By G9ija

Strong indications emerged yesterday that the move to draft former President Goodluck Jonathan into the 2023 presidential race may have altered existing alliances within the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

New Telegraph learnt exclusively that Governor of Sokoto State and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) potential presidential hopeful, Aminu Tambuwal, may have settled for former governor of Ondo State, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko as possible running mate for the 2023 presidential election.

According to a reliable source, the deal was sealed after a series of secret meetings in Abuja between Tambuwal and Mimiko. These meetings were said to have been facilitated by a former National Assembly member in collaboration with a sitting deputy governor from one of the South-South states.

This new political development may have thrown a spanner in the plan of Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, to float a joint ticket with Tambuwal under the platform of PDP.

Wike was the major financier of Tambuwal presidential ambition during the 2019 general elections. Tambuwal lost the party’s presidential primary election to former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar.

The 2019 collaboration between Wike and Tambuwal was for the Rivers helmsman to run as vice presidential candidate, a plan that had endured until recently.

However, Tambuwal may have jettisoned the idea of picking Wike as his running mate, following confirmed reports that some northern political gladiators in the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) have perfected plans to draft Jonathan in the presidential race.

New Telegraph learnt that Tambuwal’s political strategists are aware of the plot of these politicians in conjunction with some cabals in the Presidency, to convince President Muhammadu Buhari to support Jonathan as his successor.

Following assurances too, Jonathan had reportedly held a meeting with his coordinators recently shortly after he visited President Buhari in Aso Rock, Abuja last Thursday.

According to the source, who is knowledgeable in the fresh twist, Tambuwa’sl political think tank believes that if eventually, APC settles for Jonathan as its presidential candidate, it will be difficult for Wike to garner votes for him (Tambuwal) from the South South region.

Hence, according to the PDP chieftain, Mimiko’s choice as Tambuwal’s pair had to be brought up based on some factors.

According to him: “These factors are his political prowess in the south-west region and his strong link with the Afenifere leadership, particularly Pa Ayo Adebanjo and Chief Olu Falae. They also considered his affinity with former President Olusegun Obasanjo.”

The source added: “Mimiko is still a factor in South West politics. You will remember that Mimiko defeated Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu party’s candidate Mr. Rotimi Akeredolu in 2012 despite he was the only governor who was not a member of the defunct ACN even when all the ACN states mobilised to Ondo State then.

“In 2016 governorship election, although Mimiko was unable to install his successor, his party’s governorship candidate, Mr Eyitayo Jegede still came second ahead of the Tinubu-backed candidate, Chief Olusola Oke at the poll.

“We should not deceive ourselves, Mimiko still remains the only politician who has the capacity to checkmate the influence of Asiwaju in the south West, so his choice, if it finally comes, will help our party.

“Apart from this, Tambuwal’s group agreed that with Mimiko as the running mate, it will be easy to convince the Afenifere leadership to support the Sokoto State governor’s aspiration.

“What so many people do not know is that when Mimiko was still a governor, he made the welfare of these Yoruba elders one of his priorities and it matters a lot

“They visited him frequently. In fact, Chief Olu Falae nominated his late son, Deji, into Mimiko’s cabinet. Mimiko’s relationship with these leaders is still cordial.

“Lastly, a proposal will soon be tabled for former president Obasanjo to declare support for the Tambuwal and Mimiko joint ticket. Mimiko remains the only person who has an affinity with Obasanjo.”

Meanwhile, the PDP may have zoned the post-national chairmanship slot to the South East in case a northerner emerges as its Presidential candidate for the 2023 general elections.