Barring any fresh overriding interest, the Peoples Demo c r a t i c Party (PDP) is set to modify its initial unofficial stance and agenda for the 2023 presidential race, following recent developments in the political space.
Before now, the PDP, it was learnt, was considering picking its presidential candidate from the North, in anticipation that the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) would follow suit.
However, insinuation of the possible exit of former President Goodluck Jonathan from the PDP to the APC, and the prospect of him picking up the ruling party’s presidential ticket for the 2023 race, may have forced the opposition party to reconsider its game plan.
The touted defection of the former president, which has been in the news for a while, is said to be propelled by the belief that with Jonathan as president, the supposed Northern interests will be protected, especially given his pro North policies including appointments, infrastructure and the establishment of Almajirai schools in several Northern states.
But more importantly, the proponents of the move for the return of Jonathan to the villa sensed that his second coming would automatically put the North in contention to win power again in 2027 since he constitutionally has only one term of four years left.
Former Minister of Aviation, Chief Femi Fani- Kayode, who was President Jonathan’s 2015 campaign spokesperson, joined the APC last week and was received in Aso Villa by President Buhari.
“The PDP leadership already understood the writing on the wall is to put them in a tight corner and we will rather act than react,” a former Minister of State from the South West, who craved anonymity, told New Telegraph.
“It’s a double-edge attack to demystify the PDP even before the contest starts. It’s a Northern game-plan using the APC machinery and we must not be caught unawares, otherwise, that might be the end of the party.
“The Jonathan idea to the APC was to first of all neutralise the main opposition PDP, create a wedge against our party in the South, especially and reclaim power for the North in 2027. Of course, the South that is clamouring for power shift can’t reject the former president, because he is from the division,” he said.
While urging the party to look inward and work with the reality on the ground, the PDP chieftain stated that the seemingly weakness of the PDP in the North, especially Northwest, may be counter-productive, and that the party should shift its gaze to the South, if Jonathan eventually heads to the APC.
Arising from its meeting last week in Enugu, the 17 Southern governors reiterated its earlier stance in Lagos last July that the zone should produce the President in 2023.
Meanwhile, Ahead of its October 30 National Convention for the election of new members of the National Working Committee (NWC), it was learnt that the party might change the order of preference with the North having to go with the chairmanship position and this may pave the way for the South to produce the next presidential candidate.
“It will be delicate to pitch a Northerner against a Southerner in the mould of former President Jonathan who has immense goodwill and support across the board. Aside from that, we can’t afford to divide this country further using the north south poles,” a source said.
However, it was learnt that the newly appointed 44-member Zoning Committee headed by Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State is already plotting the formula for sharing positions and other appointments for all the zones.
With the possible tweaking of the party’s gameplan, some speculated aspirants for the chairmanship position like former governor of Osun State, Col. Olagunsoye Oyinlola (rtd); former governor of Ekiti State, Ayo Fayose; Deputy Vice Chairman of the party in the South-south, Mr. Dan Orbih; the former governorship candidate of the party in Ondo State, Mr. Eyitayo Jegede (SAN), among others, may not be able to actualise their dreams of leading the opposition party into the general elections. Meanwhile, two governors of the PDP are said to be in advanced talks with the ruling APC ahead of possible defection before the end of the year.
A source, who is familiar with the development, said the two governors who are allies of former President Jonathan are moving to the ruling party first to secure their second term and reunite with the former president, if he eventually moves to the APC.
In the meantime, spokesperson of the PDP, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, told our Correspondent that the issue in the news about the former President is only in the realm of speculation.
He told New Telegraph: “I am sure you are trying to pin us to what Femi Fani- Kayode said and the party is not prepared to respond to that. The party has made it abundantly clear that it wishes Fani-Kayode the best of luck in his new and future endeavours.
“The defection of former President Goodluck Jonathan is a rumour and there is no fact behind it. If it is a rumour, it is a rumour, and if it is a fact, it is a fact. In the PDP, we don’t respond to rumour.
We don’t work with speculations and what you have said lies in the realm of speculations and PDP doesn’t work by speculations. And when such a thing happens, come back to me and ask for the reaction of the party.”