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ATIKU's New Game Plan For 2023 Race Revealed

•How He Made IYORCHIA AYU Northern Consensus Candidate

•What No One Will Tell You


The battle for the chairmanship for the People’s Democratic Party, PDP at the national level ended on Thursday, October 14, 2021, after ex-Senate President, Iyorchia Ayu, emerged as the Northern consensus candidate. The chairmanship slot had been zoned to the North and a consensus candidate emerged after a few contestants withdrew. A former Governor of Katsina State, Ibrahim Shema, and former Senator from Bauchi State, Abdul Ningi, reportedly withdrew from the race.

The new Chairman, which has been produced from the North has stirred up questions from political spectators who want to know the place of Atiku Abubakar, a former Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, who has also contested for presidency on many fronts and times in the past 30 years.

What many don’t know is that the choice of Ayu had the blessing of Atiku. Both have come a long way, since the days when Atiku was Vice President to Obasanjo and Ayu was Senate President. Don’t forget that he was the former DG of the Atiku Campaign.

With Ayu now as PDP National Chairman, how will Atiku realise his dream of getting a PDP presidential ticket? If one considers the political template of any party in Nigeria, as of now, it is obvious that the politics of regional balancing holds sway, when parties begin to allot posts and offices to members, in order for some part of its body not to feel marginalized. It would have been simple mathematics that once the chairmanship comes from the North, the next politically safe move is to zone the Presidency to the South. But this might not be the case, this time around, like the PDP, according to sources is most likely to come up with a Northerner as Chairman, a Northerner as Presidential candidate and a South-South candidate as running mate, which is most likely to be Wike.

City People can authoritatively reveal that Atiku has perfected his strategy for 2023. All things being equal, he is most likely to get the PDP presidential ticket. He has also tidied up a deal with other key players like Rivers Governor, Wike who has reached a Gentleman's Agreement with him.

Atiku Abubakar has fought and lost many more battles than he has won. Historically, it can be argued that Atiku is the most betrayed politician in the history of Nigeria’s politicking; mirroring from his experience in 1992, when his fate was merely decided in a flight between Abuja and Lagos, as the Social Democratic Party stalwarts dropped him for Babagana Kingibe, as a running mate to late Chief MKO Abiola.

In 2007, he also had a sour slice of betrayal after former President Olusegun Obasanjo preferred Katsina state governor as of that time, Umar Musa Yar’Adua to succeed him above his vice, Atiku Abubakar.

There were also indications that he left the party to join forces with Lagos frontman back in 2007, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu to fight the ruling PDP under Action Congress, but lost to Yar’Adua. The something would repeat itself in 2011, 2015, and 2019.

The challenge as far as pundits can see is the fact that the zoning of party chairman to the north-central will be a challenge for Atiku’s presidential ambition.

Let's tell you about Mr. Ayu, a former Sociology lecturer, who will be 69 in November, hails from Benue State. He is of the Tiv ethnic nationality.

He was Senate President during the botched Third Republic (1992-1993). And just in case we have forgotten, he was a former Director-General of Atiku’s campaign.

He later served as Minister of Education in the administration of late Sani Abacha and as a minister in three ministries – industry, internal affairs, and the environment – in the civilian administration of former President Olusegun Obasanjo.

Mr Ayu will be the 3rd person from Benue to hold the position. Barnabas Gemade, a former Minister and Senator and Audu Ogbeh, a former Minister, at different times, held that position but were removed in controversial circumstances.

Unknown to many people, Iyorcha Ayu shares a formidable bond with Atiku Abubakar and no one comes in between them. Sources from the PDP told City People that Atiku was part of the machinery that saw to the negotiation and permutation which lead to his emergence. Atiku was at former senate president, David Mark’s home a day before the announcement of Ayu. At every historical junction, Atiku has a record of shocking spectators with his political decisions. He is known for keeping his jokers beneath his sleeves and holding up till all the chips are down.

While the Southerners may be having parties to celebrate this “victory”, with the zoning narrative, it will be shocking to discover that Atiku will not back down. 

In the spirit of fairness, let’s look through his political trajectory. He came into the political frame after emerging as top 3 out of a large number of Presidential aspirants in the SDP Presidential primaries with my legend M.K.O. Abiola – M.K.O. being first, Baba Gana Kingibe emerging second, and Atiku Abubakar as third. Since margins were close, they ran for the 2nd voting option to decide the ‘clear’ winner. Atiku decided to team up with M.K.O Abiola. After M.K.O emerged, he chose Kingibe as his running mate. The permutation was that Atiku’s time would come, after M.K.O’s Presidency.

As Vice President, he led the Economic team under President Olusegun Obasanjo.

Not many people are aware that it was Atiku that recommended a lot of technocrats to Obasanjo’s Government. PDP has consistently appointed technocrats in Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (square pegs in a square hole) in government across the geopolitical frame of Nigeria. Some of the leading Presidential candidates such as ‘very competent’ Professor Kingsley Moghalu, Dr. Oby Ezekwesili were appointees of the PDP government. Even Governor Nasir Elrufai served in PDP for 14 years out of the 16 years of PDP’s reigns. Atiku recommended and facilitated these people’s appointments.

Let’s not also forget that Atiku remained the only democratic Vice President who fought his boss, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, against the 3rd term agenda. It was also reported that he sponsored parts of the move financially for his personal interest in becoming President.

 How then can Atiku beat the odds against him to clinch the ticket for 2023?

The good news for Atiku Abubakar is the fact that he cannot be termed as a defector by 2022. He has decamped from the APC and has remained with the party beyond all types of political intimidation and character assassination. Amidst all the political war waged against him, he has not lost any of his loyal warriors. In the last PDP primaries conducted in Port Harcourt in 2018, Abubakar won the election with 1,532 votes with the governor of Sokoto State, Aminu Tambuwal, coming a distant second with 693 votes.

As it stands today, the only financially strong candidate that can battle shoulder-to-shoulder with Atiku from the south remains Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State, whose interest has not been made public, as he is making plans to pick a successor when he leaves the office after his second term as governor.

Senate President Bukola Saraki came third with 317 votes followed by the former governor of Kano State Rabiu Kwankwaso who polled 158 votes. Atiku had decamped from the APC barely a year before.

Former Senate President, Saraki has also revalidated his membership of the PDP at his home state, and the pressure of having a candidate from the central despite clinching the chairmanship slot is equally tense.

With Atiku raising his head up amidst all the complexity that characterizes the party at the moment, one can say he is not only a Nigerian operator who knows how to make money but also a politician who thrives in controversy.

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