The different groups and interests backing the various Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) leaders seeking to represent the opposition in the 2023 presidential election are locked in fierce battles with each other, it has been learnt. Ex-Vice President Atiku Abubakar; Sokoto State Governor Aminu Tambuwal; ex-Senate Presidents Anyim Pius Anyim and Bukola Saraki,as well as Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike, Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa, and Dele Momodu are allegedly fighting through proxies to seal the ticket.
Segun Sowunmi, who managed Atiku’s media in the run-up to the PDP presidential primary in 2018, started the war in a letter to PDP governors at their meeting in Port Harcourt on Monday. In his letter, Sowunmi advised the governors to reject what he called a “kindergarten President and Commanderin- Chief” as PDP presidential candidate.
He told the governors: “Everyone wants to be President after Buhari but not everyone can do the work that a post- Buhari President will be called upon to do. “Presidential powers and privileges mean nothing if the prerequisite experience is absent. We cannot jump from frying pan to fire.” But ex-member of the House of Representatives Dr. Rufus Omeire, said the letter was in bad taste. Omeire, who is the National Chairman of PDP ACTION 2023, a pressure group, wondered who among those that indicated interest in the ticket was Sowunmi regarding as “kindergarten President”. Omeire said apart from Atiku, who is 75, other aspirants are mostly in their 50s.
“Is Sowunmi saying that only those in their 70s are preferred presidential candidates rather than the relatively younger ones he described as kindergarten candidates?” he asked. He also tackled him on experience, noting that Atiku has never held any executive position both in public and private positions he held, compared to others who served either as governor, presiding officer of the National Assembly, or chief executive of quoted companies. Sowunmi said: “Atiku Abubakar’s public sector experience consists of Deputy Director of Customs, a subordinate position. He never became Chief Executive of Customs and Excise Department. The buck never for one day stopped on his table in the Customs Service.
“He became Vice President, a highly exalted office, but he was never a chief executive. He only carried out instructions of his boss, President Olusegun Obasanjo. He didn’t have relevant direct experience of the top job. So wherein lies the famed experience of Alhaji Atiku Abubakar?” He accused Atiku of abandoning the PDP after the 2019 presidential election. Omeire advised Sowunmi to find other grounds to market Atiku “rather than flouting his old age and questionable relevant experience. “He should further desist from this unnecessary insults on other aspirants whom Alhaji Atiku might have to support after the primary.”