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Wike raises stake, leads PDP govs to meet Tinubu

By Azimazi Momoh Jimoh and Adamu Abuh (Abuja)
24 August 2022   |   4:30 am
As the crises in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) linger, some governors loyal to the Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, have moved to Paris, France, for further deliberations and strategies.


• Obi meets Afenifere leader, Adebanjo in Lagos
• ‘Northwest states indifferent to 2023 elections over insecurity, Shettima’
• Soyinka: Same faith ticket controversial, ill-timed
• Why Tinubu deserves to be next president, by Keyamo

As the crises in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) linger, some governors loyal to the Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, have moved to Paris, France, for further deliberations and strategies.

The governors travelled on Sunday to meet the Oyo State Governor, Seyi Makinde, who was already spending his vacation in Paris. Others on the trip are Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom; Enugu State Governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi and Abia State Governor, Okezie Ikpeazu.

It was further learnt that after a brief meeting in Paris, the governors yesterday moved to London.

“The governors moved to France two days ago to join the Oyo governor who is already there on yearly leave. And they just moved out of France to the United Kingdom,” a source revealed.

At the meeting of the PDP reconciliation committee in Port Harcourt last Friday, the Wike camp had insisted that Iyorchia Ayu, PDP’s national chairman, should resign.

IN the high-wired race to who succeeds President Muhammadu Buhari next year, it emerged yesterday that the presidential candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, met with Wike outside the country in preparation for the general elections.

This is coming weeks after Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State led his colleagues from the APC, Lagos State governor, Babajide Sanwo-olu and Ondo State governor, Rotimi Akeredolu to Port Harcourt to meet Wike.

Sources close to Wike and Tinubu independently confirmed last night that the meeting held outside the country and it explains why Tinubu and Sanwo-Olu were both absent at the NBA conference, which began on Monday in Lagos.

“Yes, we left Nigeria to meet with Tinubu on Monday. We initially thought it would hold in France because that was where Tinubu went the last time he left the country. We, however, got signal close to our time of departure that we should proceed somewhere else.”

The source added that the meeting was connected with getting Wike’s support for Tinubu in next year’s election.

“Yes, the discussion was centered on the 2023 election. The Tinubu camp knows how important votes from Rivers are and are looking for how to get Wike to work for them,” the source added.

While it may be hard for Wike to leave the PDP because of some of his followers who will be contesting elections in the party, the Tinubu camp is expecting him to use his influence in the state to work for them and deliver Rivers for the APC.

Since Wike lost the PDP presidential primary to former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, he has been implacable and cantankerous in his speeches. He has also many times threatened many members of the PDP in the state who are loyal to Atiku, closing down some businesses owned by them.

Efforts to also reconcile with him have become hard, as the meetings between his camp and Atiku’s team end up in deadlocks.

The major issues yet to be agreed on is Wike’s calls for the resignation of Ayu, which Atiku’s camp are kicking against.

According to the former vice president’s camp, Wike cannot always have the party in his pockets and be dictating how things are run. It will be recalled that Wike, who singlehandedly installed Uche Secondus as the party’s national chairman, also plotted his removal after both men fell out.

It was gathered that some horse-trading was part of the agenda of the meeting, though Wike has no immediate plan to dump the PDP.

JUST as the horse-trading amongst political parties and rivals gets underway, the LP presidential candidate, Peter Obi, yesterday met with the leader of Yoruba socio-political organisation, Afenifere, Ayo Adebanjo, at his home in Lagos. Obi met with Adebanjo and members of the South and Middle Belt Leadership Forum.

In a tweet, Obi said he was accompanied by members of the party and other stakeholders. He wrote: “Presently visiting Pa Ayo Adebanjo and members of the South and Middle Belt Leadership Forum.”

This is coming after the former Anambra State governor visited the Olu of Warri, Ogiame Atuwatse, on the heels of Olu’s first anniversary on the throne.

Recall that Adebanjo had said Obi and not Atiku or Tinubu should be elected president in 2023. He hinged his support for Obi’s aspiration on justice, equity and inclusiveness, insisting that the next president should come from the Southeast.

“On the principle of rotation, what nullified Tinubu is because Southwest has had its own; South-South has also had its own, why not the Southeast? It is not a case of a Muslim-Muslim ticket. Tinubu is a very good and qualified candidate but what disqualified him is the fact that we can’t say we believe in rotation, you have had two bites on a pie when one of you has not had a bite.

“The same thing disqualifies Atiku, after a Northerner has ruled us for eight years; you want another Northerner to go there? But they want to turn the issue by saying the Northeast has not had it. They should have protested when President Buhari was coming back that Northwest has had it,” he said.

While noting that he is not a member of LP, Adebanjo said he is ‘obidient,’ a slogan used to describe supporters of Obi. He argued that people should criticise his choice based on the principle of fairness and not sentiment.

MEANWHILE, some governors are of the opinion that elections may not hold in several Northwest states as a result of the prevalent insecurity in the geopolitical zone. Northwest comprises seven states — Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Sokoto, and Zamfara.

It was gathered that the governors shared their perspective with President Buhari in a policy brief recently. The brief was part of the political economy situation review sent to the president in July 2022.

To stem the tide of insecurity, the governors urged the President to expedite actions on various promises to address insecurity by taking urgent steps to establish military bases in Birnin Gwari, Rijana, Kachia and Mararraban Jos in Kaduna and Kontagora and Gwada in Niger.

It was also gathered that the governors asked President Buhari to look into the choice of running mate picked by Tinubu and its impact on Northwest voter turnout and commitment to the APC.

Last month, Tinubu unveiled Kashim Shettima, former governor of Borno State, as his substantive running mate. While many APC leaders commended the choice, other stakeholders, including some Christian leaders, expressed displeasure at the Muslim-Muslim ticket.

In his reaction, Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, has said the choice of a same faith ticket by the APC is controversial, avoidable and ill-timed. Soyinka stated this while fielding questions in an interview with Channels TV.

The Nobel Laureate, who spoke on a wide range of issues, noted that he may not “give a damn if the president, vice president, speaker, etc come from the same village, have the same religion, belong to the same tribe,” but Nigeria is not ready for a Muslim-Muslim ticket.

He added that political leaders should have been sensitive to the peculiarity of the Nigerian society in taking a decision on the candidates of the party.

According to Soyinka, “we’re talking about a society which is normal, where situations are normal. Is this society normal? Even the military seems to recognise the need to express the plurality, not only of ethnic groups or faith in their governance.

“We are in the midst of a crisis with faiths of distrust – ethnic distrust, religious distrust, class distrust and anything which can be done or any action which can be avoided so that this kind of distrust is not exacerbated, I think politicians should seize the opportunity of not exacerbating the debate.”

Speaking further about the controversy generated from the APC’s decision, the Nobel Laureate noted that “we’ve had almost by unspoken arrangement, a recognition of the peculiarity of this particular society. And so, it shouldn’t surprise you or me that a number of people find that kind of choice very questionable and unwise, especially at this time.”

Continuing, he said: “I recognise the right of the proposed incumbent to choose who he wants to run with, that right is there, however, that right is also not absolute because we are talking about a very relative society which Nigeria is right now.

“And so, we are in a very difficult situation and the question I ask is, why create a controversy? Are there options, which would have prevented such a controversy as they say in certain societies, ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’. And if that kind of arrangement has proven not to be malfeasant for the society, why tamper with it? Why not be sensitive to the very peculiar circumstances of Nigeria?”

BUT spokesperson of the APC presidential campaign council, Festus Keyamo, said Tinubu has paid enough dues to mount the saddle of leadership of the country after the 2023 poll.

Speaking during the unveiling ceremony of the progressives forum (TPF) held in Abuja, he argued that Tinubu deserves to be compensated due to the yeoman role he played in resisting the onslaught by the President Olusegun Obasanjo-led PDP administration aimed at turning Nigeria into a one party state.