By Chidiebere Onyemaizu
Facts have emerged as to why the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP refused to consult the party’s stakeholders in the Southeast, including governors, before picking former Anambra state governor, Peter Gregory Obi as his running mate. One, Atiku’s one term promise is partly at the heart of the brouhaha over his choice of Obi as Deputy. Secondly, some of the stakeholders, including two sitting governors, are allegedly President Muhammadu Buhari/ APC’s moles in the South east PDP. Atiku who is in the know of these and the sinister game plan of the stakeholders went ahead them, outsmarted them and picked Obi without interfacing with them.
Governorship candidate of the PDP in the November 2017 Anambra election, Obaze Oseloka reminded a gathering of the stakeholders in Enugu last Saturday that no past president of Nigeria ever consulted anyone or any region before picking their Deputies and wondered why Atiku and Obi’s case should be different. Oseloka: “In 1979, Shehu Shagari did not consult south east before picking the late Dr. Ekwueme as his running mate. Indeed, Ekwueme who was then resident in London had been introduced to Shagari by the late sir Nwankwu. In 1999, Olusegun Obasanjo did not consult the Northeast PDP leaders before he selected Atiku Abubakar. Indeed, Atiku, having won the gubernatorial election in Adamawa was driving to Adamawa on that fateful day before when he got a call to return to Abuja to become Obasanjo’s running mate. In 2007, Umaru Yar’Adua did not consult the South south before picking Goodluck Jonathan…It was James Ibori Yar’Adua wanted as his running mate. It was the trio of Obasanjo, Tony Anenih and Ahamadu Ali who decided, without any consultation with the region, on Jonathan.”
A source close to the Atiku campaign organization and the South east PDP stakeholders told this magazine that contrary to what the public has been fed with, former Central Bank Governor, Professor Chukwuma Soludo was never in the picture as Atiku’s running mate and there was no agreement between the governors and PDP presidential flag bearer to select him as running mate. “Soludo is an APGA member; he is a card carrying member. How can a card carrying member of another party pair with PDP’s presidential candidate as running mate? Where has that ever happened?” , the source queried. The Source was told that within the governors and other PDP bigwigs from the region exist variegated interests. While some of them wanted Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu to run with Atiku so that after four years, he will take over from him (Atiku) as president, others were working to ensure that the PDP presidential candidate did not pick his Deputy from the South east so that they will have a valid excuse to come out in the open to do what they have been doing in secret: work for Buhari’s re-election. This was with erroneous believe that Buhari will indeed handover to an Igbo man in 2023 as has been bandied about by the APC.
Another source close to the PDP in the South east spoke of the stakeholders thus: “The fight against Obi by some of our people is because they believe Atiku may win. And if he does only one term, and depending on his relationship with Obi, he, Obi may become the President in 2023.Many of the so called stakeholders are simply envious of Obi, they are bellyaching over the possibility of Obi becoming president in 2023”.
On Ekweremadu, the source said: “Ekweremadu wants the VP position badly but it is not possible because he has cases, bothering on alleged corruption in court against him. Atiku does not want anything to distract his campaign; he is aware that picking Ekweremadu means an invitation to EFCC’s harassment, harassment of the Deputy Senate President and this will tell on his, Atiku’s campaign”
Meanwhile, multiple APC sources who spoke to this magazine insist the South east was being sold a dummy by Buhari and the party. “Do you think Senate President, Bukola Saraki was talking rubbish when he revealed the agreement between APC national leader and Buhari to the effect that in 2023, power will rotate back to the South west and specifically to Tinubu? My, brother, South east does not feature in APC’s calculations for 2023; this is a brutal truth. You can take it to the bank”, one of the sources said. But a chieftain of the APC from the South west who craved anonymity dismissed the notion, saying the party is not a private enterprise where a sole owner calls the shots. “There is no truth in the alleged Buhari- Tinubu pact; there is nothing like that. APC is a national party and before 2023, the party will meet and decide where its presidential candidate will emerge from. To say that a decision has already been taken to cede the 2023 presidential ticket to the South west and specifically to Asiwaju Bola Tinubu is a blatant lie”, he told this Magazine.