By Chidiebere Onyemaizu
The Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, for next year’s presidential election, Atiku Abubakar has proved bookmakers right by choosing former Governor of Anambra state, Peter Obi, as his runing mate.
Shortly after his election in Port Harcourt, the River state capital last Sunday as the party’s presidential candidate, bookmakers had predicted the former Vice President would pick Obi as his running mate.
As correctly reported by The Source on Sunday, very credible sources close to both Obi and Atiku had also told the magazine that long before the former VP won the PDP ticket, he had settled for Obi as running mate.
Obi is bringing to the ticket a rich background in economic and financial management.
A seasoned banker and shrewd businessman, Peter Gregory Obi as governor won platitudes for strict and disciplined management of Anambra’s financial resources resulting in the unprecedented multi- sectorial development of the state under the ANIDS programme. Obi’s sterling performance as governor remains a reference point and yardstick to measure performance, especially of governors.
Till today, though they are no longer in the same party (APGA), Willie Obiano, Anambra’s incumbent governor, still acknowledge his predecessor performance’s in office
During his time in office, Obi invested heavily on education, bringing innovation to bear on that sector.Church- owned schools were returned to their former owners for better management and regular grants given to such churches to run the schools.In addition, under Obi, virtually all schools in the state received massive face- lift; and equipped with modern leaning and teaching aids such as computers.
Obi’s intervention in the education section did not end with his tenure as governor.Even out of office, he became a roving education interventionist. He invested personal fund in the renovation of schools round the South East, especially those in remote areas, as well as granting scholarship to indigent students.Recently, he widened the scope of his intervention when he visited schools in the North,with Sokoto state as take off point, where he issued cheques in support of education.
Though Atiku had long settled for Obi, some South west elements lobbied for the position.Their argument was hinged on the need to give the APC and Buhari a good fight in the zone.They argued that a Southwest runing mate for Atiku wil counterbalance the vice president Yemi Osinbajo factor there.
However, party sources told this Magazine that Obi’s emergence became fait accompli on Thursday when Atiku met with his former boss, former President Olusegun Obasanjo who later endorsed him.It was learnt that during the meeting , the former president reiterated the need for Atiku to pick a deputy with rich knowledge of the economy. Obasanjo was also said to have conseled that such deputy should come from the South east in order to give the zone a sense of belonging in the Nigeria project.
Whether APC and president Buhari will stick to Professor Osinbajo as running mate is not yet clear but top presidential aide and a source close to the national leadership of the party separately confided in the magazine that APC was waiting for PDP’s choice for VP candidate before deciding Osinbajo’s fate.The presidential aide hinted that Buhari may opt for a South east running mate if PDP picked a VP running mate from there.”
“Apart from countering PDP, the idea of a South east VP is also to erase the impression that the president hates the people of that zone and also to assure them that if he is voted back to office in 2019, an Igboman will take over from him in 2023”, the aide told The Source.
Speculations are rife that the recent visit of former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, Anyim Pius Anyim to president Buhari was in connection with his possible replacement of Osinbajo as the President’s running mate.
Meanwhile, wild jubilation erupted in the streets and churches in South east Friday evening when Obi’s nomination as Atiku’s running mate was made public.Hailing him as “Okwute Peter” (Peter the Rock), many in the streets of Awka, the Anambra state capital, said the PDP has caught a gold fish in Obi. They describe the Atiku/Obi ticket as a perfect combination that will rescue and restore Nigeria