Bukola Saraki and Atiku Abubakar
Bukola Saraki, President of the Senate, is under “intense pressure” to withdraw his presidential ambition and support the aspiration of Atiku Abubakar, former Vice President, to secure the presidential ticket of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) ahead of the 2019 general election.
SaharaReporters had earlier reported how the camp of Aminu Tambuwal — Saraki’s main opponent for the ticket — was pushing, and had made considerable progress, for the withdrawal of Sule Lamido, former Governor of Jigawa State and former Foreign Affairs Minister; David Mark, former Senate President, Niger State Governor and Communications Minister; and Ibrahim Dankwambo, the outgoing Governor of Gombe State, from the race to support the former House of Representatives Speaker.
To counter this, Atiku has been reaching out to “other strong aspirants”, and Saharareporters has been told the number-one focus is Saraki.
“Atiku has been meeting with other contestants , such as Saraki, with the hope that they would also drop their ambitions, so that it is going to be a game of Atiku and Tambuwal at the convention ground on Saturday,” said a source close to one of the “other strong aspirants” approached by the Atiku group.
SaharaReporters attempted to find out what Saraki thought of the entreaties, and what his decision would be.
Although a source in his camp confirmed the story “for certain”, he conceded it wasn’t immediately clear what decision Saraki would eventually take.
“I don’t think it is likely he would accept but I know he is under intense pressure,” said the second source, who asked not to be named.
“There is pressure on him; there have been meetings, and there have been talks for him to step down for Atiku. Atiku is trying to build consensus; if Saraki steps down for him, it means he has a good chance because Saraki’s delegates would definitely be passed on to him. I do not know what Saraki will decide, but I can confirm certainly that yes, he is under pressure to stand down for Atiku.”
The PDP presidential primary holds on Saturday, with Tambuwal, being the anointed of Nyesom Wike, the party’s biggest financier, tipped to emerge victorious.