Both men were top favourites considered by Atiku Abubakar as running mate in the 2019 presidential election, with Obi getting the nod.
However, south-east political leaders, comprising the zone’s PDP governors, national assembly caucus, board of trustee members and other party leaders, rose from a meeting on Saturday complaining that they were not consulted over the choice of Obi, a former governor of Anambra state.
An insider at the meeting said Ekweremadu asked aggrieved leaders to calm down and support the choice of Obi, who seems to have been better received outside the south-east than by his own constituency.
“Ekweremadu reminded us that the major task now is to get the PDP back to power and save the country from its downward spiral,” a party leader who attended the meeting told TheCable.
“He even joked that it wouldn’t matter if Atiku picked a northerner as his running mate, as long as it would get the repressive government of Buhari out of power.”
Although the meeting was convened with the agenda of rejecting Obi’s nomination, the south-east leaders were reportedly shocked by Ekweremadu’s position.
“You cannot weep more than the bereaved. We thought we were fighting for him, but he said we should allow Obi be. We were shocked by his sportsmanship,” the insider said.
The major anger of the leaders, according to insiders, was that Atiku did not ask for their input in making the choice.
Among those considered were Ekweremadu, Obi, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Osita Chidoka, and Austin Akobundu, a retired colonel and the national organsing secretary of the PDP.
Mustafa Chike-Obi, former MD of AMCON, did not make the final shortlist, contrary to a previous report by TheCable.
Nyesom Wike, governor of Rivers state, was said to have backed Obi in order to spite south-east leaders for not supporting his candidate, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, for the presidential ticket.
The south-east reportedly voted en masse for Atiku at the PDP convention.
The south-east leaders preferred Ekweremadu because of his broad-based experience as a former council chairman, former secretary to the government of Enugu state, and two-term deputy senate president.
The geo-political zone’s leaders are expected to make their grievances known to Atiku at a meeting scheduled for the week.