The Peoples Democratic Party has announced Senate President Bukola Saraki the head of its presidential campaign efforts.
Mr Saraki’s official position as the director-general of the Atiku Abubakar Presidential Campaign Organisation was disclosed on Tuesday morning by Kola Ologbondiyan, the party’s spokesperson. Mr Abubakar was elected the presidential candidate of the main opposition party at its national convention in Port Harcourt earlier this month.
Mr Saraki was amongst the 11 other aspirants who challenged Mr Abubakar for the ticket. All the aspirants have pledged support to Mr Abubakar, after deeming the exercise peaceful and transparent.
The senate president would work with six others who would coordinate the six geopolitical zones, including three other former contenders for the presidential ticket.
The zonal coordinators were announced as follows: Sokoto State Governor Aminu Tambuwal (North-west); Ebonyi State Governor David Umahi (South-East); Gombe State Governor Ibrahim Dankwambo (North-east); Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike (South-south); Benue State Governor Samuel Ortom (North-central) and former Ekiti State Governor Ayodele Fayose would lead South-west push.
Kabiru Turaki, a senior lawyer and former minister, would chair legal matters; while Akwa Ibom State Governor Udom Emmanuel would chair fund-raising committee.
Messrs Turaki, Dankwambo and Tambuwal all unsuccessfully vied for the presidential ticket against Mr Atiku.
Other key appointments into the campaign structure would be disclosed soon, Mr Ologbondiyan said.
The announcement comes three days after Mr Umahi led other South-east governors to protest the nomination of Peter Obi as the vice-presidential running mate to Mr Abubakar. Mr Umahi and other South-east leaders, including Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu and governors of Enugu and Abia states, said Mr Abubakar did not consult them before appointing Mr Obi on October 12.
Mr Abubakar has reportedly informed the South-east leaders that he would address their complaints when he returns into the country from a short vacation abroad, although his campaign insisted Mr Obi would not be replaced.
Mr Umahi’s seeming closeness to President Muhammadu Buhari, who is seeking re-election, has also drawn criticism after his name appeared on the list of zonal coordinators Tuesday morning.
Critics believe the governor’s professed admiration of Mr Buhari could adversely impact his performance in the South-east, where Mr Abubakar is expected to win, with some fearing internal sabotage.
Mr Ologbondiyan dismissed those concerns to PREMIUM TIMES Tuesday morning, saying they are “whimsical allegations” that have no correlation to reality.
He also dismissed concerns about Mr Fayose, whose tenure expired yesterday and is expected to turn himself in at the anti-graft EFCC office on corruption allegations.
“He would not be at the EFCC office forever,” Mr Ologbondiyan said. “They have only accused him and he would soon be out of the place to coordinate the campaign in the South-west.”