• Religion clouds Race for the national presidency
By Emmanuel Aziken
President Goodluck Jonathan and Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State were mentioned this weekend in new permutations for the presidential ticket of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP following the planned rezoning of party offices in the opposition party .
The new permutations followed the decision of the zoning committee headed by Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi to rotate the office of the national president of the PDP north. Despite Governor Ugwuanyi’s claim that his committee’s tenure did not cover the zoning of the 2023 presidential ticket, several party sources told Vanguard on Saturday that his claim was just a fallacy.
In this dimension and for the first time, political gladiators from the North raised awareness this weekend on the prospects of a northern national president of the PDP. However, religion and ethnicity were surfacing to thwart the prospects of some of the main PDP leaders in the north.
Among those cited in political circles over the weekend were Senator Ahmed Makarfi, former Governor of Kaduna State, Senator David Mark, former Senate Speaker, Alhaji Tanimu Turaki, former Cabinet Minister Jonathan, Professor Jerry Gana, a former administration minister Olusegun Obasanjo, former Governor Sule Lamido and former Governor Babangida Aliyu.
However, the decision to rezone the office of the national president of the PDP in the north, and with it, the prospect of a presidential candidate from the south according to party sources, has drawn attention to presidential candidates with governors in the south. and former president Jonathan. emerge as prominent possibilities.
The emergence of Jonathan as a factor in the race is being drummed up by certain political actors in the North, with most of the members of his last cabinet as champions. Turaki, who served as his minister for special rights and is currently chairman of the former ministers’ forum, a source told Vanguard yesterday, was at the helm of Project Jonathan.
Remarkably, Turaki is also mentioned for the position of National President, but it has been understood that he puts any aspirations for the national presidency at the back of the Jonathan project.
The Jonathan Project is intended to upset the permutations of those who had defended his possible defection to the All Progressives Congress, APC in the hope of securing a re-election on the platform of the party that ousted him from power six years ago. .
However, the Jonathan PDP Project, much like the Jonathan APC Project, it has been gathered, faces stiff competition from critics in the South who say it is a way to sidestep South expectations for a presidency of the South. eight years.
Those who oppose Jonathan in the south and a few, including a political actor from the northern middle belt, told Vanguard on Saturday that some PDP stakeholders were also limited to Governor Okowa.
Okowa’s ascendancy rested on the nature of the team spirit his candidacy could grow after the two Igbo governors were virtually eliminated from the PDP.
Besides the claim that the PDP has become a minority in the South East, the two Igbo governors of the PDP, Ugwuanyi and Okeize Ikpeazu (Abia) are also said to be surrounded by claims of loyalty to the party. In the past, both governors have been assumed to be potential APC defectors.
“The Fulani will never allow an Igbo president of Nigeria yet,” a northern minority PDP leader, familiar with some of the undercurrents, told Vanguard on Saturday.
With the apparent determination to exclude the Southeast from the presidential race, the attention it garnered shifted south-south with Governors Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom and Nyesom Wike of Rivers State as possible offers. .
However, solicitors for Okowa’s proposal have pushed the claim that he is a bridge between South-South and Southeast given that he hails from the Delta Ibo-speaking region of the state of Delta.
“It’s something that is salable for the PDP. He is deeply from the South-South and will be acceptable to the South-East, ”the Northern Minority PDP leader told Vanguard on Saturday.
However, a source close to Governor Okowa laughed at the question when contacted saying it was not something that had crossed the governor’s mind.
However, a PDP political actor speaking on development trends said yesterday that Okowa, which has been praised for its past efforts in driving the PDP conventions, including the 2018 convention, may encounter challenges. difficulties on the part of some of his colleagues.
“Okowa’s problem could come from some of his colleagues who might see him as a threat. Some governors also view Okowa as the one who always downplays his political acumen. “
Okowa’s political acuteness factor was one of the factors that helped garner Jonathan’s support, as some of the outgoing governors believe they might flourish better outside of office with Jonathan as as president, even if it is a term.
Meanwhile, religion was a factor in the nascent race for the national PDP presidency.
With the apparent decision to zone the presidential ticket to the South, party sources told Vanguard on Saturday that northern Christians in the presidential race could be used as a means of dragging northern Muslims into the party. .
In addition, Professor Jerry Gana, who a source listed as a possible contender, also faced the challenge that he had only recently returned to the party after his previous defection.
Former Governor Aliyu, who was also heavily mentioned in the emerging race, was also sidelined due to internal divisions within the Niger State chapter of the PDP and the strong acrimony between him and some party leaders who argue that he betrayed the party in the 2015 Election.