Atiku Abubakar and Bola Tinubu, two of the preeminent political actors in the country were in the mind of your correspondent last Thursday after the Zoning Committee of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP submitted its report on the distribution of party offices.
Despite being national leaders of the two opposing dominant parties in Nigeria, Atiku and Tinubu, ironically share a bond that few can separate.
When not too long ago they ran into themselves at the airport, the gist that they were about reuniting after their 2007 and 2015 collaborations came to the surface.
It, however, took the intervention of Tinubu’s aide, Tunde Rahman to explain to the ignorant that the two politicians also share interests in business and other endeavours.
As it appears, emerging political permutations may also indicate that the two men who have been criticized for abiding abroad at times of national emergency may be about to share unpleasant political bullets as the carpet is removed from under their feet in their respective parties.
For Atiku, his share came after the Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi led panel on Zoning against expectation reported that the party should adhere to its constitution on zoning. By that, the committee recommended the rotation of all the offices in the National Working Committee, NWC between the North and South.
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The import of the decision was that the office of National Chairman of the party would go to the North at the next national convention of the party.
That was against the permutations of several party gladiators who had settled on the office going to the South to allow an unquestioned emergence of a Northern presidential candidate of the PDP in 2023.
Your correspondent has learnt of how some Northern PDP elements desperately tried to push the office of National Chairman to the South during the committee’s meetings.
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However, they met a formidable match in an unusual coherence of the Southern members of the committee who canvassed adherence to the constitution of the party which specifically spelt out zoning and rotation of party and public offices.
Willy-nilly, the result of the recommendation puts the 2023 presidential aspiration of Atiku, Aminu Tambuwal, Rabiu Kwankwanso and Sule Lamido in jeopardy.
Though Governor Ugwuanyi tried to be politically correct by saying that it was not the committee’s mandate to zone the presidential ticket, party sources say that it is all but certain, except a conflagration happens, that the party’s presidential candidate will come from the South.
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It is a matter of irony. With the notable exception of Mr. Peter Obi, there has been no Southern political heavyweight that has been prepared for such an eventuality.
Even more, Atiku who has been preparing for the contest since 1992 and had envisaged 2023 as a climax may have been wrong-footed by internal politics within the PDP.
Your correspondent has heard of how some politicians even from the North betrayed Atiku on the issue of zoning of the party offices.
It is arguable if there is anyone who has been better prepared for the presidency within the PDP than Atiku.
From even around 2002 when he established the National Democratic Project, NDP with the urbane Dr Usman Bugaje as project coordinator, Atiku had used the NDP and other platforms to analyse the issues in Nigeria.
Even while he was said to have been based in Dubai, your correspondent gathered that Atiku was in Britain studying for a Masters Degree at Oxford. African Development Bank president, Dr Akinwunmi Adesina who recently let the cat out of the bag said that Atiku claimed that he went to school to understand “why we did what we did in government.”
It is such an irony that such a broad-minded man (with Ibo, Yoruba, Hausa and even International wives) and with such a deep knowledge of Nigeria will likely be out of reckoning in the 2023 presidential election.
He will likely find company in his business partner, Tinubu ,who party and presidency operatives have been overworking themselves to stop from contesting the 2023 presidential election on the platform of the All Progressives Congress, APC.
After staying months away from the country, receiving friends and former friends, it seems as if the efforts of his traducers may be succeeding.
Indeed, if Tinubu were still serious on the 2023 project, he would not be abiding in London at this time irrespective of the fracture to his leg.
While in London, Tinubu has made up with former friends like Muiz Banire and received ‘conditional friends’ like Kayode Fayemi, Rotimi Akeredolu, Ibikunle Amosun and Muhammadu Buhari.
That is indicative of a man looking towards having a rest in the future devoid of acrimony. Sources also say that just like Tinubu, that Atiku has also been making up with estranged friends and even had Boni Haruna in his entourage during his famous friend-making visit to Nyesom Wike.
It is such an irony for Tinubu and Atiku, about the best and most prepared presidential materials that despite their resources, capacities and goodwill that their most desired aspirations may yet be cut off. It would have been interesting seeing the clash of the two titans in 2023.
Given their honest intentions, the two men should make the best out of what is coming their way and ensure that even if they are locked out, that they stand on the correct side of history by projecting the best options available within their respective political parties in the interest of Nigeria.