Rivers governor asks team to negotiate with presidential candidate
There is no end in sight to the festering crisis in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) over the choice of Delta State Governor Ifeanyi Okowa as running mate by the presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar.
Yesterday, Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike ruled out the possibility of a one-on-one meeting with the presidential flagbearer.
He said Atiku should engage his team for peace talks on the terms proposed to the party, particularly the resignation of the national chairman, Dr. Iyorchia Ayu.
Although the Board of Trustees (BoT) Chairman, Senator Walid Jibrin, had suggested that Atiku should lead a reconciliation team to Wike, who also contested for the presidential ticket at the primary, the governor indicated that he would rely on the advisory from his “Strategy Team”.
It was learnt that emissaries have traced Wike to Turkey where he was on vacation while Atiku’s lobbyists were said to have offered Petroleum Minister’s portfolio to him, if Atiku is elected in next year’s election.
Also yesterday, a BoT member, Waziri Adamu, suggested that Wike should be appointed as Director-General of the Atiku Abubakar Campaign Organisation.
A source said Wike, who has returned from Turkey, has foreclosed a one-on-one meeting with Atiku, citing lack of faith in any personal agreement with the candidate, instead of reconciliation talks with Atiku by his team.
The source said: “There is no likelihood of Wike having one-on-one private discussion with Atiku. Shortly after the primary, the governor had a side meeting with Atiku in Abuja and nothing was adhered to.
“He was shocked that Atiku has not told Nigerians what transpired between him and Wike after the primary and how he arrived at Governor Ifeanyi Okowa as a running mate.
“Since there was no full disclosure, Wike has directed that fresh talks with Atiku should be with his strategy team members, who will come up with an advisory for him.”
Wike’s strategists include Governors Seyi Makinde (Oyo) and Samuel Ortom (Benue); ex-governors Hassan Dankwambo (Gombe); Ayodele Fayose (Ekiti) and Donald Duke (Cross River), among others.
On what transpired between Atiku and Wike, the source said: “You can also crosscheck what I will tell you from the camp of the ex-VP. Following the euphoria of winning the primary, Atiku visited Wike to seek his support,
“He promised to make him a vice presidential candidate. Wike said he does not want the office, but that Atiku should consider ex-Governor Donald Duke. Atiku and his supporters prevailed on Wike to be his running mate.
“There was much pressure on Wike to agree to the offer. A 17-man committee was also set up by the leadership of the party and 14 of the 17 members recommended Wike as Atiku’s running mate.
“The party leadership later raised a kangaroo committee (with Ayu as a member), which claimed that the party can only recommend three candidates to Atiku to pick. And it was obvious to Wike and his team that there was a predetermined candidate.
“You can see the lines of insincerity and lack of faith to talks. This explains why Wike shut his doors against Atiku.
However, Atiku is still said to be hopeful about reconciliation with Wike.”
It was gathered that five items may dominate Atiku’s interaction with Wike and the outcome of the parley may determine the fate of PDP and its chances in 2023.
The factors include the following:
Explanation by Ayu and Atiku for abandoning the recommendations of a search committee for vice presidential candidate;
Restructuring of the party, including the removal of the national chairman,
Adherence to power rotation between the North and South,
Intra-party inclusion and
Offers on the table for Wike’s camp if Atiku wins the presidential poll.
A former governor said: “The crux of the matter is that Atiku’s camp has not made significant offers to assuage Wike and his group. The only thing on the card was a proposal to make Wike the Minister of Petroleum Resources if Atiku is elected.
“This infuriated Wike who said a ministerial appointment was not far-reaching. He said he had been a minister before and he is not aspiring to be a minister.
“Instead, Atiku and his men have been cleverly working on a winner takes all formula in a party where everyone is equal.”
PDP considers Wike for DG of Atiku’s campaign team
BoT member Adamu, who admitted PDP was battling with internal crises, assured that the party was making efforts to amicably resolve them.
He lamented that it was unfortunate that some chieftains have not transited from the position of aspiration to candidature.
Waziri, a former Minister of Police Affairs said: “Our party is not in disarray as the news media is making Nigerians to believe.
“Our party has its challenges but our party is contended. And we are living in some comforts. Why because there is no political decision you take without ripple effects.”
He countered Governor Samuel Ortom, who claimed that 14 of 17 members of the committee on running mate voted for Wike.
He said: “There was no total truth in the claims by Ortom. I was part of the committee and I can tell you that there was no voting whatsoever for any of the nominees.”
Waziri said stakeholders would do everything to broker a truce.
He suggested that the Rivers State governor should be appointed as the DG of Atiku’s campaign team.
He said: “Governor Wike will be a good DG and should be offered that position. He won’t refuse to work with Atiku. I know him to be a man of his word.”
He maintained that the candidate has the right to choose his running mate.
Waziri said: “That committee recommended three people to the candidate who reserves the right to choose any one of them or none at all.
“There was no voting at all, but members of the committee were allowed to express their views.
“The candidate reserves the right at the end of the day to choose his running mate.
“The PDP has had a history of what happened between 2003 and 2007 where there was a deep-seated crisis between the President and the Vice President and nobody wants a repeat, hence the candidate who won the election on his own merit must be given the right at the end of the day to make a choice on who will be his running mate, not the party.”
The former minister said since the candidates have emerged, members of the party should put their differences behind and forge ahead.