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Wike allies, G-5, meet in Enugu on PDP, Atiku

By Lawrence Njoku (Enugu) and Adamu Abuh (Abuja)
03 October 2022   |   4:26 am
After another fence-mending session at the weekend between presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike, who has remained estranged since the party concluded its convention in May...

Oyo State Governor, Seyi Makinde (left); Abia State Governor, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu; Rivers State Governor, Ezenwo Nyesom Wike; Enugu State Governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi and Benue State Governor, Dr. Samuel Ortom when members of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) G-5 governors met at Enugu State Government House…yesterday. 

• Atiku, Tinubu show fitness in new videos with dance, cycling
• Tinubu appoints Buni, Masari as advisers to appease aggrieved APC members

After another fence-mending session at the weekend between presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike, who has remained estranged since the party concluded its convention in May, five PDP governors now famously known as Wike allies met, yesterday, in Enugu State.

The group of five governors (G-5) – Wike, Okezie Ikpeazu (Abia), Samuel Ortom (Benue), Seyi Makinde (Oyo) and host, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi (Enugu) were locked in a closed-door meeting, which observers say was to push for the final way forward in the intractable crisis confronting the party ahead of the 2023 general elections.

PDP had been enmeshed in crisis after the national convention that saw the emergence of Atiku as its presidential flag-bearer.

Wike, who contested in the presidential primary, had alleged foul play, insisting the party’s National Chairman, Iyorchia Ayu, compromised the integrity of his office by using its instrumentality to ensure the emergence of Atiku. He, alongside other governors demanded the resignation of Ayu as the only panacea to peace in the party.

The G-5 team at their last meeting held in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, opted out of Atiku’s campaign council and vowed not to play any role in the campaign pending the resignation of Ayu. The Enugu meeting is holding hours after Wike met with Atiku, who was reportedly said to have promised to back him for the presidency in 2027.

Wike had also at the weekend received the Labour Party (LP) presidential candidate, Peter Obi, in Port Harcourt. Though details of their discussions were not disclosed, it was gathered that the duo held talks on possibilities of backing Obi, currently riding on the momentum of an unprecedented youth enthusiasm.

Obi, who has been shopping for support across the country, was said to be particularly interested in getting Wike to queue behind him to boost his chances in the South-south.

Since he declared his presidential interest, Obi had visited Wike three times in Rivers to plead for his support. The LP candidate, accompanied by former President Olusegun Obasanjo, also paid Wike and his team a visit in London to plead for their support.

MEANWHILE, both Atiku and presidential candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, took to their social media handles to display their fitness level in a ‘show of strength’ to their teeming fans to demonstrate capacity to handle the challenges of office.

While Atiku danced to Davido’s ‘Stand Strong’ as he unveiled his five-point recovery plan for Nigeria, Tinubu was seen exercising on a bike in a gym to prove his fitness.

In a video he shared via his Twitter handle, Tinubu dismissed naysayers, saying: “Many have said I have died; others claim I have withdrawn from the presidential campaign. Well… Nope. This is the reality: I am strong, I am healthy and I am ready to serve Nigerians from day one.”

Apparently poised to assuage aggrieved APC members over the composition of the party’s presidential campaign council, Tinubu has appointed Yobe State governor, Mai Mala Buni, as special adviser on party integration and reconciliation for the campaign team.

Buni’s appointment is coming one week after secretary of the presidential campaign council, James Faleke, released a list of 422-member council, with President Muhamadu Buhari as chairman; Tinubu and Abdullahi Adamu, the party’s national chairman, as deputy chairmen, as well as Plateau State governor, Simon Lalong, as director-general.

The list was, however, greeted with bickering from governors under the party’s platform on grounds that the candidate ignored their nominations and replaced them with others from their respective states.

It was gathered that Buni, who was chairman of the APC caretaker committee from June 2020 to June 2022, was engaged by Tinubu following the success he recorded in reconciling members of the party after the ouster of the Adams Oshiomhole-led National Working Committee (NWC).

Tinubu, in a separate letter, also appointed Governor Aminu Masari of Katsina State, as his adviser on administration and government in the campaign council.

A letter dated August 8, 2022, personally signed by the candidate and made available to newsmen in Abuja, said Buni’s impressive political achievement and the exemplary leadership he has demonstrated as governor of Yobe state and as a party member qualified him for the responsibility.

“We are grateful that you have joined our campaign team. We know you will do your utmost in this new responsibility so we conduct an effective, message-driven campaign leading us to victory in the 2023 presidential election.

Tinubu described Masari’s appointment as fitting and appropriate given his impressive political achievement and the exemplary leadership he has demonstrated as governor of Katsina.

Also, the ruling party has constituted the women’s campaign team for its presidential campaign with Aisha Buhari, wife of President Buhari, as the grand patron.

The APC women campaign team comprises 1,200 strong members, which also comprises Senator Oluremi Tinubu, wife of the party’s presidential candidate and Hajiya Nana Shettima as chairperson and co-chairperson of the women’s campaign team respectively.

A former member of the House of Representatives from Borno State, Asabe Villita, was appointed the National Coordinator of the team with Lauretta Onochie, an aide to President Buhari, as her deputy.

However, Dolapo Osinbajo, wife of Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, is noticeably absent from the campaign list released yesterday in Abuja by Rinsola Abiola, daughter of late Chief MKO Abiola, who is also named in the media and administrative committees of the campaign team.

Recall that Prof. Osinbajo was excluded from the list of APC Presidential Campaign Council released by the party a week ago. Osinbajo lost the APC presidential primary to his former boss, Tinubu at the convention in June. While other aspirants have been drafted into the campaign, the vice president was excluded from the campaign council.

To debunk speculations of a rift between Tinubu and Osinbajo, the ruling party had in a statement claimed that President Buhari requested the exclusion of his Vice and the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, to allow them focus on governance.