The proxy struggle among aspirants for the Peoples Democratic Party’s (PDP) presidential ticket in 2023 was revealed yesterday.

Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, former Senate Presidents Pius Anyim and Bukola Saraki, and governors Aminu Tambuwal (Sokoto) and Bala Mohammed are among those who have expressed interest in the opposition party’s post (Bauchi).

Atiku Abubakar

Former Kano State Governor Rabiu Kwankwaso, industrialist Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa, and editor of Ovation magazine Dele Momodu are among the others.

In a letter to the PDP Governors Forum last week, Atiku’s former assistant and political partner Segun Sowunmi launched the first salvo, urging the party to reject “kindergarten president and commander-in-chief.”

Aminu Tambuwal

Sowunmi’s letter was interpreted as a veiled reference to younger candidates in the race against Atiku, who is 75 years old and described as “highly experienced.”

“Everyone wants to be President after Buhari, but not everyone can perform the work that a post-Buhari President would be called upon to do,” the letter reads in part. If you don’t have the required experience, presidential powers and perks are meaningless. We can’t go from the frying pan to the fire.”

Dr. Rufus Omeire, a spokesman for a PDP faction, backed the young elements vying for the party’s nomination.

He questioned Atiku’s political importance in comparison to other candidates.

Omeire, writing under the eagis of the PDP Action 2023, questioned Sowunmi’s assessment of Atiku as a “seasoned” politician, claiming that the perpetual vice president had only minor involvement in previous public posts.

“Let us x-ray the prospects in terms of appropriate experience for the top post,” Omeire said. Atiku Abubakar has worked in the public sector as a Deputy Director of Customs, a subordinate position.

“He never became chief executive of Customs and Excise Department. The buck never for one day stopped on his table in the Customs Service.

“He became vice president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, a highly exalted office, but he was never a chief executive. He only carried out instructions of his boss, President Olusegun Obasanjo.

“He never had the experience of a Chief Executive. The buck never stopped at his table. The President could accept or reject his recommendations.

“He didn’t have relevant direct experience of the top job. So wherein lies the famed experience of Alhaji Atiku Abubakar? He clearly doesn’t have the requisite public sector experience.

“Other aspirants seem to have better public sector experience; some have solid private sector experience as Chief Executives.

“Tambuwal, Saraki and Anyim headed Houses of the Legislature at the federal level as chief executives. The buck stopped on their tables as Speaker and Presidents of the Senate.

“Tambuwal, Bala Mohammed, Wike and Saraki have relevant executive experience as governors. They have seen it all from the executive point of view.

“They took decisions at the executive level in their states and have direct and first – hand experience in formulation and execution of government policies.”

Omeire threw more attacks, recalling Atiku’s earlier defections from the PDP to other parties and how he was “abandoned ship mid-sea” after losing the 2019 election.

“Sowunmi should find other grounds to market Atiku, his boss, rather than flouting his old age and …relevant experience.

“He should further desist from these unnecessary insults on other aspirants whom Alhaji Atiku might have to support after the primaries.”