By Babs-Oluribigbe Adeoye
Indeed this is not the best of time for the leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
It is becoming glaring daily and barring any last minute political permutations, the party had determined to choose its presidential candidate from the North, which may result to a serious backlash, if it is not handling properly.
A source said that the plan by some powerful forces within the PDP to go for a Northern presidential candidate in 2023 has been perfected since last year and as time of filing this report, the story remains unchanged.
Though the party is awaiting the report of the committee its National Executive Council constituted to probe the conduct of the 2019 general elections and identify grey areas, a source confirmed that the issue of where to zone the next presidential candidate is creating a serious debate among members.
While the majority wanted that the 2023 presidential candidate should come from the North, the few ones are considering the implication and its effect on the party’s fortune.
This must have propelled David Umahi, the second term governor of Ebonyi, elected on the platform of the PDP to defect to All Progressives Congress. Umahi’s reason for defection according to him was that PDP has not been fair to the Igbos, a claim the party considered implausible.
However, his defection has rocked the PDP structures in the entire Igboland, for which some state and national assembly members have defected to the ruling party, APC.
Meanwhile, a chieftain of the party last week said in Abuja that no one can blame the PDP if it decides not to look the way of the south when it is time to pick its presidential candidate for 2023 general elections. According to him, the PDP as presently constituted has no “marketable” presidential prospect from the South West and South-East, the two zones favoured by many to produce the next Nigeria’s president.
As at today, in the Southwest, the only presidential prospect that is making waves is Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, a national leader of the All Progressives Congress and opposition in the region seems to have no alternative to him. PDP as a party, having realised this scenario has close its eyes to the possibility of picking its candidate from the zone.
Though, the South-Easterners have been very consistent in delivering bloc votes to the PDP since 1999. Infact, until recent realignment of forces taking shape in the region, where some notable politicians are embracing mainstream politics by pitching tents with the APC, the only political party known to Igbos is the PDP.
But PDP’s hierarchy feels that the party stands no chance if it presents candidates form the zone as well. Reason for this may not far fetched. The South-East region attitude to voting has been very poor since the inception of this present dispensation in 1999.
For instance, in both 2015 and 2019 the zone has the lowest numbers of voters register and to some political analysts, such a zone may not be in vantage position to produce Nigeria president.
For the south-West zone, none of the PDP members or its hierarchy is creating awareness or making agitation for the zone to produce 2023 presidential candidate. Even the governor of Oyo state, Seyi Makinde who happened to be the only governor elected on the party’s platform in the zone recently stated that Yoruba is not interested in producing Nigeria’s president in 2023 but rather restructuring of the country
Makinde’s statement, as some would allege, was borne out of his ambition to become the vice presidential candidate of PDP, a claim seems tally with power struggle between him and the former Ekiti State governor, Ayodele Fayose.
Apart from Governors Obese Ikeas and Tiffany Ugwuanyi of Abia and Enugu states respectively, every other governor of the PDP is comfortable with the alleged arrangement of the party to pick its presidential candidate from the North.
However., the two prospects expected to throw their hats in the ring are former vice president of Nigeria and presidential candidate of the party in the 2029 general elections, Atiku Abubakar and Governor Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State.
But who among these two men is preferable to the governors? No one can conveniently say for now, even with the speculation that a certain powerful governor is routing for one of their own to get the ticket.
On the other side, members of the Working Committee and many members of the Board of Trustee of the party are seriously considering Alhaji Abubakar for second chance.
Wherever the pendulum swings, it will surely make or mar the fortune of the PDP in the 2023 general elections.