In less than 2months, all political parties must conclude their primaries in accordance with the timetable of the election umpire, the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.
The main opposition party is still undecided about the issue of zoning as the Samuel Ortom’s committee was unable to decisively zone the party’s ticket despite the demand by the Southern governors for the ticket to be zoned to the south.
In the build-up to the primaries, DAILY POST reviews the strength of the major aspirants in the race along the regional lines.
As of the time of writing this report, about 13 aspirants have declared interest to be the flagbearer of the PDP.
Some of the notable ones are: Atiku Abubakar, Peter Obi, Nyesom Wike, Bukola Saraki, Aminu Tambuwal, Ayodele Fayose, Udom Emmanuel, Bala Mohammed Anyim Pius Anyim, Sam Ohuabunwa, Nwachukwu Anakwenze, Mohammed Hayatu-Deen, Dele Momodu and others.
Despite the call by Ohaneze for the South-East zone to be allowed to produce the president in 2023, the momentum in the race appears not to be on the side of the South-East aspirants in the PDP.
Out of the four aspirants from the region, only Peter Obi has a national outlook. Most of the candidates are out of office and do not have financial structures like the candidates from other regions.
In addition, the strength of the region in the PDP is weakened. Today, there are only two South-East governors in the PDP—Abia and Enugu. While these governors have been meeting other southern governors, the aspirants from the South-East have been left out in the cold.
Olisa Metuh, a former spokesperson of the PDP, had also complained about the relegation of the region during a political meeting in Abuja.
“Our collective position had been that the ticket be zoned to the South. But for Governor Wike to demand that it should be zoned to the Southsouth has created the impression that the Southeast is no longer in the reckoning,” he said.
In realisation of this weakness, the four aspirants are working to get a consensus candidate in reaction to Wike and the ongoing northern consensus by Saraki, Tambuwa and Bala Mohammed.
In the past couple of weeks, some of the aspirants from the North, Saraki, Tambuwal and Bala Mohammed have been meeting to decide on a consensus candidate, while their proxies have been appearing on major television programmes to argue against zoning.
It appears Governor Wike has been harvesting the weakness in the South-east. He has been positioning himself as the candidate that can wrestle power from the ruling party.
The combative Wike has been moving across the country telling anyone that cares to listen that he is the only person that can wrestle power from the APC.
Both Anyim and Obi don’t have PDP governors in their States, Anambra and Ebonyi, respectively. Ohuabunwa has no political experience.
Settling for VP slot
According to a source close to the Southeast consensus arrangement, the region may settle for a VP slot as things are going.
The source said the four candidates do not have the individual political capital and resources to challenge Atiku, the northern consensus group or even Wike.
“The thing is clear, the governors of the southeast are not ready to back the candidates because they do not have the national outlook.
“The best they angle for is to negotiate for a VP slot, but it is dangerous to talk about that because that will mean them working against the interest of the south.
“Governor Wike is moving across the country, how many of the southeast candidates have been able to visit Borno, Kebbi or other places across the country?” The source queried.
However, over the weekend, Peter Obi in an interview on Channels TV, said the Southeast is not in the race for the ticket to negotiate, he did not rule out vice president position after the primaries.