By Chidiebere Onyemaizu
Atiku’s return to the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP has altered permutations in the party. The party zoned its 2019 presidential ticket to the North and the position of the national chairman to the South. Stakeholders favour micro zoning of the topmost party position to the Southwest and ceding of the vice presidential ticket to the South east. In the event of victory at the polls, the South south is tipped to produce President of the Senate.
However, Atiku’s re-entry is fast altering the calculations in the party. First, he is expected to make a loud presence at the December 9, 2017 national convention where he will be formally received back into the PDP fold.
Ahead the convention, aspirants to the national chair of the party are frantically seeking his endorsement but reliable sources say the former Vice president has settled for one of the Southwest contenders for the position who also has the tacit support of former president Goodluck Jonathan.
Sources also point out that various organs of the party are sympathetic to Atiku and such sympathy will reflect during the convention where the next national chairman of the PDP will be picked and at the presidential primaries. Though Atiku is yet to formally declare his interest for the PDP presidential ticket, he is expected to do so in a grand style in the days to come in an event that will also witness the defection of his loyalists in the APC.
Former governors Sule Lamido (Jigawa) and Attahiru Bafarawa ( Sokoto) are so far the only PDP chieftains from the North to have declared interest for the ticket but there are hints that the out-going Chairman of Interim National Committee of the party, Senator Ahmed Makarfi is also eyeing the ticket.
However, Atiku’s re-entry into the party and his expected declaration for the ticket has reportedly sent the other aspirants back to the drawing board. Intense consultations among the contenders are said to be on. Observers opine that while the former VP will not get automatic ticket, the possibility of some of the aspirants standing down for him cannot be ruled out. “The contest for the PDP presidential ticket will likely be between Atiku and Lamido, the rest are willing to stand down their ambitions”, top party sources told the magazine.
Atiku, a founding member of the PDP was VP between 1999 and 2007.He defected the defunct Action Congress, AC, in 2007 to contest the presidency and lost to PDP’s late Umaru Musa Yar’ Adua. He later returned to the PDP where he contested for the party’s 2011 presidential ticket with former president Goodluck Jonathan but lost.
In the run up to the 2015 presidential election, he left the PDP again and berthed in the then fledgling All Progressives Congress, APC where he vied for the presidential ticket of the new party. He lost to the incumbent, Muhammadu Buhari.While announcing his resignation from the APC, Atiku accused the party of sidelining him. And while announcing his return to the PDP, he said his action became necessary because issues that made him leave the party in the first place have been resolved. He also accused the APC of not fulfilling its promises to Nigerians.