Tonye Princewill, an ally of Rotimi Amaechi, a former minister of transportation, says it is too early to tell who will win the 2023 presidential election.
In an interview on Monday, he said Bola Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress (APC) may gain an advantage with split votes between Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Peter Obi of the Labour Party (LP).
In July, Princewill left the APC over its decision to have a same-religion ticket.
Speaking in the interview, the politician also said he is not comfortable with APC’s same religion ticket because of the country’s “current sensitivities”.
“If we took the election picture as it is now, I see the likelihood of a run-off as things stand. But this is too early and a lot will — not can — happen in five months,” he said.
“For obvious reasons, and I have made myself clear, I don’t want to see a Muslim-Muslim ticket in the villa. But if we are not careful, the potential in a Peter Obi or an Atiku, that is not fully utilised, will lead us to a Tinubu as president.
“Why do I say that? PDP strongholds in the south-south and the south-east and middle belt, which are ordinarily Atiku bases, will now be split between Atiku and Peter Obi. One is taking the votes of the other.
“That means, underestimate Tinubu at your peril; we found this out the hard way. Underestimate Atiku at your peril; Wike found this out the hard way. And underestimate Peter Obi and his youths at your peril and you may find out the hard way too. Neither of these men rely on their fellow men.”
Princewill expressed optimism that APC could still win the governorship election in Rivers despite the challenges facing the party in the state.
“They have a good candidate and he still has a lot of support. If they do what is required, they can win the state easily,” he said.
“Let us hope they do the needful. Their supporters definitely deserve it. I may have left APC, but I will still support Tonye Cole. I have no reason not to.”