2019: Atiku, PDP begin peace shuttle, mend fences with Ekweremadu

The perceived rancour between the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and some chieftains of the party in the South-East geo-political zone appears to be over as the leadership of the party has embarked on a peace shuttle to reconcile the two groups.  

Atiku had incurred the wrath of leaders of the party in the South-East following his choice of a former Governor of Anambra State, Mr. Peter Obi, as running mate for the 2019 presidential elections. Leaders of PDP in the South-East, including the state governors and the Deputy Senate President, Dr. Ike Ekweremadu, had expressed displeasure at the manner in which the decision was made and argued that they were not consulted. New Telegraph learnt that while the zonal leaders were not opposed to the choice of Obi as vice presidential candidate, they viewed the style of his emergence as an indication that Atiku had chosen to side-line them.
  The protest that greeted the Atiku/Obi ticket among these party leaders almost triggered the exit of some of them from the party. Since then, the leadership of PDP had been working behind the scene to ensure that the aggrieved party leaders were pacified and retained in the fold. A high-powered delegation comprising the PDP presidential candidate, Senate President, Bukola Saraki, National Chairman of PDP, Prince Uche Secondus and National Organising Secretary of the party, Col. Austin Akobundu (Rtd.), on Monday evening, visited Ekweremadu at his residence in the Apo Legislators Quarters, Abuja.

  The party chieftains, who met behind closed doors, did not disclose the essence of their visit, but- New Telegraph gathered that it may not be unconnected with the controversy that trailed the choice of Atiku’s running mate and the need for all parties to sheath their swords and work together. It was learnt that the peace shuttle became very urgent after Ekweremadu led the South-East governors and other political heavy weights from the region on a visit to President Muhammadu Buhari last week. Political analysts had interpreted the visit as an indication that the party leaders in the South-East were still aggrieve after the earlier peace moves and were out to undo the Atiku/ Obi ticket.

  The South-East governors and PDP leaders were also conspicuously absent when Atiku was turbaned as Waziri Adamawa in Yola on Sunday. It would be recalled that the South-East leaders had, during the visit, expressed appreciation to President Buhari for the federal proj- ects being executed in their region and urged him to expedite action on the construction of the Second Niger Bridge.

There were insinuations that the purpose of their visit to the Presidential Villa was to pledge their support and readiness to work for the president and APC, rather than their own party. However, Special Adviser to the Deputy Senate President on Media, Uche Anichukwu, in a chat with New Telegraph, described the visit of Atiku to Ekweremadu’s residence as a private visit and nothing more. He also dismissed insinuations that there was any rancour between Atiku and his principal or his running mate at any time According to Anichukwu, it would also be wrong to ascribe negative motives to the visit of the South-East leaders to Aso Rock because it was not the first time these leaders had visited the State House to make genuine demands for the development of their region.

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