Igbo leaders, comprising of elders, traditional and religious leaders as well as women groups, have endorsed the joint presidential ticket of Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and Mr. Peter Obi.
Backstory: A communique issued at the end of a summit themed “Ndigbo 2019 and Beyond”, the Igbo leaders said that their decision to endorse Atiku and Obi was based on the restructuring agenda presented by the PDP candidates.
The communique, presented by Olisa Agbakoba, SAN, stated that the summit deliberated on the state of the Ndigbo in Nigeria, particularly after years of exclusion from the center.
“The Summit recognized the nomination of His Excellency Mr. Peter Obi Former Governor of Anambra State as the Vice Presidential Candidate of the PDP and fully endorses this nomination. It was acknowledged that this nomination puts Ndigbo back in the center of governance. It is therefore important that Ndigbo should rally behind the Atiku/Obi ticket,” the statement said.
The statement added that “We identify with the Atiku/ Peter Obi ticket on the restructuring agenda as has been reiterated by 4 zones of the country namely: South South, South West, North Central, and South East. We believe that as long as the federating units remain weak the center will continue to be weak. We equally move to appreciate the position of the Atiku/Obi ticket in promoting national unity.”
The statement concluded by issuing a rallying call for Ndigbo “to mobilize and organize effectively to realize the Atiku/Obi ticket” in 2019.
The Chairman of Ohaneze Worldwide, Chief Nnia Nwodo thanked Atiku for selecting Obi as his running mate. Assuring him that Obi was one of the finest leaders in Igboland and has refined governance in Nigeria through his seminal achievements as Governor of Anambra State.
Atiku was accompanied by the National Chairman of the PDP, Chief Uche Secundus and other members of the party including Sen. Bukola Saraki, Aliyu Babangida, Ben Bruce, Gbenga Daniel, Tom Ikimi, and Dino Melaye.
Atiku assured the Igbos that he will work towards their demands, which were already part of his policy.
Why It Matters: How big is this for Atiku? It is big, but not unexpected. The PDP candidate is expected to win the South East votes, but whether his nomination or choice of Obi as running mate would be be enough to turn out Igbo voters in huge numbers is an entirely different story. In Obi’s Anambra state, APGA is the ruling party and Gov. Willie Obiano has not shown any signs that he would support an Atiku presidency. Also, the APC is expected to have substantial resources to spend in the region to dilute the extent of the PDP win.