Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), were a little excited at the hope of peace returning to the party and the possibility of it securing the full support of one of its top leaders, Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State, for the 2023 elections.y this time last week, many Nigerians, particularly members and supporters of the
The excitement was a sequel to the announcement of a meeting between the governor and the party’s presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar.
The duo met over dinner at the Carlton Hotel, London, on 26 August in the company of Governors Seyi Makinde of Oyo State, Samuel Ortom of Benue State, and Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State, among others.
In the same week, and prior to the meeting, the governors met with Bola Tinubu, the presidential candidate for the All Progressives Congress (APC), a former president, Olusegun Obasanjo, and the Labour Party’s presidential candidate, Peter Obi.
All the meetings were related to preparations and strategies for the 2023 general elections, with the governors, who are all members of the PDP, ostensibly trying to decide who to support among the presidential candidates.
Their rendezvous with the non-PDP candidates prompted Atiku to make a detour from a business trip to Paris to meet with the governors in London – with the hope of reconciling and keeping them in the party.
Mr Wike has held a grudge against Atiku and the PDP since the presidential primary in June. After he lost the presidential ticket to Atiku – which he and members of his camp believe was because of a decision by Sokoto governor, Aminu Tambuwal, to step down late in the race – Mr Wike accused the party of betraying him and breaching its constitution.
Efforts made by the two men to meet, either in person or through emissaries, were either stalled, deadlocked or not entirely fruitful. The meeting of 25 August did not have a different outcome.
t the moment, there seems to be no clear adjective to qualify that last meeting between Atiku and the Wike camp. This is because while demands were made and resolutions were reached at the meeting, one is still making consultations as to how to meet the demands while the other appears to be adding fuel to the fire he started as he dances, literally, and basks in the attention he is getting from political suitors.
One of their demands at the meeting was that the party’s national chairman, Iyorchia Ayu, step down and be replaced by a southern candidate.
The demand, the Wike camp explained, is to correct the lopsidedness in the party’s leadership.
PREMIUM TIMES reported how Mr Wike’s team is already pitching Taofeek Arapaja, the party’s deputy national chairman, South, for appointment as acting national chairman pending when another convention is held.
Following this demand, Atiku promised to consult and revert to the group. Although no time was fixed for Atiku to report back, it has been over a week and there is still no word from him – at least not on the matter.
The presidential candidate is, no doubt, in a tight corner as his major task, as demanded, is to have Mr Ayu – one of his loyalists – step down.
Clearly, Mr Wike and his group do not care what method Atiku would use to meet their demand. They just want Mr Ayu to step down as he had promised before the primary.
A much harder task
ard as it already seems for Atiku to meet that demand, the Rivers governor and the party’s chairman have not actually made it any easier.
The latest episode in the series of blockbusters that have emanated from the PDP is the back and forth between both men.
In the past week, Nigerians have witnessed the duo argue over who is more mature or who is guilty or who uses vocabulary better, among others.
After Mr Wike’s meeting with Atiku, his supporters continued to call for Mr Ayu’s resignation – as a way forward for the party. And in a terse response, Mr Ayu dismissed the people asking him to step down as children.
He maintained that he was elected for a tenure of four years and had not even completed one.
“I co-founded the PDP in Nigeria and some boys who don’t know how we struggled and what we went through can’t cause problems for the party. When we started the PDP, we did not know those boys, they are children, they don’t know why we founded the party. We will not agree with one person to come and destroy our party,” Mr Ayu said.
Many Nigerians knew this reply would be responded to and it took Mr Wike less than 24 hours to prove them right.
In his response, he called the chairman arrogant and an ingrate. He said the people Mr Ayu had called ‘children’, brought him from nothing and placed him in the position he currently occupies.
“Somebody said those of you who said the right thing must be done are boys; they are children…You can imagine how ingratitude…how people can be ingrates…Dr Ayu said we are children. Yes, the children brought you to be chairman of the party, the children brought you from the gutter to make you chairman. You were impeached and sacked. Arrogance cannot take you anywhere.”
Mr Wike also challenged the PDP chairman to prove himself as a man of honour and fulfil his promise to step down should the northern region produce the presidential candidate.
Although Mr Ayu has said he will no longer comment or respond to Mr Wike, the existing feud between the two men is also being felt by the presidential candidate who, obviously, needs both men – everybody – on board as parties gear up for campaigns.
How Atiku intends to appeal to an already angry Mr Ayu and at the same time, appeal to Mr Wike is a puzzle many Nigerians wait to see how it is solved.
One thing is sure though. He will, in the meantime, hope that the two men behave themselves and try not to worsen the already critical situation.
For members, there’s peace, hope
or some members of the PDP, there is no crisis in the party.
This is the message they have put out in the past week – “disagreement between family members is normal”, “people are allowed to have different opinions”, “party is united”, “party is ready for 2023 and is sure of victory” and the least convincing of all, “everyone in the party – including Wike – is on the same page.”
The most recent comment was from the party’s spokesperson, Debo Ologunagba, who said what the PDP is experiencing is differences, not crisis and the happenings at the party will not only be resolved soon, it will also not affect the party’s focus and preparations for next year’s polls.
He was, however, conscious enough to acknowledge the current discord between some members.
A few others are so hopeful that with or without the current crisis rocking the party and with or without Governor Wike, the party will sail to victory in the 2023 elections.
For Phrank Shaibu, a Special Assistant, Public Communications to Atiku, Governor Wike is part of the PDP but “whether the cock crows or not, the sun will rise. Atiku will be president in 2023.”
“But, notwithstanding the issue is, are we ready?… The answer is yes. He (Atiku) remains the only candidate who is not just prepared but very prepared,” he said in an interview on Arise TV.
Final plans and strategies
t is less than four weeks to the start of the campaigns on 28 September and the party will no doubt use the time to try and mend cracked walls and broken fences in its home.
Already, the party’s National Working Committee has scheduled a meeting for Thursday. The meeting earlier scheduled for 10 and 11 August was postponed.
At the meeting, members are expected to continue the consultations regarding Mr Wike’s demand.
While he hopes to make progress with his consultations in the new week, Atiku would hope Messrs Wike and Ayu find a way to at least stay quiet. Mr Ayu will probably just play pretend for the time being. But for Mr Wike, there is no predicting what the governor will do.
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