Factors that worked for Obi’s emergence as Atiku’s running mate
Mr. Peter Obi, former governor of Anambra State was one of the few politicians cum technocrats favoured to be the running mate of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar. Little did many people know that the softspoken ex-governor would eventually be announced as the vice-presidential candidate.
The scheming over the running mate commenced almost immediately after the emergence of Atiku with several groups and individuals making a case for their preferred candidates and regions.
It is an open secret that with Atiku emerging from the Northern part of the country, his running mate would be picked from the south comprising the South-South, South-West and South-East.
Atiku’s emergence last Saturday at the PDP convention was not without the support of all geopolitical blocs. In fact it is a known fact that the former Vice-President has contacts and goodwill across the geopolitical regions but there was anxiety over which of the regions would produce running mate.
With the National Chairman of the party, Prince Uche Secondus, coming from the South-South, it was clear that the agitation was between the South-West and the South-East.
Among the names initially touted as likely running mates were; the former Minister of Agriculture and current President of the African Development Bank (ADB), Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina, former governor of Ogun State, Otunba Gbenga Daniel, former Minister of Aviation, Mr. Femi Fani-Kayode.
Others were former Minister of Finance and coordinating minister for the economy, Mrs. Ngozi OkonjoIweala, Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu and Senator Eyinnaya Abaribe. Governor Nyesom Wike was also being touted as a possible running mate but he was edged out by virtue of political balancing.
In selecting a running mate, one key factor considered was that the person must be a technocrat with understanding of the economy apart from geographical balancing by the political parties.The belief is that a Vice-President with succinct understanding of the economy would be in a better position to complement the President in the running of the economy.
Peter Obi has a massive record of achievements in the public and private sectors and this much was attested to by his credential which is already in the public domain.
Sources told our correspondent that the South-east became the favourite zone to occupy the position based on four factors and the first factor was largely because of the belief that PDP is still very strong in the Southwest. Again, going by the feeling of disenchantment among the Igbos, the PDP felt the need to pacify the region by choosing one of their own to occupy a very strategic position with a view to soothing their angst.
One of the sources said: “The South-West, despite being under the control of the APC, PDP is seen to be very strong in the zone. And this view is reinforced by the performance of the party in Osun and Ekiti elections where the APC could not be said to have won with landslide. In fact in Osun we strongly believe that we were robbed of our deserved victory.
“So we believe the PDP only needs to do little homework to improve its standing in the region”.
Another factor which worked in favour of an Easterner as running mate, according to our sources,is the fact that there is a massive presence of Igbos in the Southwest who are incontrovertibly well positioned to vote for the PDP.
“This was the case in 2015 with former President Goodluck Jonathan who secured large votes in Lagos, especially in areas populated by Igbos. We believe we can improve on this feat and defeat Buhari in virtually all the South-West state”, one of the sources who pleaded not to be named added. Also there are indications that former President Olusegun Obasanjo was disposed to a South-East candidate as running mate because he didn’t want to contest the Southwest with Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, the National Leader of APC, whose influence in the Southwest is at an all-time high.
Mr. Peter Obi