South-east Govs Cost PDP 2019 Presidential Poll, Says Report

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•Party’s committee submits report soon

By Chuks Okocha

The report of a committee set up by the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to review why the party lost 2019 presidential election has attributed the party’s defeat to disenchantment by South-east governors over the choice of former Anambra State Governor, Mr. Peter Obi, as the party’s running mate.

THISDAY’s findings showed that the report of the committee, headed by Bauchi State Governor, Senator Bala Mohammed, also accused other presidential aspirants, who lost to former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, in the race for the PDP’s ticket of being indifferent to working for the party’s electoral victory.

In the race for the party’s ticket, Atiku scored 1,532 votes to defeat 11 other aspirants, including, Governor Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State, who scored 693 votes; former President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki, 317 votes; Senator Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, 158 votes; former Governor Ibrahim Dankwambo of Gombe State, 111 votes; former Jigawa State Governor, Alhaji Sule Lamido, 96 votes; and former Kaduna State Governor, Senator Ahmed Makarfi, 74 votes, among others.

However, Atiku lost the election to President Muhammadu Buhari, who was the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC).

The National Executive Committee (NEC) of the PDP had set up the committee following a recommendation by Atiku at the party’s 87th NEC meeting in Abuja last year.

The committee, which has the Deputy National Secretary of the party, Dr. Emmanuel Agbo, as secretary, was tasked with the probe of why the PDP lost the presidential election and also make recommendations on the way forward.

The North-west geopolitical zone was represented on the committee by Lamido and for Minister for Special Duties, Mr. Tanimu Turaki (SAN); while a former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara (then as a PDP member) and Mr. Alhassan Muhammadu were selected to represent the North-east.

Other members are former Niger State Governor, Dr. Babangida Aliyu, and Mr. Istifanus Gyang (North-central); Mr. Francis Nwaifuru and Austin Nnamani (South-east); while Hon. Austin Okpara and Mrs. Stella Omu represented the South-south.

A member of the committee, who spoke to THISDAY on condition of anonymity, said the committee discovered that the PDP lost the election because of issues like indifference and non-commitment by some of the presidential aspirants, as well as the roles played by some PDP governors over the nomination of Obi as Atiku’s running mate.

He said: “Despite the anxiety and expectations of Nigerians for a change, the aspirations of Nigerians were dashed because of the indifference of the co-presidential aspirants that contested and lost at the Port Harcourt presidential convention of the party.

“The convention organised by the party under the chairmanship of the Delta State Governor, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa, was basically seen to be free and transparent but events that followed thereafter marred the campaigns.

“We left Port Harcourt as a team and ready to move into the campaign but the signals we get from the co-presidential aspirants that contested against Atiku was a bad one. There were indifference and absence of commitments.

“Except a few of them that came into the campaign with vigour, others were not fully committed.
“Another matter that marred the campaign was the way and manner the vice presidential candidate, Mr. Peter Obi, emerged. This could be described as the last straw that killed the enthusiasm of the campaign. For a long time into the campaign, it haunted the campaign.”

According to him, the committee discovered that many PDP leaders saw the choice of Obi as not based on consultation but merely imposition.

He stated that Obi was Anambra State governor for eight years and a friend of former President Goodluck Jonathan.

He said Obi was seen as a member of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) and an outsider, without a strong root in PDP and should not have been given such a position.

According to the source, “You can see that even some bold members of the party in the South-east were not in support of Peter Obi as the vice-presidential candidate. They believed that he was imposed as a vice-presidential candidate.

“The choice of Peter Obi was like a sword that divided the PDP in the South-east. Some of the PDP governors openly worked against the Atiku/Obi presidential candidate. You know the role eventually played by some of the South-east governors in the allocations of votes to the APC and the controversial manner President Muhammadu Buhari scored 25 per cent in the zone.

“Not only PDP governors, some members of the party at the National Assembly played an indifferent role. Some of them were expecting appointment as the vice presidential candidate and when the announcement came and Peter Obi was chosen, these members were indifferent to the entire campaign.”

He stated that the committee also discovered that the one-man campaign strategy of Atiku put off many members.
According to him, most members of the party were not carried along and in most cases, they were denied funds.
He added that the release of campaign fund and eventual disbursement were subject to Atiku’s approval.
“The entire campaign became so to say, a one-man show,” the source said.

“These were some of the pitfalls we saw as a party and would want to avoid them like the 2023 presidential election draws nearer,” he added.

THISDAY gathered that the committee, which had visited former military President, General Ibrahim Babangida (rtd); former President of the Senate, Senator David Mark; and other party members, would soon submit its report.

“We were slowed down because of this COVID-19.

“Our report shall highlight all these issues and advise the party on how to run a collective campaign where the party will have input and all decisions carried to the advantage of the party in the 2023 presidential campaigns.

“The Governor Bala Mohammed-committee wants to ensure a united party before discussions on 2023 should commence. This is also our focus,” he stated.