There is a looming implosion in the PDP camp and the causality will be no other person than the presidential candidate of the party and former Vice-President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, who has continued to battle internally to get the key influencers together, over his choice of the Delta State Governor, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, over Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike as his running mate for the 2023 presidential election.
Atiku picked his running mate contrary to the interest of the key influencers of the party who want the Rivers State Governor as running mate and he’s about to pay heavily for it if he doesn’t get his acts together.
The crisis in the party, took a new dimension in June after former Vice President Atiku Abubakar announced Ifeanyi Okowa as his running mate without due consultation and consensus agreement with other potential vice presidential candidates.
After the primaries and in the bid to meet up with the deadline of INEC, Atiku consulted the 14 State Governors to come up with a list of possible running mates and they all converged in Abuja. At the meeting; three names were put forward and Wike got 8 votes from the governors. The other two names were Ifeanyi Okowa and Governor Emmanuel Udom of Akwa Ibom and in that order; Wike came first, Okowa came second, and Udom came third.
The result was presented to the party’s presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar and the media who got wind of the information tipped the Rivers State Governor to be the running mate that they have all been waiting for.
In the euphoria of the result, governor Wike took to his Twitter handle and posted “002” which gave Nigerians the clue that he is the chosen one to run with Atiku. To the surprise of the governors, Wike and the Media, Atiku skipped Wike’s name and went for Ifeanyi Okowa as his vice-presidential candidate. This got every key figure of the party and the governors furious.
Former Governor Ayo Fayose scratched the ‘old-wound’ of the call for a southern presidential candidate. Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State is fun, while Governor Nyesom Wike’s camp is causing more ‘commotion’ within the party by threatening the much-needed unity in the party.
Wike has been unhappy over the outcome of the party’s presidential primary, won by Atiku. But the situation was further compounded, when Atiku chose Delta State Governor, Dr Ifeanyi Okowa, as his running mate, after some governors had voted for Wike. Wike has spent more than 20 years in the party and has given so much to the party more than anyone since the tsunami that hit the party in 2015.
He has sacrificed his time and resources and has held the party together for many years. If not for Wike’s rigidity, perseverance and patience; all the prodigal returnees won’t have a party to return to.
While he remained in the opposition for over 2 decades, Wike has single-handedly battled the APC and has won many states over at the poll. He stood by the Delta State Governor during his elections to clinch the office for the PDP. He also stood by Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki who decamped from the APC to join the PDP. He took his political machinery to Edo State in 2020 and helped Obaseki win the governorship seat for the second term.
Wike has been a pillar in the PDP even when the party was ‘deserted’ and he is among the bigwigs that have never left the PDP for another party. Furthermore, Wike polled 16 votes to defeat Okowa who scored three votes in a shadow election by a committee set up by the PDP to pick a running mate. Moreover, whether one likes or dislikes Wike, has something to offer the PDP.
Although there are plans for Atiku to meet with Wike, the pending graduation of Atiku Abubakar, at the Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge, the United Kingdom, has been largely responsible for the delay in the proposed reconciliation and especially, the need to pacify Nyesom Wike.
However, three governors on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC) met with Nyesom Wike last Friday. The governors — Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo, Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti, and Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos were at the residence of Wike and held a closed-door meeting with him for hours. Also present at the meeting was Ayodele Fayose, former Ekiti Governor and PDP member.
Also, recently, there had been rumours that Wike meeting Bola Tinubu, APC presidential candidate, when the former was in France on vacation.
While the purpose of the meeting is yet to be known, the key stakeholders in the PDP have vowed to follow Governor Wike wherever he goes and whatever decision he chooses to take on the issue. In clear terms, losing Wike may mean losing the machinery that has kept the PDP for many years.