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PDP crisis: You can’t decide for a presidential candidate, says Makarfi

By Leo Sobechi, Azimazi Momoh Jimoh (Abuja) and Ann Godwin (Port Harcourt)
16 August 2022   |   4:25 am
As the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) continues its trouble-shooting to reconcile its presidential contender, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and Rivers State governor, Nyesom Wike, a former national chairman, Senator Ahmed Makarfi, has called for caution.

Makarfi

• I will never resign as PDP chairman, Ayu declares
• Atiku, in first homecoming after convention, receives decampees from APC
• Wike berates traitors, says he’s a fulfilled leader
• Wike is only playing mind games, will not leave PDP, says Momodu

As the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) continues its trouble-shooting to reconcile its presidential contender, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and Rivers State governor, Nyesom Wike, a former national chairman, Senator Ahmed Makarfi, has called for caution.

Recall that misunderstanding within the party deepened after Atiku chose Delta State governor, Ifeanyi Arthur Okowa, as his running mate and discarded the recommendations of a screening committee set up for the position.

In an exclusive interview with The Guardian in Abuja, Senator Makarfi noted that it was in a bid to avoid the misgivings of 2019 that the presidential candidate, Atiku, decided to consult widely, stressing that the idea of setting consultative committees did not bind the candidate to the recommendations of the committees.

He remarked that although those who lost out have right to be aggrieved, they should recognise the fact that political power comes from God, adding, “a decision is never taken on behalf of a candidate, you can only advice a candidate.”

Citing his own experience, Makarfi, who was once the Kaduna State governor, disclosed that on many occasions, he had come close to obtaining prime political power, explaining that his attitude is that whatever was not his, would not come to him.

His words: “Our presidential candidate and by God’s grace our next president, Atiku, in 2019, picked Peter Obi and you saw how the governors revolted, with all kinds of abuses. They said there was no consultation.

“Now, he consulted but maybe, some people thought that consultation means take decision on his behalf, no; you never take decision on behalf of the principal. Now, he consulted, again it is a problem.

“Maybe, it is the perception that a decision must be taken on his (the presidential candidate’s) behalf. A decision is never taken on behalf of a candidate, you can only advise a candidate. For those who lost out, they have a right to be hurt. If I am one of them, I may be slightly hurt, but I will push it away and say fine, which way forward.”

Specifically, the former Kaduna State governor enjoined the Rivers State governor to note that no matter what anybody may have done to malign or insult him, that leaders and even prophets were insulted.

Makarfi stated: “So, I am still calling on him and any other person aggrieved to still give peace a chance. I also will fully support that our party, our presidential candidate, in any way possible, should listen to and accommodate not only Governor Wike, but any other aggrieved individual in our party.

“We need everybody. We should give it a try, if it works out fine, but if it doesn’t work out, I have told you what my state and I are busy doing, politics is local. Everybody should go home and work to turn our states for PDP.”

On claims that the national chairman, Senator Iyorchia Ayu, did not handle the fallout of the presidential primary and presidential running mate selection properly, Makarfi disclosed that the national chairman informed him that he had been talking to all groups.

Speaking on the possible negative impact that Senator Rabiu Kwankwaso and Mr. Peter Obi’s defection from PDP could have on the party’s electoral fortunes in 2023, Makarfi affirmed that Kwankwaso left due to internal wrangling within the zonal structure of the party.

While stressing that the former Kano State governor would still have defected, he remarked, however, that for Obi, his problems were home-based.

“For Peter Obi, let him be honest and say who frustrated him out of PDP. That frustration was from home, not from anywhere, not from any other part of this country.

“We know him to be a good man, he is qualified, he is humble, he is very friendly, but his problems are home-based. If some people from elsewhere are supporting him, I don’t know, but his problems are home-based.”

ALSO, a former presidential aspirant of the party, Chief Dele Momodu, has weighed into the crisis rocking the PDP, saying Wike will not dump the main opposition party.

“For me, Wike is a very principled man; if there’s one thing he has been consistent about, it is his love for PDP; I believe he will not leave PDP. He is playing a mind game and he’s good at it. What shall it profit him if he joins APC?” he asked on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily yesterday.

According to Momodu, the development in the party following the outcome of the presidential primary has made the governor of Rivers a force to be reckoned with.

He stated that the PDP presidential candidate should have a one-on-one meeting with Wike to resolve the crisis rocking the party.

Momodu added: “What I would advise Atiku Abubakar to do today is to sit down one-on-one, with no other person present with Wike and agree on deliverables, if possible, sign an agreement.

“Wike believes that the party should have respected the zoning principle; number two, he believes that zoning would have favoured a Southern candidate. Three, he believed that of all the Southern aspirants, he is the one that has the capacity to deliver victory to the party. The situation in PDP shows what Wike is in the equation of things in Nigeria as a fantastic performer.”

Since the crisis, the PDP Board of Trustees (BOT) has held series of talks to mend fences between Wike and Atiku, but the duo are yet to strike a peace deal. Rather, the camp loyal to Wike is insisting that Ayu should resign his position since he is from the North-Central.

AS both Atiku and Wike camps meet for hard talks this week, Ayu, yesterday, declared that he will never resign his position. He made his position known through his media aide, Simon Imobo-Tswam, disclaiming speculations in a section of the media that he had resigned.

“We state, with all emphasis, that this story is, in its entirety, false, baseless, reckless, inaccurate and a complete work of fiction. If there is such a resignation, it exists only in the imagination of those who have made themselves available for hatchet jobs.

“If Ayu had resigned, he would give his resignation letter to the Deputy Chairman (North); not Senator David Mark. Section 45 (i and ii) of the party’s Constitution is clear on this,” the statement added.

According to the statement, “the national chairman is on a crucial assignment to lead PDP on a historic rescue mission, come February 2023 and he will not be deterred or distracted by media terrorism or political blackmail.”

Also yesterday, a statement by Paul Ibe, the media adviser to Atiku, revealed that the Waziri Adamawa, on Monday, led chieftains of the party, including former Vice President Namadi Sambo, Okowa, Governor Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri and Ayu to receive decampees from the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Adamawa into the PDP.

According to the statement, Ayu who received the new members into the party at the Ribadu Square in Yola, said the rate of defection from APC to PDP is increasing by the day and an indication that the opposition party is waxing stronger.

Atiku, who was greeted with euphoria by the crowd at the venue, also welcomed the new members of the party, promising that he will work with them.

“I have been serving the people since I joined politics 30 years ago and that is my promise to you all today. I believe that Governor Fintiri has done a good job and that we should join hands to make sure he wins his second term election,” Atiku said.

Earlier on arrival at the Yola International Airport, where he was received to a rousing welcome, Atiku had proceeded to the palace of the Lamido Adamawa, Aliyu Musdafa, on a courtesy visit.

He was accompanied by Fintiri, his running mate, Okowa, and Ayu. It was the first time the presidential standard bearer will be visiting his home state after the presidential primary.

In his remarks at the Lamido’s palace, Atiku said his presentation to the Lamido as the presidential candidate of the PDP gives him a sense of nostalgia because his political career would not have attained this mark but for the prayers and support he enjoys from the Lamido, his palace and the entire state.

In his response, the Lamido said that he was pleased and proud to welcome Atiku home after his emergence as the presidential candidate of a major political party.

“Your triumph is not just a victory for this Emirate but the country at large as we continue to provide good leadership. I will implore you to use your experience in the task ahead of you. As a detribalised Nigerian, I am confident of your capacity to lead the nation. Your investment in human capital development is a good example of your contribution to the society. I pray that the Almighty remains with you as you strive to become the next president of this country,” he said.

MEANWHILE, Rivers State governor, Nyesom Wike, has accused some elders of ganging up against him, because they did not scale through the primary to be the governorship candidate of PDP in the state.

The governor explained that some of them, on his 2021 birthday, had indicated interest to fly the party’s ticket, but failed at their bid and are now in Abuja plotting against him.

Wike spoke on Monday during the 74th birthday reception organised to honour the former governor of Rivers, Dr. Peter Odili, at the private residence built and donated to him by the state government in Old Government Residential Area, Port Harcourt.

Wike said those elders came to him on their own accord and showed a commitment that they would stay to see through what they came to convince him about.

“On my last birthday, at 12:00 midnight, one of our elders called me that they wanted to see me. They came to me and said they came to wish me happy birthday. Then, they presented me a letter that I should run for president. All of them including Dr. Abiye (Sekibo) signed the document.

“I said okay, you people too should go and give me someone who will be governor after me. They all sat there, looking left and right. I asked them, those of you who are interested to be governor should raise your hands. Everybody raised his hand. One person didn’t raise his hand, Senator Bari Mpigi. I asked why he was not interested, he replied, sir, let me hold what God has given me. I don’t want to lose the two.”

Wike noted that the elders also signed to a document that they would abide by whatever became the outcome of the governorship primary.

But the governor expressed regrets that since they were not successful, they have turned around now to allege that he was pursuing a third term bid.

“I am not an ungrateful person and I will never be ungrateful in my life. What’s important is that I have done well as a governor. I am happy and I am leaving office a happy man.”

The Rivers governor recalled that when Odili was to run for the office of the president, he had a large crowd following, happily. But noted that when the issue of governorship of Rivers was to be decided and he did not give those who wanted it, they all left him, ran to Abuja to thwart his presidential ambition.

Wike, however, said he has been holding on to the advice of Odili, hence he was not surprised at the turn of events and the outcome of the PDP presidential primary.

In his response, Odili said himself and his wife, Hon. Justice Mary Odili (retired), were overwhelmed by the birthday gift, courtesy of the state government. Odili explained that during his tenure as governor, Wike was the best performing council chairman in the state.