The premier Igbo socio-cultural group, Ohaneze Ndi Igbo, on Thursday, January 24 endorsed the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party in next month’s presidential election, former vice-president, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, and his running mate and former Anambra State governor, Mr. Peter Obi. In a statement signed by the president-general of Ohaneze Ndi Igbo (Worldwide), Chief John Nnia Nwodo, the association noted that its decision was informed by the fact that the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party has committed to restructuring the country.
The group which stated this at its Ime Obi (a meeting of its highest decision-making arm) at the Nike Lake Hotel, Enugu, added that the meeting was a ratification of the decision reached at the Ohaneze National Executive Committee meeting held in Enugu on January 22 to adopt both candidates.
“Ohaneze notes particularly that a major political party (PDP) by the nomination of our son, Peter Obi, as the vice presidential candidate has given Ndigbo an opportunity for inclusivity. Ndigbo must seize the moment,” added the statement, which also enjoined the international community to help ensure a credible general election.
The group’s endorsement of the PDP candidates was a huge blow to the All Progressives Congress (APC) and President Muhammadu Buhari’s hopes of making inroads into the South East ahead of the presidential election, even more so coming on a day his campaign train was visiting Enugu and Anambra states.
But it wasn’t the only challenge that would beset the Buhari campaign’s South-East ambition. The Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium, venue of his presidential campaign in Enugu, witnessed a disappointing turnout of the party’s supporters last Thursday, the same day Ohanaeze announced its endorsement of Atiku.
The supporters of the APC who turned up were barely a third of the stadium’s capacity, a far cry from the impression of “massive support” leaders of the party in Enugu had told the president it enjoys in the state.
A resident, Mr. Sylvester Aroma, told EnuguNow that the fact the presidential rally experienced such low turnout, despite the virtual lockdown of Enugu by the police is an indication the party is yet to gain any sufficient ground in Enugu State.