Some stakeholders in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) have expressed outrage and disbelief over the anti-party activities of the Governor of Rivers State, Mr. Nyesom Wike, just as they have described the Rivers State governor’s demands during a meeting with the presidential candidate of the party, Atiku Abubakar in London on Thursday, as unrealistic.
This is as THISDAY gathered yesterday that Atiku is set to head back to the country to receive former Governor of Kano State, Senator Ibrahim Shekarau, into the main opposition party.
Members of the party’s National Working Committee (NWC), Board of Trustees (BoT) and National Executive Committee (NEC), who expressed serious concerns over Wike’s demands, accused the Rivers State governor of engaging in anti-party activities by meeting with the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Senator Bola Tinubu and his counterpart in the Labour Party (LP), Mr. Peter Obi.
Following Atiku’s earlier request that the PDP leaders should refrain from commenting on the crisis within the party, the chieftains of the party opted to speak to THISDAY on condition of anonymity.
The members of Wike’s camp reportedly increased their demands on Atiku during the meeting in London, which was aimed at getting the Rivers governor to support the former vice president’s bid for the presidency.
THISDAY had quoted a source as saying that: “Wike and his allies demanded, among others, that Atiku put in writing, his commitment to serve for only one term if he wins, to pave the way for power shift to the South; to produce the new PDP National Chairman from the South-west geo-political zone once Ayu steps aside; that the Wike camp should produce the Senate President, principal officers of the National Assembly and key ministers if the PDP wins; and that the Wike camp will nominate a Director General for the Atiku Campaign Organisation.”
Speaking on these demands, a member of the NWC of the party told THISDAY that Atiku cannot trade off some members of the leadership of the party because of his ambition. He described Wike’s demands as unrealistic and self-serving.
“What Wike is even doing is glaring anti-party actions. When he came back, he openly said that they are still consulting, making it look like he decides for the party. What is he trying to achieve by meeting with other political parties as he did at the London meeting?” he queried.Speaking in the same manner, a former governor described Wike’s demands as vexatious, insisting that they won’t be accepted by Atiku or the PDP as published in the media.
The former governor who called on the PDP and Atiku to call Wike’s bluff said: “If what is already in the public space is true, then the peace deal is dead on arrival.”The former governor, who acknowledged that the north occupied key positions, added that there is a need to harmonise the positions.He, however, faulted the demand by Wike’s camp to produce the President of the Senate.
“How can Wike’s camp be talking of the Office of the Senate President? The demand is selfish. He is anticipating that the governor of Sokoto State, Hon. Aminu Tambuwal might wish to contest for the Senate presidency if the PDP wins majority seats at the Senate in 2023,” he added.THISDAY gathered that Wike’s camp prefers a former governor of Kebbi State, Senator Adamu Aliero as the Senate President if he wins the 2023 senatorial election.
It was also gathered that if the demand by Wike’s camp for the National Chairman of the party, Dr. Iyorchia Ayu to step down is accepted, the camp will propose a former governor of Ondo State, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko as the national chairman of the party.The camp, it was learnt, also prefers the former President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki to lead the party’s presidential campaign council.A NEC member also told THISDAY that Atiku cannot trade off the party, insisting that the worst-case scenario is to call Wike’s bluff and the Oyo State Governor, Mr. Seyi Makinde.
He also noted that the Rivers State governor has much at stake and would not like to toy with his political future.“Wike has three candidates for the senatorial election, eight candidates for the House of Representatives, 32 members of the state assembly, a governorship and a deputy governorship candidates, making it 45 candidates for the 2023 elections, whose career and political future are at stake and at the mercy of whatever option he embraces.
“The same situation applies to Makinde of Oyo State, as well as Ortom of Benue State and Ikpeazu of Abia State, both of whom are even senatorial candidates of the PDP.“Unfortunately, for them, the presidential and the National Assembly elections are holding first, the outcome of which could shape subsequent elections in the following week.
“Therefore, whether or not Wike embraced the olive branch extended to him by Atiku in London, it would be impossible to see him bite his nose to spite his face, in a fit of anger,” the NEC member added.
Atiku Returns to Nigeria Today to Receive Shekarau into PDPMeanwhile, Atiku is set to head back to the country to receive former Governor of Kano State, Ibrahim Shekarau, into the PDP.Shekarau exited the New Nigerian Peoples Party (NNPP) recently, claiming that his supporters were not accommodated in elective positions in the party.Atiku is expected to return from Europe today (Sunday), where he met with Wike
The former vice-president is billed to meet with Shekarau ahead of his official defection to the PDP.Shekerau left the All Progressives Congress (APC) for the NNPP in May 2022 after months of leadership tussle with Governor Abdullahi Ganduje, of Kano State.The senator representing Kano Central said APC’s inability to settle the crisis between his faction and Ganduje’s camp resulted in his exit.But his new alliance with the NNPP was short-lived.
He said the NNPP under the leadership of Rabiu Kwankwaso, the party’s presidential candidate, failed to integrate his supporters.Shekarau accused Kwankwaso of betraying the agreement they had before his defection.“I will never be a party to injustice. My integrity is of utmost and not any political position that will make me compromise it and that of my people. Nobody will use position or money against my integrity,” he had said.
“Nobody will use money to change my conscience. I was a governor for eight years in Kano and people believed in my integrity.”He was a member of the PDP until 2018 when he exited due to the internal rift in the Kano State chapter of the party.
Party Crisis will Be Resolved Soon, Says Ex-National Chairman
In a related development, a former National Chairman of PDP, Dr. Haliru Bello, at the weekend said the internal rift currently rocking the main opposition party would be resolved in earnest,Bello, who also acted as the Chairman of the PDP’s BoT between May 2015 and February 2016, added that the party would win the 2023 presidential election.He expressed the optimism during a television programme Friday, maintaining that the PDP had experienced politicians working to resolve the impasse.He noted that the skill of PDP’s chieftains helped the party “to tackle many crises in the past to become stronger. Nomination problem is always significant in any electioneering.
“We have always come through them. But this very one is a bit different because of the importance of Governor Wike in our party. Remember he stood with the party when we were in deep crisis over the Ali Modu Sheriff problem.“He has also been our pillar supporting the party since that time. In fact, the rebuilding of the party happened, thanks to him and some other governors since we lost the 2015 election.
“But all the same, the issue of nomination, and especially nomination of running mate, this time, became problematic, not because Atiku Abubakar set up the committee, but because in 2019, when the vice president was nominated without consultation, there was a lot of complaints and brouhaha.“This time around Atiku corrected that mistake and consulted widely among party members before nominating his running mate. But the problem is, as always, for any appointment or nomination, there are several contenders.
“I believe the way it was handled before the announcement was the cause of the problem; and people have the right to feel slighted over the problem. Wike has the right to feel slighted, because he was expecting to be nominated.“When the decision was made, he was not privy to it before the announcement. I think that was the mistake that was made. But that is a minor issue. Wike is a loyal party man. As I said earlier, he has been supporting the party. He will want the PDP to win the presidential election.
“After he is consulted and assuaged, I think he will support Atiku Abubakar and work hard to make sure the PDP wins the presidential election. I am sure everything will be sorted out after this Port Harcourt meeting.”
He observed that while he had not seen leadership lapses in the PDP over the crisis, the only mistake he identified was the late response of the party’s BoT to the need to inform Wike appropriately before the selection of the vice presidential candidate.
The former national chairman said: “Had Wike been carried along properly, the problem might not have arisen. The development made Wike and some other supporters of the party feel slighted. With the machinery put in place, however, the matter would soon be a thing of the past.”
Culled from THISDAY