The stage is set for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to produce a candidate that would represent the party in the 2023 presidential election.
The PDP has 14 aspirants contesting for its presidential ticket but among these 14 are four politicians who are considered to be more popular, stronger and more influential than the rest of the aspirants.
As the PDP prepares to choose its flagbearer this weekend, the conversation about the party’s presidential candidate has been narrowed down to these four aspirants with each of them standing a chance to emerge as the party’s candidate for the 2023 presidential election.
These candidates include the former Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, Former Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, Governors Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State and Nyesom Wike of Rivers State.
For the PDP primaries, 811 delegates across the country are expected to participate in the process that will lead to the emergence of the opposition party’s flagbearer.
Each of the delegates was elected from the 774 local governments in the country, with 37 special delegates from the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory.
Let’s analyse the chances of the four heavyweights in relation to their popularity in the six geo-political zones in the country.
How Atiku may emerge
The former Vice President and 2019 presidential candidate of the PDP is a strong politician from the Northeast. The region has a total of 112 delegates from Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, Taraba, and Yobe to participate in the primaries.
Atiku is a veteran politician who has been contesting elections since 1992. He’s been around for so long that he is very confident that he would clinch the 2023 presidential ticket of the PDP.
The former VP is a popular politician in his region, especially in Adamawa where he came from. Amongst the aspirants, Atiku stands as the only politician with a tested structure in the northern and southern regions of the party. This is based on the fact that the structure had been built and tested over the years.
However, Atiku’s emergence may not be an easy ride as younger politicians who are also governors in the north are ready to give a ride for his money in the north.
What are Wike’s chances?
Governor Nyesom Wike’s presidential campaign started as a joke, but the governor is apparently hell-bent on becoming the next president of Nigeria.
The Governor of Rivers State is currently the most popular and most influential governor in the South-south region.
For the primaries, 123 delegates are expected from Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, Edo, and Rivers states.
In the South-East and South-South regions, Wike may get some significant votes even though Governor Emmanuel Udom of Akwa Ibom is among the contenders.
In the South-West, Wike seems to have done his homework as he is believed to have got Oyo and Lagos delegates on his side.
In the north, Wike may not be a popular politician, but during the course of his campaigns and consultations in the region, he might have been able to win the hearts of some delegates.
As a party man, Wike believes aspirants like Atiku and Saraki should not be entrusted with the party’s presidential ticket because they dumped the PDP at some point in their political careers.
If some northern delegates buy this narrative, Wike might emerge as the PDP presidential candidate.
Aminu Tambuwal is a strong contender
Aminu Tambuwal is a sitting governor in the North-west, the region which has the highest number of delegates. It is believed that the 186 delegates from Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Sokoto, and Zamfara would boost the governor of Sokoto’s chances.
If Tambuwal is able to get his region for himself and pick some reasonable amount of votes from the North-East and North-Central delegates, he might pull a surprise victory.
In the south, the odds seem to be against Tambuwal, but sources close to his campaign team disclosed that the former governor of Imo State, Emeka Ihedioha is firmly rooting for Tambuwal’s candidacy in the South-East.
Again, if the surreptitious northern agenda works in favour of Tambuwal over Saraki and Atiku, the governor of Sokoto state might carry the day.
Saraki stands a chance to win
The former governor of Kwara State, Bukola Saraki is a very popular politician in the North-Central region, where 121 delegates from Benue, Kogi, Kwara, Nasarawa, Niger, Plateau including the Federal Capital Territory are expected to participate in the primaries.
Saraki has a reputation for being a smart political strategist, and if he plays the game well again, he might share the delegates’ votes in the other northern regions with Atiku, Tambuwal and Governor Bala Mohammed of Bauchi State.
In the Southern regions, Saraki shares some cultural affinity with the South-west region and may also share the delegates’ votes in the region with Wike in the Yoruba-speaking region.