Five governors, who are members of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) have failed to name their preferred presidential candidate in January as promised by their leader, Governor Nyesom Wike in December, Daily Trust reports.
Dubbed G-5, the governors; Wike, Seyi Makinde (Oyo), Samuel Ortom (Benue), Okezie Ikpeazu (Abia) and Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi (Enugu) have vowed to work against their party’s presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar.
Since the presidential primary of the PDP, there has been a crisis in the party over calls for the National Chairman, Iyorchia Ayu to step down from his position.
The governors are insisting that the PDP presidential candidate and national chairman cannot be from the same region.
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The governors had held a series of meetings with the candidate of the ruling APC, Bola Ahmed Tinubu and that of the Labour Party (LP), Peter Obi. In December, they met with Tinubu in London, where they reportedly struck a deal on the 2023 presidency.
Wike, who leads the group, had on December 22nd said they will name their preferred candidate in January. But he did not as of Tuesday, the last day of the month.
Speaking, while commissioning a project in Port Harcourt, Wike said he will not only tell his people who to vote for but will campaign for his choice of the presidential candidate throughout the country. “Nothing will happen.”
While Wike is not seeking any elective position in the general election, Makinde is seeking a second term; Ortom, Ikpeazu and Ugwuanyi are all contesting for senatorial seats.
Govs in tight corners over local peculiarities
The governors are having difficulties reaching a compromise on the preferred candidate because of what is tagged ‘’local peculiarities’’, it was gathered last night.
A source close to the G-5 told Daily Trust that the governors might not come to a compromise on any preferred candidate as they might be forced to work individually based on local peculiarities.
“If you remember the last time the governors travelled out of the country, they were supposed to agree on the way forward but that was not possible. Many reports said they were going to endorse Tinubu, but there were too many diversities in the states that the governors will find it difficult to come to a compromise,” he said.
Commenting on the matter, Senator Shehu Sani, who represented Kaduna Central in the Senate between 2015 and 2019, said the G-5 has been playing hard to get.
On his Twitter handle yesterday, he said; “The clock is ticking. When the masses they control have made up their minds, the endorsement will be irrelevant.”
Abia gov lobbies to replace late anointed candidate
The Abia State governor has commenced subtle moves to get the support of the National Working Committee (NWC) of the PDP to be able to replace the late governorship candidate of the party, Prof. Uche Ikonne, who died last week.
Ikpeazu, a source in Abia State said is seeking the support of the NWC to anoint his Chief of Staff, Okey Ahiwe, as the party’s governorship candidate.
A source in the Abuja secretariat of the PDP, said; “Abia governor is confused because of the demise of his anointed candidate. He is begging for him to be allowed to produce the next flag bearer.”
The governor requires the support of the NWC led by Ayu to conduct a fresh primary to replace the candidate.
Ortom’s rooting for Obi
To actualise his senatorial bid and install his successor, Ortom, it was gathered is tilting towards Obi.
He has previously hailed Obi during his visit to Makurdi.
“His body language suggested that he is rooting for Obi of LP,” the source said.
Another source said if Ortom endorses Tinubu, it would negatively affect the candidature of the PDP governorship candidate and boost the chances of the APC.
Addressing journalists recently, Ortom told journalists that if he was not a member of the PDP he would have championed the campaign of Obi.
“We are on cause with our group, as faithful party men we have given enough time and we thought the leadership will address the issue. But where people decided to be arrogant and mischievous and do things with impunity is not good enough.
“However, politics is a game of interest and anyone you see at the National or state level is interested in something. So I cannot fold my hands and allow somebody to rubbish me. We are masters of the game,” he said.
Wike likely to back Tinubu
Daily Trust reliably gathered from close sources that Wike has perfected plans to announce Tinubu as his preferred presidential candidate for the 2023 elections.
It was learnt that the announcement would have been made weeks ago after it became obvious that reconciliation with Atiku has completely broken down, but Wike and his supporters are working on getting the other four governors in the group a better deal.
“It was obvious that Atiku was only buying time. He wasn’t open to genuine reconciliation with the Integrity Group. Wike sensed this earlier but he was warned that declaring for Tinubu might jeopardise the chances of the other governors,” a source told Daily Trust.
But another chieftain of the party said Wike was still pondering between Tinubu and Obi, adding that while the governor wants to work with the former Lagos governor, many of his people are rooting for the former Anambra State governor.
Addressing journalists recently, Ortom told journalists that if he was not a member of the PDP, he would have championed the campaign of Obi.
“We are on course with our group, as faithful party men, we have given enough time and we thought the leadership will address the issue. But where people decide to be arrogant and mischievous and do things with impunity, it is not good enough.
“However, politics is a game of interest and anyone you see at the national or state level is interested in something. So I cannot fold my hands and allow somebody to rubbish me. We are masters of the game,” he said.
Oyo gov bending towards Atiku
In Oyo State, posters of Atiku and Makinde have emerged contrary to what was obtainable weeks ago. It was learnt that Makinde feared that his second term might be in jeopardy if he continued his open rejection of Atiku.
A source close to Atiku said the attendance of the Oyo State deputy, chairman of the PDP and other chieftains of the party at Atiku’s campaign rally in Ibadan showed that Makinde was bending towards the former vice president.
“When we went to Oyo, it was only the governor that was absent. The deputy governor and others were there. Makinde is already bending towards us because of his election,” he said.
It was also learnt that Gov. Ugwuanyi is also being cautious in supporting any other presidential candidates as a result of the growing popularity of Obi.
“Don’t forget that the Presidential and National Assembly elections are held on the same day and time. Openly campaigning for anyone except Obi in the South East is suicidal. Some candidates for the National Assembly are using Obi’s image on their posters or telling people that they are not against Obi,” noted a member of the governor’s inner caucus.
Efforts to get the reaction of the aggrieved governors yielded no results as the spokesperson of Wike, Kelvin Ebiri and Makinde’s, Taiwo Adisa did not pick up their calls at the time of filing this report.
Wike accuses Atiku, Ayu of anti-party
Meanwhile, Wike has accused the national leadership of the PDP of being anti-party by plotting to frustrate the litigations against the APC and Social Democratic Party, SDP, in Rivers State.
Wike who made the allegation at the State School Premises, Okehi 1, venue of the Rivers State PDP campaign flag-off rally in Etche Local Government Area on Monday, said the national leadership did not support the PDP in Rivers, which had taken APC and SDP in the state to court over non-compliance to the regulations and laws of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in the conduct of their various primaries.
They have run out of steam – Kari
An associate professor of Political Sociology, University of Abuja, Dr Abubakar Umar Kari, said it was clear that the G-5 have run out of steam.
“After upping the political temperature – even heating the polity – for several months through grandstanding, many people no longer take them seriously again, because they have dithered and prevaricated for too long without matching their boasts and threats with action.
“Even more significantly, the PDP and Atiku Abubakar seem to be doing well, and capable of trudging on, without them. There were instances when the G-5 appeared unsure of what they wanted or what to do.
“On the whole, I am not sure they can wreck the kind of damage earlier anticipated, because their reluctance has given enough time and room for their opponents to prepare and substantially neutralize their huge nuisance,” he said last night.
We are sure of reconciliation – Atiku Campaign
The PDP Presidential Campaign Council (PCC) said the G-5 governors have not named any preferred presidential candidate because everybody wants reconciliation.
Kola Ologbondiyan, a spokesman of the Atiku/Okowa Campaign Organization told Daily Trust on the phone that Atiku is always ready for reconciliation.
“Atiku is always set for reconciliation. I believe everybody wants reconciliation and we are sure that there will be reconciliation,” he said.
By Ismail Mudashir, Baba Martins (Abuja) & Abiodun Alade (Lagos)