What’s Atiku’s biggest obstacle to victory?
A loss for Atiku, on his sixth try and his third on the ballot, means he joins President Muhammadu Buhari’s group chat of biggest presidential election losers...
Before the 2015 presidential election, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) was in shambles after five governors and a horde of other bigwigs, including its 2023 presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, fled the party in a huff due to their disagreement with President Goodluck Jonathan.
If only the PDP had entered the 2015 presidential election as a well-oiled machine, it probably could've taken down the new kid on the block — the All Progressives Congress (APC). Instead, the party struggled with internal conflicts and ended up losing the presidency. In 2023, like watching a rerun of a bad movie, history is repeating itself in the most entertaining way possible.
Obstacle 001 - Nyesom Wike
One obstacle standing in Atiku's way is Nyesom Wike, the self-absorbed, combative governor of Rivers State. Wike has been publicly nursing a grudge against the PDP and wants to get back at the party for not fielding him or any other southerner as its presidential flag bearer. He's the ringleader of a group of five PDP governors and other noteworthy PDP figures who are politically protesting the dominance of the north in the party’s leadership.
The unforgiving Wike recently disowned Celestine Omehia, an Atiku supporter, as a former governor of Rivers State, and has repeatedly threatened to crush PDP leaders in the state who don't stand with him. While Wike has not officially announced a camp switch, an obvious fact is that the governor wants nothing more than for Atiku to lose the presidential election. The man truly has a flair for the dramatic.
A sinking PDP ship: A loss for Atiku, on his sixth try and his third on the ballot, means he joins President Muhammadu Buhari’s group chat of biggest presidential election losers. Secondly, a defeat for the PDP would banish them to the political sidelines for another four years which can feel like 20 years in politics. The question is, with everything at stake, why are prominent party members like Wike helping to punch more holes in the already sinking ship rather than save it?
Realistically, everyone holds a valid reason for their role in what’s happening to the PDP’s presidential campaign. Wike, for instance, feels betrayed and hurt. In public forums, it's all about citing the party constitution to support one's position and claiming to stand for fairness and justice, all while painting oneself as morally upstanding. In reality, it's all just a game of self-interest with no genuine principles in sight — just another day in the cut-throat world of Nigerian politics.
Obstacle 002- Iyorchia Ayu
The national chairman of the PDP, Iyorchia Ayu, also contributes to the possible defeat of his party, as he has created the current poisonous atmosphere. When he publicly declared Governor Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State as the "hero of the convention" after Tambuwal withdrew from the race in favour of Atiku during the presidential primary, Ayu demonstrated a lack of impartiality. This led to perceptions of favouritism, regional collaboration, and collusion which deepened the rift within the party and prompted a call for Ayu's resignation from Governor Wike's faction. This was due to the group’s objection to having both the party chairman and presidential candidate hailing from the same region.
However, this is not a novel situation. In the lead-up to the 2007 presidential election, Umaru Yar'Adua and Ahmadu Ali held both the positions of PDP presidential candidate and national chairman simultaneously. So, what sets Ayu apart? It is a fact that his controversial leadership style makes his role as party chairman a hindrance to their success in the 2023 election.
Essentially, the PDP is undermining its own prospects. The party must address the issues with Wike and Ayu, and come together in unity. Without this, Atiku's chances of claiming Nigeria’s biggest political prize may end the same way his five previous attempts ended — in tears.
JOIN OUR PULSE COMMUNITY!
Eyewitness? Submit your stories now via social or: