Former Corps Marshal and chief executive of the Federal Road Safety Commission, Osita Chidoka, has explained the circumstances surrounding the meeting of some South East leaders of the Peoples Democratic Party in Enugu last week.
The meeting, convened by the Ebonyi State Governor, Dave Umahi, reportedly condemned the nomination of Mr Peter Obi as the vice presidential candidate of the PDP. The leaders allegedly claimed they were not consulted before the nomination was announced. The PDP leaders’ position drew wide condemnation from the general public.
But shedding more light on the issue, in a Facebook post, Chidoka said, “On 12th of October at 8:06pm, I called my brother and friend Gov. Peter Obi and congratulated him on his nomination as the Vice Presidential candidate of our Party. He thanked me and informed me that it seems the social media announcement of his choice as the VP candidate didn’t go down well with the political leadership in the Southeast and a meeting was scheduled to hold on Saturday the 13th at Enugu. I promised him that I will attend the meeting and he can count on my support. He thanked me again.
“Though I did not receive any invitation to the meeting, I immediately made arrangement to be in Enugu the following day.
“At Enugu, the meeting was to start by 3pm, after sampling opinion of key stakeholders I was certain there was no plan to scuttle Obi’s nomination rather it was a reaction to perceived slight by our candidate. I decided to go back to Abuja as I had other pressing engagements.
“Prince Arthur Eze invited me over for lunch after which he offered me a ride on his Aircraft going to Abuja by 4pm. I accepted the offer. I went to my Hotel, picked my bag and headed out to the Airport.
“On my way I briefed the Party Chairman Prince Uche Secondus (who I worked closely with as Special Adviser on Strategy and External Engagement) of the situation and my conclusion that there was no adverse reaction to Peter Obi’s nomination. He agreed with me but asked that I go back to the meeting all the same to soothe frayed nerves, if any.
“I also spoke to Gov. Obi who at that time was in the house of a mutual friend in Abuja and He gave more insight. We agreed that I should go back to the meeting. I quickly informed Arthur Eze’s Pilot about my change of plans.
“I turned and drove to Sen. Ekweremadu’s house were the Governors and other leaders were already discussing. Sen. Ekweremadu was speaking when I arrived and from the part I heard, he said there was no need for a meeting anymore as our Candidate had sent a message through the President General of Ohaneze Chief Nnia Nwodo that he would meet with Southeast Leaders upon his return from his foreign trip.
“Varied discussion went on but none was about Gov. Peter Obi as a wrong choice rather it was all around the choice of those our Candidate consulted before coming to a decision. We all agreed that the issue would be fully discussed when our Candidate returns.
“Given that the press had caught wind of the meeting it was agreed that Gov Umahi, as Chairman of South East Governors Forum, should speak briefly to the press. We all went out with him to meet the press. Many of us friends of our Presidential Candidate and Gov. Obi were there and can corroborate the points made here.
“That discussion in Ekweremadu’s house was not the meeting it was a briefing that made the meeting unnecessary. Therefore the statement released by a former Gubernatorial candidate was strange as there was no formal meeting. He arrived the gathering late and did not speak during the interaction at Ekweremadu’s residence, hence my surprise at the statement, which fueled the wrong perception that there was opposition to Gov. Peter Obi.
“The media frenzy was a storm in a tea cup as there was no discussion around the preference or otherwise of Gov. Obi as Vice Presidential Candidate
“The leadership of the PDP understands that Nigerians have a real opportunity to reclaim their country and return it to its hitherto trajectory of growth recorded under Presidents Obasanjo, Yar’Adua, and Jonathan. There was a time when international economists predicted that Nigeria would be part of the “Next-11”countries that would rival the BRIC and the G-7 countries.
“It was an era when, through intelligent thinking and committed hard work by Nigerians, our country overtook South Africa to become the largest economy in Africa. That period, which was only a few four years ago, now seem like distant folkloric history.
“Atiku/Obi will leverage their business acumen to solve the most critical challenge facing us today: JOBS. They will leverage their experience of creating hundreds of thousands of private sector to create millions of jobs for Nigerians.
“Join us; let’s get Nigeria growing again.”