By Charles Onyekwere
Refusal of President Muhammadu Buhari to sign the amended Electoral Act has altered political permutations in the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.
As it stands, without the President’s signature, the act stipulates that only 811 people will be able to elect the Presidential candidate of the PDP as statutory delegates including the president, serving and former governors, and serving and former members of the National Assembly were excluded from voting at the national conventions.
The 811 delegates would comprise of 774 national delegates (1 per LGA and 37 special delegates – people with disability from each of the 36 states and FCT).
The development has caused a total reshaping of permutations for the presidential candidates in the party with Senator Bukola Saraki, Governors Nyesom Wike and Aminu Tambuwal being boosted by the development. While Saraki has been boosted by the endorsement of the North-Central zone of the PDP, Wike even though without an endorsement from the SouthSouth, is, however, without a serious contender from the region and would be gladdened by the fact that he has a fewer number of delegates within and outside the zone to reach out to, The Trumpet Gathered.
Tambuwal would also be gladdened by the fact that the North-West zone is presenting the highest number of delegates to the convention given the region’s superior number of local governments. Tambuwal’s room for manoeuvre, is however, tempered by incursions made into the zone by Wike and Saraki.
The North-West has 186 national delegates more than double the 95 coming from the South-East, a region that has three major presidential aspirants, Peter Obi, Anyim Pius Anyim and entrepreneur, Pharm. Sam Ohabunwa. The development means strong consequences for the South-East as the limited number of the national delegates available from the zone is now being split among themselves and others poaching from outside.
While Atiku looks formidable on the national scene, being the immediate past presidential candidate of the party, he has to grapple with Governor Bala Mohammed of Bauchi for the North-East’s 112 national delegates.
Atiku is also being challenged by the fact that no governor is openly associating with him besides his home governor, Ahmadu Fintri, who according to political insiders sees it as an obligation or rather compulsion to support the former Vice-President.
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While the stalemate on the Electoral Act is like a catastrophe for the South-East as it removes the region’s advantages in statutory delegates, it also at the same time present’s the region’s diminished Local Government Areas, 95. All attention is now turned to the South-West, which presents only Ayo Fayose.
This presents a lot of opportunity for Saraki, Wike and Atiku who already have strong appendages in the region. Saraki has maternal origin in the region and campaign officials are very hopeful of the support of delegates from Ondo where the campaign is fighting off the influence of Atiku who has entered the state through his long-time associate, Eyitayo Jegede.
The Wike campaign on its part is hopeful of mobilizing delegates through the only governor in the region, Seyi Makinde who is openly backing the Rivers State Governor. Ayodele Fayose who even though an aspirant is also believed to be working for Wike. The development has turned the South-West into the most contested zone.