By Zayyad I. Muhammad
The 2023 presidential elections will present to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) a golden opportunity to wrestle power from the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC). However, the greatest challenge facing the PDP is how to utilize this opportunity seamlessly by presenting a candidate that can secure for the party sufficient votes throughout the country.
Today, all indices indicate that the APC’s presidential candidate may come from the southwest. Since 2015, APC’s trump cards have been the north and the southwest. However, the north may be APC’s biggest dilemma in 2023- the party has to appease the north while striking a balance on Nigeria’s complexities- this is where the PDP can take advantage if it plays its own cards very well.
Former Senate President Bukola Saraki, Governor Aminu Tambuwal, and Governor Bala Mohammed, all presidential aspirants on the PDP platform, have kick-started a move for the PDP to present a consensus candidate for the 2023 presidential elections. Saraki said the reason they were pushing for a consensus candidate was to reduce the likely rancour in the process of choosing the party’s flag bearer. Apart from having a rancour-free process, a consensus candidate will give the PDP an opportunity to pull resources together for a common goal. Furthermore, the party will have ample time to campaign for the general elections, as it has eliminated the long and tedious campaign for the primaries.
The big question is, who is PDP’s ideal consensus candidate among all the aspirants? The person should be someone who is well-known, have a network and connection, and is sellable across the country.
As a matter of real politics, the PDP may consider a one bloc vote. That is the Buhari cult-like followers, who, as of now, have undecided votes. The PDP can win the vote of that bloc vote and combine it with its own traditional votes by presenting someone different from Buhari but acceptable to Buhari’s cult-like followers. In addition, a consensus candidate should be someone who knows the Nigerian political terrain –and is acceptable to the common people- someone who Nigerians see as capable of tackling the current problems in the country.
If the PDP agrees to go for a consensus candidate- the party should do this based on certain logic. Firstly, the PDP should analyze the North and Southwest- two parts of the country with the highest number of voters- to define which of them will give the party some cutting-edge advantage. The party should then present a candidate that can bring the votes from that region.
Secondly, as the APC is looking southwest, the PDP should analyze the entire south and do its arithmetic with an open heart on just how to win the election.
Thirdly, PDP’s ideal consensus candidate should be chosen relative to the APC’s likely presidential candidate. It should be someone from the PDP ranks who has the clout, the political structure, the war chest, and the human resources to face any candidate from the APC.
An open discussion among the PDP presidential aspirants can produce good results for the consensus candidate. Though some of the aspirants will fizzle out from the race if the party does not use a zoning formula because their aspirations are based on permutations that the ticket is zoned to a particular section of the country.
Consensus is good for an opposition political party with an opportunity to get power. But some observers are of the view that a primary election will eliminate any hassle for the good candidate- as he may be tied down with many demands from other aspirants and interests.
If the call for a PDP consensus presidential candidate by Bukola Saraki, Governor Tambuwal, and Governor Bala is without any ulterior motive, it will be a welcome and excellent idea for the PDP. Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar said, all the presidential aspirants don’t have issues with each other, once they sit down in a room, they will select the best candidate among themselves. Most political observers said Atiku made the statement because he is fully aware that, as of today, all the odds are in his favour – either consensus or primary election.
Zayyad I. Muhammad writes Abuja via firstname.lastname@example.org.