Despite crises, Ayu meets governor candidates, boasts of PDP victory in 2023
• Atiku to meet Wike in London today
• You are cracking the wall of PDP’s unity, Wike’s media aide fires back at Lamido
• Buhari has no anointed ‘Villa Candidate’, will only support APC candidates, says Presidency
• Think beyond Emilokan, vote for competence, Sanusi tells Nigerians
• Dogara, Babachir meet IBB, Abdulsalami in Minna over Muslim-Muslim ticket
• Group sets agenda for next president to protect North’s interest
Amid internal crises rocking the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), it’s National Working Committee (NWC) was yesterday locked in a meeting with governorship candidates of the party across the 36 states of the country at the party’s headquarters in Wuse, Abuja.
All of the party’s governorship candidates, except Oyo State governor, Seyi Makinde, currently out of the country on vacation, were in attendance at the closed-door meeting tagged an interactive session between the party’s leadership and its candidates ahead of the 2023 elections.
The meeting comes amid calls for the national chairman, Dr Iyorchia Ayu, to step aside by a camp loyal to the Rivers State governor, Nyesom Wike, as part of the conditions for the resolution of the impasse over the choice of Delta State governor, Ifeanyi Okowa, as the party’s presidential running mate.
Despite the worsening crises, Ayu said the party would win next year’s presidential election and win more than 25 governorship seats.
He told newsmen: “The candidates came and expressed their concerns in their various states. They briefed us on the efforts they are making to win the election. I am very happy with the progress that are made so far in various states.
“So, we are happy that members are determined that we don’t just win at the national level. We want to return about 25 governors or more as we used to have. So, the mood at the party is excellent.”
Bauchi State governor, Bala Mohammed, said they believed in the supremacy and sanctity of the party.
When asked about the meeting held between Wike and the presidential candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Tinubu, he said: “The chairman has already spoken. We are loyal party members. We believe 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.”
To end the stonewalling between himself and Wike, the presidential candidate of the party, Atiku Abubakar, has headed to the United Kingdom (UK).
It was gathered that the former vice-president would meet Wike today in London some 48 hours after the Rivers governor led some PDP governors to meet Tinubu, also in London.
An aide to Atiku confirmed last night that his boss left for Europe immediately after his appearance at the yearly conference of the Nigerian Bar Association in Lagos on Monday, but he neither confirmed nor denied today’s scheduled meeting with Wike.
According to another source, “the PDP presidential candidate headed for London yesterday after arriving in Paris on Tuesday. He is billed to meet with Wike today in an attempt to resolve the issues between them.”
SOME party stalwarts are said not to be happy with the way former governor of Jigawa State, Sule Lamido, criticised Wike. In an interview with Channels Television on Tuesday, Lamido accused Wike of fuelling the post-presidential primary crisis and cautioned him (Wike) against bragging, pointing out that his influence will soon fade after leaving office next year.
He said: “We should forget about Wike. Wike is an individual, I don’t think because he is a governor there he has control and monopoly over the peoples of Rivers.”
But responding, the Special Assistant on Media to Wike, Kelvin Ebiri, lambasted Lamido, saying he (Lamido) is the one cracking the wall of unity in the PDP.
Ebiri said: “It is appalling that at a time when concerted efforts are being made by lovers of true democracy to resolve some inherent contradictions plaguing 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 the custodian of the over three million votes in Rivers, but as the leader of PDP and good people of Rivers, 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.
“Perhaps, 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 PDP defeat in the 2015 general election.
“We hope that he is not up to such a scheme again to cause a repeat of that history. Otherwise, if Lamido has any modicum of conscience, he won’t be making disparaging comments about Wike, whom many have described as the pillar of PDP since 2015.
“As the 2023 general elections beckons, we wish to advise Lamido to redeem his battered political image by delivering Jigawa State to the PDP, if he can.”
On the part of the ruling APC, the Presidency, on Wednesday, dismissed insinuations of anointed ‘Villa candidates,’ saying he will not betray or undermine the APC ahead of the elections.
He said he would only campaign for APC candidates and not recognise former members of the party or those who have court cases against APC candidates.
In a statement by Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, President Muhammadu Buhari further reassured faithful party members that he remains a ‘disciplined soldier’ and will, in all the coming elections, support only those candidates fielded by the party and no other.
The statement warned decamped party members and others who are still in court against official APC candidates that they are on their own and nobody outside the party tent should link what they are doing to President Buhari.
“The President wishes to be quoted as saying that he is the occupant of the high office of the President by the Grace of God who used the instrumentality of APC to bring him to power with a historic verdict in 2015.
“In 2019, he was returned with a bigger majority. His constant refrain is: “I will not betray or undermine my party by supporting candidates other than those of the APC.”
Continuing, the Presidency said, this statement is not against any particular candidate. “However, our stand is clear that only those candidates fielded by APC will enjoy the support of the President and they are the ones he will campaign for. We welcome support for our candidates at all levels by other parties.”
MEANWHILE, the former Emir of Kano, Muhammadu Sanusi, has said Nigerians should look beyond Emilokan (My turn to rule Nigeria), but rather vote for a leader that will transform the country, especially in education, healthcare and economy next year.
Sanusi lamented that Nigeria is near collapse because of the inability of leaders to transform the country. He noted that education, healthcare and economy are the foundation of development and that any country that fails to develop these areas will fail woefully.
Sanusi spoke in Lagos, yesterday, at an event organised by the management of Chief Moses Adekoyejo Majekodunmi Foundation in collaboration with St. Nicholas Hospital to mark 10 years of memorial lecture and legacy of Chief Moses Adekoyejo Majekodunmi.
Sanusi, who was chairman of the occasion, lamented that many healthcare workers are leaving the country because of the government’s inability to provide an enabling environment for the healthcare profession to thrive.
He said the time has gone when Nigerians voted for candidates because of the party, rather, let us ask the presidential candidates questions and the one with the best ideas would be voted for because Nigeria is at the edge of collapse.
IN another development, former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, and ex-Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir Lawal, have continued to woo national stakeholders on their rejection of the Muslim-Muslim ticket of the ruling APC.
Dogara and Babachir were accompanied by a former deputy governor of Kogi State, Simon Achuba, to meet separately with former military President, General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida (retd.) in his Hilltop Minna residence and former Head of State, General Abdusalami Abubakar (rtd), also in Minna, Niger State.
According to a statement from Dogara’s media aide, Turaki Hassan, the meeting was held to felicitate Babaginda on the occasion of his 81st birthday anniversary but sources close to the politicians said they were in Minna to consult with him about their stance on APC’s Muslim-Muslim ticket.
Dogara and Lawal had, during a summit of APC Northern Christian Forum in Abuja, rejected their party’s same faith ticket and resolved not to campaign for their presidential candidate.
It was gathered that Dogara and other Northern Christian leaders in the APC are consulting before they decide on which of the presidential candidates to adopt and support.
“The choice is now between Atiku, Rabiu Kwankwaso of the New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP) and Peter Obi of the Labour Party,” the source said.
Also, a group under the aegis of the Arewa New Agenda (ANA) has made a case for the North ahead of whoever emerges as Nigeria’s next president to take into cognisance the voting strength of their geographical location, which it said made it possible for the ruling party to win in 2015 and 2019.
The group said in 2023, they are still holding the ace as the region that will determine who wins as president, hence, they want the interest of the region to be protected.
ANA brandished figures from the last two election cycles, which, according to it, accounted for votes from the three Northern regions, adding up to 75 per cent of the votes received by the winning party, while the Southwest by virtue of ‘the merger’ added 13 per cent to APC’s victory to bring the total haul to 88 per cent.
Speaking yesterday in Abuja, coordinator/convener of the Forum, Senator Ahmad Abubakar MoAllahyidi, said the critical inference from the foregoing analysis is that “without the votes from the Southwest, the winning party would still have won the election, but will lack the 25 per cent spread among two-third of the 36 states required for outright victory.
“As it stands today, the Arewa Agenda 2023 is meant to set an agenda for the protection of the interest of the North in relation to the determinant role it will play in the emergence of the eventual winner of the presidential election in 2023.
“While in 2015 and 2019, the North was needing only marginal support to coast home to victory. This time around, the South will be needing the full strength of the North to lead the bulk of the charge by doing the heavy lifting.
“We are going to host a conference in September and we are inviting all ethnic nationalities in the 19 Northern states to bring up issues. It is those issues the repertoires will put together to form a compendium and this will now serve as the Arewa Agenda for whoever becomes the next president.”