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Exclusive on PDP Presidential Primary: Massive gang up Against Atiku, Tambuwal


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By Mideno Bayagbon

First the good news: the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, will not implode after all, if the feelers through out the night of the determination, at the various strategy and horse trading meetings, are anything to go by.

Bad news is, it is going to the ropes, who will emerge as the presidential flag bearer of the party. Two shockers: It might not be Atiku Abubakar; it might not definitely be Aminu Tambuwal.

As the PDP chieftains meet today at the Adokiye Amiesimaka stadium in Port Harcourt, they all seemed agreed that the overwhelming interest of the party to kick out President Muhammadu Buhari and the All Progressives Congress is paramount. They appear resolved to bury personal interests for the overall good of the party and Nigeria. The contending forces, which i had earlier times described as the Wike Tendencies, were late in the night almost agreeing that the Northwest should be allowed to have a go at it, for several reasons, the main one being that it is the zone with the highest number of votes.

Atiku Abubakar, seemingly the most prepared and the person, who on the face value, could have built a bulwark of nationwide

support, strong enough to truly challenge the incumbent is facing serious betrayals from two fronts. A large segment of the party apparently has not forgiven him for hopping off, all so frequently, to other parties when his loyalty was needed most. He was also being viciously painted as a self centred, egoistic, untrustworthy candidate by his traducers all through the night.

Then, there is the Olusegun Obasanjo factor. Except in Yoruba land where he is terribly underrated, Obasanjo, today, is a major factor in Nigerian politics. He is undoubtedly the leader of the “owners” and deciders of what and who should be in Nigerian national politics. Atiku’s failure to win him over has driven a large number of the leaders and delegates  away from the Atiku train. His case is made worse by the fact that even General Theophilus Danjuma is rumoured to be also against his bid for the presidency. It was not looking good at all for the Waziri Adamawa very early this morning. Pundits insist it will take a miracle, and very serious realignments and horse trading to bring fresh life into his bid to overcome the obstacles.

Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers state too seemed to be acquiescing to the many pressure on him to temper his support for Governor Aminu Tambuwal, who already has a fall back position of re-contesting for the governorship of Sokoto state. Like all wise men, Tambuwal and his principal had this fall back position in place when Tambuwal silently bought both the presidential and governorship forms. The thinking in the party, as the many meetings and horse trading went on throughout the night, seems to indicate that a preponderance of people believe that Tambuwal lacks the necessary gravitas and experience to defeat a Buhari at the presidential poll. He is encouraged to wait for now. The olive branch to him is that he is penciled down to be a major player in future.

Nevertheless, what seems to turn the tide against Wike and Tambuwal appears to be the fact that most of the PDP governors are not in agreement with Wike’s forceful push to have the Sokoto governor as the candidate of the party. Seriake Dickson, Ibrahim Dankwambo (who is being pressured to step down too) and some of their colleagues do not see any reason why they should support a Tambuwal bid. Then there is also the quietly whispered reason: most do not believe a Tambuwal ticket will be strong enough to oust the incumbent.

It was, however, looking good for Rabiu Kwankwaso and Sule Lamido as their stock kept rising last night. They appear to be the two frontrunners among those backed by the Generals last night. Before now, while some people were skeptical of Kwankwaso because of his perceived rabid islamic disposition; indeed, some see him as an educated version of Buhari, his backers now say that is an underhand assessment by his opponents.

Banking Code

Until the new realignment begun, however, Sule Lamido was considered a very weak candidate indeed. But one day, they say, is a long time in politics. Those pushing his candidacy now paint him as urbane, intellectual, widely accepted nationwide, lover of the down trodden.

Abubakar Saraki was being courted all round throughout the night. The believe is that he knows that the time is not ripe for his presidency. As a leader volunteered last night, he is still seen by the core moslem north as an outsider. The believe too is that anyone who will confront and supplant President Buhari must be someone the core north sees as one of them. It is agreed, however, that he must be assured of his retaining his current Senate Presidency in the incoming assembly. His case is almost similar to that of David Mark whose candidacy is seen as a ploy to also angle for the senate president’s seat. The rumour that the Generals drafted him into the race was quietly dying last night. The fact that he is a Christian mars his ambition greatly at this time.

A seeming winning strategy adopted by some of the candidates is the push to have delegates believe that “The Generals” are behind them. The names of Obasanjo, Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida, Theophilus Danjuma, are top of the list name droppers are mouthing.

This is where Kwankwaso and Sule Lamido, who has the additional talakawa support, come in. They are not just Fulanis, but respected Moslems. Add this to the fact that they are also from the Northwest, same zone as President Buhari and Aminu Tambuwal. As they seemingly gain more support,  Ahmed Maikarfi who is a former chairman of the PDP, also from the Northwest, was also waiting in the wings for a possible swing of fortunes to him.

Money, especially vote buying, was also playing a major role in the game last night. Major spenders of course are the Wike group; and Atiku Abubakar was not also letting things lie low. This is his final attempt to run for the presidency of the country and he was not resting on his oars as the various conspiracy groups were wracking their brains to come up with an acceptable, winning formula last night.

Be that as it may, the top four contenders as at the time of putting this together were Rabiu Kwankwaso, Sule Lamido, Aminu Tambuwal and Atiku Abubakar. We continue to keep an eye on the developments as they continue to unfold.

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