It was learned yesterday that the proxy war among candidates for the Peoples Democratic Party’s (PDP) presidential ticket in 2023 is heating up.
Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, former Senate Presidents Pius Anyim and Bukola Saraki, and governors Aminu Tambuwal (Sokoto) and Bala Mohammed are among those who have expressed interest in the opposition party’s slot (Bauchi).
Former Kano State Governor Rabiu Kwankwaso, industrialist Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa, and publisher of Ovation magazine Dele Momodu are among the others.
In a letter to the PDP Governors Forum last week, Atiku’s former aide and political associate Segun Sowunmi launched the first salvo, urging the party to reject “kindergarten president and commander-in-chief.”
Sowunmi’s letter was interpreted as a veiled reference to younger candidates in the race against Atiku, who is 75 years old and described as “highly experienced.”
“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,” the letter reads in part. If you don’t have the required experience, presidential powers and privileges are meaningless. We can’t go from the frying pan to the fire.”
Dr. Rufus Omeire, a spokesman for a PDP faction, defended the young elements vying for the party’s nomination.
He questioned Atiku’s political relevance in comparison to other candidates.
Omeire, writing under the eagis of the PDP Action 2023, questioned Sowunmi’s assessment of Atiku as a “experienced” politician, claiming that the perpetual vice president had only minor roles in previous public offices.
“Let us x-ray the candidates in terms of relevant experience for the top job,” Omeire said. Atiku Abubakar’s public sector experience includes a subordinate position as Deputy Director of Customs. He never rose to the position of Chief Executive Officer of the Customs and Excise Department. The buck never once came to a halt on his Customs Service table.
“He rose to the position of Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, a high-ranking position, but he never served as the country’s chief executive. He only did what his boss, President Olusegun Obasanjo, told him to do.
“He’d never held the position of CEO before. At his table, the buck never came to a halt. His recommendations could be accepted or rejected by the President.
“He lacked relevant hands-on experience in the top job.” So, where does Alhaji Atiku Abubakar’s renowned experience lie? He clearly lacks the necessary public-sector experience.
“Other candidates appear to have more public-sector experience; some have extensive private-sector experience as CEOs.”
“As chief executives, Tambuwal, Saraki, and Anyim led Houses of the Federal Legislature. As Speaker and President of the Senate, the buck stopped on their tables.
“As governors, Tambuwal, Bala Mohammed, Wike, and Saraki have relevant executive experience. From the executive’s perspective, they’ve seen it all.
“They have direct and first-hand experience in the formulation and execution of government policies because they made decisions at the executive level in their states.”
Omeire threw more jabs, recalling Atiku’s past defections from the PDP to other parties and how he was “abandoned ship mid-sea” after losing the 2019 election.
“Rather than flaunting his old age and…relevant experience, Sowunmi should find other grounds to market Atiku, his boss.”
“He should also stop hurling unwarranted insults at other candidates who Alhaji Atiku may have to support after the primaries.”