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Wike, Atiku, Tambuwal, Saraki… Enter The Top PDP Presidential Contenders

2023: Wike, Atiku, Tambuwal, Saraki… enter the top PDP presidential contenders

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has ticked two major boxes in its timetable for the presidential primary election: sale of nomination forms and screening of applicants. The next big thing is the special national convention scheduled for May 28 and 29, 2022 to elect the candidate.

In all, 17 hopefuls picked the nomination forms and were screened, with two not cleared to run.

Candidates from the north tried to forge a consensus agreement to avoid splitting the delegates and improve the region’s chances of getting the party’s presidential ticket but the arrangement failed at first attempt. There are yet no signs that it will be revisited.

TheCable provides a lowdown on the key contenders in the leading opposition party — as the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) gets ready to screen its own hopefuls.

NYESOM WIKE
Among the hopefuls from the south, Wike has made the most inroad across the country and he is considered the most aggressive campaigner of them all. He has taken his campaign to virtually every state ahead of other aspiring candidates and has given the media a number of soundbites all the way. The governor of Rivers is often seen as controversial because of his public statements, although his humour has also brightened political campaigns in a way not experienced in recent times. Some critics believe he is pitching for the vice-presidential slot but he has insisted that he is in for the top job. Wike has a heavy war chest.

AS THINGS STAND: projects that Wike will get the strong support of the bulk of the delegates from the south-south and south-east. He has also deeply penetrated the north-central and the north-east where he will share votes Atiku as his associates are in significant numbers in Borno, Yobe, Gombe, FCT, Kano, Katsina, Niger, Plateau and Benue. He should further get a good slice of the south-west where he has been supporting the party structure for years.

ATIKU ABUBUKAR
The former vice-president flew the PDP flag in the 2019 election against President Muhammadu Buhari of the APC and garnered 11.2 million votes, losing by almost four million. He won only two geo-political zones — the south-east and south-south — but put up a good showing in the south-west and north-central. He has been seeking to be president since 1993 and this is thought to be the last throw of the dice by the 75-year-old politician. Although many have used his age against him, some still see him as the most sellable candidate from the north. Atiku’s war chest is considered heavy.

AS THINGS STAND: projects that Atiku will enjoy backing of many PDP delegates from the north-east (his home zone), have a good showing in the north-central and secure respectable figures from the north-west, especially in Kaduna, Kano and Katsina. He will get decent numbers from Lagos, Ogun, Edo and Delta — states he is expected to share with Wike. Atiku should be first or second choice in more than half of the states. If northern candidates eventually form an alliance, they are likely to queue behind Atiku because of “seniority”.

AMINU TAMBUWAL
The governor of Sokoto state and former speaker of the house of representatives gave the PDP presidential ticket a first shot in 2019 but came second to Atiku in the primary election. Then, he was backed by Nyesom Wike, governor of Rivers state, with whom he has now fallen out, politically speaking. Tambuwal thereafter clung to his governorship position by the tiniest margin ever — 342 votes — to ward off the APC candidate. He was supposed to be part of the northern consensus arrangement but pulled out at the last minute.

AS THINGS STAND: projects that Tambuwal will take a big slice of delegate votes from the north-west, his geo-political zone. He is particularly strong in Jigawa, Sokoto, Kebbi and Zamfara but will struggle in Katsina and Kaduna where Atiku and Wike are well aligned. He should have the backing of many delegates from Imo state, where his associate, Emeka Ihedioha, comes from. If contenders from the north decide to revive the consensus arrangement, Tambuwal will rank next to Atiku on possible compromise Candidate

BUKOLA SARAKI
The former two-term governor of Kwara state and former senate president was one of the two picked as northern consensus candidates by the Northern Elders Forum in what many people described as a bizarre turn of events as only one aspirant was supposed to be endorsed. The other was Bala Mohammed, governor of Bauchi state. Saraki was part of the northern consensus arrangement in 2011 but lost out to Atiku. Saraki has both Fulani and Yoruba lineages and was born by Muslim and Christian parents and he is, thus, seen as the pan-Nigerian candidate but many also think that is his major weakness. He was DG of Atiku’s campaign in 2019.

AS THINGS STAND: TheCable projects that Kwara delegates are solidly behind him, and he is projected to get a decent number from Lagos and Osun states as well and a respectable number in two or three other states. He is a good networker having been a governor, chairman of the Nigeria Governors Forum, and senate president.

MOHAMMED HAYATU-DEEN
The corporate doyen was initially dismissed as a non-starter, but it has since emerged that Hayatu-Deen was drafted into the race by a former military leader and is enjoying the support of some retired army generals who are now marketing the economist as the ideal candidate to handle Nigeria’s numerous challenges. Although Hayatu-Deen has been on the boards of over 40 companies in his career, he has not actively participated in politics and is not known to have built or oiled any structure. But to be counted in his favour is his business experience as well as his contacts in the private sector community.

AS THINGS STAND: projects that although it is yet unclear how many PDP power brokers are behind him, there is a high chance that Taraba state, where TY Danjuma, former army chief, comes from, will be in his corner. He may also eat into the support for Atiku and Tambuwal in the north-west and the north-east as political calculations continue to take shape.

ANYIM PIUS ANYIM
The former senate president and former secretary to the government of the federation is one of the firsts to indicate interest in the presidential race in the PDP. He is a politician with vast network, having been senate president at a time the current democratic dispensation was still taking shape. However, it does not appear he has the backing of the power brokers in the party and this is very important in getting the nod to fly the presidential flag. His supporters believe he has earned his stripes and consider him the strongest candidate from the south-east zone, which has never produced an executive president.

projects that Anyim will get most of the delegate votes from Ebonyi, his home state. He has been seriously handicapped by the incursion of Wike into the south-east.

PETER OBI
The former governor of Anambra state was the running mate to Atiku Abubakar in 2019 and has been touted by his supporters as the ideal candidate for presidency because of his attitude to financial management and his record of achievements as governor. However, this goodwill has not translated into political capital — twice the PDP has been defeated in Anambra governorship elections since he joined the party. He believes candidates from the south-east should be given a fair chance since the zone has never produced an executive president and his supporters see him as the one who fits the bill.

AS THINGS STAND: projects that Obi will get the support of Anambra delegates, although Wike has made weighty gains in the south-east.

BALA MOHAMMED
The former minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and current governor of Bauchi state declared his presidential bid long before the starting gun was fired and appeared to be confident of getting the ticket until it emerged that he had also bought the governorship form and had undergone screening for two offices — presidential and governorship. He was surprisingly picked as one of the two consensus candidates from the north by NEF but the arrangement was dead on arrival. It now appears Mohammed will be more focused on his governorship re-election bid.

Projects that Mohammed will get most of the delegates from Bauchi state and have a share from the FCT, where he was minister for four years.

UDOM EMMANUEL
The former banker and governor of Akwa Ibom state has been described as a “quiet” performer by many of his admirers who point to a number of infrastructural projects he has delivered since 2015. This, they argue, should sell him at the national level. He is viewed as urbane and presidential. However, he is not known to have a political network outside Akwa Ibom state and is not a major influence on the party’s structure at the national level. This is a major disadvantage in Nigerian politics.

2023, PDP

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