From Ndubuisi Orji, Abuja
There are indications that barring any last minute change of plans, the peace committee set up by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar and Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, to resolwve all contentious issues in the party, would meet today in Abuja.
Daily Sun gathered that the Adamawa State Governor, Ahmadu Fintiri, is expected to lead Atiku’s camp comprising Minister of Police Affairs, Adamu Waziri; former governor of Cross River State, Liyel Imoke and former Ondo State PDP governorship candidate, Eyitayo Jegede to the talks.
Wike’s camp which would be led by former minister of information, Jerry Gana includes former Cross River State governor, Donald Duke, former Ondo State governor, Segun Mimiko and former minister of justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Mohammed Adoke.
One of Atiku’s spokesmen, Segun Sowunmi, confirmed to Daily Sun that Fintiri will be leading the PDP candidate’s side to the peace talks. However, Sowunmi he said he could not confirm identity of the other members of the team.
Nevertheless, he said, “ I would have preferred that it is not really seen as an Atiku/Wike committee. I would have preferred that you saw it as a PDP committee trying to figure out how to close the gaps between two sides. Having said that, our expectations is that when they meet, they will put the intention of a political party in opposition that want to win government above all other things.
“There is nobody that is a PDP member that is not tired of these issues. We hope that if they go that meeting, they will come out with positions that are acceptable to all sides and the conversation around the country and how we are going to form government can start.”
The nomination of Delta State Governor, Ifeanyi Okowa, as Atiku’s running mate had triggered a crisis with Wike’s expressing misgivings that he was not chosen as the opposition party’s vice presidential candidate nor given the right of first refusal.
The situation has since degenerated into a brickbat between the Rivers State governor and some supporters of the PDP candidate, including Sule Lamido and Babangida Aliyu, former governors of Jigawa and Niger states respectively.
Last month, the Wike supporters met in Abuja to review current developments in the party. The group allegedly resolved that the national chairman, Iyorchia Ayu, must be replaced with a southerner as a condition for reconciliation.
In the aftermath of Wike’s meeting with his supporters, Atiku met with the Rivers governor at Gana’s Abuja residence, where both men agreed to set up a committee of equal number to resolve all contentious issues. The committee will thereafter submit its report to a larger committee.
However, the PDP National Publicity Secretary, Debo Ologunagba, while responding to question on the alleged stance of the Wike camp that Ayu must be replaced as a condition, said it is speculative.
Ologunagba stated that negotiations are usually “give and take”, adding that every member of the party is committed to its unity as well as the interest of the country.
According to him, “when people go to negotiation, they are poles apart. Then you work on what is called give and take. But the give and take, you don’t destroy the whole. You don’t destroy the whole for the part. It is not about been hard on this. It is about been realistic.
“My point is this: we respect peoples interest. We salute their courage. We respect peoples need to request for anything. But there must be a negotiation. When people say this or nothing, it means they don’t want negotiation. I don’t think that is here in the party.
“This party is not based on this or nothing. We negotiate, because we are a democracy. And that is going on. The process is going on. Nothing is foreclosed. And I know that the overall interest of the party, aligned and in tune with the expectations of Nigerians and the country is what we will follow. And I am sure every member of the party is keying into that position, which is the survival of the party, the unity of party , the interest of the party and the interest of our country Nigeria.”
Meanwhile, a pressure group, PDP Frontliners, has accused unnamed mischief makers of fueling the rift in the party.
The group, in a statement by Hussein Mohammed, Moses Abidemi and Dan Okafor, President, Secretary and Publicity Secretary respectively, said efforts must be made to resolve the crisis in the interest of the party.
The group warned that if the rift between Atiku and Wike is not laid to rest soon, the party’s chances in 2023 presidential poll will be jeopardized.
“There are mischief-makers in Rivers state who are actively working with mischievous anti-Wike party elements in Abuja, you hear fabricated ‘news’ that Wike has pulled down all PDP flags in Rivers state or that he has kicked out party elders in the state but these are largely the machinations of disgruntled souls from the geo-political zone.
“It is astounding that hours after circulating false reports that Governor Wike had ordered the removal of PDP flags in Rivers State Government House, further lies and propaganda got circulated across many media platforms on Friday morning, claiming that Governor Wike filed suit seeking the removal of Atiku Abubakar as presidential candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).
“It is in the best interest of both Atiku and the PDP for the party to go into the 2023 elections with unity of purpose and firm resolve towards victory.
“Our presidential candidate and the party leadership must ensure unity and address party loyalists’ anxieties by giving an ear to voices of criticism even when what they say appears harsh and unfriendly.
“In 2019, we won four states in the North and thirteen in the South, so there is just no reason why the South, including Governor Wike should be given the impression that they now matter less.”