2011: THREE POWER BLOCS EMERGE IN RACE FOR ATIKU'S VP SLOT
At least three separate power blocs from the Southeast are presently jostling for the vice presidential ticket of Atiku Abubakar, former vice president and PDP aspirant in the 2011 presidential race.
Competent sources close to PDP caucuses in the Southeast identified the groups as the Igbo Political Leaders Forum under the leadership of former Vice President Alex Ekwueme.
The second group comprises of Igbo supporters of General Ibrahim Babangida. Prominent members of the group are former Senate President, Senator Ken Nnamani, and former Health Minister,Prof ABC Nwosu. The third group comprises of Igbo members in the National Assembly.
It was gathered at the weekend that the Ekwueme Committee insisted on screening the candidates for the office of the Vice President for Atiku because it is the group that entered into a political agreement with northern political leaders that the South-East will support the North to produce the president in 2011, while the north will support the South-East to present the president in 2015. There appears to be an unvoiced belief that whoever is Vice President to Atiku in 2011 will succeed him as president in 2015.
The supporters of General Babangida is said to be insisting on their group presenting the vice presidential candidate on the claim that Babangida accepted the nomination of Atiku as consensus candidate with the understanding that he will nominate the vice presidential candidate.
Although it could not be confirmed if this claim is true, but sources close to the Babangida camp said they staked Babangida's presidential ambition on that the 'expectation that something will come to our groups too'.
In the National assembly where many of the prominent players are said to be pushing the candidacy of the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, there is strong conviction that he may be picked because he is relatively young, well educated and has enormous political experience having been Chairman of a local government, Secretary of the Enugu State Government, Senator for almost eight years.
Four of the years have been spent as Deputy Senate President. The caucus is said to be insisting that because it has close to 270 automatic delegates, the National Assembly group should pick the vice president for Atiku.
But reminded that the House of Representatives caucus of the party just endorsed President Jonathan after a meeting, a principal officer of the House said, 'Do you believe such scrap?
The intense lobbying is said to be one of the reasons why the Alex Ekwueme committee was yet to announce a name as the running mate of the NPLF consensus candidate.
Former governor of the CBN, Professor Chukwuma Soludo is leading four other PDP members from the Southeast in the race to be picked as the running mate to Atiku Abubakar. Others said to be in contention are former Senate President Ken Nnamani, Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu as well as Atiku's running mate when he contested the 2007 polls under the Action Congress, Sen. Ben Obi.