… jostle for vice-presidential, Senate tickets
‘Mimiko may take over from Ayu if northern president emerge’
With less than 14 months to the 2023 general elections, some southern state governors of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) have scaled up their pursuit for the presidential running mate of the party. This frantic move is in contrast with the inter-party deliberation and stance of the 17 southern governors in Lagos and Enugu that power must shift to the South after President Muhammadu Buhari’s statutory constitutional term of eight years in 2023.
At separate meetings held on July 5 in Lagos and September 16 in Enugu, southern governors repeatedly insisted that power must shift to their region, and that the party’s candidate for the next presidential election should be zoned to their region. Expectedly, their colleagues in the Northern Governors’ Forum said the position of their southern counterparts, that the next president must come from thesouth, contradictstheprovisions of the constitution. A power rotation arrangement, though unwritten, has been playing out between the North and the South since Nigeria returned to democratic rule in 1999; and by 2023, when Buhari, a northerner, completes his tenure, it is expected that a southerner should succeed him.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has fixed February 2023 for the conduct of the next general elections, and major political parties and political actors have continued their wide-ranging consultations ahead of the polls. Last month, the opposition party had a nearly seamless elective national convention that produced former Senate president, Dr. Iyorchia Ayu, as its new chairman.
His emergence, however, raised fresh political calculations ahead of the presidential ticket race. New Telegraph learnt that eight of the PDP governors in the South may have apparently settled for a northern presidential candidate for the PDP in the face of the current reality of voting pattern in the country and the resolution of the party to edge out the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC). A source close to the party leadership said the power brokers in the party are working on a calculated plan and objective, which is to seize the opportunity of the mass votes in parts of the North to win the next general election. He said: “The whole calculation was designed and executed through the zoning committee headed by Enugu State Governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, which zoned the chairmanship position to the North.
“The presidential ticket will be thrown open and it is expected that a northerner will emerge based on voting projections. After the emergence of a presidential candidate, a quick, fresh process will be initiated to conduct an emergency mini-convention to balance the power texture between the South and North.
“However, it is not clear whether the chairmanship change of baton will occur before the election or after, if the PDP wins the election. But, South West might be considered to take over from Ayu and its likely former Ondo State governor, Olusegun Mimiko, who was recently dragged back to the PDP by the governors, may likely be the one to take over.” The source disclosed further that South South and South East governors, who are mostly on their second terms, are in sync with the current arrangement, because it gives them the opportunity to emerge as running mate to any northern candidate and some may head to the Senate.
While in some quarters within the opposition party, it is widely believed that Atiku is the one man that has the clout and deep pocket to match the ruling party and any chosen candidate, some tendencies, however, feel otherwise, arguing that a much younger Sokoto State Governor, Aminu Tambuwal, will fit the bill for the PDP. Atiku, who clocks 77 in 2023, said recently before the party’s National Executive Committee in Abuja on the agitation for power shift: “Where the president comes from has never been the problem of Nigeria, and I can cite examples; neither will it be the solution. There is no such thing as a president from southern Nigeria or a president from northern Nigeria.
There is only one president from Nigeria, for Nigeria, by Nigerians.” The source noted further that the southern governors might have jettisoned the much-mouthed power shift, adding that, “they are jostling already for running mate positions, and many of them will start showcasing their achievements and lean more to national politics issues in the coming days.” Speaking recently on the changes effected in the PDP leadership, a member representing Degema/Bonny Federal Constituency, Rivers State, Farah Dagogo, told a national newspaper: “This is all about 2023, and the southern PDP governors, in unison, decided to sacrifice Secondus to position themselves for vice-presidential position. “I can tell you authoritatively that southern governors from the PDP are all sell-outs; none of them is contesting for president.
They are all jostling and lobbying for the position of vicepresident.” Efforts to speak with the leadership of the party proved abortive as at the time of filing this report. When contacted on the development, the outgoing National Publicity Secretary of the party, Mr. Kola Ologondiyan, referred our correspondent to Hon. C.I.D Maduegbuna, whoaccording to him can speak on matters relating to governors of the party. However, efforts to reach Maduegbuna as of press time proved abortive.