- Emeka Ihedioha may emerge as the running mate of Atiku Abubakar ahead of the 2023 presidential election
- Sources close to the former Imo state governor said he was approached with the idea by his bosom friend, Aminu Tambuwal
- Ihedioha was Tambuwal's deputy when the Sokoto governor served as the Speaker of the House of Representatives
FCT, Abuja - The presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, is considering choosing Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha, a former governor of Imo state, as his running mate.
Ihedioha, 57, is a former deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives and an ally of Governor Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto.
He was also part of those who pressurized Tambuwal to step down for Atiku hours before voting commenced at the PDP presidential primary.
Top southeast governor visits Atiku after PDP presidential primary as party candidate reveals next plan
Tambuwal stepped down for Atiku during the convention paving the way for the Adamawa-born politician to defeat his closest rival and Rivers state governor, Nyesom Wike.
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Party sources told Legit.ng that Atiku began consultation with top PDP leaders a day after he won the primary of the party on Saturday night, May 28.
The consultations were said to have commenced when the vice president paid a 'thank you' visit to Governor Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto at his Abuja residence.
A source privy to the meeting said:
“Tambuwal's camp had put forward the name of Ihedioha, but Atiku was not favorably disposed to it at first, and Ihedioha himself rejected it.”
While there have been reports of Atiku narrowing his choice to either Governor Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom or Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta, the former vice president is keen on having bloc votes from the southeast, especially as the region has always supported the PDP since 1999.
The source added:
“The recent comments of Ohanaeze Ndigbo that they never threatened to work against Atiku in the 2023 polls is now making Atiku reconsider Ihedioha provided the former governor accepts the offer.
“He wants the southeast votes badly because he knows they always tilt towards the PDP every election cycle.”
A source in Ihedioha's camp also confirmed the authenticity of the rumours to Legit.ng but stated that his principal still has his eyes on becoming the Imo state governor.
Ihedioha was controversially kicked out of Government House, Owerri by the Supreme Court on January 14, 2020.
The apex court upheld the petition of Hope Uzodinma and declared him the elected governor of Imo.
The judgment meant the Imo guber polls will now be held separately from the general elections and Ihedioha is said to be warming up to challenge Uzodimma for the seat.
The source said:
“It's just speculation. But whatever happens, you can’t be a vice presidential candidate and later run for governor in the events it didn’t work. But I’m sure the right decisions will be taken. However, we are very comfortable with Atiku candidacy.”
When Legit.ng reached out to Ihedioha's media aide, AIC Akwarandu on the rumours, he neither confirmed nor denied the story, but said:
“Ihedioha is very qualified to occupy any position in the land. He has built capacity and competence around himself. But for now, most of the things you hear are speculations. Be rest assured that at the right time, the right decisions will be taken.”
Atiku, in his previous outing as the candidate of the party at the 2019 election, picked former Anambra state governor, Peter Obi, as his running mate.
Obi has since moved to Labour Party and is now the presidential flagbearer of the party ahead of the 2023 polls.
2023: Atiku’s emergence as PDP flagbearer marks the end of APC, says Akinniyi
Meanwhile, the chairman, Atiku Abubakar Town Hall Meetings, Dare 'Glintstone' Akinniyi has boasted that the emergence of the former vice president as the presidential flagbearer of the PDP will mark the end of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Akinniyi made the declaration immediately after Atiku won the PDP presidential primary election, adding that his presidency will reposition Nigeria on the path to prosperity.
He also commended delegates at the just concluded PDP's special convention where Atiku emerged as the party's flag bearer.