With Wednesday’s Supreme Court judgment, which drew the curtains on the 2019 presidential election petition, stakeholders in the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) had since returned to the drawing board to review the future of the party ahead of the 2023 and might be considering repeating the joint Northeast/Southeast presidential ticket model of the 2019 general election.
The development, which had also necessitated a series of meetings, one of which birthed the idea of relaxing the party’s zoning law for both the Northeast and Southeast, came as a result of the new graph-plotting by the PDP leadership in the light of the current political standpoint.
THISDAY gathered last night that some stakeholders within the party had started to advocate a fluid zoning arrangement between the northeast and southeast, the two zones that have not produced the President of the country, either as an elected civilian or military head of state.
The idea, it was further gathered, was mooted to give a sense of belonging to both zones as there is the likelihood that the All Progressives Congress (APC) might zone its presidential ticket to either the Southwest or Northeast or allow it to remain fluid as a free for all challenge.
According to a top PDP source, “An official position on this has not been taken but it will not be far from what I have said. There is the likelihood of a fluid presidential zoning to be between the Southeast and the Northeast. This is a delicate option that would be used to assuage tension between the two zones
“We are conscious that President Muhammadu Buhari will not be contesting in 2023 and his absence will leave a big vacuum in APC, so we’ll do everything that will keep our members and stakeholders in check against defection to seek their aspirations in another party”, the PDP source stated.
According to him, “Even before the Supreme Court decision that dismissed our petitions, we knew it would happen. Most of them had sheathed their presidential ambition, waiting for the verdict to come as it did.
“Before, the party was divided into two noticeable camps. It is just a matter of where you belong. Within the PDP, the party is already divided into two camps: the second term governors’ camp and the Rivers State Governor, Nyeson Wike’s camp. The two camps are fighting deadly and bitter over the control of the party’s machinery.
“It is a fact that Wike almost single-handedly installed the present national chairman of PDP, Prince Uche Secondus. This is evident to any keen observer, where the leadership of the party belongs, ” he added.
As a result, the source explained that there was fierce battle over the control of the party’s structure between Nyeson Wike and other governors, otherwise known as the second term governors of the party in Sokoto, Benue, Taraba, Ebonyi, Abia, Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Enugu, Delta and Rivers States.
Although all of them belong to the second term group, they are up in arms against their colleague from Rivers State, Wike, ostensibly because of the 2023 elections.
The source said Wike was still plotting to bring back the Sokoto State Governor, Aminu Tambuwal to contest the 2023 presidential elections. Wike was one of the main supporters of the presidential aspiration of Tambuwal.
The Sokoto governor, who lost to Atiku at the PDP Port Harcourt convention, lost basically because some believed he was inexperienced and was therefore asked to contest and complete his second term as governor.
But with second term election as governor of Sokoto State, the ball is now in his court to declare for a presidential run. And it is being seen that Wike, who supported him the last time, might likely support him again. That is the essence of the perceived plot by Wike to control the party machinery.
The source explained that with the way the PDP minority leadership of the House of Representatives emerged, it showed that Wike would not have his way easily without a fight, the reason his preferred candidate for the minority leader of the House of Representatives, Kingsley Chinda, was defeated by Ndudi Elumelu, with the support of other second term governors of the party.
Within, the first term governors of PDP, there is the governor of Bauchi State, Bala Mohammed, who is said to be interested in the 2023 presidential election on the understanding that ‘if Atiku is not contesting’.
He was sure of inheriting the political structures of the Turaki, if he would not contest. Then, there is the question of the former governor of Kano State, Senator Rabiu Kwankwanso.
Within the PDP cycles, he was still said to be interested in contesting the 2023 presidential election and was allegedly being prevailed upon by a former governor of Edo State, Lucky Igbinedion and some other former governors of the party.
Within the PDP, there is the understanding that the APC won the presidential election because of the personality of President Buhari and his Almajiri supporters. But come 2023, Buhari would not be contesting again having served out his constitutional two terms.
They believed that without the personality of Buhari, anyone put forward by the APC or any other party would be defeated by the PDP. So, in the permutations of the PDP, attention would be on anyone that has money to finance his campaign as Atiku did in 2019.
It is said that Atiku has the capacity to fund his campaign. This is what the PDP will be looking out for in 2023 and why Atiku still stands a good chance considering his performance against incumbent Buhari in the 2019 election despite the lacklustre support from the PDP governors who for whatever reasons, particularly the Southeast governors, instead of supporting him were busy cutting deals with Buhari. But some reckoned that age would be a major determinant between Atiku and other aspirants. The former vice will be about 77 years at the time.