More revelations have emerged on how Atiku Abubakar beat others to the presidential ticket of the PDP.
Atiku defeated 11 aspirants to emerge the party’s flag-bearer at the national convention of the party held at the Adokiye Amiesimaka Stadium in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, at the weekend.
A chieftain of the party said Gov. Aminu Tambuwal would have won the election if not for the 11th hour support of former generals, including Olusegun Obasanjo, Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida and Theophilus Danjuma.
He added that it was difficult to get the buy-in of Obasanjo, who had sworn not to support Atiku.
“For Baba Iyabo, he was ready to support anybody, but Atiku. So it was difficult to get his support even with persuasion from his colleagues such as IBB and Danjuma,” he said.
He said Obasanjo finally succumbed following intervention of prominent international figures, including a former president of one of the powerful countries.
Another source said it took the intervention of a former President, Goodluck Jonathan, to persuade the Governor of Rivers State, Nyesome Wike, to accept the last minute decision of the power brokers.
“Wike was adamant. He felt it was unfair to abandon the initial agreement with Tambuwal, who was compelled to run for the office by the power brokers. It took Jonathan’s intervention and a phone call from Obasanjo,” he said.
Daily Trust reports that Jonathan and Wike left the venue of the convention on Saturday night and Wike returned in the morning of Sunday to cast his vote wearing a long face.
It was further gathered that Atiku had to make a lot of commitments to those who supported him in Nigeria to clinch the ticket.
“The biggest one was their safety; their freedom to live without fear when he finally wins,” a source said. “Many of them are not really after money or any power, but the serenity to live a normal life. Remember, President Buhari did not make any attempt to arrest many of them but they perpetually live with the fear of the unknown, strongly having the feeling that he would not spare them on his second return,” he said.
However, the campaign spokesperson of the Atiku Presidential Campaign Organisation, Segun Sowunmi, claimed there was no alliance with power brokers.
“What alliance with power brokers? Which power brokers? There were 12 aspirants there and all of them went to the ballot. Everyman went to the ballot believing they had the chance of winning. It was only when the votes were counted that every man saw the number of votes he got. That is the beauty of a transparent democratic process. When you are going into an election, you put in your best, but there is always a 13th hour when you must wait for the verdict of history,” he said.
What next for Tambuwal?
However, it was gathered that Tambuwal was promised the vice president slot in 2023 as Atiku is expected to do a single term. Meanwhile, Tambuwal is expected to seek re-election as Governor of Sokoto State.
A former Minister of Finance and Coordinator of the Economy, Prof. Okonjo Iweala, is in the lead to emerge as the vice presidential candidate of the PDP this time around.
While Atiku’s preferred choice is a former Governor of Anambra State, Peter Obi, the power brokers are rooting for Iweala, it was gathered.
According to a source, the choice of Prof. Iweala will not only mobilise the people of the South East, but also get majority of female voters to support Atiku. She is also seen as possessing the international connection and goodwill to brighten the chances of PDP.
“The power brokers and the party want the vice president to come from the South West so that they can balance the equation with APC, which has settled for Osinbajo, but Atiku believes he can win the South West. He believes he has a good relationship with major stakeholders in the South West to win majority of the votes,” our source added.
The source added that Atiku had no problem with picking anybody from the South East, including a former Minister of Education and presidential aspirant, Oby Ezekwesili.
“I can’t be definite about the choice for now as negotiation is still ongoing. However, what has been agreed is that the candidate will not be an everyday politician. He or she must be a technocrat,” he said.
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