South East In Disarray Over Atiku’s Vice

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Power players in the Nigeria South East States of the country are already enmeshed in a fierce but silent battle of who clinches Atiku’s second man position.

According to the Guardian, the question of who becomes the running mate of the Peoples Democratic Party’s (PDP) standard-bearer, Atiku Abubakar, has thrown the Igbo nation into a dilemma.
The report revealed that, while some political stakeholders in the southeast are angling for the position, saying it would bolster their demand for restructuring, others disagreed.But even while the debate rages, some prominent PDP members from the region have reportedly begun underground moves to clinch the seat. Sources said the jostling assumed feverish pitch before the party’s national convention with the appointment of business mogul, Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, as the director of Atiku’s campaign council. Posters emerged yesterday purporting to show the party’s former national chairman, Dr. Okwesilieze Nwodo, as Atiku’s running mate.

Nwodo, however, denied eyeing such an ambition. “Nwodo has not seen those campaign posters. I have not also discussed with anybody about aspiring to become vice presidential candidate to Alhaji Atiku,” he said.Other names from the region trending in the rumour mill are former Senate Presidents Adolphus Wabara (Abia State) and Anyim Pius Anyim (Ebonyi State), former Anambra State Governor Peter Obi and Senator Ben Obi.

But a source in Atiku’s camp said consultations are ongoing with key players in the country’s political scene. He said the PDP wants to hold broad discussions with the stakeholders backing Atiku’s candidacy, so that they also can make input. He stressed that a final decision may not be expected this week.

The immediate past secretary general of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Dr. Joe Nworgu, said: “Our objective is that Buhari must go next year, so that nation building will recommence. How to achieve it is to go back to the strategy we have always adopted by voting against Buhari. We are not fighting for position; it is not relevant right now. We are looking for who will restructure the country. This is what is more relevant to us, and this will depend on who becomes the senate president.

“The choice of vice president will pit us against the Yoruba. But we can neutralise it if we think towards getting the senate presidency and bringing on board an Igbo senator with a strong character as senate president to embark on restructuring. We don’t care about any gain now. Restructuring is the mantra in 2019 and Igbo must know that the only contest in 2019 is about pro or contra restructuring.”

On its part, Ohanaeze Ndigbo Youth Council Worldwide (OYC) warned that there would be consequences if Atiku does not field a running mate from the southeast.
“We insist that any betrayal in denying Ndigbo the vice presidential slot of the PDP will make Ndigbo dump the party in the presidential election but still vote the PDP in gubernatorial polls in Abia, Ebonyi and Enugu.

We have better personalities like Peter Obi, Ngozi Okonjo Iweala, Ike Ekweremadu and Enyinnaya Abaribe,” the group said in a statement by its leader, Mazi Okechukwu Isiguzoro.

OYC said only a running mate from the region would give the PDP the perfect combination to win the presidency.

It congratulated Atiku, describing the party’s primaries as credible. It also expressed satisfaction with his plan for restructuring.

But the national chairman of the United Progressives Party (UPP), Chief Chekwas Okorie, held a different view.

He said: “I have not been able to separate restructuring and the vice presidency. We have always looked at the position of vice president as something that is not attractive.

But if you have a vice president that is influential enough to get the ears of his principal, it will help push the case for restructuring faster.

I can’t separate the two because you cannot talk about restructuring without power and the backing of the president. It is the president that will come up with the funding and send the executive bill to the National Assembly.”

He said the position of running mate is not an Igbo but an individual question, regretting that the prominent Igbo sons in the PDP jostling for the slot are not consulting with Ndigbo.

Asked if the pursuit could pit Igbo against Yoruba, he explained that the struggle for political power has always been contentious.{Excerpts:The Guardian}

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