A senior party official, who pleaded not to be named, said the party had decided to scout for a “sellable” candidate who can match President Muhammadu Buhari, who is believed to be interested in a second term.
“We have made mistakes in the past. We violated zoning and we paid dearly for it. We are considering going for a presidential candidate, who will withstand the predictable propaganda of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC)-led government. We want to get it right. If we want to win, we must get a better candidate; a candidate that is better than what the APC will offer because Nigerians will compare and contrast,” the source said.
According to the source, who pleaded not to be named, the party may be looking beyond the array of likely presidential aspirants who have started consultations and mobilisation of supporters, ahead of next year’s primary.
PDP presidential contenders include former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, former Sokoto State Governor Attahiru Barafawa, former Kano State Governor Ibrahim Shekarau, former Jigawa State Governor Sule Lamido, former Kaduna State Governor Ahmed Makarfi, Ekiti State Governor Ayodele Fayose and Gombe State Governor Ibrahim Dankwambo.
The source said: “There is no shortage of presidential aspirants in our party. But, one factor that will determine the selection of the flag bearer is his ability to win. We as a party want to win. Therefore, the opinion is that, while studying those already holding consultations on their presidential ambition, the door should be open for more people to come in.
The source said: “Many APC leaders are former leaders of the PDP. Thus, communication is easy. We did not offend ourselves. They were fighting Jonathan and he is no more in the saddle. We still meet and relate and the bond is not entirely severed.”
Among APC stalwarts being wooed, according to the source, is Sokoto State Governor Aminu Tambuwal and former Kano State Governor Rabiu Kwakwanso.
However, despite his potential, Tambuwal’s limitation is that he is considered as a promising politician from a narrow political base and disputed formidability, although he had a seemingly big stature then as the Speaker of the House of Representatives.
The source said: “There is no evidence of lack of amity between the PDP and Kwakwanso. Now that there is a division in Kano State APC, we are likely to succeed in our effort to encourage Kwakwanso to return. Kwakwanso actually wants to return, if we mount more pressure on him and convince him. But when he returns, he may have to fight for the ticket at the primary without any special concession given to him beyond the normal waiver.”
The presidential search team, it was gathered will be made up of experienced party leaders, “intellectual friends” of the PDP, founding fathers, National Assembly members, the governors and other party officials, who will consult widely and liaise with prominent leaders of opinion, including royal fathers, religious leaders, past leaders of government and other influential blocs in the society.
The source added: “For us in the PDP, it is a moment of sober reflection. We are facing the reality. It may not be easy to displace an incumbent. But, they defeated us. That has given us the courage that we can also defeat them.
“We need a new strategy. We must also make sacrifice to bounce back. To win, we must strategise, plan and execute our plans with dexterity. MKO Abiola was accepted by all the six regions. Somebody with that kind of antecedent can be honoured with the ticket to salvage Nigeria from the APC.
He can come from the business world, diplomacy, and other sectors where he has made a name.
“The person must be clean; without any baggage and he must be knowledgeable and versatile. He must have adequate knowledge of how to turn the economy around. And you know, the first criterion is that he must be someone from the North because we have zoned the presidency to the North. The factor we are considering is the winning factor and the PDP family will not compromise this factor.”