Barring any last-minute change, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) will organise its elective national convention on October 30 and 31, 2021, where a new crop of National Working Committee (NWC) will emerge.
The convention date ratified by the 92nd National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting of the party has sparked agitations for zoning with many party bigwigs springing up to vie for the office of national chairman and other offices.
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While the party’s convention would ratify the 2023 zoning formula for presidency among others, Daily Trust gathered from impeccable sources that aspirants have commenced underground politicking and scheming.
After its dismal outing in the 2019 general election, the PDP has gone back to the drawing board and is strategizing to reclaim power at the end of President Muhammadu Buhari’s tenure in 2023.
Since its birth in the build up to return of democracy in Nigeria in 1999, the outburst by some leaders of the PDP was that the party would reign for 60 years or more.
However, 16 years after, the PDP suffered a humiliating defeat at the March/April general elections as the then opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) clinched the presidential seat.
However, after series of blame games, meetings, mappings and scheming, the PDP has resolved to do more to enable it retake power.
Some party leaders say the PDP would zone its presidential ticket to the North and Chairmanship to the South on grounds that the South has spend more years in the Presidential Villa than the North between 1999 and 2021.
Recall that President Obasanjo (South) spent eight years; Umaru Musa Yar’adua (North) spent two years while Goodluck Jonathan (South) spent six years; all of the PDP extraction.
Some of the top contenders for PDP’s 2023 presidential ticket are profiled below:
Bala Mohammed is former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and current governor of Bauchi State. He is one of the top contenders for the party’s presidential ticket.
He came into limelight in 2007 with his election into the Senate to represent the Bauchi South senatorial district.
He was leader of the Unity Forum, a group of Senators that mobilised support for then Vice President Goodluck Jonathan during the protracted illness of late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua.
Jonathan eventually became president after Yar‘adua’s demise in 2010. He appointed Bala Mohammed as Minster of the Federal Capital Territory. Bala abandoned his seat in the Senate for the ministerial position. He held the position till 2015 when the PDP lost the presidency to the APC. In 2019, he contested governorship on the platform of the PDP and won to become the current governor of the state.
As FCT Minister under the Jonathan administration, Bala had gained tremendous experience as a consummate administrator who was exposed to international politics as the Mayor of Abuja, whose duty also included welcoming all diplomatic corps and personalities and in which most cases he personally honoured some with diplomatic citizenship.
The national leadership of the PDP last year appointed him as chairman of the 2019 Post Election Review Committee, saddled with the responsibility of reviewing factors that led to the party’s failure to reclaim federal power in the election and the way forward for 2023.
One of the recommendations of the Bala-led Committee which he submitted a few months ago, was that the PDP should throw open its presidential ticket for all the six geo-political zones to contest.
The committee also recommended that if the party’s ticket must be zoned, the North East and the South East should have a joint presidential ticket.
There is presently a clamour that the next president of Nigeria must be someone from the younger generation of Nigerians with vast political and administrative acumen.
Bala’s political allies and supporters feel that he is one of the emerging political forces from the North, particularly the North East where PDP is incidentally gaining grounds and popular. He is said to have started consultations ahead of time and in the good books of many stakeholders.
So, far, he has not confirmed or denied rumours in the media space linking him to the 2023 race. But many observers say a Bala presidency is one project that will fly should he throw his hat into the ring. Bala Mohammed, 62, is presently serving his first tenure as governor.
Aminu Waziri Tambuwal
Tambuwal is the current governor of Sokoto State. Tambuwal is said to be warming up to contest the PDP ticket in the event it is zoned to the North. He has been able to maintain a relatively baggage free outlook in his political career so far. His conciliatory approach to politics has continued to endear him to many stakeholders in the opposition party.
Widely perceived to be temperate and level headed, the former Speaker of the House of Representatives has continued to build political bridges across the six geopolitical zone right from his days in the federal legislature. Seen by his colleagues in the PDP Governors Forum as a team player, Tambuwal’s contribution to the relative stability in the PDP may count for him when the chips are down.
Party sources have continued to credit the young politician with a sense of balance between his ambition and the common good of his party. He is widely acknowledged by the various contending groups and interests in the party for his stabilising role in the ongoing efforts at resolving the leadership crisis rocking the PDP.
As chairman of the PDP Governors’ Forum, Tambuwal, who is currently serving his second and final term as governor, is seen by many of his compatriots as a stickler for objectivity in all situations.
Under his leadership, the PDP Governors’ Forum has become a force to reckon with in tackling the ruling APC over its alleged poor performance and abysmal failure to tame the hydra-headed security challenges ravaging the land.
Tambuwal has also played a key role in steadying the turbulent wave of crisis in the PDP.
Tambuwal started his political career as a member of the House of Representatives elected on the platform of the PDP before he emerged as Speaker in 2011. He was a member of a group of disgruntled chieftains that formed the “rebel” nPDP that defected to the APC in 2013.
He was elected governor in 2015 on the platform of the APC but dumped the ruling party and returned to the PDP in 2018 alongside a few others who defected to the APC about the same time.
He joined the race for the presidential ticket of the PDP in 2018, but came second, losing the ticket to Atiku. He sought re-election as governor in 2019 and got re-elected for a second term.
He is no doubt a force to reckon with and having passed through both legislative and executive tutelage and alongside boasting his social capital across the party borders, Tambuwal will be a choice which if PDP decides to make, will be huge thorn in the flesh of other opposition parties.
Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, a former vice president, has remained determined to take a shot at the presidency. He recently employed a campaign tool that would earn him acceptance. The strategy of restructuring Nigeria, pundits say, is specifically aimed at winning votes in the South South and South East if given the presidential ticket.
Atiku contested the 2007 presidential election on the platform the defunct Action Congress (AC) after realising that he could not get the PDP ticket because of his frosty relationship with former President Olusegun Obasanjo.
He also contested the presidential ticket with former President Goodluck Jonathan in 2011. He later dumped the PDP for the APC and contested the 2015 presidential ticket with Buhari but lost.
The actions, body language and utterances of the Waziri Adamawa are enough to show that he is still eyeing the presidency.
His son, Adamu Atiku, also confirmed last year that his father would contest again in 2023.
Analysts say Atiku, a man with deep pocket, would have to contend with the governors and other stakeholders in his bid to get the ticket considering that he was fielded in 2019 as the party’s presidential candidate.
Lamido, a former governor of Jigawa State and one of the founding fathers of the PDP, is also showing interest in the party’s ticket for 2023.
Lamido, who is seen to be passionate about the PDP, believes that his emergence as the party’s candidate would give hope to Nigerians.
While the party was suffering in other climes after its defeat in 2015, it was thriving in his home state of Jigawa to the extent that some members of the ruling APC reportedly defected to the PDP.
The ex-governor was a member of the House of Representatives in the Second Republic and a leading member of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) in the Third Republic. Lamido was also a Foreign Affairs Minister between 1999 and 2003 during the administration of President Olusegun Obasanjo.
Bukola Saraki is former Senate President and one of those who is believed to be warming up to make the PDP presidential primaries look colourful.
Saraki was Kwara State governor for eight years. His emergence as Senate President remains a mystery to many, especially his party which at the time was rooting for another candidate in the person of Ahmad Lawan, the current Senate President. Whether the politics surrounding that incident will also play out at the PDP primary or not, only time will tell.
He is one of the young generation of political gladiators who have contributed tremendously to the development of the PDP including Chairing the National Reconciliation Committee.
Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso
He is two-time governor of Kano State. Senator Kwankwaso is another bigwig in the PDP seeking to succeed President Buhari in 2023. With a huge fan base in Kano engineered by the Kwankwasiya movement, Kwankwaso was one of those that formed the APC and his impact in politics in the North is not in doubt.
He contested the 2019 presidential primary but lost to Atiku Abubakar.
(Text, excluding headline Daily Trust)