2019: Who Will Emerge As Atiku’s Running Mate?
Perhaps the next big speculation in Nigeria's political scene is who former Vice President and presidential candidate of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar picks as running mate.
He or she must be someone that could add a lot of value to the ticket.
Since Atiku signified his intention to vie for the office of the President in February this year, series of meetings have been held over who should be chosen as his running mate.
His eventual emergence on Sunday as the PDP's candidate has further heightened intense negotiations and talks between the party’s leaders.
Before now, names that had been touted as likely running mate include former Governor of Anambra State, Peter Obi, Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu, Governor Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti, former Ogun State governor, Gbenga Daniel, former Central Bank Governor, Charles Soludo and Nigeria’s former Minister of Education and co-founder of the ‘Bring Back Our Girls’ movement, Oby Ezekwesili,
While the trio of Daniel, Ezekwesili, and Soludo may have existed in the realm of speculation, Obi and Ekweremadu among others, are still in contention.
According to party sources, the search for Atiku’s running mate has been narrowed down to the South-East.
Before Sunday’s presidential primary, speculations were rife that Obi may be chosen.
His political experience is a factor behind the possibility of pairing him with Atiku.
Obi was Anambra State governor for eight years on the platform of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA).
He dumped APGA shortly after he served out his tenure on March 17, 2014.
He is regarded as an urbane politician, whose popularity extends beyond the South-East geopolitical zone.
Even out of office, Obi is still involved in human capital development efforts, dedicating himself to helping lift the quality of education by making donations running into millions of Naira to dilapidated schools and indigent students, especially in the rural areas.
Initially, the former governor concentrated his education oriented philanthropy to the South East but he has since widened the scope to include schools and indigent students across the country.
Recently, he visited schools in Sokoto where he gave out cheques for renovation of dilapidated ones in the state.
Ike Ekweremadu is the highest ranking South easterner in the government at the moment. He is currently serving as the Deputy Senate President for the three consecutive time.
Ekweremadu’s name is not new in speculations and permutations in the presidential race, as he was generally alleged to have nursed the ambition of paring with Sule Lamido on the platform of the PDP.
Lamido contested for the party’s ticket but lost to Atiku.
Ekweremadu is regarded as a widely admired politician. Of note are his principles and deep knowledge of democratic norms, which he exhibited as the Senate Deputy President.
He has been a voice for the South- East
However, the choice may not necessarily be limited to the South-East as the South-West and South-South could also be in the picture.
Governor Ayo Fayose of Ekiti State is said to be eyeing the Vice Presidential slot.
To confirm his ambition, Fayose didn’t support a candidate from the South West for the chairmanship of the PDP because it will truncate his ambition of being Vice President.
He had been one of the most vocal critics of President Muhammadu Buhari and was the voice of the PDP when the party was still hanging on the precipice.
Information were rife in the build up to the presidential primary that some leaders of the party have quietly settled for Fayose as Atiku’s running mate.
However, factors including wide acceptability and likelihood of the his geopolitical zone, the South West, not backing a Atiku/Fayose ticket when Yemi Osinbajo, who is also from the zone and the Vice Presidential candidate of the APC, are said to weigh heavily against him.
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