By Osita Chidoka
On 12th of October at 8:06pm, I called my brother and friend, former Governor Peter Obi and congratulated him on his nomination as the vice presidential candidate of our party. He thanked me and informed me that it seems the social media announcement of his choice as the VP candidate didn’t go down well with the political leadership in the Southeast and a meeting was scheduled to hold on Saturday the 13th at Enugu. I promised him that I will attend the meeting and he can count on my support. He thanked me again.
Though I did not receive any invitation to the meeting, I immediately made arrangement to be in Enugu the following day.
At Enugu, the meeting was to start by 3pm, after sampling opinion of key stakeholders I was certain there was no plan to scuttle Obi’s nomination rather it was a reaction to perceived slight by our candidate. I decided to go back to Abuja as I had other pressing engagements.
Prince Arthur Eze invited me over for lunch after which he offered me a ride on his aircraft going to Abuja by 4pm. I accepted the offer. I went to my hotel, picked my bag and headed out to the airport.
On my way I briefed the party chairman, Prince Uche Secondus (who I worked closely with as Special Adviser on Strategy and External Engagement) of the situation and my conclusion that there was no adverse reaction to Peter Obi’s nomination. He agreed with me but asked that I go back to the meeting all the same to soothe frayed nerves, if any.
I also spoke to Governor Obi who at that time was in the house of a mutual friend in Abuja and he gave more insight. We agreed that I should go back to the meeting. I quickly informed Arthur Eze’s pilot about my change of plans.
I turned and drove to Sen. Ekweremadu’s house where the governors and other leaders were already discussing. Sen. Ekweremadu was speaking when I arrived and from the part I heard, he said there was no need for a meeting anymore as our candidate had sent a message through the President General of Ohaneze Chief Nnia Nwodo that he would meet with Southeast leaders upon his return from his foreign trip.
Varied discussion went on but none was about Governor Peter Obi as a wrong choice rather it was all around the choice of those our candidate consulting before coming to a decision. We all agreed that the issue would be fully discussed when our candidate returns.
Given that the press had caught wind of the meeting it was agreed that Governor Umahi, as chairman of South East Governors Forum, should speak briefly to the press. We all went out with him to meet the press. Many of us friends of our presidential candidate and Governor Obi were there and can corroborate the points made here.
That discussion in Ekweremadu’s house was not the meeting it was a briefing that made the meeting unnecessary. Therefore the statement released by a former gubernatorial candidate was strange as there was no formal meeting. He arrived the gathering late and did not speak during the interaction at Ekweremadu’s residence, hence my surprise at the statement, which fueled the wrong perception that there was opposition to Governor Peter Obi.
The media frenzy was a storm in a tea cup as there was no discussion around the preference or otherwise of Governor Obi as vice presidential candidate.
The leadership of the PDP understands that Nigerians have a real opportunity to reclaim their country and return it to its hitherto trajectory of growth recorded under Presidents Obasanjo, Yar’Adua, and Jonathan. There was a time when international economists predicted that Nigeria would be part of the “Next-11”countries that would rival the BRIC and the G-7 countries.
It was an era when, through intelligent thinking and committed hard work by Nigerians, our country overtook South Africa to become the largest economy in Africa. That period, which was only a few four years ago, now seems like distant folkloric history.
Atiku/Obi will leverage their business acumen to solve the most critical challenge facing us today: JOBS. They will leverage their experience of creating hundreds of thousands of private sector to create millions of jobs for Nigerians. Join us; let’s get Nigeria growing again