Contrary to rumours that the Governor Nyesom Wike-led group may join the All Progressives Congress (APC) after meeting with Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, the party’s presidential candidate, in London, the group is considering staying in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and supporting the APC candidate.
Following their meeting in the UK two weeks ago, the PDP governors of Oyo, Benue, and Abia states, Seyi Makinde, Samuel Ortom, and Okezie Ikpeazu, sparked conjecture about their next course of action.
Wike had, upon return from London after the interface, said his meeting with Tinubu was in Nigeria’s interest.
He also met Labour Party’s Peter Obi in London.
The follow-up meeting between the Wike group and Tinubu, scheduled to hold in the UK later this week, according to sources, is to consolidate on the working agreement reached two weeks ago.
“For whatever it’s worth, consultation is ongoing. Whatever we are talking about, is in the interest of Nigeria and Nigerians. It is not parochial and tied to one person or group of persons. We believe that with what is going on, it will be in the interest of Nigerians at the end of the day.
“Consultation is still ongoing. Never mind some people who do not believe in the existence of this country. Leadership is not about you and your family. Leadership is about everybody,” Wike said after the last meeting.
However, reports emerged stating that Wike and Tinubu sides couldn’t arrive at a working agreement at the forum.
Tinubu was alleged to have declined to commit to all of Wike’s conditions before working together in the poll.
Quoting sources, the report said: “Wike was said to have demanded that the APC candidate ensures if he wins the presidential election, which comes first, he will ensure he does not influence the outcome of the governorship and House of Assembly polls in Rivers, Benue, Oyo and Abia states, so that candidates in his camp and those of the other governors could maintain control of the states.
“He also wanted assurances that their men should be allowed to win Senate and House of Representatives seats, including the governors contesting senatorial elections. There was no headway on this demand either, since the presidential and National Assembly elections would take place the same day.”
While none of the parties has denied the report at press time, fresh facts available to Sunday Vanguard indicated that both sides actually agreed on a work plan for the election.
Multiple sources familiar with the talks at the London meeting said they ruled out any defection of Wike and his allies to
They were said to have agreed that Wike and his group would remain in the PDP where they would work for Tinubu by ensuring he wins the presidential election in their states.
Over 10 million votes
The states include Benue, Rivers, Oyo and Abia.
Checks showed that as of August 2022, Rivers had 3,689,197 registered voters, Oyo, 3,330,336 and Benue, 2,832,087. The figures for Abia weren’t available at press time.
However, the combined voting strength of these PDP states is over 10 million.
Speaking further on the agreement between Tinubu and Wike, one of our sources said: “ The agreement between Wike and Tinubu is real. Wike is not defecting to APC because Rivers APC wouldn’t even welcome him. At the meeting where he tabled his conditions to support Asiwaju, it was agreed that he will work for oga. And he has commenced. You could see it from his actions and utterances. Whether he reconciles with Atiku or not, Wike is working for Tinubu.
Their latest trip is to formalise the terms of the working arrangement. Rivers votes are very important to Tinubu and the APC is exploiting the vacuum created by PDP crisis.”
Another source said:”They are working for the APC, it is confirmed. Wike and Ortom flew to London to meet with Seyi Makinde to formalise their working agreement with Tinubu.
“They are meeting Tinubu again next week. You know they met two weeks ago in London, they are meeting with him again this week. They will not move to APC but they will stay in the PDP and work for the APC.”
But a source close to the Wike camp told Sunday Vanguard that the Rivers governor and his allies are undecided on whether to support Tinubu or Obi.
The source, a former member of the National Working Committee, NWC, confirmed that Wike and his group will remain in the PDP and work against it in 2023 if their demands are not met.
“I have said it continuously that Wike and his team will remain in the PDP and work against the party if their demands are not met.
“But if they see that the chances of either Peter Obi or Bola Tinubu are bright, they,Wike and his group, may defect and work for them. They will work for either of them but it will most likely be Obi.”
On their proposed meeting with Tinubu again in London, the source said: They are just testing the waters. ‘’
The source also revealed that some PDP governors worked against the former Vice President, who was also the party’s candidate in 2019.
He said:”In 2019, they did not work for Atiku. Among all of them, the only person who worked for Atiku was Ortom. Seyi Makinde, Ugwuanyi and Ikpeazu did not work for Atiku. What happened then was that Igbo governors had an agreement to work for Buhari. Rivers gave Buhari 24 percent during the election.
“That was what they did in 2019. And that is what they are going to do again in 2023. What they are doing is not new but it is not going to affect the party in any significant way. The difference between then and now is clear.”
This newspaper had reported yesterday that Wike, Ortom , Makinde and Ikpeazu had met in London last Friday to finalise their pact with Tinubu.
The aggrieved PDP governors were said to have concluded plans for another meeting with the APC presidential candidate.
Recall that a few days after the first London meeting with Tinubu, Alhaji Ibrahim Masari, a close associate of Tinubu and placeholder before Senator Kashim Shettima was chosen as ruining mate to APC candidate, said Wike had agreed to work with Tinubu.
His words: “The meeting was basically on the 2023 presidential election and by God’s grace, we are going to work with Governor Nyesom Wike. He will assist and we are going to win the election with ease, by the will of God.”
Meanwhile, the NWC of PDP would be meeting next Thursday to take a position on the crisis rocking the party.
Wike, who is embittered over his loss to Atiku at the presidential primary and the failure of the former Vice President to pick him as running mate, is relentless in his demand that PDP National Chairman, Sen Iyorchia Ayu, resigns.
Apart from Wike, some party chieftains including Board of Trustees, BoT, Chairman, Alhaji Walid Jibrin and Chief Olabode George had also urged Ayu to quit.
Speaking to Sunday Vanguard, a member of the BoT and a former Deputy National Chairman, North, Sen Sulaiman Nazif, said the NWC, BoT and Atiku should relocate to Port Harcourt to pacify WIke. He added that PDP risks losing the 2023 elections if it fails to reconcile warring parties. (See interview on page..)
Whatever Wike does, PDP will win in 2023 —Ekpenyong
Also, the lawmaker representing Akwa Ibom North-West Senatorial District, Sen Chris Ekpenyong, said: Wike hasn’t made his demands public. Has he made them known to the presidential candidate? I tried to reach out to Prof Jerry Gana yesterday, Friday, and other founding fathers on what Wike wants. I am from the South-South where Wike comes from. And he has been saying the South has nothing in PDP. That is not true.
“We have a vice presidential candidate, Governor Ifeanyi Okowa, who is from Delta State. PDP is strong in Cross River, Rivers, Bayelsa and Akwa Ibom. If Wike alone, who is from Rivers State has any misgiving, he hasn’t told the South-South caucus of the party. He should have told us what he wants but he hasn’t.
I have called Prof Jerry Gana and asked him what Wike wants, he said he doesn’t know. I don’t see how Wike can come to my senatorial district and tell people not to vote for PDP. If he has bargained with Tinubu, he hasn’t bargained with me.
In the new arrangement he is making, is he going to move with the governorship candidate of PDP in Rivers State? Is he also moving with the National Assembly members from Rivers? I am in the Senate and I know he nominated those who would go to the Senate. He didn’t give form to some to return.
I want to see how Wike will tell all PDP members in Rivers not to vote for Atiku. I want to see how he would convince people in Delta not to vote for their son. Does he want Okowa to step down so that he would be happy? Even when Chief Bode George said the party hasn’t been fair to the South, is Okowa not from the South? Let us win the election and share offices afterwards. Let us win the war first. Whatever Wike does, PDP will win in 2023. There is something WIke wants that we don’t know.”
Speaking during a programme monitored on Arise Television, Mr Prank Shuaibu, Special Assistant to Atiku on Public Commu-nications, expressed optimism that the former Vice President will be elected president in 2023 irrespective of the crisis rocking the PDP.
Shuaibu said: “Governor Nyesom Wike is a leader in whom we are well pleased. What I know is that power belongs to God. Whether the cock crows or not, the sun must rise.
“All I know is that Atiku Abubakar will be elected president in February, 2023.”