The crises bedeviling the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) have been blamed on the adoption of former Vice President Atiku Abubakar to fly the flag of the PDP in 2019.
Abubakar was the vice president during the eight years in which President Olusegun Obasanjo ran the country under the platform of the PDP.
A member of the G-34, which saw to the formation of the PDP, the former vice president used his financial war chest to see to the success of the party until schism and internal bickering in the Presidency made him join the opposition.
But things appeared to have changed as emerging facts show that PDP governors and other notable leaders in the party may have identified him as the most viable candidate to wrest power from the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) after the 2015 presidential fiasco.
It was gathered that some hawks in the troubled party had conceived earlier in the year that ex-president and current African most celebrated democratic icon, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, might be the ideal candidate due to his rising domestic and international stocks but he turned it down, advising that the leaders of the party should search more broadly.
Jonathan was said to have been approached by the controversial factional chairman of the party, Ali Modu-Sheriff to provide N3 trillion so that he could be adopted as the party’s sole candidate when “the time was ripe,” a source in the National Working Committee said.
Even though the source could not clarify if Jonathan was personally informed, he was sure the former president knew and when reports were brought back that the former president was not disposed to ruling the country again, “Sheriff started to nurse the ambition. That was why he manipulated some current PDP governors to adopt him until 2018 when he would step down as the party’s chairman and be adopted as the sole candidate to run for president.”
But things did not work out, the source said, adding that in one of the meetings held at the residence of a former senator from the north central zone, Mr Sheriff’s calculations were immediately uncovered.
“His calculations were made clear at the meetings. So moves were made to first unify the northern PDP members and then reach out to the south. The knock out blow was the shrewd role of Senator Ibrahim Mantu and former Minister, Professor Jerry Gana, who stuck to their guns and informed PDP governors and other members of what was in the offing.
“At the first Port Harcourt’s conference, the table turned as Rivers State and Ekiti State governors quickly aligned with the Mantu group and left Modu-Sheriff alone,” the source explained.
“Once that was achieved amid erroneous courts judgement that were obtained by Modu-Sheriff, the need to quickly shop for ideal candidates started. At a meeting in the governor’s lodge of one of the south south states, it was agreed that two PDP members who decamped to APC were ideal candidates.”
The source explained that the two mentioned were Atiku and Senate President Bukola Saraki.
To achieve this, a more amenable and corrupt-free party chairman must be chosen. “The need to zone it to the south was strategic just like the need to zone the party’s candidate to the north was,” another source explained.
“The calculations were not to scheme out people but to let a popular candidate win and that popular candidate, by the governors calculations who are scheming to clear the way for Atiku, was Jimi Agbaje. The PDP governors accepted him without a dissenter. And he is not running for the Alausa office again.”
Sources then said that the governors settled for Atiku owing to his complete understanding of the political process, broad political space he has created, stupendous financial possession and his position on key issues plaguing the nation – true federalism.
“He is for true federalism. The larger south sees him as one of theirs. Far above that, his acceptance to provide a whopping N3 trillion for the party since PDP is no longer in power and would compete against federal resources was far seen as an incentive than anything else,” the source averred.
According to the plan, Abubakar would officially decamp early next year after all the party’s structures have been created. A lot of consultations are ongoing such that once he decamps, “about 30 political parties would adopt him to send a strong message of his acceptability.”
According to another source in the PDP’s National Executive Committee, Abubakar prefers to use the platform he helped to form, he nurtured and “served in as a VP. Far from that, you can see the disenchantment in the nation. Even the APC is bogged down with internal crisis. The party is disappearing because of infighting. PDP did not witness this when it was in power. While it had crisis, the party’s chairman was not made to look like a little and confused boy as you see in APC.
“But the APC’s undoing is their unreadiness to lead the country. The indices are against them. Nothing is working. Even those ruling us are hungry and angry, could you imagined? That is why they are confused and Nigerians are against them.
“Would you run under such a crazy platform? Abubakar I know would not accept that. In no time, he would come back home because the PDP is his home. He would come with over 300 Atiku Abubakar support groups. Do you know what that means?
“With last Wednesday’s Federal High Court ruling in Abuja barring Modu-Sheriff from parading himself as the PDP chairman, sources say a new convention date might be announced and the venue could be changed to Abuja.
“This hint emerged on Friday as almost all PDP bigwigs gathered in Abia State for late Chief Ojo Madueke’s interment. Leaders of the party, a particular source said would discuss the last Wednesday’s botched party convention in Port Hacourt informally and seek for a short date for “a mother of all convention.”