Following the emergence of ex-Vice President Atiku Abubakar as the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), indications have emerged that a fresh tussle for the vice presidency slot between the South-East and the South-West, has begun.
Investigations by Daily Sun reveals that so far, two prominent politicians from the South-East are being considered. They are incumbent Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu and former Anambra State governor, Mr Peter Obi.
Although, it was gathered that the South-West is also making a strong case for the position, multiple sources from the party who spoke with Daily Sun in confidence maintained that it would be “suicidal” to deny the South-East the vice presidency slot if the party was truly desirous of dislodging the All Progressives Congress (APC) from the centre.
Following the outcome of the party’s special convention in Rivers State, a new power bloc appears to have succeeded in seizing power and control of the party. The new power bloc, it was reliably gathered, would be the deciding “force” in the “distribution and allocation” of positions in government ahead of 2019.
The positions that would be shared, according to a highly placed source within the new power bloc, are president (already taken) vice president, Senate President, deputy senate president, speaker, deputy speaker and the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF).
The source said: “We’ll beg the South-West. If we must win and win well, the running mate would have to come from the South-East. Then we can give South-West the Senate President.”
Explaining why the party must beg the South-West, the source further said, “we will be doing this for two reasons. One, to give them a sense of belonging so that they are not carried away by the political sympathy APC seems to be showing them. Two, we are already hearing that one of the governorship candidates from the area is saying that our candidate had promised him the VP slot a long time ago. There was nothing like that.”
He told Daily Sun that he was aware that in the build-up to the party’s national convention in December last year, which produced its national chairman, some persons met with former military president, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida (retd) and told him that the Rivers State governor was promoting a South-South candidate for the party’s national chairman because he (Wike) was interested in the vice presidency slot.
“And you know IBB being a smart person, when Wike met him, he told Wike that he (Wike) would be good for a running mate in 2019 to a northern candidate. Wike immediately told IBB that there was no way he could leave certainty for uncertainty.”
The above narrative, Daily Sun recalled, was corroborated by another senior member of the party from the North-West shortly before the party’s special convention in Rivers State.
The source is one of those who told Daily Sun that that anyone from the South-West who wanted to be vice president on PDP’s ticket for 2019 must be “dreaming”.
Reminded that Ekiti State governor, Ayo Fayose may have keyed into Uche Secondus’ project at the time because he had his eyes on the vice presidency slot, the source said neither Fayose nor anyone from the South-West would get it.
“We have zoned our presidential ticket to the north. But we have not decided which part will be produced the running mate. It is not for us to say the vice presidency slot will go to the South-West or South-East, primarily because it is the candidate that will decide his running mate. But I am aware that Jimi Agbaje was a strong contender for the position before now. In fact, Atiku had wanted him as his campaign DG. It was Fayose who insisted that the DG must come from among former governors. And at the time all these happened, Fayose had not lost the election. However, the dynamics have again changed. I am sure you saw it played out in Port Harcourt. So the choice of a running mate is a decision for the candidate to make.
“In doing that, however, so many factors are put into consideration, including but not limited to electoral value. Everyone in Nigeria today believes that for equity sake, and for continued peace and progress of the country, the least you can offer the South-East in the next dispensation is the vice presidency slot.
“So anyone who is desirous of truly helping PDP to sack the APC must not think otherwise.
“It will be suicidal to take the slot to the South-West. I can tell you that no one is thinking along that line. The South-South and the South-East will determine the outcome of the 2019 presidential election. The APC already has its running mate from the South-West.
“So, if you go and take that of PDP from the same zone, they will just be struggling for votes in the zone, whereas a running mate from the South-East will change the equation since we can’t take it to the South-South again.
“PDP will not make that mistake of not giving the South-East the slot. It will be suicidal. If you do it, South-East will vote for Buhari for another four years. I am sure you know the implication, which means PDP will lose 11 states in the presidential election,” the source said.