The choice of who will be the running mate to Vice President Atiku Abubakar may end the relative unity being enjoyed in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) following the former Vice President’s victory in the presidential primary of the party over the weekend.
This is just as the race for the Vice Presidential slot is said to be causing a rift between leaders from the South East and South West geopolitical zones of the country.
Although the ultimate choice of who becomes his running mate rests with Atiku, the leaders from both zones are said to be jostling to convince him to pick someone from their own zone.
Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu and former Anambra Governor, Peter Obi are believed to be the strongest names from the South East geopolitical zone while outgoing Ekiti Governor, Ayodele Fayose is said to be pushing himself to be considered for the slot from the South West.
However, Atiku is believed to have desired the PDP’s governorship candidate in Lagos, Jimi Agbaje as his running mate.
But Daily Sun quoted a highly-placed but unnamed source as saying that many leaders of the party do not favour zoning the vice presidential slot to the South West, where the current Vice President of the APC is from.
The source said, “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.”