Ahead of the 2023 general elections, former President Olusegun Obasanjo has started mobilising strategic stakeholders in the southern part of the country against the Peoples Democratic Party’s candidate, Atiku Abubakar.
Political sources, who confirmed the move, said the former president, who expressed unhappiness at the emergence of Atiku Abubakar as the PDP presidential candidate ahead of his southern counterparts, argued that power should return to the South after President Muhammadu Buhari’s eight years as president.
Atiku emerged PDP candidate for a second time in four years at the MKO National Stadium late Saturday, scoring a total of 371 Votes to defeat his closest rival, Nyesom Wike, who scored 237 votes.
The sources said Obasanjo’s grievances with Atiku may not be unconnected to the longstanding differences since they both acted as president and vice president of the country, when Atiku rose to fame.
However, Obasanjo forgave and supported Atiku in the last general elections which the latter lost to an incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari.
But sources said Obasanjo would rather have another person win the PDP presidential ticket instead of the former vice president and that is why he is determined to mobilise Southern leaders against Atiku at the 2023 general elections.
Top sources, who spoke to reporters exclusively on the current plan, said the former president had already detailed former Cross River State governor, Donald Duke, to start the process of organising strategic leaders against Atiku.
The sources said part of Duke’s assignments is to mobilise support across the southern part of the country in favour of Peter Obi, who is the presidential candidate for the Labour Party.
Obasanjo also held meetings with Obi and Duke and urged them to lobby River State governor, Nyesom Wike, who is obviously angry at the outcome of the primary of the PDP, where he lost to Ati ku Abubakar.
The sources also said Obasanjo had concluded plans to personally meet with Wike and all the top stakeholders from the southern part of the country to ensure that power returns to the south at the 2023 general election.
Other sources also noted that Duke’s grievances are with the alleged betrayal of Wike by the Sokoto State governor, Aminu Tambuwal, who openly stepped down at the 11th hour of the PDP primary election and told his delegates to vote for Atiku, despite the fact that Wike has always supported Tambuwal both politically, financially and otherwise, especially during the 2019 PDP presidential primary elections.
Duke is also said to be aggrieved over the money spent on Tambuwal and his ambition by Wike, who naturally should get his support at the primaries but lost it due to northern collaboration before the primaries.
Duke, while lamenting the betrayal to Obasanjo, also confirmed the betrayal of some southern governors who wanted their delegates to vote for Atiku, noting that it was only delegates from Akwa Ibom and Edo that defied their governors’ order to vote for Wike.
After the primary, Wike had declared that some PDP governors ganged up with some vested interest groups to derail the quest for Southern Nigeria to produce the next president.
He said it was the agreement of the Southern governors that the presidency should come to the South, which he stood by going into the contest.
Meanwhile, Duke is also said to have already started working towards mobilisation for this task, as he has already contacted a respected priest from Cross River State, pointing out the implications of power remaining in the north and the neglect of the South East and the South South, which were already allegedly schemed out in the PDP power equation.
Ayu To PDP Leaders: Let’s Stop APC’s Misrule
Meanwhile, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar has rallied PDP members to unite and end the misrule of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).
Atiku stated this shortly after receiving his certificate of return as the PDP presidential candidate at the party’s national secretariat, adding that the recent party primaries were a contest within family members on how to put their best feet forward.
Atiku emerged presidential candidate of the PDP last Saturday.
This comes as consultations over who will be Atiku’s running mate intensified with the prospects of a governor from the South East In the mix.
So far, the front runners for the vice-presidential candidacy are Governors Nyesom Wike (Rivers), Udom Emmanuel (Akwa Ibom) and Senator Ifeanyi Okowa (Delta).
It was learnt that one of the South East PDP governors is also being looked at as a compromise choice should the South South option fail to work out following the simmering tussle for the position.
Wike had accused his colleagues from the zone of sabotaging the interest of a Southern presidency during the presidential primary.
But speaking at the event yesterday, Atiku described his victory at the primary as “a victory for all of us, for our party and for the vast majority of Nigerians suffering under the misrule of the APC.”
Atiku further reminded the party members that the main battle lay ahead.
“The main contest is the one to win the Presidency of our country for our party, and it requires the entire PDP family and other supporters and sympathisers. We must pull everyone together. Nobody should be excluded. I have already visited some of those who contested against me as a way to lead in that effort to unify the party so that we can face our real opponents, defeat them in the election and begin the process of rescuing and rebuilding this country.
“The callous and dangerous APC misrule over the past seven years is there for everyone to see. However, we should not take their defeat for granted. We must unite and work extremely hard for every single vote in this country. There is so much to do and there is little time to waste. So, let’s get to work,” he said.
He, however, praised the National Working Committee (NWC) for ensuring a level playing field for all aspirants just as he thanked the organising committee for the convention for putting together a rancour-free and successful convention.
PDP national chairman, Dr Iyorchia Ayu, also corroborated the position of Atiku, urging party members to unite behind Atiku to win the 2023 presidential election.
“As we march forward, we need all of you because each one of you has supporters and all of you plus all your supporters, we want you all to fuse together into one happy political family. It is this family that will face the battle ahead. We have only started a journey. We shall end this journey sometime next year. By the first of June next year, we should take over power from a colourless and clueless government that has totally destroyed this country.
“I urge all of you to come together. It doesn’t matter which candidate you supported; come together and support the party, support our efforts, support our candidates, the next president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”
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