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ICYMI: 2019 Presidential Race: Atiku Woos Igbos, to Pick Ekweremadu or Peter Obi as Running Mate

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By Eric Elezuo

The story below was first published in February 2018…

A former Vice President and long time Presidential hopeful, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, is leaving no stone unturned in what seems his final battle to occupy the Aso Rock Presidential villa in Nigeria’s Federal capital, Abuja.

According to authoritative and impeccable sources, the Wazirin Adamawa is set to pick his running mate from the South East of Nigeria like he did in previous attempts as the race for 2019 Presidential election gathers momentum.

We are told that he has narrowed his choice to two highly formidable and accomplished Igbo leaders; the Deputy Senate President, Mr. Ike Ekweremadu and former Governor of Anambra State, Mr. Peter Obi.

Atiku, as he is popularly referred to, who is reputed as the most formidable of all the current Presidential aspirants in terms of clout and connection has over the years proved that he has a soft spot for the people of the South East, having created alliances with them in many areas and he even went further by marrying a wife from the region.

A detribalized Nigerian, Atiku’s last wife, Jamilah Jennifer Atiku Abubakar, Nee Iwenjiora, is from Onitsha, Anambra State.

She was formerly a television broadcaster, and had her Doctoral degree in the United States where she lives. She is said to be the apple of Atiku’s eyes, and between them they have three children: Abdulmalik, Zahra and Faisal.

This his unabashed affection for Ndigbo explains the rousing welcome he received when he landed in Enugu during the week for the funeral obsequies of late former Vice President of Nigeria, Dr. Alex Ekwueme, who died at the age of 86.

Apart from marriage bond with the Igbo race, Atiku’s penchant for the Igbo was obvious when he chose Senator Ben Obi as his running mate during one of his campaigns for the presidency.

Born in Ibadan, Obi’s many sterling qualities include his dogged determination in pursuing any cause for which he is summarily convinced about, of course with a refreshing dose of patience and humility.

In addition, getting various appointments by succeeding governments is a clear attestation to his astute organisational and managerial abilities, and Atiku being a man who has a talent for spotting good qualities picked him as his Vice Presidential aspirant.

The preference for either Ekweremadu or Obi by the former Customs boss, who has since the days of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) and National Republican Convention (NRC) in 1993 nurtured the intention to be President, is connected with their intimidating credentials, their exposure, acumen, vast political network  and for being the bridge between the old and new generations among other compelling factors.

Senator Ike Ekweremadu, for example is seen by many as a man who is brimming with the fountain of youth and can bring his energy to bear in the role of Vice President .

He is also seen as a loyal and stable gentleman who possesses a lot of political clout, as the current Deputy Senate President and No. 5 citizen in Nigeria.

Born in 1962, in Amachara Mpu in Aninri Local Government Area of Enugu State, Ekweremadu holds both Bachelors and Masters degrees in Law from the University of Nigeria, Enugu Campus.

A seasoned politician, the Doctor of Philosophy holder from the University of Abuja, has been occupying the Deputy Presidency of the Senate for three consecutive terms, serving under Senator David Mark of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for eight straight years, and currently with Dr. Bukola Saraki in the last three years. Cumulatively, Ekweremadu has so far served as Deputy Senate President for about 11 uninterrupted years in addition to the four years he spent in the chamber before assuming high ranking

Prior to his stint in the legislature Ekweremadu served as the elected chairman of Aninri Local Government, winning the best LGA chairman’s award at the time.

His superlative performance led to his appointment as Chief of Staff of Enugu State Government House, and steadily, he rose to become the Secretary to the Enugu State Government in 2002.

In 2003, and having walked through the ropes of experience, perfection and gargantuan political recognition, he was elected to the Nigerian Senate. In the same year, as a legislative neophyte, he landed the position of Vice Chairman of the senate committee on Information. Two years into the business of law making, he tried his hands at the senate Presidency. Though he lost the race to Ken Nnamani, he became a force to reckon among his peers.

When he was returned to the senate and to his position in 2007, he was given the job of handing out committee chairmanship positions allocated to the southeast zone, making landmark decisions.

A onetime leader of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) ad hoc committee for the return of Constitutional order in the Niger Republic, first elected Deputy Speaker of the ECOWAS Parliament and Speaker of the Regional Parliament in August 2011, Ekweremadu can be said to have seen it all.

His ability to manage men and materials as well as stay loyal was once fully tested while the Senate President, Dr Abubakar Bukola Saraki was dragged to the Code of Conduct Tribunal. He kept the Senate running with ease.

He is a strong believer in the Nigerian project, and has argued that the country, as currently constituted, is not working and needs urgent restructuring and rehabilitation.

Mr. Peter Obi on his part is the unassuming former Governor of Anambra State, who has a track record of prudence, performance and achievement.

Evidence of his shrewd administrative skills is the claim that when he was leaving as Governor of Anambra State, a whopping  $230 billion was sitting in the treasury to be inherited by his successor, Willie Obiano. The amount was broken down as follows: $156 million in bank, N25 billion cash and N25 billion in local investment.

The soft-spoken businessman born in 1961, is the Chairman of Nigeria Security and Exchange Commission. Obi is known to have swam in the murky waters of Nigerian politics and came out smelling like roses. He fought  the godfathers of Anambra politics and dealt decisively with rogue elements who have been feeding fat on government.

A 1980 Philosophy graduate of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Obi is an all-rounder, having his hand in as many pies as there are available including trading, real estate and financial services.

A corporate titan, he has held such positions as Chairman of Next International Nigeria Ltd, Chairman and Director of Guardian Express Mortgage Bank Ltd, Guardian Express Bank Plc, Future View Securities Ltd, Paymaster Nigeria Ltd, Chams Nigeria Ltd, Data Corp Ltd and Card Centre Ltd.

At the twilight of his professional financial career, he became the youngest Chairman of Fidelity Bank Plc. Atiku’s consideration of Obi is hinged on his very amiable disposition, uncanny acumen for stopping unnecessary spending, never-say-die spirit and ability to connect effortlessly with the youths.

  1. The general belief, which Alhaji Atiku also shares, is the fact that it is time again for an Igbo man to occupy the Vice Presidency as compensation for their perceived marginalization.

Despite his age, Atiku, 71, based on his political sagacity and sterling achievement as businessman is one of those  who is fully prepared and can hit the ground running from day one as President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

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Just In: Fifth Columnists in the Presidency Working Against Tinubu, Says El-Rufai

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By Michael Effiong

Kaduna State Governor, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, has revealed that there are some fifth columnists in the presidency who want the All Progressives Congress ( APC) to lose the 2023 Presidential election.

Speaking on Channels TV flagship programme, Sunrise Daily, Governor El-Rufai affirmed that there was serious division in the APC Presidential Campaign Council.

He stated that some people in the Presidency because Asiwaju Bola Tinubu was not their preferred candidate are working against his interest.

He noted that the Naira redesign was not an APC problem but a Presidency problem, urging Nigerians to ignore their current situation and still vote for Tinubu as a person.

On the fuel crisis, he said fuel subsidy had been a problem for many years and that it was President Buhari and not APC that has insisted on the subsidy which is costing the nation a whopping six Trillion Naira.

He revealed that as far back as 2016, Buhari had been advised to remove subsidy but he had bluntly refused.

Governor El Rufai used the opportunity to hail his tenure in Kaduna State, noting that his government has attracted over $4billion worth of investments to the state.

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Atiku Vows to Construct Funtua-Gusau-Sokoto Road, Reiterates End to Banditry

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The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate in the February 25 presidential election, Atiku Abubakar, has pledged to reconstruct the Funtua-Gusau-Sokoto road, if elected. He also promised to float empowerment programmes that will combat poverty among the citizens.

Atiku made the pledges on Tuesday in Sokoto while addressing a crowd of supporters at his presidential campaign rally.

The PDP presidential candidate also pledged to end the security challenges bedevilling the nation, ensure stability for profitable farming, grazing as well as reopen the nation’s borders to bolster business activities.

He urged citizens to support PDP candidates at all levels at the forthcoming elections, vowing that a PDP-led administration would curb social, economic and infrastructural decay in the country.

Mr Atiku had inaugurated a remodelled presidential lodge and the Dandima flyover bridge constructed by the Governor Aminu Tambuwal’s administration.

The PDP presidential flag bearer also paid homage on the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Abubakar Sa’ad III, after an interactive session with community and traditional rulers in the state.

Earlier, the PDP National Chairman, Dr Ayochia Ayu, presented the party’s flag to PDP governorship candidate in the State, Sa’idu Umar and received scores of defectors from the All Progressives Congress (APC).

Mr Ayu described the Sokoto rally as home coming and enjoined party loyalists to use their PVCs to change the national government as well as sustain the achievements of Tambuwal.

Leader of the defectors, Amb. Faruku Yabo, said the PDP-led administration in the state had the people’s interests at heart, and it was capable of surmounting the national challenges.

The event witnessed presentations from various party chieftains on the ways to address the challenges being faced by the citizens.

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Atiku Promises to End Banditry, Reconstruct Bakalori Dam in Zamfara

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The presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, has said a PDP-led Federal Government will end banditry in Zamfara State.

Atiku, who was in Gusau on Monday for a campaign rally, also promised to reconstruct Bakalori Dam to aid irrigation farming in the state. He noted that apart from Borno and Yobe states, Zamfara State has paid dearly for the spate of insecurity in the country, which he blamed on the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led Federal Government.

“They brought insecurity, poverty, and disunity; our youth are not going to school because teachers are not paid in secondary and tertiary institutions.

“With your vote, you will expunge them. I promise to restore peace and security in Nigeria. I have done it in the past (and) I see no reason why with your support and backing, by the grace of God, there won’t be peace in Nigeria,” the PDP candidate asserted.

He promised to work with the state government to revitalise the closed down textile companies, adding that businessmen would be supported with capital to open and go into textile production for job generation.

“We will open (closed) borders because it is not in line with the law. Our borders are closed while others are open; there is no justice in this,” he noted.

The vice presidential candidate, Governor Ifeanyi Okowa, expressed confidence that PDP would secure over 80 per cent votes in Zamfara State.

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