It looks increasingly likely that former vice president Atiku Abubakar (1999-2007) and Kano State’s immediate former governor, Rabiu Kwankwaso (2011-2015), will have to battle it out for the presidential ticket of the main opposition PDP. Atiku officially announced his intention to seek the party’s nomination and defected from the APC in December 2017 mainly because of his desire to do so.
On the other hand Kwankwaso remains a member of the APC and is yet to announce any planned defection. However, he told the local media that he was not at the APC’s 23 June national convention because some people have said that they do not want to see him there. Kwankwaso has been in a long running battle with his successor, Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, and the APC’s national secretariat has backed Ganduje.
Kwankwaso admitted on 30 June that he will be seeking the presidency and that only the PDP, among all the opposition parties, has the necessary national network to defeat President Buhari in 2019. He also boasted that he has what it takes to break Buhari’s hold on Northern votes. His media interview has raised expectations that Kwankwaso is preparing to announce his defection to the PDP before the latter’s presidential primaries.
Sources have told Menas Associates that the PDP’s hierarchy have told both Atiku and Ganduje to see if they can reach a compromise that would see one of them stepping down in favour of the other. Kwankwaso had paid a surprise visit to Atiku on the same day as the APC convention was held on 23 June. Their discussions remained private but it is very unlikely that either will be prepared to step down.
If so it would be the second time that they have contested primary election against one another. The first time was in the APC before the 2015 national elections which resulted in Buhari becoming the party’s presidential candidate.
Kwankwaso emerged as runner up while Atiku was third. While Kwankwaso has the necessary popularity and capacity to divide Buhari’s votes in the North, Atiku is more accepted in the South because of his close links with the business community. In the last few months, since his defection to the PDP in December 2017, he has worked hard to build a support base around his candidacy while Kwankwaso has yet to formally announce his intentions to seek the Presidency.
this article was taken from our Nigeria Politics & Security publication. If you wish to talk to one of our consultants about the upcoming elections or your business operations in Nigeria then contact us.