The battle of who picks the presidential ticket of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) may have been narrowed to a three-man race based on the decision of the party to throw the contest open among all geo-political zones in Nigeria.
This was against the initial clamour for the shift of power to the south in the spirit of equity and fairness ahead of the 2023 presidential election.
According to Vanguard’s report, the three aspirants according to multiple reports leading the pack are Atiku Abubakar, Bukola Saraki and Nyesom Wike.
Telescope.ng gathered that the party’s governors are divided between Wike and Saraki with the 2019 candidate, Atiku bereft of the support of any governor apart from his home governor, Ahmadu Fintri of Adamawa State.
The newspaper noted that the unexpected support for Saraki according to party sources, flows from the support of some South-South governors and from the piercing move by his campaign to cut down on Wike.
Wike, however, continues to be the major threat against the Northern bid to sustain the ticket. Despite the multiplication of aspirants from the South, Wike’s support among some core PDP states that have identified with him has remained almost unshaken.
The two Southeast governors are known to be behind him despite the fact that the majority of South-South governors have not plugged into his campaign.
A majority of those not backing Wike it was gathered are pledging their support for the Saraki campaign.
Outside the South-South, the battle between the aspirants in the Southwest is being influenced by old alliances with Atiku getting a sizeable hold in Ondo through his old alliance with the immediate past governorship candidate, Eyitayo Jegede. However, Wike through Governor Seye Makinde is also making inroads into the state leaving little room for Saraki.
The three major aspirants are also sharing support across the North with Atiku getting strong support, especially in his Northeast through years of relationship with the political leaders of the region. However, many of them are also tilting towards Wike and Saraki in significant measures largely on account of the support provided by the Rivers State governor in sustaining the party machines over the years. Wike is also strong in Gombe whose immediate past governor, Ibrahim Dankwambo is a constant feature in his consultations in most parts of the North.
Indeed, the Northcentral is a battle between Wike and Saraki who had earlier been endorsed by the PDP leaders of the region.
While the Atiku sphere is minimized in the Northwest, Governor Aminu Tambuwal is of reckoning in Sokoto, Zamfara and Jigawa where his campaign is being pushed by former Governor Sule Lamido.
Saturday Vanguard reports that Wike has been endorsed by the party leadership in Kano who recently pledged to support a power shift to the South.
The chairman of the state chapter of the party, Shehu Wada Sagagi, speaking when party stakeholders received Wike said: “We know as a matter of principle, and all of us here agree that the presidency should move to the south. That is a fair deal because when in 2019 the presidency was zoned to the north, no southern aspirant emerge to say that he will contest, unlike what is happening now. But I am sure with the way you are going, you will defeat all those evil forces that are planning evil against you.”
That assertion nonetheless, the Saraki campaign, it was gathered is also hoping to reap from splinter groups outside the mainstream that did not move with Senator Rabiu Kwakwanso to the New Nigeria Peoples Party, NNPP.
Saraki it was gathered is hoping to reap from the links to Kwakwanso as he also hopes to reap from links to Senator Marafa and Governor Abdulaziz Yari in Zamfara State.