Former Vice President #AtikuAbubakar on Sunday at the main bowl of Adokie Amiesimaka Stadium, Port Harcourt, Rivers State, won the presidential primary of the Peoples Democratic Party.
Hardly did Atiku emerge as the winner than the talk of his running mate started.
Investigations by our correspondents showed that the search might have been limited to the South-East region of the country.
However, in the election, Atiku polled 1,532 votes out of total of 3,221 votes, representing almost 50 per cent of the entire delegates’ votes.
His closest rival, Governor Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State scored 693 votes, while the President of the Senate, Olusola Saraki, came third with 317 votes.
A former Governor of Kano State, Alhaji Rabiu Kwankwaso, scored 158 votes; a former Governor of Jigawa, Sule Lamido, polled 96 votes, while a former Minister of Special Duties and Inter Governmental Relations, Alhaji Kabiru Turaki (SAN) scored 65 votes.
A former National Caretaker Chairman of the PDP, Alhaji Ahmed Makarfi, polled 74 votes; a former Governor of Sokoto State, Attahiru Bafarawa, scored 48 votes; a former President of the Senate, Senator David Mark, polled 35 votes; a former Plateau State governor, Jonah Jang, scored 19 votes, while Dr Datti Ahmed scored five votes.
How Atiku won
Facts have emerged that Atiku won the primary through block votes from the South-East, some states in the South-South and North-East.
It was also gathered that there was no state in the country where Atiku did not score considerable number of votes.
It was learnt that Atiku was not the favourite of some governors in the South-South who had a soft spot for Tambuwal, to become the standard bearer of the PDP.
It was, however, gathered that the alleged gang-up against Atiku from emerging the candidate of the party was thwarted by delegates’ votes from some of the states from other regions, apart from the South-South.
The National Legal Adviser, Peoples Equality Congress for Atiku Abubakar, Mr Agu Aguma, and a leader of PEC, Chief Bestman Festus, said Atiku had proved that he was an experienced politician who understood political intrigues and horse trading.
Aguma said Atiku who knew that some persons were working against his candidacy decided to engage states without PDP governors to drive his ambition.
The legal practitioner said it was good that Atiku won the PDP primary, noting that he was the most qualified and experienced to defeat the candidate of the All Progressives Congress.
He said, “Although some interests, including governors, had wanted an alternative candidate, the programme Atiku outlined for the socio-economic development of the country, his restructuring agenda, coupled with his good plans for the youth, job creation, stood him out.”
Investigations by our correspondents revealed that nearly all delegates from Ebonyi State voted for the former Vice-President.
It was also learnt that Atiku and Tambuwal shared the votes of the delegates from Enugu State.
However, Atiku beat Tambuwal in the allocation of the votes of delegates from Imo, Abia and Anambra states, according to sources among the South-East contingent.
One of the delegates, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Tambuwal’s closeness to some governors in the zone was what prevented Abubakar from recording a clean sweep of the votes of the South-East delegates.
“Most of us from the South-East cast our votes for Atiku Abubakar, I know for a fact that Ebonyi delegates voted massively for him.
“Atiku got the backing of majority of the delegates from the other states in the zone, although Tambuwal was able to record a considerable number of votes.
“One of the governors (in the South-East) has a close relationship with Tambuwal and that had a major influence on the way delegates from the state voted, otherwise Abubakar would have recorded a clean sweep of the votes from the zone,” the delegate said.
He added that alleged cash inducement of the delegates by the aspirants before the commencement of voting had no effect on the outcome of the convention.
Why Tambuwal failed
Investigations by one of our correspondents showed that Tambuwal, who had been projected to win, was rejected at the convention by the delagates because of the alleged overbearing attitude of the Governor of Rivers State, Mr Nyesom Wike.
The former Speaker of the House of Representatives was also said to have failed to break into the ranks of the Board of Trustees of the party.
“When the BoT asked its members not to ally with any presidential candidate, Atiku appointed some members of the board into his campaign organisation,” a member of the board told one of our correspondents.
Another source said that the insistence by Wike that the convention must hold in Port Harcourt despite opposition by some members of the National Executive Committee of the party, made those opposed to Tambuwal to increase in number.
It was learnt that some delegates and their sponsors, extended their anger at Wike to Tambuwal.
The source said, “Some believed that Wike wanted to impose a presidential candidate on the party.
“Some northern delegates met and vowed not to allow southerners to impose a candidate on them.”
A source also said that his ability to stand against the ruling All Progressives Congress and his deep purse to finance the presidential election worked for Atiku.
A top source said, “We all know that Atiku can considerably finance the campaign with little donations from party members. We don’t think Tambuwal has such capacity.”
Search for Vice Presidential candidate begins
But hardly did Atiku emerge as the winner than the talk of his running mate started.
Investigations by our correspondents showed that the search may have been limited to the South-East region of the country.
However, some states in the five states that made up the zone might have reportedly been disqualified.
For instance, Anambra, where Senator Ben Obi who was a former running mate to Atiku hailed from, was said to have been disqualified.
The reason, according to authoritative sources, was because the state had produced two former speakers, two former presidents of the Senate, one vice president and a President.
Also, Enugu State which is a PDP-controlled state, was said to have produced a former national chairman of the PDP.
It was also reportedly argued that the state had produced the deputy president of the Senate for the past seven and half years.
For Imo State, the argument for its non-consideration was that it had produced a former deputy speaker of the House of Representatives and had also produced a president of the Senate.
The race, according to sources close to the party, is between Abia and Ebonyi states.
South-West not foreclosed
However, another source said the search for a suitable running mate had not been completely taken out of the South-West.
He added that the party would not impose any candidate on Atiku, saying that the PDP would only serve as a guide, by “putting into consideration all political variables that would enable us win in 2019.”