Barely 20 days to the primaries of political parties, the two major parties, the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) are still undecided about where their presidential candidates will come from.
The two parties are no doubt caught in the web of zoning and are making frantic efforts to wriggle out without causing themselves more mistrust by the electorate across regions, tribes and zones.
While the PDP has not made a formal commitment, the APC by virtue of political arrangement, the party more entangled as there is much expectation that the party will produce a southern candidate.
But the APC dashed the hopes of many Nigerians from the southern part of the country with the lacklustre in announcing the preferred zone for its presidency and more so, the increase in the number of northern aspirants showing interest in the race.
Political observers have noticed similar trends in activities and decisions of the two parties in recent times which suggests the two are watching and calculating each other’ moves.
It started with the national convention of both parties, the PDP on October 30, 2022, zoned its chairmanship to the north with Iyorchia Ayu from the North Central emerging. The APC likewise on March 26 this year zoned its chairmanship seat to the north with Abdullahi Adamu also from North Central emerging.
An APC committee led by the Kaduna State governor, Nasir El- Rufai prior to the convention suggested to the party swerve party position between the north and south. This was also taken after the PDP.
There have been changes to the election timetable and schedule of activities in both parties recently, with both fine-tuning processes to get a nationally acceptable presidential candidate that can win the 2023 poll.
The two parties have a serious task of meeting up with deadlines of conducting wards, and local government congresses in line with INEC directives.
This is as the National Chairman of the Inter-Party Advisory Council (IPAC), Engr. Yabagi Sanni at a meeting between INEC and leadership of parties yesterday demanded on behalf of the 18 registered political parties for extension of the deadline for conduct of party primaries from June 3 to August 16, 2022.
Before the closed-door meeting, INEC chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu reiterated the decision of the Commission not to review the timetable.
In the PDP, both southerners and northerners are in the race for the party’s ticket but it is widely believed that the party is looking up north for its flag bearer. It has arrays of qualified aspirants in the persons of former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, former Senate President, Bukola Saraki, Sokoto State Governor, Aminu Tambuwal, Bauchi State Governor, Bala Mohammed and Hayatu-Deen Mohammed, from the north.
Though an attempt to have a consensus northern candidate broke down and agitation by southern aspirants that one of them should emerge as the party candidate, it is the belief of majority PDP members that Atiku Abubakar may bulldoze his ways to emerge the party’s candidate.
This notion might have, in the first place influence the pronouncement of the APC on zoning.
The Trumpet gathered that the APC would have settled for a southern candidate but decided against this when it was becoming obvious that no other aspirant from the South (East, West or South) can withstand the former governor of Lagos State, Bola Tinubu in a transparently conducted presidential primary.
The thought of emergence of a Tinubu candidature and possible emergence as the nation’s President, it was further learnt is already unsettling some stakeholders in the party. A source said the influx of other gladiators from the South West was a designed plot to whittle Tinubu’s chance by dividing delegates from the zone.
This, the source added was a premeditated plot to shop for another person from the South as APC candidate. Hence, the coming up of names like Rotimi Amaechi, former President Goodluck Jonathan, the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele, and President of the African Development Bank, Dr Akinwumi Adesina. Though Jonathan has denied having interest in the race while there is no indication that Adesina was not properly contacted by the group that bought nomination forms for him.
Apart from Yahaya Bello whose candidature has not been taken seriously by many, the venturing of Jigawa State governor, Abubakar Badaru and on Monday, Senate President, Ahmad Lawan into the race causes suspicion as to what game the APC might be playing.
According to findings by The Trumpet, leadership of the APC came to the conclusion that the only way not to lose power in 2023 is to field an acceptable northern candidate. The calculation is that a northern candidate will split votes of the north with probably Atiku from the PDP while other geopolitical zones will be up for grab.
The APC, it was learnt has come to terms with the fact that aside from Tinubu, no southern aspirant among the arrays of personalities who have collected forms can match an Atiku Abubakar. The party acknowledged how tedious it was to defeat Atiku and the PDP with a popular candidate in President Buhari in 2019.
The PDP as expected might make a categorical statement on the dicey issue of zoning at the make it mare meeting of its National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting in Abuja today. The APC may react to the outcome or pronouncement of the PDP by toeing the line of the opposition party.