The candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) faced the first setback of his candidacy this weekend when it appeared that some South East leaders of the party were not too pleased with his choice of former Anambra Governor Peter Obi as running mate.
Obi’s choice has proved quite popular among ordinary Nigerians on the streets in the South East (as reported by several newspapers), as well as by pro-PDP social media users. However, it is proving to be unpopular among the elite class.
While Atiku tries to navigate the issue and assuage the feelings of those who feel aggrieved that he chose Obi without proper consultations with them, he carried on today with some important meetings.
First, he met with the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, and the British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Paul Arkwright.
Welby has formed a friendship with President Buhari in the past 18 months, meeting with him at least three times in Nigeria and in the UK. Shortly after Pres. Buhari announced his plans for reelection, he travelled to London where he met Welby. The Archbishop gave him his best wishes.
“I read your declaration speech. We are neutral as a church, but we will pray for you. Great statesmen are those who run for the good of their country. We will be praying for you,” Welby said.
It is unclear at this point what Welby discussed today with Atiku. Also present at the meeting were the PDP National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus and DG of the Atiku campaign, Gbenga Daniel.
Then on Saturday evening, Atiku met with Sen. Rabiu Kwankwaso, a former friend who has now turned foe to Pres. Buhari. Kwankwaso led members of his Kwankwasiya movement to Atiku’s residence.
The PDP Vice Presidential nominee, Peter Obi, attended the meeting alongside the campaign DG, Daniel. A source at the meeting said Kwankwaso pledged his support for Atiku’s candidacy and promised to work towards his victory.
It is unclear if any concessions were made to Kwankwaso, who was one of the candidates that vied for the PDP ticket alongside Atiku. The former Governor’s support is considered to be very vital for the PDP’s chances. Kano always produces the highest number of votes of any state in presidential Elections. It is officially Nigeria’s most populous state. For Atiku to stand any chance next year, he has to compete strongly in Pres. Buhari’s home base in the North West. Kwankwaso is arguably the only politician with as much popular local support in the region (particularly in Kano) as Pres. Buhari or at least with enough clout to puncture the president’s numbers.