Some leaders of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) are reportedly mounting pressure on ex-President Goodluck Jonathan to shelve his alleged ambition to contest the 2019 presidential election.
It was learnt that the leaders’ advisory was subtly relayed to the ex-President through his supporters who were trying to gauge the opinions of PDP members on the issue. But the party looks likely to concede its presidential ticket to the North irrespective of who, between Sen. Ahmed Makarfi and Sen. Ali Modu Sheriff, wins the PDP leadership contest at the Supreme Court.
Party sources said Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu, Senate Minority Leader Godswill Akpabio, and some governors are being considered as presidential running mate.
Investigation by our correspondent revealed that the party is already repositioning itself for a major battle with the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) for the 2019 elections.
It was gathered that while many party leaders still have a lot of affection for Jonathan for “keeping faith with his transition programme” and want him to have a fresh shot at the presidency, others strongly believe that it will be difficult to sell his candidature to the majority of Nigerian voters. Based on realistic permutations, some leaders of the party have been mounting pressure on Jonathan to forego his ambition in the interest of the party.
A top source in PDP said: “Although we are awaiting the decision of the Supreme Court on the leadership of our party, we have gone far with our homework.
“A realistic option we have faced is the fact that to win in 2019, we have to retain our presidential ticket in the North. The PDP is still solid in the South-East and in the South-South.
“We have however come to appreciate that conceding the ticket to ex-President Jonathan might not work considering ethnic colouration which beclouded the last presidential election. “The allegations raised against some key actors in Jonathan’s government, including ex-First Lady have made the choice of the ex-President a hard sell.”
Responding to a question, the source added: “PDP leaders have subtly passed the message to Jonathan. “We are however leaving the ticket open to the North. We anticipate that some defectors from APC might add more strength to our search for a candidate that can beat to the game.
“We want to try as much as possible to provide alternatives to APC. Of recent, ex-Governor Sule Lamido is the only leader who has come out with his presidential aspiration. “Even when an attempt was made to enable the Forum of former Ministers to endorse Lamido, it was rejected.
The source listed the Deputy Senate President, Sen. Ike Ekweremadu, the Senate Minority Leader, Sen. Akpabio, and some governors (whose names were not revealed) as some of those being considered for the VP slot.
“Certainly, the PDP will pick its running mate from either the South-East or the South-South. “Our search team said it is impossible for the party to look forward to the South-West because of the grip of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and the ongoing consolidation in the zone by APC.”