Former presidential spokesman, Reuben Abati, has declared that Atiku Abubakar’s selection of Peter Obi as his running mate for the 2019 election was a right choice.
He also said the public endorsement by former president, Olusegun Obasanjo had put the camp of President Muhammadu Buhari and the All Progressives Congress (APC) in disarray.Atiku emerged the presidential candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) on October 7 at the party’s national convention in Port Harcourt, the Rivers state capital.
In an article titled Atiku and the Rise of Peter Obi, Abati said the businessman has proven himself to be an astute politician and leader.“As governor, he blocked the leaky buckets. He reduced wastages and leakages. He led by example. He served the people. He left a healthy balance behind in the treasury. He was known across the South-East as Peter the Rock.
“Abubakar has acted pro-actively by quickly putting an end to the speculations. He met with the party leadership, consulted with other interest groups and promptly announced Peter Obi. If this is a sign of how he intends to run Nigeria if he becomes president, then he is off to a good start.
“In the past week, he also did something else that was clever. He made peace with his former boss, President Olusegun Obasanjo. He asked for Obasanjo’s blessings and Obasanjo, wearing his hat as a seasoned political pragmatist and ebora strategist, endorsed Atiku.
“The speech delivered by Obasanjo on that occasion is an elegant study in the art of being important. President Obasanjo said he has forgiven Atiku for his many sins, which he Obasanjo had complained about previously. He described him as someone who has a knowledge of business, who is less inflexible and a “Wazobia” man. There were subtle digs at the incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari, when Obasanjo advised Atiku not to recruit only kith and kin and try to run an inclusive government.
“In the same speech, Obasanjo reminded Atiku of his indebtedness to the Obasanjo legacy and the need to sustain that legacy. He also set an agenda for the man he described as Nigeria’s president-to-be. He even said “Insha Allah”. Obasanjo in that well-composed speech, practically killed many birds with one stone in many incantatory voices: boss, statesman, and letter-writer.
“It was Atiku’s second-biggest endorsement since he got his party’s ticket – the first being his victory in Port Harcourt. Obasanjo’s endorsement is particularly significant given the history of the relationship between both men. To add that Obasanjo has voice, influence and authority is to state the obvious, and we need to tell those who argue that Obasanjo has just one vote that they are politically dumb!
“The panic that this has caused in the Buhari camp is perfectly understandable, even if the resort to name-calling and abuse by the president’s foot-soldiers may be counter-productive in the long run. It won’t make Obasanjo and his associates change their minds. Atiku’s gain is Buhari’s loss.
“Atiku also probably knows that the Yoruba in the South-West do not always vote as a bloc and that the South-West is far more divided today than ever. The electoral value of the Yoruba man, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, who is Buhari’s running mate for now, except he changes him, lies more in his being part of a political group in the South-West, and right now, even that group is divided; it has lost part of its grip, and its leader is fighting many political battles of his own.
“An Igbo running mate can guarantee bloc Igbo voting, in Igboland and from Igbos who are all over Nigeria. The votes may not necessarily be for Peter Obi as a person but for the Igbo nationalistic interest. The South-South, still angry over how the Buhari government has treated President Goodluck Jonathan and others from that region, will also naturally vote en masse against Buhari. Technically, Atiku may have locked down the South-South and the South-East and can be sure of substantial votes from the South-West where his promise of restructuring.
“I say this because I have heard some people say Peter Obi may not even be able to deliver Anambra. I say to such persons that even the incumbent governor of Anambra, Willie Obiano of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), who has issues with Peter Obi, or David Umahi, Ebonyi governor (PDP) and chairman of the South East Governors Forum, would dread being found out to be working against the possibility of an Igbo man emerging again as vice president of Nigeria.
“In terms of political strategy, it can be taken for granted that the South-South, still angry over how the Buhari government has treated President Goodluck Jonathan and others from that region, will also naturally vote en masse against Buhari. Technically, Atiku may have locked down the South-South and the South-East and can be sure of substantial votes from the South-West where his promise of restructuring resonates well with the socio-cultural and political elite.”
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