Seventy-two hours to the decisive presidential primary of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) scheduled for Sunday in Abuja, the race has narrowed to five aspirants following responses from delegates.
After extensive tour of the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) consulting stakeholders and delegates, top aspirants in the race have clearly emerged, owing to their national appeal, antecedents and disposition.
The non-signing of the Electoral Act amendment by President Muhammadu Buhari, which reduced the number of delegates, has made the race tight, with clear indication that the margin of victory will be slim. With the use of elected three-man adhoc delegates from the 774 local government areas and one national delegate from each states and FCT, 812 delegates would decide the aspirants’ fate on Sunday.
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A breakdown of the delegates’ demography shows that 440 would come from the North and 372 from the South. A further breakdown shows that 193 delegates are from the North West, 143 from South West, 129 from South South, 128 from North Central, 119 from North East and 100 from South East.
State by state breakdown shows thus: Abia (8), Adamawa (22), Ebonyi (14), Imo (28), Enugu (18), Ogun (22), Lagos (21), Oyo (34), Osun (31), Ondo (19), Ekiti (17), Rivers (24), Akwa Ibom (32), Cross River (19), Bayelsa (9), Edo (19), Delta (26), Plateau (18), Nasarawa (14), Benue (24), Kogi (22), Kwara (17), Niger (26), FCT (7), Adamawa (22), Bauchi (2), Taraba (17), Borno (28), Yobe (18), Gombe (12), Jigawa (28), Kaduna (24), Kano (45), Katsina (35), Kebbi (22), Sokoto (24), Zamfara (15).
Feelers across the country shows that former Senate president, Bukola Saraki; ex-Vice President, Atiku Abubakar; Bauchi State Governor, Bala Mohammed, Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike and former Anambra State governor, Peter Obi, are the aspirants most delegates are rooting for.
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Tambuwal, who came second in the presidential primary of PDP in 2019, behind Atiku, is not in too much contention because of the change in political dynamics. What worked for him in 2019 is no longer in place. For one, the Wike factor is non-existent.
Geopolitical zones analysis indicates how the aspirants may fare at the primary, as shown below:
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Projection shows that Saraki is most favoured in the North Central. His standing is boosted by the presence of the retired military general who participated in the consensus arrangement in the North. Saraki and Governor Mohammed were chosen as consensus candidates. Also, Mohammed is looking strong as well, likewise Atiku, but the former Senate president rates higher than others in Kwara, where he is expected to take all votes, as well as Niger, where Generals Ibrahim Babangida and Abdulsalami Abubakar hold sway .
It is expected that Saraki, Mohammed and Atiku would share votes in Kogi, Nasarawa and Plateau, with the former Senate President getting the highest. The only North Central State that shows some favouring of southern candidates is Benue, where Wike, working with Governor Samuel Ortom, is popular as well as Obi.
With the agitation for a president from South East on the plate, the zone has six aspirants. They are making strong showing within and outside the zone. Power brokers from the region, understandably, have their preferred aspirants even beyond the zone.
Wike, with support of Governor Okezie Ikpeazu and Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, would get chunk of votes in Abia and Enugu states respectively. Saraki is strongly favoured in Anambra and also Enugu, because of former Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu. Obi is okay in Anambra, while Tambuwal is projected to take half of votes in Imo because of ex-Imo state governor , Emeka Ihedioha. Former Senate President, Anyim Puis Anyim, is strong in Ebonyi and is projected to register good showing in virtually all the states in the zone.
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The other percentage of votes from Imo, Abia, Ebonyi, Enugu, Anambra will mostly be shared among Obi, Saraki and Atiku
Apart from former Ekiti Governor, Ayo Fayose, there is no other aspirant from South West. It is expected that Fayose will lock up Ekiti, while Wike looks good for Oyo, given his intimacy with Governor Seyi Makinde.
In Lagos, Ogun, Ondo and Osun, it is battle between Atiku and Saraki. Saraki’s half Yoruba heritage, per se, and marriage affiliation, however, gives him an edge in the South West.
Ordinarily, it should have been taken for granted that Wike sweep the South South, but the presence of Akwa Ibom State Governor, Udom Emmanuel alters the equation. Wike would take Rivers while Emmanuel takes Akwa Ibom. Delta, Cross River and Edo are for grab by Saraki, Atiku and Obi. Bayelsa tilts towards Governor Mohammed because of relationship with former president, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan.
Atiku and Mohammed are from the zone. Therefore, the battle is between the two of them. Atiku is projected to take Adamawa while Mohammed takes Bauchi.
Votes from the other states like Borno, Yobe, Gombe and Taraba would be shared among Mohammed, Saraki and Atiku. Gen Theophilus Danjuma factor favours Saraki in Taraba. Mohammed rates tops here.
For Sokoto State and the entire North West, Governor Tambuwal remains the most prominent aspirant. However, the governor is not considered too popular to mop up all the votes in the zone. It is, however, expected that he will take Sokoto. However, Kebbi, Zamfara, Katsina, Kano, Kaduna and Jigawa states would be shared between Saraki, Atiku and Mohammed, with Tambuwal getting a sprinkle. The major harvest state is Kano with 45 votes. If Saraki’s strong push translates to votes, he is the candidate to beat in Kano as well as Katsina.
From projection, the battle for the PDP presidential ticket would be tight, with victory margin slim. It is expected that the winner could pool between 250 and 270 votes, while the first runner up would garner 180 and 210 votes and third runner-up from 150 – 170 votes. The dynamics would, however, change if some aspirants pull out of the race and step down for key contenders.