Race to pick Atiku running mate hots up


The choice of who becomes the running mate of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar has become a major issue among key stakeholders of the opposition party.

A top chieftain of the party who craved anonymity told National Daily that a lot of names have come up, stressing that like the choice of a spouse, selecting a running mate is so important that it can either make or mar Atiku’s race to Nigeria’s seat of power in 2019.

Investigation by National Daily shows that at the moment, there are five candidates being considered by the PDP.

Top on the list is Peter Obi, a former governor of Anambra state. Like Atiku, Obi is an experienced politician and businessman. Obi is reputed to put in place a blueprint for the effective running of Anambra state.

He has come out to openly endorsed Atiku, describing him as a person who has the burning desire to leave a footprint in the sands of time. Also, multiple sources say the relationship between Atiku and Obi has improved in recent times.

Another candidate, National Daily gathered, is the President of the African Development Bank (AfDB) and former Minister of Agriculture, Akinwumi Adesina.

As AfDB president, Adesina launched a strategy based on energy, agriculture, industrialization, regional integration and bettering Africans’ lives.

United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, appointed Adesina as one of 17 global leaders to spearhead the Millennium Development Goals (SDGs) in 2010.

Also on the list of contenders is former Minister of Finance of Finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.

Ngozi, an economist and a former Managing Director of the World Bank between 2007 and 2011, spearheaded negotiations with the Paris Club of Creditors that led to the wiping out of US$30 billion of Nigeria’s debt, including the outright cancellation of US$18 billion.

Okonjo-Iweala who was recently named on the board of Twitter, was also instrumental in helping Nigeria obtain its first ever sovereign credit rating from Fitch Ratings and Standard & Poors in 2006.

She is also a senior adviser at Lazard and chair of the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI).

The former Ogun state governor, Otunba Gbenga Daniel, is also eyeing the job.

As the Director-General of the Atiku Campaign Organisation, Daniel played a key role in selling the former vice president to delegates of the party prior to his emergence on Saturday.

Abia state governor, Okezie Ikpeiazu, could also emerge as Atiku’s running mate for the race to Aso Villa in 2019.

According to a source, Ikpeazu is being considered to “pacify” the South East “which has been marginalized by the Buhari administration”.

Meanwhile, information on ground shows that the PDP may appoint someone from the South-east or South-south to garner bloc votes from the region.