•Umahi insists Atiku must consult S’East leaders
•Anenih, Chikwe back Atiku’s decision
Christopher Isiguzo in Enugu, Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja, David-Chyddy Eleke in Awka, Benjamin Nworie in Ebonyi
The Board of Trustees (BoT) of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) saturday disclosed that former Vice President and the party’s presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar did not consult it before he reportedly nominated former Anambra State Governor, Mr. Peter Obi as his running mate.
The South East Governor Forum protested the decision of the presidential candidate, revealing that the forum was never consulted the party leaders in the region before coming up with the choice and insisting that Atiku should parley with them over the choice of his deputy.
However, the Forum of PDP Women Leaders supported Atiku’s decision to nominate Obi as his running mate, describing it as a welcome development and citing diverse projects initiated and completed while serving as the governor of Anambra State.
Even though Atiku has not formally announced his running mate, there have been unconfirmed reports that the PDP presidential candidate had already decided to run with Obi, a two-term governor of Anambra State.
Responding to THISDAY inquiries yesterday, the Chairman of PDP BoT, Senator Walid Jibril acknowledged that the BoT was not consulted on the choice of running mate before the presidential candidate made his decision
He stated, “Even though the BoT was not contacted on the issue, I believe Atiku Abubakar must have taken the decision being the presidential candidate and who is the one to directly work with his running mate.
However, Jubril noted that BoT would intervene in this matter “to offer advice and ensure that there is no rift at all in order to give room for full satisfaction by all, especially the zone that the running mate is chosen from,
“The BoT will like to advise all members to remain calm and never cause any problem as a result of the selection of running mate,” the BoT chairman said.
Jibril assured that more appointment would be made after the party might have gained power in 2019 with reasonable considerations to hardworking members who had been with the party from the beginning.
After a stakeholders’ meeting in Enugu yesterday, Chairman of the South East Governor Forum and Ebonyi State Governor, Chief David Umahi insisted that Atiku should consult with the leaders of the region before announcing his running mate.
Umahi explained that the meeting examined reports on the social media and online news media concerning Atiku’s resolve to nominate Obi as his running mate.
According to him, both PDP governors in the zone and indeed other stakeholders were shocked over the news of a vice presidential slot given to Ndigbo whereas no former notice to that effect was given.
Umahi revealed that Atiku sent in message during their meeting informing them that he was out of Nigeria on a short period and pleaded with them to remain calm that he will be coming down to the zone to dialogue with leaders.
He said, “We saw news flying up and down saying that our presidential candidate has picked a running mate from the zone. We were shocked because we were not consulted. While we were meeting, Atiku sent message that he travelled out of the country for a short period. He promised to come down and meet with South-east leaders.”
In a statement by Amb. Kema Chikwe and Mrs. Josephine Anenih, however, the Forum of PDP Women Leaders supported Atiku’s decision to pick Obi as his running mate for the 2019 presidential contest.
The statement said Obi’s choice “is a welcome development. Obi is very loved in the South-east and in Nigeria at large. As Governor of Anambra State, he initiated and completed several projects that directly impacted the lives of the common man.
“His commitment to the development of the state was clearly displayed in his efforts that revamped the educational sector in Anambra State and made her number one in the country in external examinations like WAEC and NECO for three consecutive years.
“He built strategic road networks that boosted the economic activities of the State, and completely overhauled the healthcare infrastructure of Anambra State.”
The statement said Obi’s choice was a win for Nigeria and South-east region, describing him as a man who studied extensively in some of the best institutions in the world.
In another statement yesterday, a lawmaker representing Ohaozara/Onicha/Ivo Federal constituency in Ebonyi State, Hon. Linus Okorie urged the South-east governors not to oppose Obi’s nomination which was already receiving commendation from the public domain.
Okorie noted that it would amount to class suicide for Ndigbo to play gullibly as other ethnic nationalities, especially the Yorubas had indicated interest in being Atiku’s running mate should the Igbos mismanage the political windfall.
Okorie urged the South-east leaders “to create a balance between control and the more devastating perception of disunity, lamenting that the impression already being created “is that Ndigbo are unable to manage political successes.
“As they gather in Enugu, Igbo leaders are expected to handle this matter with maturity, lay blames if they must, without doing anything to challenge Obi’s nomination, which is already in the public domain and receiving wide acclaim.
“They must come out of that conclave with a stamp of approval and encouragement to other political parties, including the APC, that may need Igbo votes to act similarly by choosing their Vice Presidential candidates from amongst Igbo sons and daughters.”
“They should indeed congratulate both their son who has been so honored, the PDP and its presidential candidate for the recognition and act of solidarity. Beyond that, they can then pursue a program of strategic engagement to address any lacuna in the nomination process to further cement the confidence between and amongst all parties involved.”