Atiku’s Presidential Ticket Haunted By PDP’s Failure To Heed Warning:  Sani, Tietie, Adeyanju React

The failure of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, to zone its presidential ticket to the south may be haunting it now as political parties get ready to kick-off their campaigns following series of crises in the party since the completion of its presidential primary.

The Southern Governors’ Forum, SGF, had insisted it’s the turn of the South to take over from President Muhammadu Buhari, a position also advocated by the PDP Southern Governors’ Forum.

The SGF made the famous ‘Lagos Declaration’, where the group of 17 governors through a communique reiterated “its commitment to the politics of equity, fairness and unanimously agrees that the presidency of Nigeria be rotated between Southern and Northern Nigeria and resolved that the next president of Nigeria should emerge from the Southern Region.”

The Southern PDP Governors’ Forum also stated in their demand “we have agreed as Southern Governors in Lagos and also in Delta that this party has to respect the zoning principle as enshrined in our Constitution,” in a meeting at the Abia State Governor’s Lodge in Abuja.

“And to that effect, we feel that the best thing to do is zone the presidency to the South, and we stand on that position,” the governors said.

The Southern-Middle Belt Forum also joined the fray, warning repeatedly that any political party which fields a northern presidential candidate after the current president, Muhammadu Buhari, will not be supported by the South.

In a communiqué in early 2022, jointly signed by Chief Edwin Clark; Afenifere leader, Chief Ayo Adebanjo; President-General, Middle Belt Forum, Dr Pogu Bitrus; President-General, Ohaneze Ndigbo Worldwide, Prof George Obiozor; and the National Chairman, Pan-Niger Delta Forum, Senator Emmanuel Essien, the group said, “We condemn, in strongest terms, obvious schemes by the two main political parties, the PDP and APC, ahead of their presidential primaries, to jettison the time-honoured principle of rotation, which has traditionally served as the glue holding the Federal Republic of Nigeria together.

“We warn that the reported permutations by the main political parties to foist northern presidential candidates on the nation would be a grave misadventure, with grim consequences on national concord and harmony.”

However, former vice president, Atiku Abubakar, from Adamawa State, who was from the outset considered the major opponent to the southern candidate in the PDP, ran for the presidential ticket despite stiff opposition within the PDP.

Atiku eventually won after fellow northern aspirant, Governor Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State, stepped down for him.

The man who came second in the party’s presidential primary, Rivers State governor, Nyesom Wike, has refused to support Atiku.

Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue and former governor of Ekiti State, Ayodele Fayose, are among other southerners have kicked against Atiku.

The PDP has struggled since his emergence, with Governor Wike headlining south’s resistance to the ticket.

The crisis has stalled the formation of its presidential campaign council.

The party set up a reconciliation committee headed by the Adamawa State Governor, Umaru Fintiri, with the Wike camp also attending with some peace delegates.

Fintiri, who last week Thursday paid unannounced visit to Wike in Port Harcourt,  assured that the expected peace accord will yield the desired result for the party to enable it win the presidential election in 2023.

But stakeholders have expressed mixed feelings on the crisis saying it’s capable of imperilling the prospect of the party in 2023.

Let’s Forget The Past, Rally Round Atiku To Win – Senator Shehu Sani

Speaking on the development with NewsNGR, former Senator from Kaduna Central, Shehu Sani defended Atiku saying, “The party has conducted it’s primaries and Atiku Abubakar emerged as the presidential flagbearer. All those who are aggrieved should simply rally round him for us to win the 2023 elections.

“All about what he (Atiku) said or what he did about the PDP should have been part of the campaigns that was done by aspirants before the primaries. What I want us to consider is that the victory of the party is what should be of high importance and significance to each and every member of the party.

“Whatever you have said about the party, the party has made it very clear that, whether decampees or all those who are going to return, once you return they should quickly come back and let’s win the election. So, all that you have said or done is inconsequential at this hour. The common factor is how will the party win the 2023 elections, that is the most important thing as far as I am concerned,” he said.

He defended the former Vice President saying he “would not have won the presidential ticket, if the Southern delegates had not voted for him. So, if they have problems, their problems should be on Southern delegates of the party who voted for him and not on him.

“As far as I’m concerned, those in the opposition should know very well that the ruling party has no history of being merciful to people who are doing anti-party. Without doubt, even people within the ruling party themselves are crying that they are being marginalized; they are being persecuted and that they are being eliminated, so what of you that wants to do anti-party?

“So, to me I believe that it’s a choice. There are candidates – some from the North, some from the South. If you are not satisfied with one candidate, you go and vote for another candidate, not to continue to destroy or tarnish or rubbish the reputation of another person. If you want to vote for Southern candidate, there is Peter Obi, there is Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu for you to vote for them. If you want to vote for Northern candidate, there is Kwankwaso, there is Atiku Abubakar.

“But they should know that there is a consequence. If you are a state governor who has candidates at House of reps, senatorial and state assembly election, you will know the danger of telling people to vote for an opposition party other than your own.

“It will come with consequences, that is it. The first election that would take place, is the presidential election and if another party other than yours wins during the presidential election, you can’t tell people to vote for a different party because there is a natural tendency that whoever wins the presidency, in many states it would tilt towards the side that won the presidency,” Sani said.

Atiku Can’t Be Trusted, Not Friend Of South – Frank Tietie

Lawyer and political analyst, Frank Otietie,  dismissed Atiku’s friendly posture to the South, saying it’s to trick the south into getting their votes in 2023.

He told our Correspondent that, “Atiku disregarded PDP’s principle of rotation between North and South, where he tried to argue that the last PDP president was Jonathan, and as such it should go to the North. If that was a valid argument, then they should have invited Jonathan to come and complete his second tenure or invited another Southerner to complete Jonathan’s tenure.

“His argument is not tenable. The position of Nigerians is that, whereas there has been eight years of Northern presidency, it should naturally and reasonably and logically be the turn of the south to produce the president.

“So, Atiku disregarded the entire Southern Nigeria and it is not a matter of desperation but a matter of social disregard not only for the people but to the principle of rotation.

“People of southern Nigeria should not see Atiku as a friend, he is not a friend, but rather one who subjugated southern interest for his own personal ambition.

“Look at it this way, a northern Fulani muslim would have ruled for 8 years between 2015 and 2023, and still expects another Northern, Muslim, Fulani person to take over from him, it’s a total disregard of the sensibilities of Southern Nigeria and the principle of unity and rotation,” he stated.

He added that Atiku worsened it by also causing further divisions among southerners, “to think that Ifeanyi Okowa hosted southern governors to reach a resolution – not PDP governors – that presidency must, as of necessity, switch from the North to the South. Atiku used that opportunity to drive a wedge of disunity among southern governors by picking Ifeanyi Okowa, who is supposed to be the arrow-head of a Southern presidency.

Atiku  Not An Option For President In 2023 – Deji Adeyanju

According to Deji Adeyanju, former spokesman of the PDP on New Media, issues of corruption have never prevented anybody from becoming president in Nigeria. “The electorates do not really care because the issues we talk about here are pedestrian issues, issues of stomach infrastructure, issues of tribe, religion. Those are determining factors here, it’s very unfortunate.

“The other issue that needs to be addressed is the desperation of Atiku. Atiku has always been wanting to President since 1991 and he has been former vice-president twice. That is why many people have attempted to ask him what he forgot in the Villa, that he wants to go back to take.

 “Ideally, Tinubu and Atiku should not be an option, but this is Nigeria where those are the only options available as at today to most voters in the country. The Obis and Sowores and other candidates are seen as political lightweights that cannot really do anything,” he said.

Atiku Working Hard To Resolve Crisis –  Spokesman Paul Ibe

According to the spokesman of the PDP presidential candidate, the former Vice President is working very hard to resolve the internal crisis in the party.

He said, “Even in families, relationships, a lot of crises arise. From the primary election, some have made an issue out of it, but it’s being resolved. Reconciliation is ongoing.”

He argued that the National Chairman of the PDP, Iyorchia Ayu, will not resign, explaining that the , ” position was zoned to the north before the presidential primaries. However, they agree that when election is over and the presidential candidate emerges from the north, the position automatically reverts to the South, so that shouldn’t be an issue.”

He pointed out that Wike’s political romance with the APC leaders and top leaders was not out of place as it’s normal.

He said, “It’s not question of a candidate in another party commissioning a project in Rivers, this is not the first time. So, there is a precedence. It depends on what you make of it, depends on your interpretation of it. But I understand that based on his commitment, what we have seen, his commitment is to the PDP and I don’t think it’s in doubt.”

The presidential spokesmen of the Atiku Campaign Organisation, Senator Dino Melaye, Segun Showunmi and Daniel Bwala could not respond when contacted.

The spokesman of the PDP, Debo Ologunagba also failed to respond when contacted.

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