Reasons behind the decision of the Presidential Candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, to appoint his former rivals into his campaign council have come to light.
Vanguard gathered in Abuja that Atiku himself a veteran of many political battles realised that the task ahead will require the input of some of those who contested the party ticket with him.
This, coupled with recent happenings within the party, made it imperative for Atiku to walk the talk of being the unifier as his supporters call him.
Apart from Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, who has so far remained estranged, the PDP candidate has succeeded in getting other leading contenders in the race for the PDP ticket to work for and with him.
One of such persons is immediate past Senate President, Bukola Saraki. Since the last PDP presidential primaries on May 30, 2022, Saraki has not hidden his desire to see the PDP return to power in 2023.
Campaign insiders told Vanguard that Atiku’s decision to appoint Saraki into his team as Special Envoy was designed to tap into the former Senate President’s experience as an interventionist and a politician who continues to serve as a bridge between the young and the old.
As special envoy, Atiku expects Saraki to bring on board his capacity, competence, and experience for devising a strategy that will keep the PDP ahead of the opposition.
It is believed that Saraki’s organizational ability, energy, and reach will be needed on the Atiku-Okowa campaign train.
“Atiku has always believed that Saraki is an important element that will not only strengthen his campaign for the presidency but can also add value to his plan to provide effective and efficient leadership to the people,” said another insider.
The appointee is equally expected to use his reach as former head of the legislature to function as a bridge between the various groups in the electorate – the old and the young, the North and the South, the private sector and the political class, the Muslims and the Christians, It is expected that he will be deployed by Atiku to reach the various divides in our country.
As expected, he has embarked on subtle, engagement with party stakeholders on how to resolve the disagreements arising from the presidential primaries.
While maintaining a close relationship with Atiku, Saraki has given his word to the former Vice President that he was prepared to give him unwavering support because a victory for him and the PDP would rescue Nigeria from the precipice which the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, has driven the country to.
As one of the doves within the Wazirin Adamawa’s inner cycle, Saraki is said to have impressed it upon the PDP candidate that the move to bring every party member and supporter on board was the right one.
This, he said, was based on the fact that the PDP can ill afford to go into the 2023 elections as a divided house.
As part of his contributions to these efforts, Saraki has made contact with the various aggrieved groups within the party to achieve genuine reconciliation.
As a consensus builder, he is equally expected to deploy the skill he used in welding the 8th National Assembly together in the aftermath of the unprecedented change of party in government at the federal level.
Many consider his role as special envoy as being Atiku’s emissary in addressing the issue of reconciliation at the national and state chapter of the party.
His appointment is not just a move by Atiku to officially endorse the mediatory role that Saraki has been playing, it is also a continuation of the last assignment he handled for the PDP national headquarters where he served as chairman of the National Reconciliation and Strategy Committee, NRSC.
It will be recalled that the NRSC saved the PDP from haemorrhaging last year when most of the party’s state branches were engulfed in crisis.
The Saraki-led committee eventually resolved the crises in Osun, Ogun, Borno, Niger, Lagos, Nasarawa, Plateau, and other states. It was the intervention of the committee that led to the successful national convention of the party last October in which members of the current National Working Committee, NWC, were elected.
It is also believed that Saraki will bring to the table his international connections and good relationship with foreign diplomats here in Nigeria and their home governments.
He is also believed to be a person with the right connections with necessary international bodies and groups needed to further get acceptance for Atiku in international circles.
Most importantly, part of Saraki’s brief is also to rally the private sector behind Atiku’s candidacy and also get them to support the campaigns with much-needed funds, ideas, and facilities.
In the same breath, the appointment of another former Senate President and former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Anyim Pius Anyim, was done to strengthen the party and the candidate’s support base in the South-East.
The South-East has been a PDP stronghold since 1999 but recent developments have threatened the party’s dominance. Anyim’s strong character and personality working with other party leaders in the zone is expected to rekindle the people’s commitment to rescuing Nigeria.
With the appointment of Saraki, Governor Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom, Senator Ibrahim Shekarau, and Anyim into top campaign positions, the PDP presidential candidate has again proved to be ready to bring on board all tendencies.