The presidential candidate of Nigeria’s main opposition party, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), will be unveiled on May 29.
But how do the 14 aspirants stand heading into the primaries which is already dubbed the party’s most intense in recent times?
However no less than 811 delegates will determine the fate of the aspirants at the primaries which will be held tomorrow in Abuja.
A breakdown of the figures by regions reveal that the North West zone has 193 delegates; South West zone has 193 delegates; North Central zone has 130 delegates; South South zone has 129 delegates; North East 116 delegates; South East has 100 delegates.
Although 17 aspirants bought the party’s N41 million expression of interest and nomination forms, after they appeared before the party’s presidential screening committee led by Senator David Mark, two were disqualified.
15 of them were cleared while two were disqualified from the race.
Those who were cleared They include former Vice President Atiku Abubakar; Rivers State governor, Nyesom Wike; former Senate President Bukola Saraki; Sokoto State governor; Aminu Tambuwal and former Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Anyim Pius Anyim.
Others are Bauchi State governor, Bala Mohammed, Akwa Ibom governor, Emmanuel Udom, former Ekiti State governor, Ayodele Fayose and publisher of Ovation Magazine, Dele Momodu, former president, Manufacturing Association of Nigeria (MAN), Sam Ohuabunwa; investment banker, Mohammed Hayatu-Deen; lawyer and entrepreneur, Charles Ugwu; former Abia State House of Assembly Speaker, Chikwendu Kalu and Tareila Diana, the only female aspirant.
The two aspirants disqualified from the race are former lawmaker, Cosmas Ndukwe, and a US-based medical doctor, Nwachukwu Anakwenze.
However, former Anambra State governor, Peter Obi, withdrew from the race and resigned his membership of the party on Wednesday, noting that “recent developments within our party make it practically impossible to continue participating and making such constructive contributions.”
Amid concerns that the primaries may be characterised by huge financial inducements of delegates, LEADERSHIP also learnt that aspirants would seek to leverage on their old political ties with party leaders in states who are believed to have a measure of influence on the delegates.
However, another school of thought believes that the exclusion of statutory delegates from the primaries and strict use of ad hoc delegates makes the process more difficult to predict as most of the adhoc delegates are likely to have a mind of their own.
Recall that the refusal of the president to sign the amended Electoral Act to allow statutory delegates, including present and past party officials, former party members who held political offices, the number of delegates for the primaries has shrunk from over 3000 to 811.
Nevertheless, the battle is poised to be fierce as the array of aspirants cut across the six geo-political zones would go for broke, hoping to consolidate votes from their regions. For watchers, the difference might be in the ability of aspirants to garner votes beyond their states and regions.
He is clearly the most experienced aspirant of the lot with a wide political network spanning over 30 years. He is also largely perceived as the top aspirant in the race. His 2019 presidential candidacy for PDP also affords him political mileage and a vote bank of sorts. More so, although he is reputed to have a large warchest, it is yet to be seen if it was as massive as it used to be going into this contest as he would have to face some other aspirants who seem ready to put all on the line.
A founding father of the party, who served as former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s deputy for eight years, he is expected to make a strong showing in the most Northern states without PDP state governors.
However, in the North East zone, he will sweep the votes from his state, Adamawa. The PDP state governor, Umar Fintiri, who is seeking a second term ticket, has repeatedly declared that much.
Atiku would also get measureable votes from Gombe, Yobe and Taraba states. He would face a challenge in Borno State where he would battle for votes with Mohammed Hayatu-Deen, who hails from the state. Yobe State which has no aspirant in the race, may also give him some votes. He will also meet stiff resistance in Bauchi considering that the governor, Bala Mohammed, is also considered a formidable contender. In the North West, he would get votes in states not controlled by PDP even though he would face resistance from Aminu Tambuwal who considers the region his political turf. The former vice president would also get measureable votes in the North Central amid fierce opposition from the likes of Saraki and Wike.
In the South, Atiku isn’t expected to do too badly. In the South West and South East he is expected to snatch tangible votes as some of his old political allies are from these regions. This is bearing in mind that governors of Abia and Enugu, Okezie Ikpeazu and Hon Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, are working with Wike. Atiku is projected to make sizable inroads in the South South region despite the opposition he would get from the aspirants coming from that region.
In an era where age has become quite topical in who replaces President Muhammadu Buhari, Atiku who is in his 70’s, is regarded as being old for the job.
Also while his supporters would regard his persistence in seeking the top office, a record six times, as a plus, it is being interpreted as desperation in some quarters.
What’s more, the allegation that he abandoned the party after the 2019 election has also refused to go away.
Abubakar Bukola Saraki
Former Senate President and two-term governor of Kwara State, Saraki comes into the race with a lot of pedigree. He has traversed the length and breadth of the country campaigning for votes from delegates, even though his emergence as consensus candidate of the Northern Elders Forum (NEF) alongside Bala Mohammed, didn’t go as planned. He considers himself a bridge on many socio-political levels, ranging from age, ethnicity and dispensations. He also has the financial wherewithal to go the whole hog of the contest.
However, he is expected to win Kwara votes and get a good showing in the North Central states as he would leverage on the clamour for a North Central presidency. He would face resistance from Benue State whose governor, Samuel Ortom is politically cozy with Wike. He is also projected to put up a formidable battle for votes in the North West and the North East zones. In the South West, he is equally expected to battle for votes in the region. He is however projected to face tough resistance in Southern states.
Even though his supporters consider it an advantage, the issue of which part of the country he belongs to seems to remain topical in some quarters.
Anyim Pius Anyim
The former president of the Senate and former Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), has been engaging delegates and party stakeholders. He equally came into the race with a lot of pedigree spanning the legislature executive arms of government.
He joined the race quite early and has canvassed for votes. He will get votes in the South East. He is also expected to get make a good showing in some Northern states as well.
He prides in his ability to be bold and fearless. Considered a formidable contender, Rivers State governor has also embarked on a tour of the country to convince delegates and stakeholders on why he should be the party’s candidate.
With a large warchest, there is little doubt that he can spring a surprise at the primaries. He is one of the major agitators for the Southern presidency. He has also led the campaign against the likes of Atiku and Saraki and Tambuwal who worked against the party in 2015, even though he supported Tambuwal in 2019.
He is projected to win states in the South, especially South-South, South East and South West even though he has as many political foes as friends in these regions. While he would struggle for votes in the North West and North East, he would get some votes in the North Central.
His seeming overbearing personality and penchant to be haughty strikes a wrong chord in some quarters. This has often raised questions about his temperament.
He has also extensively engaged delegates and PDP stakeholders for the ticket which he first contested for in 2019 but lost to Atiku. He has robust public service experience having served as governor and speaker of the House of Representatives. He is the current chairman of the PDP Governors Forum. He is expected to get votes from the North West states being the only PDP governor in the zone. This is in spite of the fact that he would have Atiku and Saraki to contend with. He will battle for votes in the North East, North Central and the Southern states.
His major challenge is how to convince delegates that he can succeed President Buhari despite coming from the same zone.
He is an experienced banker, economist, project finance executive, administrator, and renowned technocrat. The Borno state-born Nigerian, who recently joined partisan politics has pulled his weight within the space of time he has joined the party. He hopes to bring his financial discipline to bear in the political space. He is projected to get a votes from Borno State and make a good showing in the North East states. But he is projected to struggle with votes from other regions.
The Bauchi State governor and former minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), he was among the early aspirants to declare his presidential bid. He, like Saraki, emerged as consensus candidates from the north. Although speculations have trailes his presidential ambition to the degree that he is also seeking re-election as governor as plan B, he has continued to engage delegates for the party’s ticket with the hope that he can battle Atiku for the North East presidency. He is expected to win votes in Bauchi and some North East States. He will have a tough battle in North Central and North West. He will equally fight for votes in the South.
The two-term governor of Akwa Ibom State has also made a lot of engagements with party delegates. Despite speculations that he might be eyeing vice presidential slot, Emmanuel has remained consistent in his campaign. He is poised to win votes in his state. He might also make some in roads the South West. He will battle for votes in the North.
He declared for the presidential race perhaps, much earlier than most, precisely in 2021. Driven by conviction, the 71 year old business mogul, had entered the race on the strength of his capacity to bring a new narrative to governance. He has equally engaged delegates although not at the level of some other aspirants. He is expected to get votes from the South East.
He will certain get the votes of Ekiti State delegates. But unlike other aspirants, he has not made much impact with regards to engagement with delegates. Not many consider his ambition as one that is rooted.
The media mogul is no stranger to presidential elections having contested in 2011. Although he has made a few visits to party stakehokders, his engagements has not been at the level of other top aspirants.
The other aspirants Charles Ugwu, Chikwendu Kalu and Tariele Diana Oliver have yet to make much impact after they joined the rank of presidential aspirants. Their engagement with party delegates have had little or not mention in the media