Indications are rife that both PDP Presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar and the Rivers State governor, Nyesom Wike‘s camps are ready to give peace a chance in an effort to wrestle power from the ruling APC in next year’s election.
To this end, TheNewsGuru has exclusively learnt that Governors and party leaders loyal to Wike may have softened their stance against supporting Atiku as part of the outcome of the latest meeting last Thursday between the two groups at the Rivers State Governor’s Lodge in Asokoro, Abuja. The meeting, which held behind closed doors was their second meeting in Nigeria after the party’s presidential primary in May this year.
The meeting, our correspondent has equally learnt, has become a subject of controversy after reports emerged that Atiku may have pledged to support the presidential ambition of Governor Wike in 2027, a story that both camps have denied.
Sources have told TheNewsaguru that both camps are tiptoeing and careful to give in to any political gimmicks, but that they agreed that the ruling APC is a ‘common enemy’ that must be first defeated. That such a subject even came has equally taken some officials in the Okowa camp by surprise and want to have the full detail before seeking for clarification.
“If Atiku were to win in 2023, then a fresh crisis would break out within the PDP because Wike has learnt his lessons and would go to any length to get what he wants, which is to be the president. With the way everything transpired during the last primaries, he would solid agreement, possibly in written form with signatures so that the same fire does not burn him again,” a member of Wike camp said.
A confidant to Wike who is also a former member of the House of Representatives, Chief Ogbonna Nwuke, told the media on Saturday that the issue of 2027 presidency was mere speculation, noting that the issues presented by Atiku to Wike would be considered.
“What is known is that whatever proposals the presidential candidate put before Governor Wike will be looked into by members of his team before giving him a feedback. You know in politics you don’t have written agreement. The issue of 2027 Presidency being discussed at the meeting is speculative. It is very speculative. Now, if he is talking about power shift to the South, it is Atiku that shares everything. That issue is just mere speculation.
“The meeting has come as a pleasant surprise, which means that if the PDP is ready to activate its conflict resolution mechanism, these issues can be resolved. It will make a difference if Atiku and his associates will remove every impediment that made conflict resolution in the PDP impossible.
“There is no way Wike and his supporters can think good of Atiku if Atiku does nothing about the resignation of Ayu. That is the basic demand. It is a demand based on justice, it is a demand based on fair play, and it is a demand based on equity.
“The two leaders have met and talked, which signals hope to PDP members and admirers of the PDP nationwide, that they will move beyond mere talks and deal with real issues bedeviling the party at this time.”
What makes the 2027 promise to Wike tricky and looking a bit like a Banana peel is the fact that the same Atiku promised to make Okowa his successor in 2027 when he unveiled the Delta State Governor as his running mate in Abuja.
On the other hand, Governor Okowa admitted on Saturday after a meeting with leaders of the Board of Trustees of the PDP in Abuja, that there is still work to be done as far as reconciling the party ahead of the presidential election is concerned.
He said the aggrieved PDP governors and party leaders will not destroy their home, PDP. The Delta State governor met the BoT leaders who have been meeting PDP leaders over the lingering party crisis.
Those at the meeting are former deputy national chairman of the PDP, Alhaji Shuaibu Oyedokun; the former minister of Special Duties and Intergovernmental Affairs, Kabiru Tanimu Turaki; among other bigwigs of the party.
The crisis rocking the party took a fresh twist last Thursday when five NWC members loyal to the camp of the aggrieved governors returned N151 million naira housing allowance paid to them.
The party executives, who had received between N28 million to N36 million each according to their status, alluded to the funds being used to hush them over discrepancies in the use of party’s funds.
The deputy national chairman of PDP, Umar Damagun, and the national publicity secretary of the party, Hon Debo Ologunagba, denied insinuations by their colleagues that the money was meant for bribe, adding that they all agreed that the housing allowance should be paid to all NWC members. Wike and some other governors, supported by some party leaders, had distanced themselves from the party’s presidential campaign, insisting that the national chairman, Dr Iyorchia Ayu, must resign to pave way for a national chairman of Southern extraction.
However, after meeting with the BoT members, Okowa said, “We are talking among ourselves as governors, realising that there are several leaders within our party from across the country. We’ve been talking with ourselves.
“I believe that there is still a little work to be done but a lot has been done. We are largely reconciled. There are still issues to be dealt with. That’s why you see some of the leaders of the party, the Board of Trustees, here today.
“We have had very useful discussions on what they could do and what we ought to continue to do as a party. But because the PDP is a very large party, we understand that there is some level of disagreement, but we will continue to stay in touch with ourselves to resolve the issues.
“Last Tuesday, on the 27th, we were in the South East. Our brother, the governor of Enugu State, hosted us very well. That’s a very positive step forward. We had very useful interactions with all our leaders in the South East and I think that is a great plus for us as a party.
“And I believe that you’re aware too that we were in the South West where we were very well received by Governor Seyi Makinde and the stakeholders of the party. The few issues are still left on the table. I’m sure we’ll come to discuss it and in the next few days, we are convinced that we will be largely reconciled.
“Governors and other members who are aggrieved are members of the party. I believe that my brothers would all work for the party. PDP is home and they belong to that home. They’re not going to destroy their home. So, we will allow it together. I do believe that we’ll continue to talk with ourselves and resolve the little issues that are left.”
Okowa however noted that Nigeria is in a difficult situation at the moment, adding that the country has never been as divided as this coupled with the level of insecurity and the state of the economy.
“When you look at the issues of education, look at the state of affairs in the various states there are obvious issues. Atiku is the only one who is best positioned to truly deal with the issues of Nigeria at the moment.
“We don’t want those who are going to come to the office to learn on the job because we are in a critical position. So we need a man who has the experience who also has the level of humility and calmness, who is detribalised and ready to keep Nigeria together,” he said.
The acting BOT chairman, Adophus Wabara, who led the delegation, however, said they came as the special reconciliation committee of the BoT to visit Okowa on the ongoing crisis, and also to proffer solutions to those issues.
He noted that while they have met with some of the aggrieved governors, they are yet to meet with Atiku and Wike.
Noting that they were properly briefed by Okowa on the issues they came for, he said, “The committee is enlightened now on the issues and we’re moving forward. Like I said the last time, we have been going around and we met most of the governors.
“In the coming days, we will also meet with the principal, the presidential candidate, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar and from there we will proceed to meet with Governor Wike.
“We have met with some other governors; we have met Governor Samuel Ortom, Governor Seyi Makinde, Governor Ahmadu Fintri, Governor Ikpeazu and Ugwuanyi of Enugu State.
“We have what it takes to resolve this, and very soon we will resolve all these issues,” Wabara said.
Before his trip to Europe, Ayu had asked the BoT to intervene in the crisis rocking the party.
Enters the spokesperson of the PDP Presidential Campaign Management Committee, Senator Dino Melaye, who debunked reports suggesting that the party’s presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, promised to support Rivers State governor Nyesom Wike to emerge president in 2027.
The campaign spokesman, in a terse statement on his Facebook page, said, “I speak for Atiku Abubakar that no such discussion between Atiku Abubakar and Governor Wike of Rivers State. At no time did Atiku Abubakar discuss such with Governor Wike. Atiku never promised or discussed 2027 with Governor Wike or anyone for that matter”.
Atiku had met Wike in Abuja shortly after five NWC members loyal to the governor’s camp returned N151 million naira housing allowance paid to them.
Meanwhile, Dino in another statement said Atiku will be leveraging on his 30-year-old and current political acquaintances and alliances as he begins his campaigns.
Dino, who was laying out the pattern of campaigns for the election, said the former vice president will make use of his contacts across the entire Nigeria landscape.
“In an emphatic affirmation of readiness to lead, His Excellency Atiku Abubakar is set to activate his long standing connections across Nigeria, as the Presidential campaign of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) takes off in earnest.
“Atiku, as the postal boy of the PDP will be adding value to the Party’s electoral chances through old and current political acquaintances and alliances built over 3 decades of political engagement,” he stated.
He added that ahead of the campaign, Atiku has put together his governance blueprint, which is not only documented for others but internalised in him.
“A very focused leader, Atiku will be operating along with the Campaign Council, supported by competent and experienced political figures that he has appointed to play various roles in the campaign. These high profile figures are not only political assets; they are reputable Nigerians across diverse geographical, social, cultural and economic colourations,” Melaye said.
He noted those who see Atiku as another ‘northerner’ are missing the point, adding that while the candidate has never denied his ancestry, he has always conducted himself as a Nigerian.
“On the political scale, Atiku will speak directly and unpretentiously to the issue of restructuring, devolution of power and resource management. Being a broad minded leader and an advocate of federalism, Atiku will unfold his road map to unbundling government at the centre and promoting the interest of the federating units. One critical area that Atiku will speak about is security. Again, this is where States may assume increasing responsibilities away from the bureaucratic control of the National security architecture.
“As Atiku moves around Nigeria over the next three to four months, he will be going round as a man who is at home with the people, a man with the presence of mind to analyse and appreciate issues, a man to call forth latent political, social and economic structures, and a man to re-assure Nigerians that their best years are in the future.
“With contacts across the entire Nigeria landscape, if Atiku was a Banking Institution, he would be described as having branches all over the Federation. He’s a human institution. This has truly earned him the sobriquet; The Unifier. The campaign period is indeed a period of consolidation and harvesting of good political fortune, to pave the way for electoral success for His Excellency Atiku Abubakar,” the campaign spokesman said.
TheNewsGuru contacted a PDP henchman at the party’s national secretariat, Hamman Isiak said the major concern of major stakeholders is to ensure the party’s victory and nothing else. “All else would come later. For now, we want everyone to put aside their differences for us to win 2023 election.”
An ally of Atiku and former Deputy Governor of Kogi State Philip Salawu told TheNewsGuru that Atiku is a man of his words and that he would fulfill the promises of ensuring Wike flew the party’s flag in 2027 if he made such promise. He said peace would return to the PDP as what is happening is members of the same PDP family disagreeing to agree.