FCT, Abuja - On Saturday, May 28, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar emerged as the presidential candidate of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for the 2023 general elections.
Following his victory, another huge task Atiku will now undertake is to choose his running mate for the 2023 presidential election.
In Nigerian politics, the choice of a running mate plays a significant role in the chances of a candidate being elected. Thus, the former vice president has to be meticulous and tactical in selecting his running mate for the poll.
Being a Muslim from the northeast, Atiku expectedly has to look for a running mate who is a Christian and comes from the southern region; southeast, south-south, or the southwest.
Just in: After reportedly offering running slot to PDP governor, Atiku meets party's Board of Trustees
PAY ATTENTION: Join Legit.ng Telegram channel! Never miss important updates!
While Nigerians wait for Atiku to come up with his choice, these are five prominent Nigerian politicians Legit.ng predicts the former vice president may pick:
1. Nyesom Wike
In the PDP presidential primary, Nysom Wike, governor of Rivers state, proved his political strength. Though a prominent contender, Aminu Tambuwal, stepped down for Atiku, Wike still polled 237 votes to emerge the runner-up in the primaries.
With his performance at the primaries, Governor Wike shows he can help Atiku secure millions of votes from the southern region in 2023.
Even before Atiku’s victory, a report by Business Day newspaper had cited some sources as saying that the former vice president had picked Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers state as his running mate.
The only probable reason why Atiku may not consider Wike is because of his somewhat extremely strong personality. If Wike is chosen as Atiku’s running mate and they eventually win, Nigerians may see a repetition of the frosty relationship between the latter and his boss, former President Olusegun Obasanjo.
2. Ike Ekweremadu
When Atiku won the PDP presidential ticket in 2019, Ike Ekweremadu was one of the politicians many considered could be picked as his running mate before he eventually went for former Anambra governor, Peter Obi, who has now dumped the PDP for the Labour Party.
Ahead of 2023, Ekweremadu, a former deputy Senate president and a long-term member of the National Assembly, aspired to become the governor of Enugu state.
He, however, withdrew from the primaries allegedly due to “the existing cold war with Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State and the leadership of the state chapter of the PDP over the battle for the party’s governorship ticket in the state.”
To compensate the southeast after failing to zone the presidency to the region, PDP stakeholders may prevail on Atiku to choose Ekweremadu as his running mate.
3. Anyim Pius Anyim
Anyim Pius Anyim is another strong politician from the southeast that Atiku can consider as his running mate.
Anyim, a former Secretary to the Government of the Federation and former President of the Nigerian Senate, also contested for the PDP’s presidential ticket and polled 14 votes.
With Anyim as his running mate, Atiku and PDP may be able to persuade the southeast to once again vote for them en masse in 2023.
4. Ifeanyi Okowa
In the buildup to the PDP presidential primary, there were speculations that Ifeanyi Okowa would join the race. However, the governor of Delta state eventually didn’t contest the ticket.
With his relatively strong popularity in the southern PDP, Atiku may consider Okowa as his running mate.
5. Udom Emmanuel
The governor of Akwa Ibom state, Udom Emmanuel, contested against Atiku and polled 38 votes. He had more votes than Bala Mohammed, his colleague governor from Bauchi, and former Senate president, Anyim.
Considering Udom’s faithfulness to the PDP, his youthfulness, a growing political influence in the south-south, and PDP’s desperation to compensate the southern region, Atiku may consider selecting the Akwa Ibom governor as his running mate.
Consult widely before picking running mate, Atiku advised
Meanwhile, the executive director of the Platform for Youth and Women Development, Ogoegbunam Kingdom, advised Atiku to consult widely with the southern leaders and the PDP before picking his running mate.
"In choosing his running mate, there’s a very strong sentiment in the Southern region for power shift, so the former Vice President should consult widely especially with the Southern leaders and his party before appointing his running mate else he may not be in the perfect position going into the general elections with the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC)," Mr Kingdom said.
2023 presidency: Shehu Sani advises Atiku on choice of running mate
Similarly, Senator Shehu Sani, a former Kaduna Central lawmaker and ex-governorship aspirant, has advised Atiku on his choice of a running mate after winning the presidential primary of the PDP.
Taking to his Twitter page on Monday, May 30, Senator Sani advised the former vice president to choose a running mate he can work with as a team.
Sani who lost his bid to clinch the gubernatorial ticket of the PDP in Kaduna state urged Nigerians who want a new united, peaceful and prosperous country to vote for Atiku in the 2023 presidential election.