Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar will not rush to declare his intention to contest the 2023 presidential election despite the flurry of declaration being experienced already.
This was revealed on Wednesday by a close aide of Atiku who preferred not to be named, when asked if his principal will declare his intention for Nigeria’s top job.
While Atiku’s official spokesman, Mr Paul Ibe, failed to respond to enquiries, the aide, also a top member in the Atiku camp, told THE WHISTLER that the 2019 presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, will not be stampeded into a declaration.
In the last 48 hours, there has been one declaration after another. A notable declaration which appeared to have opened the way was the declaration of former governor of Lagos State, Mr Bola Tinubu, who after visiting President Muhammadu Buhari in Aso Rock told State House correspondents of his bid for the 2023 presidency on Monday.
In less than 24 hours, Ebonyi State governor, Mr Dave Umahi, also declared his intention for the presidency on the platform of the APC after visiting Buhari.
The Senate Chief Whip, Mr Orji Kalu joined them, promised to match Tinubu grit for grit but said he will align with the party on zoning arrangement.
They joined Messrs Anyim Pius Anyim, Doyin Okupe and Dele Momodu, who have declared their interests while Kogi State governor, Mr Yahaya Bello, has not officially declared among others whose pictures and support groups have been visible for sometimes now.
The Atiku camp is saying the former VP will declare and make it known again that he will do one term before relinquishing power to the South East in 2027.
He had promised during the run up to the PDP presidential primary in 2018 to do one term.
The source further revealed that Atiku, popularly called the Waziri Adamawa, will retain former Anambra governor, Mr Peter Obi, as his running mate for 2023.
Obi, who was governor of Anambra State on the platform of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, decamped to the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP and was chosen as Atiku’s running mate in 2019 presidential election, losing to the APC.
There have been agitations for the major political parties in the country to zone their presidential ticket to the South East, which has not produced a president since 1999.
While the PDP and the APC have kicked against micro zoning, the ruling APC has expressed its disposition to zone the ticket to the south leaving the contest for the three regions.
But the PDP has been coy about its decision with interest within the party urging that the ticket be thrown open to interested persons.
The source said the PDP will “leave its doors opened to interested aspirants across the country. And our man, the Waziri Adamawa will contest. He is interested.
“He will declare for the president when he wants to. He is not ready now. He does his things the way he likes. He is a man of his own. When he deems it appropriate, he will declare, my friend.”
He revealed that “He will retain Peter Obi and no one else. Our man likes Obi and he is a repository of development ideas. He is feared by our opponents.
“If you cast your mind back to the 2019 debates, you saw how Obi defeated Vice President Yemi Osinbajo. He won all the debates and if the time is right for him, he can be Nigerian president any day, any time.
“2027 will be an appropriate time for the South East going by the PDP arrangement. So, I think the South East should key into the agenda.”
Atiku has not set up any advocacy group or endorsed any particular group towards his declaration and the conduct of the party’s primary but has been well represented by Mr Raymond Dokpesi, the Chairman of DAAR Communication, owners of Raypower FM and African Independent Television.
Dokpesi while speaking in Katsina State on an advocacy for Atiku said “I believe, our party, PDP has many credible and acceptable aspirants both for the governorship and for the Presidency; Waziri Atiku Abubakar is the most experienced, most capable and most willing to provide leadership among all of them.”