- Kwankwaso, Lamido and Saraki also showing keen interest
By Madu Onuorah
Ahead of the 2023 general elections, the main opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), is already being torn apart by the Presidential ambition of two top Northern Politicians, former Vice President and 2019 Presidential candidate of the party, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, and former Speaker of the House of Representatives and current Governor of Sokoto State, Honourble Aminu Waziri Tambuwal.
The two men contested for the Presidential ticket of the party in 2019 general election but Alhaji Atiku came out victorious ahead of 11 other aspirants.
At the Presidential primaries held at the Rivers State capital, Port Harcourt, out of the total 3,274 accredited delegates, Atiku scored the highest number of votes with 1,532 while Tambuwal, his closest rival, polled 693. Dr Bukola Saraki scored 317 votes, Rabiu Musa Kwanakwaso (158), Ibrahim Dankwanbo (111), Sule Lamido (96), Ahmed Makarfi (74), Attahiru Bafarawa (48), Kabiru Tanimu Turaki (65), David Mark (35), Jonah Jang (19) and Datti Baba-Ahmed got five votes.
Global Upfront Newspapers (GUN) gathered that strong indications shows that the PDP is looking towards the North in the choice of its Presidential candidate in 2023 and these two men, Atiku and Tambuwal, are already in front of others in terms consultations and other preparations.
GUN learnt that Governor Tambuwal has already set up structures to carry out extensive consultations ahead of the party’s main decision on where the position should go.
Atiku’s structure has remained intact and only need reinvigorating. But many are worried about the unusual long absence of the former Vice President from the country.
Source close to the numerous quasi-political groups of the former Vice President shows some discomfort at their principal’s long stay away from the country, a development being cashed in by his opponents.
In addition to not being available to oil and direct affairs, Atiku is also not getting the enthusiastic support as before because of his age which will be 76 in 2023.
But Atiku’s supporters and some leaders of the party are not seeing the age issue as a problem since he remains the most nationally acceptable person from the North today and one that requires little or no marketing.
GUN gathered that the various critical organs of the party, the National Working Committee (NWC), the National Executive Committee (NEC), the Board of Trustees (BOT) and the powerful forum of PDP Governors that has Tambuwal as its Chairman are all clearly polarized by the ambition of the two men.
Although age favours Governor Tambuwal who will be 57 years in 2023, a lot of the party leaders especially the senior ones do not see him as having what it takes to fly the flag of the party and even become the President of the country.
“Age is in his Favour but we are not seeing him as one capable of bringing anything new. His performance as Governor hasn’t shown he can think outside the box,” said one Atiku diehard.
Some sources opposed to him also argue that his performance as Governor has not stood him out as the exceptional man needed to be able to take the bull by the horn which is what Nigeria’s current challenges demands.
Meanwhile other leaders of the party from the North nursing similar ambition like the former Governors Sule Lamido, Bukola Saraki and Rabiu Kwasakwaso are waiting in the wing for the appropriate time.
The one term Governor of Buachi state, Senator Bala Mohammad is also eyeing the position although many believe he would in the end not risk his second term for governorship, which could be a bird at hand for Presidential race he would not be sure of.
GUN source learnt that what however looks like unanimous thing now is the Vice President coming from the South East with the 2019 Vice Presidential flag bearer Peter Obi being the frontrunner for the obvious reasons of having an irresistible record of governance needed for this time.