It is less than a month to the Presidential primaries of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP and Nigeria’s biggest opposition party is yet to agree on a consensus candidate, one powerful enough to wrestle shoulder-to-shoulder with anyone fielded by the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC.
POLITICS NIGERIA reported how the Senator David Mark-led screening Committee cleared 15 aspirants for the coveted office on about a week ago.
Former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar; a former President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki; Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike; former Ekiti State Governor, Ayo Fayose, and Akwa Ibom State Governor, Udom Emmanuel, were among the first set of those screened.
Since the All Progressives Congress has been working towards having a Presidential candidate from the South, political analysts suggest a Northern candidate for the PDP as the opposition party’s best bet.
Kunle Aderele, a political pundit, said the opposition party cannot settle for a Southerner like the APC because of the politics of numbers, which favours the North. Explaining this, Aderele stated that the North has a larger percentage of voters and zoning the Presidency to the North will help break APC’s votes across Northern states.
According to him, regardless of how educated and enlightened the Nigerian electorate are, ethnic and regional dichotomies still have a role to play.
He, however, expressed that in selecting a Northern candidate, the party must consider the popularity and marketability of such candidates.
Alluding to Aderele’s Chukwuemeka Nonso, said ordinarily, South East should be the preference of the PDP because the geopolitical zone has served the party without any substantive office since 1999.
“Our people have not gained anything despite our loyalty to PDP. But come to think of it, we don’t have anyone from the zone strong enough to match up with the top contenders. That’s our dilemma,” said the Abia-born analyst.
He then suggested that the party should consider a running mate from the South East.
Agreeing on zoning is one, having a consensus candidate is another.
Analysts who spoke to POLITICS NIGERIA stated that a formidable force is one of the essential ingredients in defeating an incumbent government but PDP, which hopes to unseat the governing APC in 2023, appears to fall short of that criterion.
They cited the recent consensus agreement that ended a fiasco, which if not handled well, may give the APC a landslide victory.
Recall that Bukola Saraki, and Bauchi State governor, Bala Mohammed, were reportedly chosen as northern consensus candidates for the PDP’s Presidential primaries scheduled for May 28.
The duo were shortlisted as part of the recommendations made by a committee which is made up of northern leaders and presidential aspirants in the party. According to recommendations contained in a communique signed by former Vice-Chancellor of Ahmadu Bello University, Ango Abdullahi, the leaders’ decision was based on certain criteria adopted.
This consensus arrangement, however good as it may seem, has been met with criticism from different aspirants and groups. Interestingly, Aminu Tambuwal, Governor of Sokoto, and Mohammed Hayatu-Deen who earlier presented themselves for the exercise have criticised the consensus arrangement.
More so, a former Governor of Jigawa State, Sule Lamido, has slammed northern elders over the recent endorsement, which according to him, does not represent the party members.
It is only the personal opinion of those who issued the statement and not the position of the PDP members in the north, Lamido stated. If this is not resolved in the next few weeks, sources within the party fear that it may lead to irreconcilable differences capable of affecting the party’s chances in the forthcoming election.
“It may depopulate our party and break our ranks. In fact, if we are not careful, it will be a walkover for the APC,” said a national PDP chieftain who chose to be anonymous.
The article was originally published on Politics Nigeria.