REVEALED: Why S/East Leaders Are Angry Over Peter Obi VP Choice
Further details have emerged as to the source of anger that rocked the camps of some leaders of the South East geopolitical zone following the announcement of the former Governor of Anambra state, Mr Peter Obi as the running mate of the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar.
Investigations by the Nigerian Tribune indicate that the Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu and the Governor of Ebonyi state, Dave Umahi were particularly angered that they have been separately offered the Vice Presidential slot before the presidential primaries that produced Atiku in Port Harcourt.
Ekweremadu’s camp, it was learnt believed that being the “livewire of the party in the days of trouble” and for staying firm with the PDP, despite spirited overtures from the ruling All Progressives Congress(APC) the Enugu Senator should automatically pick the vice presidential slot number in the PDP.
It was learnt that Atiku, shortly after his return to the PDP offered Ekweremadu the number two seat if he wins the presidential ticket of the party.
Besides, Ekweremadu, it was also learnt that Umahi, being the chairman of South East Governors’ Forum rallied some of the states to support Atiku on the strength that the Adamawa politician would pick one of the governors as the running mate.
The Governor was said to have particularly positioned himself for that slot.
Investigations however revealed that Atiku’s failure to pick either of the two actors triggered anger, especially following indications that none of them was consulted to make inputs into the choice of Obi.
It was also gathered that the fact that Ekweremadu’s role in an Atiku presidency would be unclear is a key issue raised by his followers immediately Obi was announced.
It was learnt that having occupied the position of Deputy Senate president in the last three sessions of the senate, the only positions open to Ekweremadu would be either the Vice President or the Senate President.
And with indications that Senate President Bukola Saraki is being positioned to retain the number three seat in an Atiku presidency, Ekweremadu and his men believed that they might have lost out.
A source close to the camp said that if Ekweremadu was not consulted immediately after Atiku’s victory in Port Harcourt, it could be a sign that things might get worse in the days to come.
The source stated that whereas Ekweremadu does not belong to the ruling party in the present arrangement, he still has a voice by emerging the Deputy Senate president.
However, the source reasoned that once the South East produces the number two man in 2019, Ekweremadu would only become redundant in the Senate.
Sources said that some forces in the APC have been on Ekweremadu’s neck especially with the success of the PDP primaries in Port Harcourt, a departure from the widely held projections in the APC that the party could not come out of Port Harcourt with a united front.
“There are forces who are working seriously on the South East, to ensure it does not emerge as a united front for the PDP in 2019. Some of the leaders including governors are being worked on, some other leaders of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) are also being worked on to soften the ground. If a big fish like Ekweremadu catches the bug and joined Akpabio in the APC, the plot would have recorded huge success, a source said.
Another source that has monitored Ekweremadu however stated: “It came to a point his men began to feel that it might be better either he jumps ship or dumps the ticket he already won to the senate,” a source said adding that the fears in his camp was to the effect that early days were not promising.
Other sources however confirmed that the fears in Ekweremadu’s camp were unfounded adding that though he emerged the highest ranking officer of the party at a point, he could not defect to the APC for “fear of the unknown.”
A source in the know said: “Though he has remained faithful to the PDP over the years, but his recent faithfulness can be seen as matter of circumstance. For instance, he toyed with the idea of defecting to the APC just before the inauguration of the senate when he was plotting how to emerge the deputy senate president for the third time. He wanted to defect so he could contest the seat alongside senator Saraki.
“But he was told that the writ of elections, which carried the name of PDP, cannot be changed before a lawmaker is sworn in as a member of either the senate or the House of Assembly. That was why he jettisoned the plan at the time,” the source said.
Right now, Ekweremadu’s men were said to have started contemplating the sort of “uncommon defection” witnessed when Senator Godswill Akpabio dropped his Principal Officer position as Senate Minority Leader to join the APC, a source said adding that this class of his supporters are indicating that he needed not return to the senate as an ordinary floor member.
One of the complaints is that the Senate number two man was sidelined not just in the process of picking Obi but also the composition of the Presidential campaign council.
It was learnt that those supported who are urging Ekweremadu on have posited that working with the APC could guarantee him “better relevance” in the Nigerian project rather than satisfy a geopolitical interest that would make him redundant.
But the Special Adviser (Media) to Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, Uche Anichukwu said in a telephone chat that his boss has never been desperate to take the vice presidential slot in the PDP.
He insisted that we are not about to witness another “uncommon defection,” adding: “My Oga is not eyeing anything, he is leaving his fate in God’s hands.”
A source close to the Atiku organisation however said that the presidential candidate of the PDP has flagged off series of consultations with key leaders of the South East to address all misgivings.
*Sourced From Tribune Newspaper Reports
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