Why Atiku should select a running mate from the Southwest

October 11th, 2018

By Ifeanyi Maduako

The Yoruba nation rejected President Goodluck Jonathan in the 2015 general election because he appeared to have accommodated the Igbo nation in his government to heal the festering wound of the civil war. President Jonathan experienced the worst form of harassment, insult and abuse among all the Presidents and Heads of State Nigeria ever had because of his geopolitical zone and the state he comes from.

Bayelsa is the smallest State in Nigeria in terms of population and land mass. Paradoxically, it became the first State in the old eastern region of Nigeria to produce the first elected President of Nigeria since Independence.

President Jonathan didn’t commit even a quarter of impunity, lawlessness, corruption, highhandedness and brazen disregard for the rule of law unlike what President Muhammadu Buhari is presently doing, but most of the civil society organizations (CS0s) and pressure groups mainly headed by the Yorubas and the Northerners piled a lot of pressure on him almost on daily basis.

Even when he was trying to be civil or democratic enough as President, he was misconceived by many as weak and clueless. The adult delinquency and the apparent political lunatic behavior exhibited by then governor of Rivers State, Rotimi Amaechi torwards President Jonathan and his wife, were accentuated by the likes of Professor Wole Soyinka, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Obiageli Ezekwesili and all the CSOs led by Yoruba activists. What Amaechi did to Jonathan, no serving northern governor would do that to a serving northern President no matter the provocation.

Since 2015 to date, all the CSOs and the pressure groups have gone mute and seeing and hearing no evil for all the impunity being committed in this present regime. It was late literary Icon, Professor Chinua Achebe, in one of his novels said: “Nigerians only arrive at a consensus whenever a matter of discourse or a contending issue is hatred for the Igbo.”

Atiku, should take the votes of the Igbo and the Southsouth for granted because of the level of unprecedented persecution and marginalization the two zones have experienced under the government of President Buhari since 2015. Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) treated the Igbo fairly well since 1999 in comparison to All Progressives Congress (APC) present government.

Sycophants of this government argue that Ndigbo didn’t vote for Buhari and therefore, shouldn’t expect any sense of belonging or accommodation. But, these same sycophants forget or fail to admit that President Olusegun Obasanjo was rejected by his own Yoruba people during the 1999 presidential election, but he didn’t hold it against them. In 1999 President Obasanjo didn’t get up to the number of votes Buhari got in Igbo land in 2015. Yet, Obasanjo treated all parts of Nigeria fairly well as enshrined in the Federal Character Commission statute book.

Atiku, as PDP Presidential candidate, should search for a running mate among the Yorubas if he intends to win the general election, otherwise, the Yorubas will still vote en masse for APC because of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo. Atiku can concede the position of the running mate to former President Obasanjo to nominate whoever he wishes. This singular action can bring to the end the seeming enmity between Obasanjo and Atiku or better put, assuage the grievances Obasanjo has against Atiku. The present Director-General of Atiku Campaign Organization, Otunba Gbenga Daniel or the President of African Development Bank (ADB) Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina, who is a sound technocrat, can match Vice President Osinbajo, intellect-for-intellect, grit for grit.

Choosing a running mate from the Southwest will divide the Yoruba votes which President Buhari may lap up if neglected. Buhari has a very herculean task and slim chances in the Southeast and Southsouth. The major battle grounds are the Southwest and the entire north, especially North-west. The bitter pills the North-central region has experienced in the hands of this government will sway their votes to Atiku’s favour.

There are several Igbo sons and daughters who are eminently qualified to be the running mate. Peter Obi, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, etc, are profoundly qualified. But, the major target and objectives of PDP should be to win the presidential election and send Buhari packing from Aso Villa.

Ndigbo should be comfortable for the position of Senate Presidency and Secretary to the Government of the Federation. Nigeria or the world is not ending today. In 2023 or 2027, Igbo will have our turn for the presidency. Ndigbo do not have any position of authority in APC government of today and we are not all dead because of that. And even if Buhari mistakenly wins in 2019, Ndigbo will still be out of government for the next four years.

What should be the major pre-occupation of the Igbo is to come out en masse and vote for PDP that had treated us fairly well since 1999 to 2015 and gave us a sense of belonging as component part of Nigeria unlike the APC that has alienated us.

People like Peter Obi and others who are of the PDP can be appointed as SGF in preparation for 2023 or 2027 presidency; they still have age on their side. If Atiku could be the PDP presidential candidate at 71, those Igbo jostling for Vice Presidency position now will still be less than 70 by 2027.

Ndigbo should realize that Buhari can never handover to Ndigbo even if he rules Nigeria for eight years. Only PDP and Atiku can do it.

Maduako Writes from Owerri, Imo State (08061562735)

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