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Atiku Meets Yoruba Leaders Over Top Political Offices

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The strategising for 2019 is getting serious. PDP presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, will have a meeting with leaders of the party from the South-West to seek their support ahead of the February 14, 2019 presidential election in the country.

The development is coming barely a week after the PDP standard bearer picked his running mate from the South-East in the person of Peter Obi.
Findings by The Punch showed that Atiku, who left for Dubai shortly after the party’s national convention in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, and returned to meet with former President Olusegun Obasanjo, who endorsed his candidature, was already discussing with the leadership of the party in the South-West.

Before naming Obi as his running mate, some party leaders in the South-West had called on the ex-VP to consider the zone for the VP slot.

Specifically, a former Deputy National Chairman of the party, Chief Olabode George, had said it would be better for Atiku to nominate someone from the South-West as his running mate.

George, who is a former military governor of Ondo State, argued that the party must consider the importance of the South-West to its desire to win the presidential election next year.

However, a top member of the National Working Committee of the PDP told our correspondent on condition of anonymity that the VP slot was given to the South-East zone in order to placate the people of the region over their cry of alleged marginalisation.

The source, who was privy to the picking of Obi told The Punch on Thursday that the former governor of Anambra State was considered the best among those seeking the position.

He said, “We actually thought about the need to pick from the South-West, but we also considered the cry of marginalisation from the South-East.

“If you look at it, you will know that from the days of former President Olusegun Obasanjo up till now, except when former President Goodluck Jonathan was there, the South-West had been producing either the President or the Vice President.

“This was the reason we felt Atiku’s running mate should come from another geopolitical zone.”

Confirming the planned meeting between Atiku and the PDP South-West leaders, a former Minister of Transportation, Chief Ebenezer Babatope, told The Punch in an interview that the former VP had scheduled the meeting.

Babatope, who is a member of the Board of Trustees of the party, believed that the zone had nothing to fear, pointing out that the former VP was voted by majority of the delegates from the South-West zone during the party’s national convention which was held in Port Harcourt between October 6 and 7.

Apart from this, he said Atiku, whose first wife hails from Osun State, would never neglect the zone if he won the election.

Babatope said, “I’m aware that the leadership of our party in the South-West will meet with Atiku very soon. At the meeting, which is already being planned, our presidential candidate will tell us what he has for us.

“We are not angry because we lost the VP slot to the South-East. Majority of us voted for him at the national convention in Port Harcourt.”

He added, “It may also interest you to know that Atiku, being part of the Obasanjo presidency, is aware of the sharing of political offices in the PDP. It was a government that respected the principle of federal character.

“You may also need to know that Atiku has agreed to give the nation true federalism. That, to me, is the ultimate. I’m sure that with true federalism, Nigeria will be better.”

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