The Peoples Democratic Party presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar was yellow-carded Tuesday by the Northern Youth Leaders Forum over his choice of former governor Peter Obi, as running mate.
The group sent Atiku a dire message: drop Obi or lose.
The youths tabled their demand at a meeting on Monday with former President Olusegun Obasanjo, now Atiku’s godfather.
They asked Atiku to review the choice of Obi, if he hopes to earn the North’s support.
The group, which prides itself as the apex body of 46 youth organisations in the North, threatened to mobilise its over six million members against the PDP and its presidential candidate, if Atiku failed to take its advice.
The national chairman of the group, Comrade Elliot Afiyo, who spoke on Tuesday in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, after a meeting with former President Olusegun Obasanjo on Monday night, claimed that the body had been instrumental to the electoral victories of successive presidents since 1999. It claimed to have played a major role in incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari’s victory and it also played a critical role in the reconciliation between Atiku and Obasanjo.
According to Afiyo, the group had equally intimated the former President of their position on Atiku’s running mate.
It was not immediately clear yesterday what Obasanjo, who has just ended a long feud with Atiku and endorsed him, told the youths.
Afiyo said Obi’s choice was causing friction in the Southeast, which is largely responsible for the impending defection of the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremandu, from the PDP.
He added that Obi is strongly viewed as anti-north and a major sponsor of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).
According to him, over 70 percent of Emirs and other traditional rulers in the North will not support Atiku’s choice of running mate and maintained that PDP will fail to produce the next president, if the party eventually flies the Atiku/Obi ticket.
Afiyo advised PDP to pick Atiku’s running mate from South south. He suggested that either Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike or his Bayelsa State counterpart, Seriake Dickson, should be considered.
Afiyo said: “Atiku is an experienced politician, and he knows what happened and as a northern Nigerian, he cannot ignore that group. I have spoken to almost all the Southeast governors and they told me that they remained in PDP because of their governorship elections and after their governorship elections, they will vote somewhere, not PDP.
“And for us to ignore the stakeholders, it is political suicide, so we must agree with that fact. That was what we told Obasanjo yesterday, that as far as we want Atiku to succeed, he has no alternative than to drop Peter Obi and with the contention between Peter Obi’s group and Ike Ekweremadu’s group, it is not politically convenient again to pick a running mate from the Southeast.