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Presidential primaries: APC, PDP narrow race to 9

Lawan, Tinubu, Osinbajo, Amaechi, Onu lead pack in governing party ■ Atiku, Saraki, Wike, Obi top chart in opposition party

As the presidential primaries of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Peoples Democratic party (PDP) draw nearer, there are indications that both parties might have narrowed the race down to about nine aspirants.

In the PDP, there are indications that former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, former Senate President, Bukola Saraki, Rivers State governor, Nyesom Wike and former Anambra State governor has emerged top contenders for the presidential primary.

A total of 17 aspirants obtained the PDP nomination forms for the May 28/29 presidential primary of the party.  They include Atiku, Wike, Saraki, Obi as well as Sokoto State governor, Aminu Tambuwal,and former Secretary to Government of the Federation ( SGF), Anyim Pius Anyim,

Others are Bauchi State governor, Bala Mohammed, Akwa Ibom governor, Emmanuel Udom, former Ekiti State governor, Ayodele Fayose and publisher of Ovation Magazine, Dele Momodu, former president, Manufacturing Association of Nigeria (MAN), Sam Ohuabunwa; investment banker, Mohammed Hayatu-Deen; Cosmos Ndukwe;Charles Ugwu;  Chikwendu Kalu; Tareila Diana and Nwachukwu Anakwenze. However, Ndukwe and Anakwenze were not cleared to participate in the exercise.

Atiku, a two term vice president in the President Olusegun Obasanjo administration, is known to have deep contacts across the various state chapters of the opposition party. The former vice president, who is contesting for the sixth time, was the PDP 2019 presidential candidate. Inside sources said his long preparation for the office is a added advantage.

Besides, he has a number of the members of the PDP Board of Trustees and National Executive Committee ( NEC) working for the actualization of his ambition. In a contest that would likely be determined by how much a candidate is able to give to delegates, Atiku’s wealth is an added advantage..

Wike is more or less the face of opposition politics in the country. The Rivers State governor, who is well known for doggedness and for being outspoken has traversed the length and breadth of the country to canvass for the support of party leaders and delegates. Wike is known to enjoy  the support of four of the PDP governors, including Governors Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, Okezie Ikpeazu, Samuel Ortom and Seyi Makinde of Enugu, Abia, Benue and Oyo respectively.

His deep pocket is also an advantage. Saraki at the moment has some endorsement already tucked in in his belt, beginning from his endorsement as one of the Northern consensus aspirants by a group of northern leaders led by former Military President, Ibrahim Babangida. He has also been endorsed by some of the PDP chapters in the North Central.

Peter Obi has a lot going for him in the PDP presidential primary. His achievements as a two time governor of Anambra State and his reputation as a good manager of resources has endeared to a lot of party men and women as well as voters across the country.

The former Anambra governor, who was the PDP vice presidential candidate in the 2019 general elections, is generally considered as a breath of fresh and a politician without baggage. So far, he is the only aspirant whose supporters outside the PDP are mobilizing fund to support his presidential campaign in the event that he emerges the opposition party candidate for the 2023 polls.

Meanwhile barely one week to the presidential primary of the APC, the race has gradually gone down to the wire with only five aspirants consolidating hold on the ticket of the governing party.

The party’s national leadership this week confirmed that 25 out of the 28 aspirants that purchased the form to contest the presidential ticket of the party returned their completed forms ahead of the party’s primary scheduled for Abuja on May 29 and 30, 2022.

However, despite the heavyweight party chieftains jostling for the ticket, the coast is becoming clearer that five aspirants, comprising the President of the Senate, Senator Ahmad Lawan, Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, APC National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi, and his Science and Technology counterpart, Dr Ogbonnia Onu, have emerged the real contenders for the ticket.

Sources close to the party told Saturday Sun that baring last minute change in arrangements, especially the speculated President Muhammadu Buhari’s proposed endorsement of one of the aspirants, the race has been gradually narrowed to the five aspirants to square it up during the primary.

Already, the source further argued, the five aspirants have been unrelenting in travelling from one state to the other across the country to consult with the party leaders in states and campaign to the delegates.

Confirming the situation, the source said: “There is truth in the impression that the five aspirants are the real contenders to jostle for the ticket during the primary. Those that have been following the build-up to the party’s primary can testify that the five have better political structures across the country among the 25 aspirants and it is reflecting in their consultations from both Northern and Southern part of the country.

“Perhaps, with the exception of Onu, others are not relenting, travelling from state to state on a nationwide consultation to meet with the delegates and chieftains that would smoothen their chances of winning,” the source said.

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