From Oluseye Ojo, Ibadan
Five governors on the platform of the Peoples Democratic (PDP), known as G-5 Governors, or Integrity Group, on Thursday kept silent on their preferred presidential candidate for the 2023 general elections.
But they said they are committed members of PDP, and asked Nigerians to vote for all the party’s candidates for governorship, senatorial, House of Representatives and Houses of Assembly during the elections.
It was gathered that many Nigerians have been waiting for the five governors as they had promised that on Thursday January 5, 2023, they would unveil their preferred presidential candidate. It had been speculated that some of the five governors would support the presidential candidates of Labour Party (LP), Peter Obi, or All Progressives Congress (APC), Ahmed Tinubu.
The five governors are Nyesom Wike (Rivers), Samuel Ortom (Benue), Okezie Ikpeazu (Abia), Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi (Enugu) and Seyi Makinde (Oyo). They were all in Ibadan on Thursday to grace the official flag off of the re-election campaign of one of them, Governor Seyi Makinde, which was held at the popular Mapo Hall Arcade, Ibadan, Oyo, State capital.
But the outcomes of the speeches they delivered on the occasion have elongated the waiting game for Nigerians on their preferred presidential candidate. None of them mentioned the name of the PDP presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar at the programme.
The governors, who all wore Yoruba traditional attire, known as ‘ofi’ and completed it with a typical Yoruba cap known as ‘abetiaja’ on Thursday in Ibadan, have been demanding that the National Chairman of the party, Iyorchia Ayu, to step aside, because he hails from the northern part of the country, like the party’s presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar.
They argued that it was wrong for the two of them to come from the same region, hence the national chairmanship position of the party should be occupied by a person from the Southern part of Nigeria in thr interest of fairness, equity and justice. But the Atiku camp insisted that for Ayu to be removed, the provision of the party’s constitution must be followed.
The rally was attended by chieftains of the party, including former governors of Ondo and Ekiti State, Olusegun Mimiko, and Ayodele Fayose respectively; former Minister of State for Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Oloye Jumoke Akinjide, and Deputy National Chairman (South) for PDP, Ambassador Taofeek Arapaja, who handed over the party’s flag to Makinde, the three senatorial candidates, as well as 14 House of Representatives candidates.
But Atiku, Ayu, as well as Governor Ademola Adeleke of the neighbouring Osun State, and governorship candidates of the party in Ogun and Lagos States were absent at the programme.
Speaking on the occasion, Rivers State governor, Wike, who described Makinde as a dependable young man enjoined Nigerians to vote for all governorship, senatorial, House of Representatives and Houses of Assembly candidates of PDP. He added that for the presidential election, the Oyo State people will hear it from Governor Makinde.
“During this year’s general elections, vote for Seyi (Makinde), vote for the senators, vote for the House of Representatives, and vote for House of Assembly. But the other one, Seyi (Makinde) will talk to you. But the other one, Seyi talk to you. But for the other one, Seyi will talk to you,” adding: “No be so”, which he repeated three times as well.
Benue State governor, Samuel Ortom, who was introduced by the host governor, Makinde as the leader of the G-5 Governors, solicited support of the people of Oyo State for the re-election bid of Makinde.
According to him, “We want to assure you that the Integrity Group and the G-5 Governors are committed members of PDP in our various states. We have a challenge with the national leadership of our party because they have failed to deploy internal conflict resolution mechanism to solve the problems that arose after the convention.
“We are committed to PDP in our various states. At the appropriate time, we are going to let you know what to do. We are united. We are together. Don’t listen to gossips and social media ads. We are committed to PDP, and we are working for all our candidates in our states. All out candidates are going to win the governorship, the Senate, House of Representatives, and the House of Assembly. We are going to deliver to PDP.”
The Abia State governor, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu, also said at the programme, “Seyi Makinde is the Youth Leader of G-5, and he represents our vision for a better Nigeria,” where there shall be respect for people and where everybody is important. He also urged the people of the state to re-elect Makinde for a second term in office based on his achievements.
The Enugu State governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, stated: “We thank God for the gift of GSM (Governor Seyi Makinde). He has performed. He is active. Our prayer is that he returns to the Government House in 2023. I am a second term governor and by the special grace of God, I am in your support. Seyi Makinde will serve from May 2023 to May 2027 in Jesus Name.”
Makinde, in his address, thanked his G-5 colleagues, the PDP members in Oyo State, and people of the state for giving him their mandate in 2019. He reeled out his achievements and asked the people to support his re-election bid.
“Under Omituntun 1.0 (referring to his first term in office), I promised a government that would put people of Oyo State first. And our decisions have always taken the people of Oyo State first. Now, it is time to upgrade. It is time for Omituntun 2.0.”