Pressure mounts on Atiku, Ayu as PDP crisis deepens

July 2, 2022

By ‘Dare Odufowokan, Assistant Editor, Kolade Adeyemi, Jos and Okungbowa Aiwerie, Asaba

  • Jang: 2023 looks bleak over vice presidential nominee

  • We need Wike, says Okowa’s aide

  • I didn’t meet with Rivers gov in France – Tinubu

Pressure is mounting on the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, and the party’s National Chairman, Dr Iyorchia Ayu, to urgently address the festering crisis sparked by the recent nomination of Delta State Governor Ifeanyi Okowa as presidential running mate.

A former governor of Plateau State, Chief Jonah Jang, yesterday issued the latest warning that  the party risked a disastrous outing in next year’s polls should it fail to  “retrace its step in the right direction with hope of salvaging the already bad situation within the shortest time.”

Jang spoke 48 hours after Benue State Governor Samuel Ortom expressed dismay at the way Atiku ignored the recommendation of the PDP committee that Rivers State Nyesom Wike be picked as vice presidential candidate.

On the same day as Ortom, former Ekiti State Governor Ayodele Fayose declared on Twitter that it was the turn of the southern part of Nigeria to produce President Muhammadu Buhari’s successor.

He insinuated that the PDP had deviated from the provisions of its own constitution on rotating the presidency between the North and the South.

But an aide to Governor Okowa said yesterday that his principal was willing to “work very well” with Wike and ensure that the party emerges victorious in the 2023 elections.

Party sources told The Nation yesterday that the anger over Atiku’s choice of Okowa was not about to subside.

Among the aggrieved are some of the state governors elected on the platform of the PDP.

Some are said to be canvassing for Okowa to be dropped outright for Wike who was recommended by 14 of the 17 members of the committee set up by the party to pick Atiku’s running mate.

Atiku and Ayu are currently out of the country; the former vice president in Dubai and the party chairman on vacation.

A source said yesterday that the growing discontent in the party may force them back home earlier than planned.

Atiku himself twitted on Thursday that “we are taking action to address the feelings of all party members.

He said when governors, legislators and other elected officials of the party speak, “I listen. I do not only listen, appropriate actions have been taken, are being taken, and will continue to be advanced.”

A party source said yesterday:  ”All through the week, party elders, chieftains as well as other stakeholders have been bombarding the PDP secretariat with visits and calls to express their worries over the growing negative outbursts by some of our governors and chieftains as regards our chances at the 2023 presidential election.  Many of them want urgent steps to be taken.

“The National Chairman is aware of the developments and he is reaching out to concerned officials on what to do in the interim as he is out of the country.

“Hopefully, he will be with us soon to personally lead the moves towards the needed solutions.

“I am not the national chairman and he is the only one who can officially comment on these issues. That is why I say this is off record.

“But PDP is a serious party and we appreciate the concerns from Nigerians. It shows we are loved and Nigerians don’t want us to do anything that can keep the ruling party in office beyond 2023.

“Our presidential candidate too is in touch with the secretariat and I can tell you he too will soon be here to take urgent steps to pacify all those who are genuinely aggrieved.”

The Nation also gathered that some party elders met during the week and resolved to appeal to Governor Wike and his supporters to forgive whatever might have been done against them.

“There was a meeting of prominent party elders in Abuja during the week. It was called by the BoT and the attendance was good. The main agenda was to begin moves to beg those who are angry,” another source said.

“The meeting resolved to not only reach out to Wike and his supporters, but to also mandate Atiku and Ayu to enter into discussions with angry party men to ensure that  the PDP does not go into the next general elections divided.

“Aside from the complaints over Okowa, there are also issues that emanated over the emergence of the governorship candidates in Osun, Delta, Lagos and Ogun states among others.

“But the absence of most of the gladiators from the country at the moment stalled immediate action by the elders. Wike, Atiku and Ayu are all out of the country as we speak.”

Several sources however said it would be difficult to drop Okowa for Wike.

Wike declines meeting with Atiku’s emissary in Turkey

Premium Times reported last night that Governor Wike, who is currently vacationing in Istanbul, Turkey, yesterday declined to meet with Alhaji Adamu Waziri, a close ally of Alhaji Atiku Abubakar who was sent by the PDP presidential candidate for a dialogue to resolve their differences.

Wike has remained silent since he was overlooked by Atiku in his choice of running mate, although his associates, including Benue State Governor Samuel Ortom, have openly condemned the way the Rivers State governor was treated.

The Atiku emissary to Turkey is the latest effort by him to sort out things with Wike who reportedly declined Waziri’s request for the two of them to huddle to enable him deliver a message from Atiku.

Tinubu’s supposed meeting with Wike in France is ‘fake news

All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential candidate, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, yesterday denied speculations about a meeting between him and Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike outside Nigeria.

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He dismissed the report as fake news.

Tinubu said in a statement by his media aide, Tunde Rahman, that although he is currently in France, there is no plan to meet the governor.

But he said he holds Wike in high esteem.

The statement reads: “We have seen a viral social media post made by one of the chieftains of All Progressives Congress in Lagos State and media reports emanating from same about a supposed meeting in France between APC Presidential Standard-bearer, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, and His Excellency, Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State.

“It has become imperative to set the record straight. Although Asiwaju Tinubu is presently in France, he didn’t have any meeting with Governor Wike whether in that country or anywhere whatsoever.

“This, however, does not detract from the fact that the APC presidential candidate holds Governor Wike in high esteem.

“And given the national and across-party lines appeal of Asiwaju Tinubu’s candidature, he will not hesitate to meet any important national leader when desirable.

“As made public earlier, Asiwaju Tinubu is in France for some important engagements. He will return to the country shortly.

“We would like, once again, to advice journalists to always cross-check their information with appropriate officers before rushing to press to avoid unintended errors.”

Okowa’s emergence is disheartening; it may cost us victory, says Jang       

A member of the PDP Board of Trustees (BoT) and former Governor of Plateau State, Senator Jonah Jang, warned yesterday that the party has a lot of home work to do to clear the mess caused by Alhaji Atiku Abubakar’s choice of Governor Okowa as his running mate in contradiction of the recommendation of the committee set up by the party.

Jang told reporters in Jos that the 2023 presidential election looked bleak for the party except the crisis created by Atiku’s adoption of Okowa as running mate was resolved immediately.

He said the outcome of last month’s governorship election in Ekiti State was a clear message to the PDP that it could not afford to go into the next presidential election as a divided house.

His words: “As one of the founding fathers alive today, one who participated in the processes that set the background for our primaries, I am compelled to add my voice to that of prominent members of our great party who have shown dismay with recent happenings, particularly with the emergence of the vice-presidential candidate.

“While it is no longer news that the presidential primaries have come and gone and a candidate emerged, it is disheartening that the manner in which the vice-presidential candidate emerged is nothing but sheer disregard for processes. We all are aware of the fact that the party, in consultation with the presidential candidate, set up a committee to select a running mate.

”To turn around and throw away the outcome of the exercise is a clear proof that the work of the committee was either not appreciated or was not going to be in consideration ab initio.

Quoting Governor Samuel Ortom, who was a member of the 17-member committee set up by the PDP to recommend a presidential running mate, Jang said, “Fourteen of us in the committee said the person should be Nyesom Wike unfortunately Atiku picked Okowa in his wisdom.”

Continuing, Jang said: “You cannot ignore the decision of a committee you set up yourself and expect people to be happy.

“That such people are treated the way the party is currently doing is a pointer to the fact that more is to come. No one who intends to go against the APC, which has failed in its promises but thrives on propaganda, will go with a divided camp.

“This explains the urgency with which the party ought to retrace its step in the right direction with a hope of salvaging the already bad situation within the shortest time.”

Jang asked the BoT of PDP and the National Working Committee to do all within their power to stop further dissonance arising from the treatment of ranking members of the party, especially Governor Nyesom Wike.

He said the present situation where the governors of the party have started distancing themselves from the activities of the party and other influential members making public statements indicating their displeasure did not bode well for the PDP, adding that dragging the party into unnecessary disagreements months away from the general elections was not in anybody’s interest.

He said: “It is unfortunate that the very man, who admittedly has been a pillar of the party at a time the repressive tendencies of the governing APC was to send the PDP into oblivion, will be treated in the manner the party has.

“Until we correct the mistakes, which we deliberately made, the future is bleak and the PDP may be caught in a trap it has set for itself. We cannot run a campaign for a candidate whose campaign promise is hinged on uniting Nigerians but not be seen to be doing enough to bring party members together.

“The time to act is now, all well-meaning party leaders and stakeholders must rise in defence of the truth as a way of assuring our teeming supporters of the seriousness of the party to wrest power from the APC. We cannot fold our hands and watch the party drift away from the tenets which have made it the only truly democratic party in Nigeria.”

The former governor said the whims of a few should not be allowed to override the choices of many who believe in the PDP and its ability to return Nigeria to the glorious days.

We need Wike, says Okowa’s aide

Delta State Information Commissioner Charles Aniagwu said yesterday that Governor Ifeanyi Okowa would work with other Southern leaders, including Governor Wike, to galvanise voters for PDP‘s victory in next year’s presidential election.

Aniagwu, speaking on “Focus Today” on African Independent Television (AIT), yesterday, said: “Okowa will work with other leaders in the south and across the country to galvanize the voters. He (Okowa) believes that to have an inroad in Rivers State, for example, he will need leaders led by Wike to get the votes.

‘’Okowa will work with Wike very well. Okowa will also reach out to our brothers and sisters in the South-West and in the South-East, which is already happening. The challenge at hand is not a one-man show.

“Beyond members of our party, Nigerians believe that the PDP should get it right as the major option for the people ahead of the 2023 general election.

“Our economy is at its lowest ebb, corruption and the need to curb it and the issue of hunger, poverty and unemployment as people are no longer sure of where their next meal will come from.

These are some of the issues that leaders must interrogate as we move closer to the 2023 general elections.

“It will no longer be business as usual, it is not enough to identify these challenges, leaders must tell Nigerians how they intend to address them.”

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