Presidential primary: Salient points as PDP decides. If the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, thinks it is going to sell Nigerians another dummy, it should do a rethink because Nigeria needs PDP now more than ever. Whereas democracy is about popular choices and participation, it is increasingly debatable, whether or not party members, not nuanced in the general makeup of the larger ecosystem, are properly guided to ensure victory in the general election, in their choices at the crucial shadow election.
By now, it should be clear to those PDP leaders and members who are not cognitively distant – that is, those who know and understand how to win the general election – that their party needs critical thinking to arrive at who becomes its presidential candidate.
Chanting the mantra of zoning without the corresponding benefit of vote count would mean nothing.
Mounting the platform and rehashing time-worn phrase of past exploits that did not amount to anything in terms of electoral victory, will never translate to electability for a candidate.
Again, threatening other aspirants and demarketing them only goes to show an aspirant’s disdain for courtesies and abhorrence of decency.
Yet, in all these, the PDP must make its choice – and a good one at that.
No doubt, the push for zoning can never be discounted. It’s a good push. But all pushes do not necessarily translate to electoral victory.
Take it or leave it, the present structure of PDP places it at a disadvantage in terms of accruable demography either in the North or the South. Therefore, its candidate must be one without the baggage of age, corruption blemish and needless faux paux.
Nyesom Ezenwo Wike (NEW), the Rivers State governor, packs a punch in terms of a war chest. He has worked hard and has moved round and is not short of determination. In fact, were elections to be won simply based on theatrics and show of bravado, Wike would be PDP’s candidate. But strategic planning, team-work and an appreciation of the ethos of consequence management are qualities that could help more than physical exertion. Add to this, the need to elevate the electoral conversation beyond the swan song: ‘Give me power’. There is more to power utilization in the broader Nigerian canvass, where sensibilities must be well understood and delicately addressed.
Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar and presidential candidate of PDP in 2019, is not an unknown quantity. He appropriates PDP’s 12 million votes in 2019 as his and, therefore, insists he’s the best candidate. Yes, Atiku has been in this game for long with a good name recognition but that is also his albatross. Some think they have seen enough of him, even as this moment appears his best and last chance to fight very well.
The younger Turks in the party think he has overstayed. But Can PDP ignore him? Of course not. He has become an important entity in the party and must be respected and carried along. He stayed away from the attempt to forge consensus and looks the better for it because he is yet to be put on the scale of the northern establishment. Maybe after the primary, they would look his side.
On the economy side, Atiku is well versed as a private sector player. He is a major creator of jobs across sectors.
Yet, in this mix, we also have an Abubakar Bukola Saraki (ABS) who moved from PDP to APC and back to PDP, a fact Wike loves to taunt with.
Whereas, as Senate President, he demonstrated how well, walking across the aisle could advance the cause and course of democracy, the divisiveness his ascension created in 2015 leaves a sour taste in the mouth of APC leaders because he became Senate President despite the avalanche of opposition from his party. But his ability to manage the Senate and lead the NASS as its chairman for four years, despite the plethora of forces arrayed against him, speaks to his staying power and his managerial ability. Containing President Muhammadu Buhari’s onslaught, defending against Bola Tinubu, defeating the system when DSS stormed NASS to enforce an impeachment agenda, and coming out unscathed are testimonies of a Master in the game. He was also tested at the judiciary of corruption allegation but the Supreme Court judgment quashed the charges as sanctioned, again by the state, through the Code of Conduct Bureau and its Tribunal. Many aspirants cannot boast of this.
On the economic front, Saraki, as Special Assistant to President Olusegun Obasanjo, was part of the team that propagated a policy of self-sufficiency, which has now seen the emergence of the likes of Dangote of Dangote Group, Abdulasamad of BUA Group and the Innoson and Ibetos of our world.
Some would add that he has youth connection, age and zone to his advantage.
Hailing from the North Central zone, which has never produced a democratic President or vice president, is a matter the Middle Belt zone has made a talking point for so long. While the Southeast has produced a civilian vice president, the Northcentral says they have not.
Others argue that the years of the Military cannot be detached from the entire Nigerian political tapestry. That’s a matter for further debate.
Talking about the northern establishment, Saraki, Governor Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State, Governor Bala Mohammed of Bauchi State and Mohammed Hayatu-Deen subscribed to the assessment of the time-honoured intervention of usually reliable coterie of elders.
Dr. Abdurahman a Political Economist, sent this piece from the FCT, Abuja.