Chibuzo Ukaibe and Anayo Onukwugha (Leadership)
Just hours after Rivers State governor Nyesom Wike held a meeting with the All Progressives Congress’ (APC) presidential candidate, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, in London, United Kingdom, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, is reportedly headed for the United Kingdom ostensibly to mend fences with the Rivers State governor.
An online newspaper, The Cable, reported that a source close to Atiku disclosed that he is billed to meet with the Rivers’ governor today.
“The PDP presidential candidate headed for London today after arriving from Paris yesterday. He is billed to meet with Wike tomorrow in an attempt to resolve the issues between them,” the online platform quoted the source.
But Atiku’s media aides have denied knowledge of whether he intends to meet with Wike to reconcile with him over the impasse arising from the presidential candidate’s choice of Delta State governor, Sen Ifeanyi Okowa, as running mate.
When contacted, Atiku’s media aide, Paul Ibe, confirmed that the presidential candidate “traveled on Monday to Europe for a business trip.”
When asked if Atiku would meet with Wike he said, “I am not aware of such a meeting.”
Also, Atiku’s presidential campaign spokesman, Daniel Bwala, told LEADERSHIP that he was not aware of such a meeting.
Another party source, who confirmed that Atiku is billed to arrival in UK today, said he was scheduled to have a one-week trip after which he would return to Nigeria.
Amid the strained reconciliation process within the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential candidate Bola Tinubu has met with Rivers State governor, Nyesom Wike and his team in London on Monday.
Although, the details of the meeting remain hazy, it was gathered that it was in furtherance of political realignments ahead of the 2023 presidential election.
This meeting comes amid ongoing reconciliation moves between Wike and Atiku which started last week after weeks of friction.
Attempts by PDP leadership to pacify Wike and his loyalists have so far failed after Atiku overlooked him and picked Delta State governor, Sen Ifeanyi Okowa, as his running mate for the 2023 polls.
Wike’s demand for the PDP national chairman, Sen Iyorchia Ayu’s sack as part of the peace process is yet to be heeded.
Months earlier, Wike was said to have met with Tinubu in France, a claim which was denied by Tinubu’s team and a PDP chieftain, Adamu Waziri Maina.
But since the rift emerged, Wike has invited several APC leaders to Rivers State to commission projects, fuelling speculations that he had pitched his tent with the ruling party.
Wike’s Aide To Lamido: You Are Subverting Party Unity In PDP
Meanwhile, Governor Wike’s special assistant on Media, Kelvin Ebiri, has accused former Jigawa State Governor Sule Lamido of cracking the wall of unity in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
He said although Lamido had a right to hold personal opinion, he lacked the right to malign Wike, whose immense contributions to the sustenance of the PDP, was not in dispute.
Ebiri, in a statement made available to LEADERSHIP in Port Harcourt yesterday, was reacting to comments credited to the former governor during an interview with Channels Television.
The statement read: “We have observed with disgust the disdainful remarks made by the former governor of Jigawa State, Alhaji Sule Lamido, about Rivers State governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike, during his recent interview on Channels television.
“While, we cannot deny that Alhaji Lamido has an inalienable right to his personal opinion, we wish to declare that he, however, lacks the right to malign Governor Wike, whose immense contributions to the sustenance of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is not in dispute.
“It is rather appalling that at a time when concerted efforts are being made by lovers of true democracy and the unity of the party to resolve some inherent contradictions plaguing the PDP, Alhaji Lamido and his cohorts, who have since lost their relevance in the polity, are busy creating friction and schism.
“Governor Wike has never claimed to be custodian of the over three million votes in Rivers State, but as the leader of the PDP and good people of Rivers State, anyone who underrates the governor’s political pedigree or dares to ignore his influence in the state and beyond will be doing so at his own peril.”
The statement reminded Lamido that Wike had never left anyone in doubt about his capacity to sway the voters in Rivers State in a direction that benefits the people and the state, in the overall.
“When he speaks, Rivers’ people will listen, no doubt.
“Perhaps, Alhaji Lamido thinks Nigerians are suffering from selective amnesia to have forgotten in a hurry the ignoble role he and his cohorts played between 2014 and 2015 that culminated in the defeat of the PDP in 2015 general election.
“We hope that he is not up in such scheme again to cause a repeat of that history. Otherwise, if Alhaji Lamido has any modicum of conscience, he won’t be making disparaging comments about Governor Wike, whom many have described as the pillar of the PDP since 2015.”
It further criticised Lamido for PDP’s loss of two governorship elections in Jigawa State in quick succession under his watch.
“Under Lamido’s watch, as a governor of Jigawa State in 2015, the APC governorship candidate, Mohammed Badaru Abubakar, scored a total 648,045 votes to defeat his PDP opponent, Malam Aminu Ringim, who scored a total 479, 447 votes. Worse still, in 2019, Governor Abubakar polled 810,933, while the PDP candidate scored 288,356.
“Such records depict that Alhaji Lamido cannot and does not have such political following that will benefit the PDP. Those who want electoral victory for the PDP are not dampening the morale required for political offensive at APC, but Alhaji Lamido is cracking the wall of unity badly.
“Let it be told that in 2015, Governor Wike, as an opposition candidate in Rivers State, polled 1,029,102 votes to defeat the then ruling APC governorship candidate, Dakuku Peterside, who managed to garner a paltry 124,896 votes. And in 2019, the governor also won by landslide. These are marks of political sagacity and determination to keep PDP at a leading pedestal.
“So, as the 2023 general elections beckons, we wish to advise Alhaji Lamido to redeem his battered political image by delivering Jigawa State to the PDP, if he can,” he added.
Meanwhile, the PDP national chairman, Dr Iyorchia Ayu, has said the party plans to win 25 states in the forthcoming governorship election.
Ayu stated this during an interactive session with PDP governorship candidates across the country.
Ayu said, “The candidates came and expressed their concerns in their various states and briefed us on the efforts they are making in their various states to win the election. As you know, the elections will be won in the states, not just at the national level.
“I am very happy with the progress that are made so far in various states and some of the little issues that we have clarified and it was an extremely useful meeting. So we are happy that the members of the party are very determined that we don’t just win at the national level. States of Assembly, National Assembly, state governorship, we want to return about 25 state governors or more as we used to have. So the mood in the party is excellent,” Ayu said.
Speaking also, the Bauchi State governor, Bala Mohammed, said the party chairman believes in the supremacy and sanctity of the party and he has already told you that the mood is very excellent. The candidates are coming together uniting the party to discuss even issues of reconciliation.
“So, it is a very democratic party. He is open and we have ask him all the questions that we need to ask about how to win the elections and then the strategies are ours; we don’t have to relate them to the media now, but certainly we are on course.
On his part, Kaduna State governorship candidate and chairman of PDP Governorship Candidates’ Forum, Hon Isa Mohammed Ashiru, said the candidates were here on a consultative meeting with the party leaders on the way forward “and we have extended discussions and views regarding the 2023 elections and we are home and dry. We don’t have crisis in PDP.”