By John Alechenu, Abuja

In a last-ditch effort to push for a vice presidential candidate from the South-East, some supporters of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, have begun a subtle campaign to sway the party’s presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, to pick a south easterner.

Vanguard gathered in Abuja, on Wednesday, that the Senator Iyiochia Ayu-led PDP National Working Committee approved the recommendations of its panel saddled with the responsibility of assisting the party’s candidate to choose a running mate.

The panel, it was gathered, recommended three persons — Governors Udom Emmanuel, Ifeanyi Okowa, and Wike — after which the Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, was said to have garnered 13 out of 17 votes to emerge as the top contender for the job.

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It is being alleged that in an attempt to stop Wike, some of his opponents are said to be behind trending videos of his previous media interviews in which he vowed never to accept the Vice President’s slot.

One of the party’s chieftains from Kogi State, Musa A. Musa, who is a proponent of a south easterner getting the job, had in making a case for the zone, said: “Since Atiku, a north easterner is our candidate, it is only logical that the vice presidential position be micro-zoned to the South-East.”

He based his argument on the fact that the zone had not produced a president since Nigeria’s return to democracy in 1999 and that the zone has remained consistent in voting for the PDP.

Speaking in a similar vein in a previous interview, former Enugu State Governor and current Senator representing Enugu East in the Senate, Chimaroke Nnamani, said, “How can we (Ndigbo) be proud to belong to a union where we cannot aspire or be considered for top positions?

“If 2023 passes without the South East being accommodated in the power arrangement, we would have to wait for the next 16 years and will be out of power reckoning for 40 years from 1999.”

However, a usually reliable source in Atiku’s camp, who spoke in confidence because of the sensitivity of the issue said, “contrary to what is making the rounds in the media, the candidate is expecting three names to be forwarded to him to pick one from. Yes, he reached out to the party to make recommendations but the final decision is his to make.”

In a related development, PDP NWC on Wednesday set up a panel to screen nominees for the Vice Presidential slot.

The screening panel which is scheduled to meet candidates on Thursday is headed by former foreign affairs minister, Chief Tom Ikimi while former Kogi governor Captain Idris Wada and former Aviation minister Ostia Chidoka are members.

Others are Binta Bello, Mutiat Adedoja, Austin Opara, Aisha Madawaki, George Ologun, Chidiebelu Mofus, Fidelis Tapgun, and Akilu Indabawa who will serve as secretary.

This was contained in a statement signed by the PDP National Publicity Secretary Debo Ologunagba.

He said the NWC  set up the panel pursuant to part V1, paragraph 14 of the Electoral Guidelines of the Party.

Vanguard News Nigeria

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