From Fred Itua, Ndubuisi Orji, Abuja and Noah Ebije, Kaduna
The crisis rocking the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) may soon be over if the presidential candidate of the party, Atiku Abubakar, accepts stringent conditions allegedly put forward by Governor Nyesom Wike and his supporters.
This is as the Board of Trustees (BoT) has scheduled a meeting for tomorrow even as its Chairman, Senator Walid Jibrin, said a group comprising former and current governors as well as others critical stakeholders was working to resolve the crisis.
The opposition party has been enmeshed in crisis following the selection of Delta State Governor, Ifeanyi Okowa, as running mate to Atiku. Governor Wike and his camp had kicked against the decision.
Atiku, since his emergence as candidate of the PDP, has allegedly not reached out to Wike, as part of moves to address the lingering crisis. In an interview with a national television, Atiku claimed his aides had reached out to Wike. Though he did not dismiss the lingering crisis, he, however, said the issues would be resolved soon.
Last weekend, Wike said the presidential candidate was yet to reach out to him personally. He accused Atiku of allowing his supporters to insult him.
Like Atiku, he said the teething crisis would be resolved soon.
At an expanded meeting on Sunday in Abuja, Wike and his supporters, including serving governors, met and took crucial decisions. A source privy to the meeting told Daily Sun that Wike’s camp tabled three key conditions that should be considered by Atiku before reconciliation.
Wike’s camp is asking for a commitment from Atiku that he would only serve for a single term and return power to the South and that the position of national chairman should be ceded to the South East or South West.
“South South has served a term. It means Sam Anyanwu from Imo State, who’s the current national secretary, may be asked to go if Atiku agrees. Another condition given is that, supporters of Wike, should not be ignored. They need to be carried along and given important portfolios if Atiku eventually wins.
“There were other conditions, but these are the key ones. For now, these conditions have not been solidified and sent to Atiku yet. There will be other meetings before an expanded one where Wike and Atiku are both expected to attend,” the source said.
However, a source close to Atiku’s camp said he was aware that Wike’s loyalists seek the sack of the national chairman and an appeasement as a condition for peace. It, however, faulted the Rivers Governors’ camp saying: “I don’t know what they mean by the world appeasement. For me as a politician, once party primaries by are over, people will come together to see how well their party can win election. It is not for you to say they must appease you. They are heating the party unnecessarily. Until now, running mates is the exclusive reserve of the candidate. In the first place, what the national chairman did was very wrong to set up a committee to shop for running mate.”
The source dismissed demand for the sack of Ayu as national chairman.
“It is not even an option for an Atiku; the national chairman has already agreed that since the presidential ticket was thrown open, if a person from the North wins that he will relinquish his position. The issue now is whether he should leave after the election or before the election.”
Former Senate leader, Abdul Ningi, however, blames the lingering crisis on Ayu. Ningi who spoke on a national television, said Ayu’s biased posture during the primary played a major role in the ongoing crisis. He said when Atiku emerged winner, Ayu ought to have immediately commenced reconciliation moves. Instead, he said the leadership of the PDP went to sleep and left the crisis to linger.
Meanwhile, Jibrin ha expressed optimism that issues raised by all aggrieved members would be settled amicably, pointing out that the intra-party crisis in the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC) was worse than that experienced in the PDP.
“May I point out very strongly that there is no problem as being envisaged by some people in our great party, the PDP. I want to assure everyone that plans are on ground to bring all members together as one united family, as what is happening in PDP can never be compared with the situation in APC, especially their plans in trying to bring religious issues of Muslim-Muslim president and vice president.
“I have also noted that some groups are coming up trying to solve the issues of Okowa as vice president. The latest group include some former governors and the current governors, some BoT members and elders, including Prof. Jerry Gana, chief spokesman of the group. The group includes governors of Enugu and Abia states, former governors Ibrahim Idris and Ibrahim Dankwambo of Kogi and Gombe states.
“The aim of the group is to reconcile aggrieved members, especially Governor Nyesom Wike. Interestingly, the BoT, the highest advisory body and the conscience of the party is meeting on Wednesday 3rd August to discuss the issues,” he said.
Jibrin said the group would come up with recommendations on how aggrieved members should be reconciled, especially Governor Wike.
“After the BoT meeting we will meet with Wike and all aggrieved members and all past presidential aspirants. It is my prayers as chairman of BoT that the PDP will remain strongest and win all elections in 2023.”