The Peoples Democratic Party has yet to decide the criteria for choosing its candidate for the 2023 presidential poll.
While some key political actors hold the view that the South should produce retired Major General Buhari’s successor based on the principle of rotation between the North and the South, some others have openly argued that any part of the country, including the North, can produce the next President.
There has also been speculation that the PDP will settle for a northern candidate if the ruling All Progressives Congress decides to zone the 2023 presidency to the South.
But the PDP National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, told our correspondent on Friday that the leadership of the party had yet to set the criteria for picking its candidate.
Ologbondiyan said they would leave all options open until after consultations.
He said the final decision on the matter would be taken based on the demands by Nigerians.
The Chairman of the PDP Board of Trustees, Senator Walid Jibrin, was on Friday quoted as saying in Kaduna that the party would soon commence consultations for a candidate for the 2023 presidential election.
Ologbondiyan, in an interview with our correspondent, corroborated Jibrin’s position.
He said, “The BoT chairman said the party would make consultations. He did not say we had finished consultations.
“It is the course of the consultations and the demands of Nigerians that will form the criteria for picking our presidential candidate.
“The criteria will come out of the consultations. It is a sequential thing.”
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The party spokesman also explained that the possibility of producing a consensus candidate as mentioned by the BoT chairman was a work in progress.
He said, “The BoT chairman said the party would start consultations. The BoT was the one that spoke. The NWC has not said anything. The role of the BoT is advisory. Even what was reported about a proposal for a consensus candidate is still work in progress.”
On whether the party would be willing to field a southerner, Ologbondiyan said answering such a question at this time would amount to jumping the gun.
He said, “I do not know whether the PDP will field a southerner who may likely contest against a southern APC presidential candidate.
“I will not go into such an issue. I do not know because the BoT said the party would have consultations. The party has not had consultations. Do not let us jump the gun.
“None of the southern PDP governors so far has told me that he is interested in the PDP presidential ticket. So, I do not know. I am not in a position to speak on that.”
It, however, appears that members of the PDP who contested the party’s ticket ahead of the 2019 election have yet to make up their minds to join the 2023 race.
For example, the party’s 2019 presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, on Friday said it was too early for him to declare his position on the matter.
The former Vice-President, who spoke with our correspondent through his Media Adviser, Mr Paul Ibe, said he was reflecting on what 2020 would hold.
Ibe said, “Atiku Abubakar is spending time with his family. That is his preoccupation for now in this festive period. It is an opportunity for him to be with his family. That is what he is doing.
“Also, he is still mourning the death of his trusted aide, Mallam Umar Fariya. The mourning will last for 40 days. He is still trying to come to terms with that loss.
“He is also taking stock of the outgoing year and reflecting on what 2020 will present. He is also restructuring his businesses to ensure that they are competitive and continue to provide jobs. These are his preoccupations for now.
“He would not want to respond to the question on his political future. Whatever bridges that may be there, when he gets to them, he will cross them. When he gets to the bridge on taking a decision of his political future, he will cross it.”
The media aide to ex-Senate President Bukola Saraki, Yusuph Olaniyonu, also said it was still premature to commence discussion on 2023 presidential contest.
He said Buhari should be allowed to concentrate on governance and not be distracted with the politics of 2023.
Olaniyonu said, “How can you people be talking about contesting in 2023 election when we just finished the presidential election in 2019? The same year you finished election you are talking of another election, when are you going to talk about governance?
“Nobody is God. It is not good for the country that immediately after one election, you are talking of another election. We should allow them to govern; let them concentrate on governance and let us focus on good governance first before we start talking of another election. It is not good for the health of the country; for the purpose of good governance of the country when you just finished an election in 2019 and you are talking of another election in 2023.
“I am not going to contact him (Saraki) on this kind of a thing. This is my opinion. I have decided not to contact him about this because I do not think it is good for him to comment on this kind of thing now.”
Efforts by our correspondent to get comments from a former governor of Jigawa State, Alhaji Sule Lamido, and the Governor of Sokoto State, Alhaji Aminu Tambuwal, who also contested the PDP presidential ticket in 2018 on whether they would contest the 2023 ticket were not successful.
Lamido neither returned his calls nor responded to our correspondent’s text message on the matter.
Also, Tambuwal’s Director-General, Media and Public Affairs, Abubakar Shekara, neither returned his calls nor responded to our correspondent’s text and Whatsapp messages on whether the governor would contest the PDP’s presidential ticket for 2023.