PDP chair: Is Saraki the heir apparent?

Oct 26, 2023 | 2023 Elections | 0 comments

Former Senate president Bukola Saraki has dominated PDP discussions recently (PDP). When the main opposition party holds a mini-national convention soon to replace Iyorchia Ayu, whom the courts ousted, pundits expect him to be the next national chairman.

The former Kwara State governor has yet to declare his intention to lead the party, but he is preparing or being prepared by stakeholders.

“Saraki can use this party well. Saraki is more capable than our past political leaders. Ibrahim Abdullahi, a PDP National Working Committee (NWC) member, told Midweek Politics that the discussion is underway.

After 16 years in power, the PDP has been second to the All Progressives Congress (APC) for nine years, weakened by crises that led to its loss in the 2023 presidential election, considered its best chance to retake power. The final vote count showed that Atiku Abubakar, its flag bearer, lost the votes needed to beat Peter Obi, his 2019 running mate. With hindsight, the PDP would have won the 2023 election if they had stayed together and there had been no running mate crisis that led to the G5. However, Bola Tinubu broke through the party’s schisms to win.

The former ruling party is still fuming over losing that chance and hopes the Supreme Court will uphold Atiku’s challenge to the APC’s declaration of victory and restore it to power. The party awaits the Supreme Court’s ruling before selecting its new national chairman.

But Saraki appears to have been travelling, becoming more visible during a political lull. Party members have been visiting his home to pressure him to present himself as the only one who can save the PDP or destroy it under Tinubu. Like Ayu, he is from the North Central zone, so he fits the party’s criteria for replacing the Benue State-born former national chairman.

His supporters point to his past as governor of Kwara, chairman of the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF), and Senate president, where he was seen as controlling his colleagues’ respect and loyalty. They claim that all PDP factions respect him, especially Atiku and his loyalists and former governor Nyesom Wike and his camp. Despite Wike’s animosity towards Atiku, he is close to him as the presidential campaign’s director general. He provides the bridge in the PDP power struggle. Wike hosted him to a meal in Abuja recently, demonstrating their closeness.

He may face party opposition. Some dislike him and will try to stop his installation. However, political observers say that if Atiku and Wike like Saraki, he will easily overcome any remaining obstacles to become PDP national chairman.

This is why, says Abdulahi. “Whatever anyone says, Saraki is the best to replace Ayu from the same north central regarding capacity, resources, proficiency, efficiency, pedigree, and suitability. Saraki is a winner. He won previous elections. I cannot think of anyone better than Saraki in the current PDP for his maverickness and strategy. Nobody does it better than him.

“You will find more than enough weaknesses on any consideration you raise. Saraki can do better. Since joining the PDP in 2003 and becoming Kwara State governor, he has been faithful, tenacious, and committed. If we want to win, nobody can do it better than us. If political party democracy is about winning, you need someone who can inspire confidence again, unlike all these hopeless hooligans, especially the last one. They’re traders looking for food.

His leadership leaves his perpetual desire for president, but where? Will other presidential candidates see him as ahead if he wins the plumb job? Some of these questions may arise before the national chairman selection.

If Saraki gets the job and is interested in the next presidential race, he may manipulate the party leadership to become the standard bearer and cause more problems. If he is chosen, no member can usually oppose the party hierarchy.

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