Friday September 18, 2020 9:23 PM

2023: Atiku’s fate hangs in the balance over age

Party sources have hinted that the odds may stack in favour of the North East to get the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential ticket for the 2023 elections,

The chairman of the PDP Board of Trustees (BoT), Senator Walid Jibrin, said in Kaduna on Thursday that the party would soon reveal plans for choosing its presidential candidate for the 2023 election. He gave no details. But it was gathered that the party may have zeroed in on the Northeast to produce its flag bearer in the polls.

However, a group called Igbo Presidency Project Movement 2023 declared on Saturday that it would be an insult on the rest of the country for the North to produce the next president.

Sources said that since the incumbent is from the Northwest, it will be politically inexpedient for the PDP of even the ruling APC to field a candidate from the same zone in 2023, The Nation reports.

It was gathered that most of the PDP presidential members from the Northwest who contested for the party’s ticket in 2019 may stay away from the 2023 ticket.

Eight of the 12 aspirants from the Northwest that vied for the 2019 presidential ticket of the PDP were from the Northwest zone. They were: Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso (Kano); Attahiru Bafarawa (Sokoto); Sule Lamido (Jigawa); Aminu Waziri Tambuwal (Sokoto); Tanimu Turaki (Kebbi); Ibrahim Shekarau (Kano); Ahmed Makarfi (Kaduna); and Datti Baba-Ahmed (Kaduna).

The ticket went to Alhaji Atiku Abubakar from Adamawa state, Northeast zone. However, permutations within the party, particularly among key stakeholders, may not favour Atiku’s candidature, mainly because of his age. Atiku is now 73 and will be 77 years old by 2023. An impeachable party source told our correspondent yesterday that Atiku may find it extremely difficult to convince the party of the desirability of his candidature at age 77.

The source, who craved anonymity, ruled Atiku out of the race. He projected that that the PDP will most likely settle for a candidate from the Northeast zone.

His words: “It is difficult for anyone to say how the game will play out. But there will be a realignment of forces by players from different political parties, including the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC). The APC will certainly witness an exodus of some of its sellable presidential materials of Northeast extraction in the hope of picking the PDP ticket ahead of the 2023 presidential race. Some of these sellable individuals in the APC from the Northeast, who may be shut out of the presidential race, will find accommodation in the PDP and they may get the ticket if they are bankable enough.

“The long and short of it is that the PDP may not know who may get the party’s presidential ticket in 2023, but they know those who will not get it”, the source said. Although key stakeholders in the PDP are unwilling to comment openly on the ongoing permutations, they are nonetheless aware of the scheming by some of their counterparts in the APC for the race.

Igbo Presidency can’t be compromised, group declares

The group in a statement decried any attempt to pick Buhari’s successor in 2023 from the North. The chairman of the group Arinzechukwu Napoleon Igboeli was reacting to a statement by the leader of the Arewa Youth Consultative Forum, Yerima Shetyima,that Nigeria’s next president would come from the North. Igboeli described the Shettima’s statement as insulting to the sensitivities of the 365 ethnic groups that make up Nigeria.

He said: “Countries are not held together by force, but by a sense of justice, fairness and equity. “Thus it is instrumental for young Nigerians like us who believe in the unity of Nigeria based on fairness and equity to immediately react to statements made by my good friend, the coordinator of Arewa Youth Consultative Forum, Yerima Shettima.

“Such a statement smacks largely of ignorance or contempt of the attempt by those who fought to restore our democracy and preserve the fragile unity of Nigeria by reaching the conventional notion of zoning which encouraged the rotation of the presidency between North and South”

“This trend which has been followed almost religiously with the exception of the Goodluck Jonathan era which was brought upon us by the demise of President Umaru Musa Yar Adua in office but was immediately corrected in 2015 when these progressive forces brought change”

“Shettima not only made the call for the presidency to remain in the North, but also in a hubris like manner dismissed the morally backed agitation of NdiIgbo to produce one of its own for the office come 2023. Now, while we agree that Shettima is entitled to his opinion, it is however more sacrosanct that we enlighten him and all others who may seek to toe such path by understanding the consequences of denying NdiIgbo and the SouthEast Region that position.”

“Igbo is the only major ethnic group that is yet to have a shot at the presidency since the return of democracy as well as the most marginalized group since independence as regards national leadership. Both cases make it imperative for the country to allow the SouthEast zone and NdiIgbo to produce a president of Igbo extraction come 2023. And since all the zones in the south have had a shot at the presidency in the persons of Olusegun Obasanjo and Goodluck Jonathan of both South-West and South South respectively, then it behooves us in the spirit of equity and to strengthen the unity of this country allow a president of Igbo extraction.”.

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