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Special Reports As PDP Presidential Primary, Atiku Holds The Ace As Saraki, Wike Fight On (Details below)

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Were the late Dr. K. O. Mbadiwe alive, he would have said, today, “the come has come to become”, as the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) gathers to elect its presidential flag bearer for the 2023 general elections.

For the PDP, it has been a particularly bumpy road to its special presidential national convention. Several issues had propped up and the decisions that the PDP took on those knotty issues have shaped the texture of the election amongst the 14 aspirants for president under the banner of the main opposition party.

No fewer than 17 persons purchased the nomination and expression of interest forms in the PDP. Of that figure, the David Mark-led screening committee, disqualified two, while another aspirant and former governor of Anambra State, Mr. Peter Obi opted out of the race. What that means is that there are 14 aspirants contesting for the ticket of the PDP today, one of whom is expected to be announced the party’s presidential flag-bearer at the end of the convention.

Even though there are 14 individuals contesting, the race for the PDP presidential ticket is essentially a three-horse race. As delegates and party leaders arrive in Abuja ahead of the convention, it becomes more obvious that the election is going to be a contest among former Vice President and the immediate past presidential candidate of the PDP, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, former Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki and the current governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike. Between the three of them, however, Atiku has an upper hand. Another aspirant that is poised to pull surprises at the convention included the current governor of Sokoto State, Aminu Tambuwal and Bauchi State governor, Bala Mohammed.

Many of the delegates who spoke with our correspondents under anonymity say that the utmost consideration for the party ahead of the 2023 election is to be able to win the presidential election and also for the PDP to have majority of states in the governorship election.

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The popular contention amongst the delegates is that the position of the leadership of the party on the controversy over zoning is based on the consideration to win in the general election.

Although the campaign offices of some of the aspirants in Abuja was brimming with activities when our reporters visited during the week, which the liaison houses of some state governments whose governors are also in the race have been decorated in campaign insignia of those states’ governor, it is believed that the refusal of President Muhammadu Buhari to sign the amended version of the Electoral Act 2022 has affected the planning of those aspirants concerning logistic support to the delegates.

A source in the campaign office of one of the aspirants said the switch from the known format of enlarged delegate to the new system with a reduced numbers of delegates would affect the outcome of the election today.

One area where the change from the old system to the new one law will likely affect the outcome of the election is in the geo-political distribution of the delegates.

Under the previous order for example, there are more delegates from the Southern parts of the country on account of the fact that the PDP controls more states in the south. But with the exclusion of statutory delegates and with the provision that only elected delegates, one from each local government area, are eligible to vote during today’s convention, there is a shift in the balance of power between the North with more local government areas and the South with less local government areas.

This is one reason also that a good number of the delegates believe that Atiku holds the ace. The projection amongst many of the delegates is that the state caucuses of the party from the North will come to the convention in one bloc to vote for Atiku and Tambuwal. Although Wike is believed to have also made in-roads into some places in the North, findings by our reporters, however, show that there is little or no appetite amongst the Northern delegates to cast their votes for the Rivers State governor.

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On the contrary, a good number of delegates from the South are favourably disposed to Northern aspirants, especially Atiku and Saraki.

A delegate from Abia State who spoke with our correspondent said that the exit of the former governor of Anambra State, Peter Obi from the race has opened the Eastern flanks to hunting and many of the delegates from the East will prefer to go with Atiku to Wike.

Many amongst the aspirants undertook consultation tours to all states of the country in reaching out to delegates ahead of today. However, many of the delegates differentiate the aspirants on the basis of their political pedigree, national spread and their abilities to win the general election for the party. In some states in the Southwest for example, the PDP has been out of power in those states for almost 12 years and the yearning of delegates from those states is to crown an aspirant with a formidable political stamina to help win back those states for the PDP.

With just one day apart between when the PDP will conclude its presidential primaries and when the APC will initiate its own primaries, it is safe to say that whatever conclusions that the delegates of the PDP make in the election of their party’s flag-bearer will certainly be the take off point for the APC when they converge on the Eagles Square on Sunday.

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