depends on the candidate it presents to the people for elections at all levels and urged the party to choose a candidate that can easily win at the secondary election.