War of words and proxy war among contenders for the 2023 presidential ticket of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is gathering steam, it was learnt yesterday.
Those who have signified interest for the opposition party’s slot include former Vice President Atiku Abubakar; former Senate presidents Pius Anyim and Bukola Saraki, governors Aminu Tambuwal (Sokoto) and Bala Mohammed (Bauchi).
Others are: former Kano State Governor Rabiu Kwankwaso; industrialist Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa and Ovation magazine publisher Dele Momodu.
Atiku’s former aide and political associate Segun Sowunmi fired the first salvo in his letter to the PDP Governors Forum last week, asking the party to reject “kindergarten president and commander-in-chief.
Sowunmi’s letter was viewed as a veiled reference to younger contenders in the race against 75-year-old Atiku, who he described as “highly experienced”.
The letter reads in part: “Everyone wants to be President after Buhari but not everyone can do the work that a post-Buhari President will be called upon to do. Presidential powers and privileges mean nothing if the prerequisite experience is absent. We cannot jump from frying pan to fire.”
Spokesman of a group within the PDP, Dr. Rufus Omeire, defended the young elements jostling for the PDP ticket.
He queried Atiku’s political relevance above other aspirants.
Writing under the eagis of the PDP Action 2023, Omeire questioned Sowunmi’s classification of Atiku as an “experienced” politician, stating that the forever vice president only played subordinate roles in public offices he held in the past.
Omeire stated: “With respect to relevant experience for the top job, let us x-ray the candidates. Atiku Abubakar’s public sector experience consists of 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.”
Throwing more jabs, Omeire recalled how Atiku’s numerous defection from the PDP to other parties in the past and “abandoned ship mid sea” after he lost 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.”