By Olusola Fabiyi
A former Governor of Anambra State, Mr. Peter Obi, was on Friday, in Abuja, chosen as the running mate to the Peoples Democratic Party presidential candidate in the 2019 election, Atiku Abubakar.
Obi was said to have emerged as the preferred choice of both the party and the candidate after series of consultations by stakeholders in the party and outside it.
This paper gathered that Obi’s name and that of Atiku would be sent to the Independent National Electoral Commission next week.
On Friday, it was gathered that Obi, Atiku and some chieftains of the party met for several hours, where some names were considered before that of the former governor was said to have been finally picked.
Investigation by one of our correspondents showed that Atiku and the leadership of the party discussed the issue at a closed-door meeting with former President Olusegun Obasanjo in Abeokuta, Ogun State, on Thursday.
A statement issued by the Director-General of the Atiku Presidential Campaign Organisation, Chief Gbenga Daniel, in Abuja on Friday night, confirmed the nomination of Obi.
The statement read in part, “The presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Atiku Abubakar, has chosen a former Chairman of Fidelity Bank PLC and former Governor of Anambra State, Mr. Peter Obi, as his running mate for the 2019 presidential election.
“Born on July 19, 1961, Peter Obi attended Christ the King College, Onitsha and later proceeded to the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy.
“He is also a graduate of several international and national institutions such as the Lagos Business School; Harvard Business School; London School of Economics; Columbia Business School; Institute of Management, Switzerland; Kellogg Graduate School; Oxford University and Cambridge University.
“In public service, he has held various positions, some of which include member, Presidential Economic Management Team; Vice-Chairman, Nigeria Governors’ Forum; Chairman, South-East Governors’ Forum, and the Governor of Anambra State.
“Peter Obi is an astute professional who has laid his footprints across the corporate world.
“He was the Chairman, Board of Security and Exchange Commission; former Chairman, Fidelity Bank PLC; former Chairman, Guardian Express Mortgage Bank; former Chairman, Future Views Securities; former Chairman, Paymaster Nigeria; former Chairman, Next International Nigeria; former Director, Guardian Express Bank PLC; former Director, Chams Nigeria PLC; former Director, Emerging Capital: former Director, Card Centre PLC.”
Obi is also a member of the British Institute of Directors, Nigerian Chartered Institute of Bankers and Nigerian Economic Summit Group.
Daniel said Obi’s choice was largely influenced by his youthfulness, vast knowledge of global and local economics as well as being a financial expert, adding they were experiences Nigeria was in great need of.
“This ticket will be able to steer our nation back on the path of progress, economic prosperity and unity,” he added.
A close source in the party, told one of our correspondents on condition of anonymity, that Obi was considered ahead of others because of many factors.
The source said, “There were many names that were brought to the table for consideration. I will not want to dwell on those names so that such people will not feel slighted.
“However, we considered that Obi is humble. He ran Anambra State well when he was the governor. He is not flamboyant and he has knowledge of the economy.
“Obi is believed to have some sort of followership in the country, especially in the South-East, even though his candidate lost the governorship election in his state.
“The general belief, however, is that he will do well as a vice president and will also serve as a check to the PDP government,” the source added.
We also gathered that the PDP would issue a statement on the nomination of Obi before Monday.
Atiku consulted Obasanjo, others
Apart from Obasanjo, it was also gathered that a former President, Goodluck Jonathan, and some northern leaders and retired generals were consulted before Obi was picked.
We are facing a vicious government- Secondus
The National Chairman of the PDP, Prince Uche Secondus, has urged the PDP and Atiku to remain firm as the party is facing a vicious government.
Speaking at a meeting with Atiku, members of the PDP Board of Trustees and other stakeholders of the party, on Friday, Secondus pointed out that complacent attitude led to the party’s loss in the 2015 elections, adding that every BOT member must deliver their unit, ward or constituency in the 2019 election.
Stressing that it was time to mend fences, build confidence and work together, he said, “This was lacking in the last election. We must build a consensus and arrangement that you will be rewarded and be recognised when you deliver. We cannot play the type of Abuja politics that made us lose in 2015.
“INEC will not rig when they see the faces of the BoT members at the polling units and neither will security operatives intimidate them. BOT should not leave the task to the younger ones, but should support and encourage them to get the desired result.”
He said Atiku had started meeting with governors to mend fences and build confidence ahead of the next presidential election as he had suggested.
He said, “Immediately after the convention, the presidential candidate and I visited the host governor (Nyesom Wike) and a few issues were resolved almost immediately because we had to maintain the momentum of the convention.
“On Monday, I called a meeting of all the former aspirants and they all came and we discussed heartily. They have already started implementing what we discussed by visiting critical stakeholders, governors and dignitaries.”
He said that Obasanjo had endorsed Atiku and described him as the best candidate to tackle the economy, adding that millions of Nigerians were suffering and dying.
He described the convention as the first phase of the struggle and that they were moving to the second phase, saying it would require seriousness.
I will reward all presidential aspirants -Atiku
Also speaking on the occasion, Atiku promised to reward the 11 aspirants who contested the presidential ticket with him, if he was elected president of the country.
He said, “I can assure you that I am prepared to work with and reward all of you if we unite to achieve success. I must commend the sense of patriotism displayed by my fellow contestants.
“From the very day I delivered my acceptance speech, we have been working together. I believe it is our duty to provide that sense of unity and leadership to the rest of the party members.”
Giving a brief account of what transpired behind closed doors in his meeting with Obasanjo on Thursday, Atiku said, “I visited my former boss in Abeokuta, where we exchanged pleasantries. I may not say whether he is a PDP member or not, but he is with us body and spirit.
“Even before he delivered his statement, we retired to his private room where he gave me his statement to go through it and possibly edit.
“He said he would launch my campaign to the presidency with the statement. That is vintage Olusegun Obasanjo for you.”
The BOT Chairman, Senator Walid Jibrin, in his opening remarks, warned that the board members would not allow anybody to hijack the party.
He said, “BOT worked very hard for the survival of the party, especially by stopping Ali Modu Sheriff from destroying the party.
“The BOT will not allow anybody to hijack the party no matter how highly placed the person might be. The party is supreme and members must always abide by its directives.”
In his message to the party presidential candidate, Jibrin said, “As our presidential candidate, you will beat other presidential candidates, especially the candidate of the APC that is already going down the drain and I wish you God’s guidance and protection throughout the campaign and success as you eventually enter the Villa in 2019.”
Buhari must go, Atiku must win – Saraki
President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, on his part, said Atiku had set the pace for others to follow with his leadership example.
According to him, the party is united and its objective is to remove President Muhammadu Buhari from office and replace him with Atiku.
He said Atiku’s promise to reward party members showed he was a politician, describing it as the impetus needed “to go out to the field and perform”.
“On behalf of the BOT members, I can assure you that we will give you our total support. The meeting with former contestants in the convention, governorship aspirants and stakeholders is sending a strong message across the country that we are united.
“It’s just one thing remaining – to remove the President. Buhari must go, now, now, now! His Excellency, Atiku Abubakar, should come in now, now, now!”
Obi will complement Atiku on restructuring-Afenifere
The pan-Yoruba socio-political group, Afenifere, has commended the choice of Obi, as Atiku’s running mate, noting that he would complement the PDP presidential candidate on the issue of restructuring of the country.
Afenifere’s spokesman, Yinka Odumakin, in his reaction to Obi’s nomination, said Atiku must have weighed the decision before selecting the former governor and businessman.
He said, “Our strongest issue is restructuring of Nigeria and Peter Obi is from a zone that has signed on with us on restructuring. We expect him to complement his principal, who has talked so much about restructuring.
“This is the strongest plank on which they are standing; clearly, we are pleased that we have a team that would listen to the yearnings and aspirations of the majority of Nigerians.
“Atiku is a suave and strategic politician; he must have considered the pros and cons before making his choice and he must have made an informed choice.”
Ohanaeze to meet over Obi’s VP ticket choice – Source
The pan-Igbo group, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, said it would meet and review the Vice President slot given to the Igbo by the PDP.
A chieftain of the socio-cultural organisation, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said it would be premature for him to talk on the issue without first making consultations.
“As a person, I’m happy with the development. But my personal opinion does not matter on issues like this.
“We shall have a meeting soon on the development to review and reappraise the situation as appropriate before coming up with a decision on the matter.
“Just exercise a little patience with us. We shall make a statement on this as soon as possible,” the source said.
Meanwhile, there was jubilation in various parts of Anambra State on Friday as Obi, a former governor of the state, was named the Vice Presidential candidate of Atiku in next year’s election.
People in most bars in Awka, the state capital, were happy to hear the news.
For instance, a legal practitioner, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said, “Obi is man who has a date with destiny; he’s the right choice. “Nigeria will be great for it because Obi has a robust background in the private sector and tall achievements in governance.”
Atiku made the right choice –Anambra PDP gov candidate
Also speaking, a governorship candidate on the platform of PDP, Mr. Oseloka Obaze, said, “Nigeria’s prayer is answered. Atiku has made the right choice in picking Obi as his running mate.
“Atiku has just shown that he is a hard-headed man who can make difficult decisions, which is required of purposeful leaders.
“Let’s get Nigeria working again. God bless Atiku. God bless Obi and God bless Nigeria.”
A public affairs analyst, Aaron Muorah, said, “With his solid educational and business background, Obi is second to none.”
It won’t take me six months to name my cabinet –Atiku
Atiku, in his twitter handle said his cabinet would be ready before May 29, 2019, if he is elected President next year.
He stated, “If Nigerians elect me as their President, I will not take six months before naming my cabinet. My cabinet will be ready before May 29, 2019, if by the grace of God, you elect me. Our country needs a decisive leader to get Nigeria working again.” #LetsGetNigeriaWorkingAgain.”