PDP: Odds favour Atiku; South-East may lose out

Nigeria’s former vice president, Atiku Abubakar, barring new developments, could be on his way to securing the presidential ticket of the country’s main opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party Party, (PDP), ahead of its presidential primary billed to hold from May 29 to May 30.

It was learnt that the party, having failed in its quest to zone the ticket to the South, even as an attempt by northern aspirants to achieve a consensus from amongst them collapsed, decided to throw the contest open and have delegates from the 36 States of the federation elect its candidate, a scenario that favours the Adamawa State-born politician.

Although the party’s National Executive Committee (NEC) is expected to take a final decision on zoning, reliable party sources have informed newsmen to the effect that the ticket would ultimately be thrown open for all those who have scaled through the screening process.

Recall that Atiku, aware of his political clout and financial capacity, had from the get-go, insisted on an open contest, rejecting both the idea of zoning and the attempt to achieve a consensus from amongst aspirants from the North.

The party has ultimately done his bidding in this respect, and would have 15 out of the 17 aspirants that purchased its form battle it out on May 29, a scenario that plays hugely in his favour. Out of the 17 aspirants who purchased the party’s presidential forms, only five are from the North, while 12 are from the South, including seven aspirants from the South-East alone.

On the primary election day, delegates from the each of the 36 States and Abuja will vote to elect the flag bearer, and given that the delegates are likely to vote along state and regional lines, the preponderance of aspirants from the south, especially the South-East puts the region at a disadvantage, given that their votes would be split.

“It’s unfortunate and it keeps happening,” remarked an Abuja-based lawyer and political analyst, Chidi Ezeugo.

The former vice-president, who had emerged candidate of the party in 2019, despite opposition from the like of Governor Nyesom Wike, who had reportedly wanted Tambuwal, is said to have since deployed his financial war chest and is currently lobbying delegates across the North.

Speaking to the party’s National Working Committee (NWC), led by Senator Iyorchia Ayu, its national chairman on Thursday, Atiku, who came second with 11 million votes in 2019, asked that he be given the party’s ticket.

He affirmed that he already has 11 million votes in the kitty and therefore requested the PDP to give him the ticket. He described himself as the best candidate, noting that since this is a democracy, all other aspirants should have the right to face the electorate for the ticket.

He had further admonished the NWC to pave the way for the emergence of the best candidate to lead the party to victory in the 2023 general election, affirming that if he becomes the president, he would work for the devolution of powers to the States and unify the country.

He said the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) has failed, in comparative analysis with the PDP’s performance in government. This is even as stakeholders from the North have begun a fresh push to ensure that power remains in the region in 2023, with the opposition as the viable route to achieving the objective.

The PDP had on Friday, screened the 17 aspirants who had successfully submitted their presidential nomination forms, including Atiku, who was the candidate of the party in the 2019 presidential election; former Anambra State governor, Peter Obi, who was his running mate in 2019, and Bukola Saraki, former president of the senate and two-term governor of Kwara State.

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