LAGOS-Former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar has expressed his desire to retain former Anambra State Governor, Peter Obi, as his running mate if he clinches the presidential ticket of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Daily Independent has gathered.
Atiku and Obi were both presidential candidate and Vice-Presidential candidate of the PDP in the 2019 general election which they lost to the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) which fielded President Muhammadu Buhari as its flagbearer.
However, credible sources in the party said the moves by Atiku is facing stiff resistance by PDP governors who want him to pick one of them from the Southern as his running mate.
According to our sources, that is the reason why some of the governors are picking the presidential forms of the PDP which they plan to use as negotiation for the VP slot.
Even though Peter Obi has already picked the PDP presidential form and has been screened to participate in the primaries, an associate of Atiku on Monday informed our correspondent that the Waziri of Adamawa has said he would like to retain the 2019 team with Peter Obi as Vice-President if he wins the PDP ticket.
When asked why Peter Obi is running, he said it is because the PDP will throw the presidential ticket open as recommended by the zoning committee of the party.
“Peter Obi is running because the party did not zone the ticket to any region; they will certainly throw the ticket open.
Every qualified aspirant will contest and the best will emerge as the candidate of the party. We can’t ask him not to contest since the ticket is not zoned to any particular region. What if he wins? “If Obi is lucky enough to get the majority of the delegates and becomes the presidential candidate, @ atiku and all of us will give him maximum support,” he said.
A former member of the party’s National Working Committee who also confirmed the development said while Atiku prefers Obi, he may pander to the wishes of the governors as they are the major powerbrokers in the party.
“Wike is contesting for the presidency because he believes that if the party zones the position to the South, he would win. But now that the party will throw the ticket open, he has his eyes on the VP slot.”
“Another governor interested in the VP slot is Akwa Ibom State governor, Udom Emmanuel. He is also contesting for presidency but his motive is just to join the race since Wike from Rivers is also there”.
“There is this age-long rivalry between Akwa Ibom and Rivers and so they believe if a man from Rivers wants to become president, why can’t a man from Akwa Ibom also do it?” “The primary is yet to be conducted but there is this belief in the party that with President Buhari out of the equation in 2023, only Atiku has a national appeal that can win the presidential election for PDP”.
“The real stakeholders know that the likes of Pius Anyim, Aminu Tambuwal, Nyesom Wike are going nowhere. In fact, Bala Mohammed of Bauchi said he is contesting for president but he has secretly obtained a nomination form for the governorship election. Is that a serious presidential candidate? “So right now, they are already working towards the emergence of one of their own as running mate to Atiku”.
“They also know that Atiku prefers Obi because they have a close working relationship. In fact, that was why Obi attended Atiku’s declaration in Abuja.”
“The problem of the Igbos is that they really don’t know what they want. If they had shown direction in 2019, they should have voted massively for Atiku and Obi to make a strong statement that they really needed the presidency. But what they did in the 2019 election was to put one leg in APC and the other leg in PDP”.
“They deliberately allowed Buhari to get 25 percent of votes in the South- East states which ordinarily APC can never get as PDP is the dominant party in the South East. That is why people are not looking at the South-East as a strong force to reckon with”.
“If tomorrow Atiku picks Obi as running mate, you will see some Igbo leaders come to say that they were not consulted before the decision was reached just like it happened in 2019 and they will still go and work against him. At the end of the day, it is the South East zone that will suffer”.
“One thing is certain, if Atiku wins tomorrow, the PDP governors will come up with demands that one of them should be picked as VP. If someone like Wike who is the major financial backbone of the party said he wants the VP slot as a condition for supporting the party, do you think they won’t listen to him?,” he asked.
Also speaking on this, a public affairs analyst, Wale Adegoke said the South East needs to work very hard so they don’t lose out in 2023.
“The Igbo’s have to work very hard; if not they will miss out on both; President and VP. Hence, you see South South politicians now emphasizing their Igbo or Igbo-related names; Amaechi, Ifeanyichukwu etc. all in a bid to create a shade of Igboness in them to assuage the agitation in Igbo land. Unfortunately, some Igbos from the South East are even falling for that scam,” he said.