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With so many pressures within and outside the PDP to zone its party ticket to the southern part of the country, this is now impossible as the standard-bearer of the PDP’s ticket is Atiku Abubakar, a northerner. Pundits and analysts have argued that this move might hurt their chances in the south. The leadership of Afenifere, a pan-Yoruba organization has called on the electorates of the south not to vote for any northern candidates no matter their party affiliation. The backdrop against this move is that the presidency has been with the north for the past eight years in the person of Muhammadu Buhari. Zoning, according to many, is the only way to guarantee equity, fairness, and justice, as well as inclusiveness in a multicultural and multiethnic country like Nigeria. Despite early calls by the Ohaneze Ndigbo, a pan-Igbo organization, and other Igbo groups to the zone the presidency to the southeast, the only region that has never produced a president since 1970, it is now obvious to other ethnic groups and organizations down south that the Nigerian politics is dominated by one region of the country – the north. The PDP primaries were only an eye-opener. Capturing the conversations on radio, TV, and social media, many southerners are appalled that from various indications that the presidency will go back to the north, yet again. But whose fault is it? It is clear as a crystal ball that the north is united and the south is divided.
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This played out at the PDP primaries – the disunity of the south and the unity of the north. The north had five candidates running for the presidency, namely vice president Atiku Abubakar, former Senate President Bukola Saraki, former Managing Director, Fsb Intl Bank PLC, Mohammed Hayatudeen, governor of Bauchi state, Bala Mohammed, and governor of Sokoto, Aminu Tambuwal. On the other hand, the south had nine candidates which include River State governor Nyesom Wike, Akwa Ibom State Governor Emmanuel Udom, former government secretary of the Federation, and Anyim Pius Anyim. Other candidates from the south include Tarella Diana, Sam Ohuabunwa, Dele Momodu, Ayo Fayose, Charles Ugwu, and Chikwendu Kalu. However, the northern bloc saw two contenders step down for Atiku to ensure that the ticket was won by the north. At the primaries, the sudden withdrawal of Aminu Tambuwal from the race, urging his delegates to vote for Atiku was the deciding factor. Many interpreted this as a classical political move by the north, while others saw it as an act of betrayal by Tambuwal who diminished the chances of southerners emerging in the person of Wike, Atiku’s rival. In the past, Nyesom Wike had supported the presidential aspiration of Tambuwal in 2019. One would have thought that Tambuwal should have stepped down in silence rather than being vocal about his endorsement of Atiku. Moreover, unconfirmed reports stated that the Northern Elders compelled other northern aspirants to step down and support Atiku. Two northerners followed the heed – Tambuwal, and Hayatudeen.
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In the southern quarter, a lot happened. No southerner was willing to step down, despite having 9 candidates running for the same position. Furthermore, the disunity was highly apparent as the governors of Delta, Edo, and Akwa Ibom States Ifeanyi Okowa, Godwin Obaseki, and Emmanuel Udom, respectively, allegedly did not support Nyesom Wike, a fellow southerner. Unconfirmed report had it that each of them was eyeing to be Atiku’s running mate. Despite the politicking that went on between the north and south, it rained dollars at the Moshood Abiola Stadium, Abuja. It was reported that various candidates bribed delegates with so many dollars that they attempted to outdo each other. Votes were sold for as much as $20,000. Unconfirmed reports, as well as circulated videos and pictures, saw wads of dollar notes stuffed in envelopes, believed to be for delegates. According to circulating posts seen on social media, it was stated that Atiku allegedly gave delegates $20,000, while Wike gave $15,000, and Saraki and Tambuwal gave $10,000 each. Observers stated that dollars played a major role in determining the outcome of the election. The ticket was sold to the highest bidder. Finally, aside from the influence of dollars in the outcome of the election, others claimed that Wike, who polled got 237 votes lost on the account of his demeanor and character. The Rivers governor has been viewed as uncouth, bullish, too excessive and crude, and an alleged dictator. While money played a role, many delegates didn’t feel the need to risk voting a brawler instead of a calmer and friendlier Atiku. Featured Image Source: Premium Times Nigeria
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