VP Slot: South East PDP Govs Ask For More Con­sul­ta­tion

• It’s Jour­ney To End Marginal­i­sa­tion Of Igbo — Ohanaeze • Best Choice For South East-uwazurike

The Guardian (Nigeria) - - FRONT PAGE - From Lawrence Njoku (Enugu) Seye Olu­mide (La­gos), Nnamdi Akpa (Abaka­liki) and Sax­one Akhaine (Kaduna)

FRI­DAY’S emer­gence of for­mer Anam­bra State Gov­er­nor, Mr. Peter Obi, as the run­ning mate of Peo­ples Demo­cratic Party (PDP) pres­i­den­tial can­di­date, Al­haji Atiku Abubakar, rather that unite the party’s elite in the zone, has pro­voked mas­sive back­lash. In fact, gov­er­nors, Na­tional As­sem­bly mem­bers and stake­hold­ers of the party in zone, yes­ter­day met in Enugu and dis­tanced them­selves from the choice. Even though they ac­knowl­edged Obi as their mem­ber, they in­sisted that they were not aware that he had been named Atiku’s run­ning mate, stress­ing that the in­for­ma­tion came to them through ‘the so­cial me­dia”

“We are not aware that some­thing like that hap­pened. We read the in­for­ma­tion from the so­cial me­dia. We are, how­ever, hope­ful that when our pres­i­den­tial can­di­date re­turns from his trip, he will brief South East lead­ers prop­erly on the is­sue. There­after, we will be

able to speak on the mat­ter,” Chief Austin Umahi, South East zonal chair­man of the party told re­porters.

At the meet­ing held be­hind closed doors at the pri­vate res­i­dence of Deputy Se­nate Pres­i­dent, Ike Ek­w­ere­madu were gov­er­nors Dave Umahi (Ebonyi); Ifeanyi Ug­wuanyi (Enugu); Okezie Ik­peazu (Abia), as well as, for­mer Deputy Speaker of House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives, Emeka Ihe­dioha. Also there was party chief­tain, Chris Uba, among oth­ers.

Obi was not at the meet­ing and there was no in­di­ca­tion that he was in­vited.

The Enugu meet­ing, which was billed to start by 10am, was called shortly af­ter Umahi, who is Chair­man of South East Gov­er­nor’s Fo­rum de­nied a state­ment by his chief press sec­re­tary con­grat­u­lat­ing Obi on his nom­i­na­tion.

Umahi in his de­nial said that his chief press sec­re­tary did not get his per­mis­sion be­fore is­su­ing the state­ment, stress­ing that nei­ther the gov­er­nors, nor lead­ers of the zone were con­sulted be­fore the choice as agreed.

The meet­ing, orig­i­nally sched­uled for Enugu Gov­ern­ment House was, how­ever, moved to the zonal of­fice of the party on In­de­pen­dence Lay­out, Enugu, fol­low­ing al­leged protest by the Enugu gov­ern­ment that it would not want to be seen, or used to spon­sor op­po­si­tion against the choice of the vice pres­i­den­tial can­di­date.

As at 4.55pm, sev­eral party of­fi­cials who gath­ered at the sec­re­tar­iat waited. How­ever, each of the gov­er­nors and few lead­ers that ar­rived, in­stead of mov­ing into the pre­pared hall, were di­rected to the Deputy Se­nate Pres­i­dent, Ike Ek­w­ere­madu’s pri­vate res­i­dence, op­po­site the zonal of­fice where the de­ci­sion was taken.

It was from here that Umahi emerged to ad­dress party mem­bers at the sec­re­tar­iat on the out­come of the meet­ing.

It was gath­ered that the anger against Obi was ba­si­cally be­cause he was not among those that spon­sored the party dur­ing its cri­sis pe­riod, as well as, his role dur­ing the 2015 gen­eral elec­tions in which his ac­cep­tance to lead the cam­paigns of the zone did not au­gur well with some lead­ers.

Those op­posed to it said there was no con­sul­ta­tion be­fore it was taken, but a chief­tain of the party, how­ever, told The Guardian on grounds of anonymity that cer­tain con­sid­er­a­tions that in­clude fi­nan­cial mus­cle, ac­cept­abil­ity and one with­out cor­rup­tion case, were set out by the party for a wouldbe run­ning mate.

“This is in con­sid­er­a­tion of the fact that PDP is not in gov- ern­ment and who­ever must emerge must be able to pro­vide funds for the cam­paigns among oth­ers,” he said.

Ek­w­ere­madu was said to have lost out in the bid fol­low­ing his on­go­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tion and court cases by the Eco­nomic and Fi­nan­cial Crimes Com­mis­sion (EFCC) over his in­abil­ity to de­clare his as­sets.

The source stated that the party was be­ing care­ful in choos­ing “who will con­test elec­tion es­pe­cially at the na­tional level to avoid any sit­u­a­tion that might em­bar­rass it later. You can­not com­pare Obi with Ek­w­ere­madu, de­spite the fact that Ek­w­ere­madu has re­mained in the PDP and worked for its suc­cess.

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