Their grouse is that they were not consulted and there arises the question at to if it was right to expect Atiku to consult them on the matter.
The running mate of a candidate is like the reserve tyre of a vehicle. The running mate steps in to act for his principal, should the boss be incapacitated. The principal makes the choice of a running mate in a manner that would enable him meet the electoral promises to the people. The factors that play out in the choice of running mate range from the disposition of the principal to the electoral capital of the choice. Although running mates also bring their potential to the table, the real candidate carries the burden of bringing his or her political potential to bear in winning the elections. It was the late sage and statesman, Winston Churchill, who said that when the chips are down, politicians take action to please themselves but making them with altruistic intention. Going by the foregoing, it stands to reason that the choice of a running mate is the prime responsibility of the candidate. I admit that for political expediency the candidate may make consultation with stakeholders on the matter. Such consultation may put more feathers on his political nest, but the buck stops on his table on that matter. In recent history, the current president, Muhammadu Buhari, once chose the fiery Pentecostal pastor, Tunde Bakare, as his running mate. The pastor was not even a member of his party when he made the choice. Bakare had to join the party immediately. That union did not hit the political gold mine but no one raised eyebrows about consultation on the matter. Bakare did complain that moves were made for him to sign resignation letter even before the polls but those are facts after the matter. He flew the party flag with Buhari and no one called press conference to decry “non-consultation” on the matter. When former Governor of Lagos State, who put together the political machinery that brought Buhari to power, wanted to fly the flag with Buhari, the president was willing to run with him but the expediency of fielding two Muslims in a nation hit with the seeming religious Armageddon of Boko Haram made the proposition tantamount to political suicide for the party. That was the background that threw up Osinbajo. There was no press conferences decrying “non-consultation”.
The foregoing is to lay foundation for a comment on the rather unfortunate incident of South-East stake holders of the opposition People’s Democratic Party, including some a governor in the zone who have kicked against the presidential candidate of the People’s Democratic Party [PDP] for choosing Peter Obi as his running mate. They said Atiku did not consult them while some of them said he has reneged his promise fly to the flag with former Central Bank Governor, Professor Chukwuma Soludo. Meanwhile, investigations show that those governors did not support Atiku at the primary elections. They allegedly supported Governor Tambuwal of Sokoto and now want to lord a running mate over Atiku. Their grouse is that they were not consulted and there arises the question at to if it was right to expect Atiku to consult them on the matter. Some of those who made the comment have, in the past, said they want President Buhari to return to power, which is why they may kick against the emergence of a formidable running mate for Atiku Abubakar. Some of them said Atiku reneged on his promise to use Soludo, but they conveniently forget that they, too, betrayed him by voting for another candidate.
The primary election is over and the opposition needs to know when the enemy is fighting them from within. Former Governor Peter Obi is eminently qualified for the job, just like Soludo and several others, But Atiku cannot have two running mates, which is why the opposition party should rally round the team and work to deliver them.
It would throw undue aspersion on the political adroitness of the South-Eastern leaders if they begin to bicker over a slot Atiku gave to the zone. The People’s Democratic Party candidate had even toyed with the political arithmetic of choosing a running mate from the South-West in order to divide their vote given that the South-East is fairly stable in its support for his party. But that would run counter to the politics of reward which holds that you reward your supporters even as you appear fair to everybody. The choice of Peter Obi is as rational as it is fair. It cannot be said that his candidacy will detract from the political capital of the party. His candidacy would rather boost the party because he has a lot of goodwill and political potential which the part would tap from and boost it potentials at the polls. There should, therefore, be no opposition to his candidacy because it has the potential of doing the party good. Thankfully, they have said they did not oppose his candidacy, just that they were not consulted. I do not know the difference, whatever it is, the South-East leaders should rally round Peter Obi and detract from the persisting impression that people from that zone can hardly reach a consensus on issues. Politics is about interests, which is why the interest of the zone ought to soar above personal interests. Chief Alex Ekwueme of blessed memory, took a shot at the presidency of the nation because he was vice president to President Shehu Shagari, which put him in good stead to go for the position. But for the military coup that threw up Muhammadu Buhari in 1983, there may have been the emergence of Alex Ekwueme after Shagari. That opportunity has stood at the door again. The people must not fritter it away.