• Supporters insist on presidential slot
• No automatic ticket for new members, says national chair
The New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP) is offering former Anambra State governor Peter Obi the ticket of running mate to the National Leader of the party, Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, The Nation has learnt.
The party is discussing with several lawmakers and aspirants from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressives Congress (APC), who feel unhappy with the processes of their primaries.
A source within the party told The Nation that while the party was willing to give him the position of vice president, his followers are insisting on the presidential ticket, with Kwankwaso serving as his running mate.
The source, however, said the zoning of the presidential ticket of the APC and the PDP would determine the final decision of the NNPP.
The source said Obi, Kwankwaso and some of the party leaders had met to discuss the issue ahead of the party’s presidential primary slated for June 2 in Abuja.
Asked whether the former PDP presidential aspirant was heading for the NNPP, the source said: “I heard authoritatively that he wants to join NNPP, but whether he will accept to be the vice presidential candidate, which they are prepared to offer him, is not confirmed.
“Dr Doyin Okupe and some of his followers are hell-bent that he must be the presidential candidate, while Kwankwaso serves as the vice-presidential candidate. Wherever the APC and the PDP zone their presidential slots to will be the final determining factor.”
The National Chairman of the party, Prof. Rufai Ahmed Alkali, was not forthcoming on whether Obi was heading for the NNPP or what they were offering him. He simply said in a text message: “That will be great news.”
However, he told The Nation that the party had been talking to several aggrieved politicians from the other parties, to have them cross over to the NNPP, but he ruled out an automatic ticket for anybody.
He said those to be offered the party’s ticket must be ready to play by the rules of the party, adding that offering automatic tickets to anybody would go against the guidelines put in place by the party for its primaries.
Alkali said: “The truth is that, if you talk of automatic ticket for anybody, that will amount to subverting our guidelines for the primaries, our constitution and even the Nigerian constitution.
“Election is supposed to be open to everybody, both old members of the party and newcomers. But whoever comes in, as long as the sale of form has not been closed, is at liberty to purchase the expression of interest and nomination forms. He will not be excluded but may require a waiver from the party.
“The rule is that whenever you join a political party, even though you are accepted as a member of the party, you will require a waiver to show that the party has finally accepted you as a member to stand for election.
“But the issue of an automatic ticket does not arise because other members of the party are going to fight him. Some people will feel aggrieved that you are giving automatic tickets to some people. He should subject himself to primaries and if he is popular, he will emerge.”
While confirming that discussions are ongoing to attract other big politicians to the party, he said: “We are talking to those who have not been treated fairly in other parties. We look for them and reach out to them because this is a Nigerian project.
“We are talking about the future of our country. So, anybody who comes and embraces our core mission and values is welcome because we are going to do things differently from how they have been done by other parties.
“But the person must understand that when you come, you must also be guided by our own rules, our constitution and our code of conduct because that is the only way we can ensure that we are different from others. So, we have been reaching out.”