Atiku: The Case For A Non-Igbo Running Mate

By Ikenga Chronicles October 8, 2018

Atiku: The Case For A Non-Igbo Running Mate

–Dr. Vitus Ozoke

Sister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala makes this poster beautiful. It is beautiful but only because Ngozi has a record of achievement. She will make a great president or vice president any day. However, you have to win an election before you become a president or vice president. That is where this poster becomes problematic.

In a different era, Ngozi as a running mate will be a great boost for any ticket. In this era, however, Ngozi’s political capital is only in the southeast and south-south Nigeria. And by this era is meant a Buhari-Atiku campaign era. Ngozi will not do anything for Atiku in the southwest Yoruba land. With Osinbajo as Buhari’s running mate, Yoruba vote is locked, signed, sealed, and delivered to Buhari.

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Atiku will win some states in the North, but it will not be because he picked Okonjo-Iweala as running mate. The north is not yet there when it comes to gender equality and women empowerment in politics. So Okonjo-Iweala will have a net negative impact on that ticket. The only sections of the country that she will make any noticeable contribution to the ticket are the southeast and the south-south. The problem, however, is that these are sections that are already locked, signed, sealed, and delivered to Atiku.

Southeast Igbo was pre-locked, pre-signed, pre-sealed, and pre-delivered to any configuration of candidates on the PDP ticket. Any ticket, especially PDP ticket, that did not have Muhammad Buhari on it, would win southeast Igbo votes. Which now begs the question: why should Atiku waste a huge political capital buying what he has already won by picking an Igbo running mate?

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That’s the pickle that Ndi-Igbo find themselves in today’s Nigerian politics. That in a Buhari era, an opposition candidate who picks an Igbo running mate has not made any strategic boost to the ticket. We have so shown our hands that southeast Igbo land has ceased to be a ground zero battleground.

There are speculations of several possible Igbo running mates. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Peter Obi, Ike Ekweremadu, to name just a few. These are fine men and women who should bring added value to any ticket. But, alas, Ndi-Igbo have already devalued their stock to junk! We sold our stock even before the opening bell.

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Atiku can afford to pick a running mate from outside Igbo land and still win Igbo land. And as a pragmatic political matter, Atiku should pick a non-Igbo vice president. Ndi-Igbo would love to see one of theirs as vice president. However, the one thing Ndi-Igbo would love more than having one of theirs as vice president is having Buhari defeated in February, even if Atiku picked General Yakubu Gowon as his running mate.

By that calculation, Atiku would be promoting an Igbo agenda by not picking an Igbo running mate. That is the tragic irony of the Igbo condition in today’s Nigerian politics. That an ostensibly anti-Igbo act is indeed pro-Igbo.

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So, if Ndi-Igbo want Buhari defeated in February, they should urge Atiku not to pick one of them for running mate. Call it self-hate, self-immolation, campaign against self interest. Call it whatever you will. The fact will still remain that, as a practical matter, an Igbo running mate brings no value to Atiku’s ticket. It’s not toxic, but it’s not tonic.