Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Atiku Abubakar, to back Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, for the presidency in 2027, the party chieftains, especially in the Southeast and Southwest, have expressed displeasure,ollowing decision of the presidential candidate of
The former vice president took it upon himself to decide who will fly the party’s ticket in 2027 in the event that he wins the next polls.
In the latest efforts to reconcile the duo, Atiku and wike met on Thursday.
The Acting chairman of the PDP Board of Trustees (BoT), Senator Adolphus Wabara, yesterday led a delegation of BoT leaders to meet with the PDP vice presidential candidate, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, in continuation of moves to resolve the crisis between Atiku and Wike.
Only 48 hours before the former vice president’s alleged offer to Wike, he had promised PDP stakeholders in the Southeast during a meeting in Enugu that he would ensure that he was succeeded by a candidate from the zone if he won next year.
He said his love for Ndigbo was so great that in the 2011 and 2019 elections he chose Igbo men as his running mates. Atiku added that he had chosen another Igbo man in Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State as his running mate for the 2023 election.
“So, why do you say I will not give Igbo a fair chance to lead the country after my tenure as president? I did that in 2019 when I brought Obi and another Obi in 2011. And for 2023, I chose Ifeanyi Okowa, another Igbo man, as my running mate, even when Ohanaeze said no Igbo should contest for presidency under PDP,” he said.
He had implied in June, while rationalising his choice of Delta State Governor Ifeanyi Okowa as running mate, that it was informed by his desire to have someone who has what it takes to replace him at the appropriate time.
Atiku had reportedly offered Wike his support to become president if only he (Wike) and his supporters could work with him to win the coming election.
Wike currently enjoys the support of five of the 12 state governors elected on the platform of PDP, leaving Atiku with seven as the crisis rocking the party festers.
The Thursday meeting between Atiku and Wike took place at Wike’s private residence in Abuja where he reportedly told Atiku he would meet with his people about the offer and get back to him.
Although Wike, according to sources, prefers to have the PDP presidential candidate show commitments to the need to have some changes made in the leadership structure of the party before the 2023 general elections, the decision of the PDP flag bearer to offer Wike support in 2027 has angered many chieftains of the party, especially in the southern part of the country.
A former national vice chairman of the party, who craved anonymity, said: “This is not the time to start talking about who will succeed Atiku. It is a distraction that is worse than whatever Wike and his people have been doing before.”
Continuing, he said: “It is not for Atiku to decide which part of the south his successor will come from, much less deciding who the person will be. Worse still, this development, if true, is capable of demoralising our supporters in some parts of the country.”
Some PDP members in the Southwest who are miffed by the alleged offer to Wike perceive it as a threat to party cohesion.
A group in the party – PDP Volunteers Forum – declared yesterday that while “it is a good thing for Atiku to offer to do just one term as president and leave office in 2027, to openly concede the right of succession to Wike is not a good move at a time like this.”
“If not properly managed, the resultant anger from other zones of the southern region will harm our chances in the presidential election,” the group said in a statement by its convener, Comrade Gerald Arikawe, and Secretary, Comrade Ilemobade Oke.
The Nation also gathered that associates of the Rivers State governor are not particularly excited by the Atiku offer and have advised Wike against taking it seriously.
To them, the former Vice President may just be buying time with the offer in his desperation to secure Wike’s support for his ambition to win the 2023 presidential election.
A source in Wike’s camp said: “It is true that Atiku came to beg Wike again. He wanted Wike to urge his group to join the PDP campaign train. He threw up the card of supporting Wike in 2027.
“By this, Atiku is agreeing to do only one term if elected and leave office for Wike to succeed him. The same Atiku who has several times denied promising to do a single term of four years in office before now? Why the sudden change of mind? Is he not the same man who promised that Ndigbo would produce his successor?
“He has also being assuring the Southwest of the same thing. We have told Wike to beware of Atiku and his Greek gift. We are very sure this is a ploy to get our support and renege on all the promises after the presidential election.”
We’re still discussing peace with aggrieved PDP members, says Atiku
Atiku himself said yesterday that peace talks are continuing in the PDP to resolve the disputes with aggrieved members.
“We have realised that we made mistakes and we are working to correct those mistakes, and we believe that Nigerians have trust in us,” he said in Gombe during the opening of a campaign office donated to him by a leader of the party in the state, Alhaji Jamilu Isiyaku Gwamna.
He said once the crisis was resolved, the party would have no problem winning the 2023 election.