The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has appointed the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, as the Campaign Director-General for the Presidential Campaign Council of its candidate, Atiku Abubakar.
The appointment was announced on Tuesday by Kola Ologbondiyan, the party’s spokesman.
Saraki was among the 11 aspirants who had challenged Atiku for the party’s ticket in Port Harcourt. He will be working with six regional coordinators for the harmonization of the geopolitical zones.
The regional coordinators are Governor Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State who will be representing the North-west; Governor David Umahi of Ebonyi State, representing the South-East; Governor Ibrahim Dankwambo of Gombe State, representing the North-East; Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State, representing the South-South; Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State, representing the North-Central; and Ayodele Fayose, the former Governor Ekiti State, representing the South-West.
Barrister Kabiru Tanimu Turaki was named as chairman of legal matters, while Governor Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom was announced as the chairman of fundraising.
Saraki was appointed by the party, not Atiku. According to a source within the Atiku campaign, who spoke with TheScoop, Gbenga Daniel who has worked as Atiku’s campaign director-general before now will continue with managing the campaign for the candidate.
“It is the prerogative of the party to set up a campaign council for itself,” the source said. “This is different from the campaign organization which is on ground under the leadership of Gbenga Daniel. Like we did before the primary, a special council was set up headed by Chief Iwuayanwu for the purpose of the primary. This doesn’t interfere with the works of the campaign organization which is linked personally to Atiku Abubakar.”
Ologbondiyan has stated that other key appointments for the PDP presidential campaign structure would be disclosed soon.
Why It Matters
Clearly, the composition of the Council reflects moves by the party to include people who competed or may have had qualms with Atiku in the past.
The DG, Bukola Saraki, was one of 11 contestants who competed for the PDP ticket in Port Harcourt. Saraki’s position is also reflective of the fact that as the country’s number three citizen, he is the highest ranking PDP elected official in the country.
It should be noted however that although Saraki competed for the PDP ticket against Atiku, he has historically has a good relationship with the candidate. In 2015, Atiku supported Saraki in his bid to become senate president against the wishes of the APC leadership. When Saraki became the senate president, the first person he visited that same day, was Atiku. Also, in 2016 when the federal government dropped charges of forgery against Saraki, he and Atiku were found together a few hours late.
Two of the zonal coordinators, Governors Tambuwal and Dankwambo, as well as Turaki, the chairman of legal matters, also competed against Atiku at the Port Harcourt convention.
Crucially, Governors Wike and Fayose, who were the most outspoken supporters of Tambuwal in the PDP primary were also named as zonal coordinators in the campaign council. Lastly, Ebonyi Gov. Umahi who was named as the South East zonal coordinator was one of the Igbo leaders who protested against the appointment of Peter Obi as the vice presidential nominee of the party.
So in a way the Campaign Council, while being led by formidable leaders in the party, is comprised of those who have had previous issues with the candidate. It remains to be seen if they can keep to their words and work wholeheartedly for Atiku’s victory next year.
Another thing to watch: What would be the relationship between the newly formed campaign council and the already established Atiku Campaign Organization led by Gbenga Daniel? Politicians are very protective of their turfs, and a source told TheScoop that the Campaign Organization is worried about the new council overstepping their bounds.