- Despite an ongoing aggressive campaign by his foot soldiers, Atiku's 2023 presidential dream seems to be fading away
- Influential members of the PDP are said to be against the presidential aspiration of the former vice president
- While some have cited Atiku's age as a reason for their stance, others think he has contested enough for the position
FCT, Abuja - A report by the Nigerian Tribune newspaper indicates that big wigs in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), including former top military brass, are opposed to the fresh presidential bid of former vice-president, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar.
Atiku, 75, is seeking the PDP ticket for 2023 presidential poll after running as the candidate of the party in 2019.
Regarded as among the main power brokers in the party since the inception of the PDP in 1998, the ex-military leaders are reportedly pushing for a paradigm shift in the contest for who becomes the standard-bearer of the party.
Aside from their lieutenants still deeply entrenched in the system, the former leaders also wield an awesome influence along with other power brokers in taking key decisions in the main opposition party.
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At a recent interaction with members of the strategy and inter-party affairs of the PDP at his Hill Top residence in Minna, former military president, Ibrahim Babangida said he and other retired military brass constituted the military wing of the PDP.
The former military president was also quoted to have said the next president should not be above 70 years, just as former President Obasanjo advocated a president with deep knowledge about the economy in the next dispensation.
A former Head of State, General Abdusalami Abubakar had also advocated a young and vibrant president to steer the ship of state in the next dispensation.
Leaders from the southeast and the south-south have openly criticized Atiku’s move, urging him to reconsider his aspiration for the sake of equity and fairness.
Those opposed to his ambition claimed he left the party in the cold after it lost the 2019 poll to the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Others believe the ruling party could reopen some issues that culminated in Atiku’s running battle with some agencies of government in the buildup to the last general election.
The aspiration of the PDP candidate in the 2019 presidential contest has also reportedly split the ranks of PDP governors, elders in the Board of Trustees (BoT), and some top notch members of the party across the geopolitical zones, especially in the southern axis of the country.
Consequently, the opposition has reportedly united some governors PDP and youthful elements within the party in the attempt to checkmate the former vice president.
Another plank of those opposed to Atiku is the quest for a younger age bracket for the next president of the country.
Similarly, some have kicked against any plot to frustrate power shift from the north to the south in 2023, since incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari is from northern Nigeria.
However, his supporters have moved to counter those forces opposed to Atiku’s aspiration, claiming that he is the only one among the PDP stalwarts that have signified interest in the ticket of the party that can give the APC a good fight at the poll.
According to them, he has the resources and logistics to match the ruling party, as well as structures across the zones to rally support for the PDP to win the presidency in 2023.
2023: Bala Mohammed says Atiku is old, tired to lead Nigeria
Meanwhile, Bauchi state governor, Bala Mohammed, has said he told Atiku to allow him to contest the presidency in 2023 because the former vice president is old and fatigued.
He said this in his speech while receiving the report of a contact and consultation committee which he established for his presidential ambition which was held on Friday, January 28 at Government House, Bauchi.
The committee headed by Senator Adamu Gumba, which was inaugurated in August 2021, visited 16 northern states where it interacted with various stakeholders in those states on behalf of Governor Mohammed.
PDP warned against fielding northern presidential candidate in 2023
In a related development, the PDP has been warned against fielding a presidential candidate from northern Nigeria in 2023.
A political advocacy group, Reset Nigeria, made the call in a statement issued on Monday, January 14, and sent to Legit.ng.
The group said the PDP risks mass exodus of members and extinction if it fails to field a presidential candidate from southern Nigeria in line with the idea of a rotational presidency between the north and the south.