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Worries in PDP as Wike gives tough conditions, romances with APC

Even though the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and the Rivers state Governor Nyesom Wike met in Abuja with a view…

Even though the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and the Rivers state Governor Nyesom Wike met in Abuja with a view to finding a lasting solution to the ongoing crisis rocking the party, the meeting was yet to achieve anything.

Instead of solutions, tempers seem to have flared since the two top opposition figures met at the residence of the former Minister of Information, Professor Jerry Gana, in Abuja.

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Daily Trust Saturday reliably gathered at the weekend that Atiku’s camp may have resorted to working towards the 2023 general elections without the support of the Rivers governor, especially following his recent romance with members of the All Progressives Congress (APC).

Some party stakeholders loyal to the former vice president and the candidate of the PDP were said to have held a meeting with some PDP stalwarts from Rivers State. Some of those touted to have attended the meeting were former governor of the state Celestine Omehia, former Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives Austin Opara and Senator Leo Maeba.

Worried by the development, the Rivers governor responded by striping the politicians of any garb of political paraphernalia in the state. While Maeba was removed as the Chairman of the governing board of the state owned Elechi Amadi Polytechnic, Austin Opara and Celestine Omehia were removed as leaders of the PDP in Port Harcourt City Local Government Area and Ikwerre Local Government Area respectively.

The removal of the top leaders of the party from their positions, Daily Trust Saturday learnt, was as a result of their alleged secret romance with Atiku. The trio were said to have attended several meetings with Atiku without “clearance” from Governor Wike.

The thinking among those close to Atiku, Daily Trust Saturday learnt, was that some of these politicians could be used to divide the votes in the state in the event that the peace overtures by the Atiku camp fail to yield any positive result.

After the meeting between Atiku and Wike, a source familiar with what transpired explained that the members of the board blamed Ayu for allowing the crisis to fester when he travelled abroad and also allegedly openly took sides with Atiku Abubakar before, during and after the presidential primary.

He said: “How can the National Chairman of the party visit an aspirant a day or two after the primary and hail him for stepping down for the eventual winner and even calling him the hero of the convention, which means he wanted only one person to win. How do you expect the other aspirants that lost the contest to feel? Will they be happy?”

Findings by Daily Trust however shows that the Campaign Council may soon be set up as the party hierarchy were said to be disenchanted by the antics of the Rivers State governor in spite of their peace efforts.

Instead of working for peace, Wike has invited at least three top ruling party chieftains to commission projects in his state.

The governor had invited his Lagos State counterpart, Babajide Sanwolu, former Governor of Sokoto State, Aliyu Wamakko and the Speaker of House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, to commission different projects executed by his administration in the state.

Reacting to the governor’s political activities, Senator Maeba, an ally of Atiku, said the dissolution of the governing board of the polytechnic was as a result of his closeness to Atiku.

He said, “Wike is not hiding that he is fighting Atiku. He called a meeting of Ogoni people who are with him and told them to tell me that he will see how I will campaign for Atiku in this state and he is ready to fight to the finish.

“We don’t know what he (Wike) is planning to do because when campaigns start, we are qualified to campaign too. We are waiting to see how he will do it. This is a joke taken too far.”

Senator Maeba also confirmed the removal of former Governor Celestine Omehia and a former Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Chief Austin Opara, as leaders of their party in Ikwerre and Port Harcourt City LGAs.

“Yes, he (Wike) called them and humiliated them before their people because we went to pay a solidarity visit to Atiku which we are supposed to do.

“All of us knew Atiku before him. Austin Opara has been in the House of Representatives since 1999. He was the deputy speaker when Atiku was Vice-President. That time Wike was struggling to be local government chairman. So, if Austin Opara has to take permission from him today to go and see Atiku, then something is wrong,” he stated.

On the allegations of politicians holding meetings in Abuja against Wike, he said “When you apportion so much right to yourself, then you are superhuman. Austin Opara was the deputy speaker of the House of Representatives when Atiku Abubakar was the Vice President. They attended caucus meetings together and National Economic Council Meeting.

“So, does it mean that Austin Opara who has been friends with Atiku for over 20 years ago will now start to beg Wike to go and see Atiku? So, he (Wike) is the one who doesn’t have respect for citizens.

“Like me, I met Atiku first in 1992 in Jos for the SDP campaigns. We started working together in 2003 when I became Senator. That time where was he (Wike)? When Austin Opara was working with Atiku, holding meetings, Wike was struggling to come to limelight.”

Meanwhile, the peace talk was said to have broken down over Wike’s insistence that the National Chairman of the party, Dr Iyorchia Ayu, must go amidst other conditions.  

Among the list of conditions by the Wike Camp which met on Sunday 31st of July to harmonize their position was that the National Chairman of the party, Dr Iyorchia Ayu, must vacate his seat for a southern chairman to take over and give the party a semblance of national outlook, but Ayu and his people are said to be strongly opposed to leaving his seat.

According to Wike’s camp, the party had been hijacked by Northerners as the Presidential candidate, National Chairman, Chairman BoT and the chairman PDP Governors forum were all from the North, a development they were not pleased with.

Reacting to the efforts towards resolving the crisis, especially the call by Wike’s men that Ayu should vacate his seat, the National Publicity Secretary of the party, Debo Ologunagba said: “The National Working Committee led by Ayu is united. I also believe the party is happy with him,” adding that anything contrary is in the realm of fake news.  

He said “When you have a family it does not mean absence of disagreement, but your capacity to take care of those disagreements makes the difference, that is why the PDP is a party.”

Also speaking on the protests against the National Chairman to vacate his seat because he has allegedly taken sides and lacks the capacity to lead the party to victory in 2023, Debo said, “We are a party of law and order and when you have a situation like that, you must be willing to hear people out. We take every view seriously because conflict resolution is a marathon, it is not a one hundred meter dash.

“We have a robust internal dispute settling mechanism. We are satisfied with the progress we are making; it is slow but surely, we will get there. We are committed to the interest of the party and more importantly the interest of Nigerians and we are on course.

Also, a member of the party close to the presidential candidate, told Daily Trust that though Atiku and Wike have met, it only marks the beginning of the reconciliation process and the road to peace.

He insisted that “many people don’t really understand how difficult mediation is, especially political mediation. All the parties must have faith in the process. Apart from that, everybody is watching and they can misinterpret your genuine intention and accuse you of partisanship and taking sides. But we are hopeful that the differences will be resolved soon,” he said.    

Reacting to the situation, Rivers State Publicity Secretary of APC, Chris Finebone, said the party is not surprised about Wike’s move because “it is a fact already known to many politicians and observers that Gov. Wike was thrown into his present panic mode ever since he failed in his desperate attempt to secure the presidential and later vice presidential tickets of his party in order to cover up financial and other atrocities he committed over the past 10 years as Minister of state for Education and presently governor of Rivers State for two terms, ending May 29, 2023.”

He said, “Governor Nyesom Wike’s predicament has not been helped by the inconclusive outcome of his offer to work for the Presidential Candidate of the APC, Asiwaju Ahmed Tinubu, in exchange for a safe landing and protection after the 2023 general election, having been convinced that Tinubu will defeat Atiku Abubakar of his party, the PDP.”

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