PDP VP slot pitches S’East against S’West
. Ignoring S’West risky, chieftain tells Atiku
. Nobody can alter PDP zoning arrangement which ceded VP to S’East – Obi
. As Okonjo – Iweala, Soludo, Obi, Adesina, Ekweremadu top list of possible candidates
By Steve Oko
The scramble for a running mate to Atiku Abubakar, the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in the 2019 election seems to have pitched stakeholders from the South East geopolitical zone against their South West counterparts.
While South West insists that Atiku must pick his running mate from the zone or risk its support at the poll , South East argues that PDP has already zoned the VP slot to South East insisting that the zoning arrangement must be maintained.
A PDP chieftain from South West who was part of the committee that organised the just-concluded PDP convention in Port Harcourt said the only way to compensate the zone is for Atiku to pick his running mate from the West.
He argued that it will be hard for the zone to deliver PDP at the poll with anything less than VP slot as their son who is already the VP in APC is also standing for election.
According to the chieftain who pleaded anonymity , Atiku must pick his running mate from the South-West or forget the hope of securing the support of the zone at the 2019 poll.
He said that the advice became necessary in view of the “ill treatment” meted out to the zone by the PDP in recent times.
The chieftain said the PDP family in South West is ready to work for Atiku but needed an assurance that the zone would not be schemed out in the power equation of the country under PDP -led federal government.
“The denial of the South-West the national chairmanship of our party in the December 2017 convention is a fact we are yet to come over “, he said.
Continuing he said, “Now that we have a candidate to challenge President Muhammadu Buhari in 2019, we must be fair to the South-West which has been taken for granted in the scheme of things for quite a while now. Anything short of the Vice Presidency slot will not be acceptable to our people.
“Last year, a lot of intrigues played out at our convention and we were denied the opportunity to produce the chairman. A prominent Nigerian and one of our leaders, Bode George backed out of the race and a few others who couldn’t comprehend what was going on left for other parties.
“But we stayed on and were able to prevail on our people to have faith in the party. Now that the convention has come and gone, I advise our candidate to pick his running mate from the South-West to win majority of our people’s votes.”
But in a swift response, the immediate past National Secretary, Caretaker Committee of PDP, Chief Ben Obi, dismissed the arguments of South West as “an attempt to shift the goal post in the middle of the game “.
Obi said such position contradicts the zoning arrangement of the Ike Ekweremadu -led committee which had since been ratified by the National Working committee of the PDP.
” The VP slot has been zoned to the South-East the same way the Presidency was ceded to the North “, Obi said.
Shedding more light on the zoning formula, Obi said ” zoning the VP slot to the South-East was one of the recommendations of the Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu committee, which has been adopted by the National Working Committee, NWC of the PDP. “
Obi explained that after losing the 2015 presidential election to the All Progressives Congress, APC, the PDP raised the Ekweremadu committee, which was handed a nine-point terms of reference, the sum of which was to find out what went wrong and to chart a trajectory for the restoration of the fortunes of the party.
His words : ”After the 2015 election, the party set up the Ekweremadu Committee. The Committee recommended that the party should zone the presidency to the North and the vice presidency to the South-East. The National Working Committee, NWC endorsed the recommendations of the committee.”
Meanwhile Igbo groups including Ohanaeze Youths Council have threatened to vote against PDP in 2019 presidential poll except the party picks its Vice Presidential candidate from South East.
Some of the names being canvassed for the position include : former Finance Minister, Ngozi Okonjo -Iweala, former Governor of Anambra State, Peter Obi ; Ex-Central Bank Governor, Professor Chukwuma Soludo, and Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu.
Findings by Wawa News Global revealed that Okonjo -Iweala is the prefered candidate by many because of her deep knowledge of Economics and international connections which they say will tremendously boost PDP fortunes at the poll.
They also believe she would deploy her wealth of knowledge, experiences and global contacts to quickly navigate Nigeria out of the woods.
Apart from her the former Anambra Governor is another favourite of many because of his high managerial skill which he displayed while holding sway as Governor.
Wawa News Global checks also revealed that the African Development Bank boss, Akinwumi Adesina is the preferred choice should Atiku and PDP finally settle for South West.
But sources close to Atiku said he was expected to meet today (Wednesday) with the PDP national leadership and key stakeholders from the zones with a view to resolving the issues amicably.
The source hinted that Atiku is unlikely to alter the party’s zoning arrangement, adding that South East has remained the most formidable stronghold of PDP which can not be toyed with.
He said any thing that can jeopardise the bulk vote of the party must be avoided as “APC is praying for PDP to make that mistake “.