By Yusuf Alli (The Nation)
Former Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential aspirant Peter Obi may either join the Social Democratic Party (SDP), the Labour Party (LP) or the New Nigerian Peoples Party (NNPP) to puruse his ambition, it was learnt yesterday.
The former governor of Anambra State, who quit the race also dumped the opposition party, which he had defected to from the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) in 2018.
Obi was running mate to the 2019 presidential candidate of the party, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar.
His exit may have dimmed hope for PDP presidential aspirants from the Southeast.
Sources said Obi was uncomfortable with the neglect of zoning by the PDP and its decision to throw the ticket open to aspirants from the North and South.
Obi’s resignation was shocking to many party chieftains, who believed he had run a neat campaign ahead of the primary scheduled for Saturday.
Having been frustrated in PDP, Obi is said to be weighing options between the SDP and the LP for his presidential aspiration, the source said.
It was learnt that talks were going underground between Obi and the two parties.
An insider in Obi’s camp, who spoke with our correspondent, said Obi’s resignation from PDP did not amount to withdrawal from the presidential race.
The source, who is a confidant of the former governor, said: “Obi has not given up his presidential ambition, but he only left the PDP to pursue his aspiration elsewhere. That is the position now.
“From the evaluation of the situation in PDP, the gang up of governors and some leaders of the party against him was obvious. It was apparent to him that the presidential primary was not going to be free and fair. Some governors and PDP leaders have shown that Obi was not wanted.
“I think the affected governors and party leaders were not too pleased with his integrity and rising popularity.
“Also, Obi was shocked that the party leadership allegedly distorted the PDP zoning formula by leaving its presidential ticket open instead of zoning it to the South, especially the Southeast, which has been marginalised. He couldn’t believe it that PDP was not straightforward on zoning.”
Investigation confirmed last night that Obi was weighing options for his presidential ambition.
The source added: “It is not yet over for Obi. He is going to contest the 2023 presidency on a different party.
“I am aware that there are ongoing talks with SDP and Labour Party for Obi to use any of them as a platform for his presidential aspiration.
“Part of the talks was for him to leave PDP because Electoral Act 2022 does not allow an aspirant to participate in two primaries. As a man of honour, he has opted to try his luck elsewhere.
“The good thing is that the campaign period is longer and he will be able to sell his ideas to Nigerians.”
Asked if Obi can realise his ambition on either SDP or LP platform, the source said: “Nobody knows what will come out of the primaries in the All Progressives Congress (APC) and PDP. Some parties may end up serving as coalition platforms for 2023 poll.
“Obi may be a pacesetter anyway. Do not rule out anything. How did #EndSARS protest start? The resignation may trigger new developments and new alliances.”
Another source said the NNPP, led by Senator Rabiu Kwakwanso, was making overtures to the former governor.
Obi’s resignation letter was submitted to the National Chairman of the PDP, Dr. Iyorchia Ayu.
The letter, dated May 24, 2022, also conveyed his withdrawal from the race.
The letter was delivered at the PDP national secretariat in Abuja by his campaign coordinator, Dr. Doyin Okupe.
The letter stated: “I am writing to intimate you of my resignation from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), which was conveyed to the Chairman of Agulu Ward 2. Anaocha LGA Anambra, effective Friday 20 May, 2022.
“Consequently, am by this letter informing you of my withdrawal for the PDP presidential primaries.
“It has been a great honour to contribute to nation-building efforts through our party. Unfortunately, recent developments within our party make it practically impossible to continue participating and making such constructive contributions.
“Our national challenges are deep-seated and require that we each make profound sacrifices towards rescuing our country. My commitment to rescuing Nigeria remains firm, even if the route differs.
“I wish to thank you personally for your graciousness and leadership. I wish you well and best of luck in the service of country.”
Okupe told reporters that Obi will be on the ballot in the 2023 presidential race.
There are speculations that the former Anambra governor might have quietly joined the Labour Party (LP) where he is said to have been offered the party’s presidential ticket.
Okupe said: “You will recall that consistently, former Governor Peter Obi has repeatedly stated that he’s not desperate to be President, but he’s desperate to cause a change, to cause a redirection, to change the way the government of Nigeria is being run and it’s for this reason and to offer solution to the various problems of Nigeria
“It was for these reasons that he entered into the race. According to what he said in his letter, various developments in the PDP, make it virtually impossible for him to find full expression of his desire on the platform of the PDP.
“This is not to say that all hopes are lost. I can say on his behalf that Nigerians must not give up, we must never give up. Hope is on its way and help is coming.
“All options are on the table, by the grace of God Obi’s name will be on the ballot in 2023.”
Former Anambra State Publicity Secretary of the party, Sir Nnamdi Nwangwu, described Obi’s resignation as a big loss to Anambra and indeed, Southeast PDP.
He said: “Honestly, this is a big shock to me and the Party State. PDP has lost a motivator and a respected leader. We will miss him and the Party will miss him the more.”
Obi should not have left PDP, says George
Lagos PDP leader Chief Olabode George expressed surprise over the decision of Peter Obi to leave the party after pulling out of the presidential race.
George, who spoke on Channels Television’s, Politics Today, said politics is not a hundred-metre race, adding that in a political race, you win some and lose some. He said that Obi, who he described as “a highly respectable and responsible gentleman”, should have remained within the fold because the race is not over yet.
However, the PDP chieftain said Obi may have other plans. He said Nigeria should not be compared to the United States of America (USA) which has a democratic culture that spans over 200 years. But, even America’s democracy, he added, is not perfect.
George said: “I was taken aback because Obi Peter has established himself as a highly respectable and responsible gentleman; very resourceful, in all endeavours of life. But, for him to have dumped the PDP, I don’t know why he did that. It’s a pity that he actually dumped the party. Life is full of imponderables; you can’t win all the time.
“My appeal to everybody in this country is that we should not compare Nigeria to America. America is over 200 years old, but even its democracy is not perfect. We are still like a toddler when you are talking about democratic dispensation.
He added: “So, it would take time; democratic practice is not a 100-metre dash race; it is a continuum and you win some and you lose some.
“The most important thing is that after every election, there would be a post mortem analysis that would look at the failures, the drawbacks and make amends for us to start growing.”