Leaders of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and other top politicians particularly in the North have begun a fence mending strategy to strengthen the candidature of Atiku Abubakar and the chances of the party ahead of the February 2023 election.
Although Governor Nyesom Wike, who was beaten to the second position at Saturday’s presidential primary, had assured that he would work with whoever emerged as candidate, National Chairman of the party, Iyorchia Ayu, has initiated moves to achieve very rapid reconciliation.
The reconciliation moves, it was revealed on Sunday has begun to yield results, as the Ayu-led team met with Wike, Atiku and Sokoto State Governor, Aminu Tambuwal and other key stakeholders.
Also emerging is the attempt to use the choice of vice presidential candidate to further heal the political injuries recorded before and during the primary election.
Two zones, the South East and South South have been mentioned in previous discussions relating to the choice of the running mate. However, many are of the view that the choice of vice presidential candidate should not emerge from considerations such as past and present loyalty to the presidential candidate.
“What is topical and crucial to the issue of reconciliation now is how we can apply all factors, including the issues of choice of vice presidential candidate to political healing. It has been suggested in meetings before and after yesterday’s presidential primary election that the party and its leaders must be actively involved in the process of selecting the running mate to Atiku. We must avoid a situation that suggests that only those who were in his political camp could contribute to the discussion on how to appoint the vice president candidate,” a member of PDP NEC said.
Meanwhile, fresh facts have emerged on the issues that shaped the eventual emergence of former vice president, Atiku Abubakar, as the presidential candidate of the PDP at a keenly contested presidential primary on Saturday.
What played out on Saturday night has been linked to strategic intervention by key leaders in the North. It was learnt that as the campaign heightened, the two leading aspirants from the North, Atiku Abubakar and Aminu Tambuwal were charged to immediately strike a truce to allow one of them emerge.
“Although they never specifically asked any particular person to withdraw, it was obvious that the younger among the two, Tambuwal would have to withdraw since he had more political years ahead,” a source revealed.
Although Tambuwal had strong political relationships with River State governor, Nyesom Wike, in the past, the twists that culminated in the election of Atiku as presidential candidate was too strong for that relationship.
In 2019, Wike was the main pillar of support for Tambuwal’s presidential ambition. But the two became very far apart in last Saturday’s primary.
And reacting to the emergence of Atiku, former President of the Senate, Anyim Pius Anyim, expressed shock that voting was based on primordial sentiment.
In a statement on Sunday, the former Secretary to the Government of the Federation said: “I am shocked that consideration for voting the PDP presidential candidate was not based on burning national issues and how to resolve them, but still on the old primordial sentiments. It appears doubtful if our search for nationhood is yielding any results.
“I deeply appreciate and thank all those who stood by me throughout this race, especially those that voted for me at the primary election. I want to assure all of you that we shall continue to stand tall until we birth the Nigeria of our collective dreams.
“Let me also congratulate His Excellency, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar for emerging the PDP flag bearer for the 2023 presidential election. Long live Nigerians.”
Also emerging is the immediate political awareness, strategy and realignment across political boundaries created by the emergence of Atiku as PDP’s presidential candidate on Saturday.
Even in the All Progressives Congress (APC) a new wave of awareness about the possible threat posed by Atiku’s emergence to the ruling party is being generated.
Incumbent chief whip of the Senate and former Abia Sate governor, Orji Kalu, declared that the APC will go into political wilderness in 2023 if it fails to pick its candidate from the North because the PDP has already elected Atiku as its candidate.
In a statement tagged. Congratulations to the PDP for electing a North Easterner,” Kalu said “For our party, the APC, it is no longer feasible to talk about Southern candidates except the APC want to go on political retirement.”
He added “I urge the National Chairman of the party and the entire NWC to stamp their feet and zone APC presidential ticket to the North East.”
Kalu argued that, “President Muhammad Buhari has a right to choose his successor and I call on him to pick Senator Ahmad Lawan as his successor. In every democratic setting, presidents and governors support and pick their successors. I call on President Buhari to pick a successor from the North East and that will be the equity the South East needs. With the North East, the cycle will be closest to completion of regions producing the president of Nigeria.”
“By now, all APC aspirants should drop their ambition and support a North Easterner . Senator Ahmad Lawan is the destination. Congratulations to the North East as we look forward to a president of Nigeria from the North East.”
President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, was pushed into the presidential race three weeks ago on account of possibility that Atiku’s candidature could throw the APC out in 2023.
His nomination form was obtained on his behalf by a group of supporters led by Sam Nkire.
Nkire had told reporters that his group was asked to buy Lawan’s nomination form to counter the possibility of Atiku’s candidature.
He said there was nothing wrong for the APC to pick its presidential candidate from the North if the PDP did so.
According to him, if the PDP cedes its presidential ticket to the North, it would amount to political suicide for the APC to act in the contrary.
On the issue of zoning, Chief Nkire said; “Let me tell you, every politician is in politics to win. It is PDP that is driving us to do this. We have said so, but we don’t want PDP to take the government from us. If you give the position to a southerner and PDP gives to a northerner, APC will go into the wilderness and we are not ready to go into the wilderness.”