Aloysius Attah, Onitsha
Onitsha and environs in Anambra State erupted in jubilation when news filtered in, on Friday evening, that the Presidential Candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has chosen former Governor of Anambra State, Peter Obi, as his running mate for the 2019 general election.
Though speculations d been rife that the Vice Presidential slot of the PDP would be zoned to the South East, while Obi has been penciled down for the position having maintained a high profile integrity status since leaving office as governor almost five years ago, uncertainty also trailed the speculations more so when it was rumoured that the South West zone has been lobbying for the same position.
Atiku’s final choice of Obi as his running mate not only finally settled the speculations but the choice became subject of discussion at every nooks and crannies of Anambra yesterday with many describing the duo as a perfect combination of what is needed presently to send the President Muhammadu administration out of office.
Former PDP Chairman, in Anambra State, Chief Pandola Okwuosa, when contacted for reaction described Obi’s emergence as the VP candidate, described it as a ‘welcome development’ which will go a long way to get the block support of not only Anambra State but the entire South East.
Said he“Peter Obi is a great mobiliser and he has an impeccable political record in Nigeria.
“People will follow him and with his emergence, other political parties will also join hands to support Atiku irrespective of party affiliations and with this arrangement, they will take power from the incumbent administration” he said.
For Valentine Ayika, former member Ananbra State House of Assembly and the PDP flagbearer for Njikoka –Dunukofia-Anaocha federal constituency, Obi’ s choice for the VP slot is the sweetest political arrangement of the year as Nigerians inches towards 2019 general election.
“Peter has been tested and trusted because his achievements as a two-term governor are visible even for ages to come. He can be described without any fear of contradiction as one of the greatest prudential manager of human and material resources. With His Excellency Atiku Abubakar, the economy of Nigeria will bounce back again and the news of such combination of the duo is so refreshing, invigorating to the socio-political economic world because these are people who are distinguished when it comes to businesses, knowledge of the economy.
“To the Anambra and South East, it is a wonderful news because this is the second time in the history of the nation that somebody from this side will occupy such enviable position and we are happy that somebody we are sending is a goal getter yet loyal and humble and at the same time get for the South East what is due for them. This is the best political news Nigerians had ever heard” he said.
A Chieftain of the ruling All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA party in Anambra State who preferred to remain anonymous told the reporter that with this political development , APGA fortunes in the state will dwindle greatly going by what he described as “shambolic primary election conducted by the party”
Many APGA faithful are aggrieved and for the fact that Obi has been chosen as the VP candidate, they will abandon APGA and voted massively for the PDP. The PDP will sweep legislative elections in Anambra and by the time Atiku and Obi consolidates in a new government after May 29th 2019, the next governorship election in Anambra will signal the final burial of APGA” he said.
It would be recalled also that a coalition of South East based Activists had also earlier in the day on Friday issued a statement warning of the dire consequences of the PDP leaving out the South East to pick a VP in the South West.
The groups comprising of International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law, Intersociety, Civil Liberties Organisation, CLO, South East Zone, Igbo Ekunie Initiative, Anambra Human Rights Forum, Voice of the Voiceless and 12 others had in their statement noted that the Northwest and Southwest regions are not presently fit to occupy both president and vice president seats until other regions take their turn too.
“Realistically and as a matter of equity, the Southwest and the Northwest Regions of Nigeria are equitably unfit to take a shot at the country’s presidency and vice presidency after 2019 until the Northeast, the Southeast and the North-central take their leadership turns. It is on irrefutable record that since the normative six geopolitical arrangement following the 1994/95 Nigeria’s Constitutional Conference and its adoption by successive federal governments; strengthened by Section 14 (3) of the existing Nigerian Constitution, no citizen of Southeast extraction has occupied the presidency and vice presidency of the country in both democratic and military settings, starting from 1990 or past 28 years
“For Nigeria to live together or apart in coming months or years without widespread violence, it must end its decades-long political repression and exclusion targeted and sustained by the present central Government against other ethnic nationalities and religions including Nigerian Christians, Igbo Ethnic Nationality and “minorities” of the North and the South”
“Giving vice presidency to the Southeast is viewed not enough by the People of the Region considering the decades-long personal, cultural and structural violence unleashed on them over the years, but giving same to another Region especially the same Region that has consistently taken a shots to the country’s two plum offices is the height of collective injustice and slavery which will never augur well with Nigeria. Vice Presidency of the country ought to be a non-negotiable gift to people of the Southeast or Igbo heartland in preparation for the Region producing the presidency of the country in 2023.
“ From our checks, too, no citizen of the Northeast Region other than Mr. Atiku Abubakar who occupied the position of vice president under Olusegun Obasanjo’s Presidency, between 1999 and 2007, has occupied the position of president of Nigeria since 1990 till date.
“The Southwest had not long ago or between 1999 and 2007, occupied the country presidency in the person of Dr. Olusegun Obasanjo with a Northeast citizen, Atiku Abubakar, as his vice. Southwest Region has also since 2015 been occupying the country’s vice presidency in the person of Mr. Yemi Osinbajo, SAN. The Northwest, on the other hand, had not too long ago occupied Nigeria’s presidency in the person of late Umaru Musa Yar’Ardua (29th May 2007 to 6th May 2010) with a South-south citizen, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan as his vice.
“In all these, no citizen of the Southeast or Igbo heartland has occupied the presidency of Nigeria whether as military or democratic since 1990 or past 28yrs. No citizen from the Region has also occupied the position of the vice president in the past 28yrs or since 1990. Except Atiku Abubakar’s vice presidency between 1999 and 2007, no citizen of the Northeast Region of Nigeria has occupied the seat of Nigeria’s presidency since 1990 or past 28yrs; whereas the Southwest and the Northwest Regions have taken two shots both at the country’s presidency and vice presidency since 1990.
“Statistically, Chief Ernest Shonekan from the Southwest was the interim President of Nigeria between 26th August and 17th November 1993; Dr. Olusegun Obasanjo from same Southwest was President of Nigeria between 29th May 1999 and 29th May 2007 while Prof. Yemi Osinbajo from the Region presently occupies Vice Presidency of the country since 29th May 2015 and will serve out on 29th May 2019. Militarily, Retired Lt.-Gen. Oladipo Diya (Southwest) was the 9th Chief of General Staff (Vice-President of Nigeria) from 1993 to 1997.
“The vice presidential seat of the federal opposition PDP in the 2019 presidential poll should not only go to the Southeast Region or Igbo heartland but there shall also be a concrete arrangement to placate the Region and restore its sense of belonging in Nigeria by allowing and supporting the Region to produce the president of the country in 2023; after which the North-central will take its turn before it returns to Southwest and South-south respectively; in order of precedence and records. Any arrangement short of the above is a clear invitation to anarchy including possible eruption of serious or intractable socio-political crises and fragmentation of the country” the coalition stated.