Ortom, Makinde, Ikpeazu, others lead talks
Wike’s squad to cede support for Tinubu or Obi
Fresh facts emerged on Tuesday why the presidential candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, and the Governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike, were both absent on Monday at the ongoing Nigerian Bar Association conference in Lagos.
The 62nd NBA conference officially opened on August 19 and will continue till August 26, 2022
While Tinubu was represented by Kashim Shettima, a former Borno State governor and APC running mate, however, Wike who is a leading member of the NBA was not represented by anyone.
Sources disclosed on Tuesday that Governor Wike is reportedly meeting with Tinubu in London, United Kingdom.
Although a source close to the camp of the Rivers State helmsman declined comments on the trip when contacted by The Point on Tuesday, Wike and his team were said to have travelled out of Nigeria early Monday morning.
Members of Tinubu’s media team were not also available for comments on Tuesday evening.
However, The Point learnt those also attending the meeting with Wike were Governors Samuel Ortom of Benue State; Seyi Makinde of Oyo State, Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State, and other PDP stalwarts loyal to Wike.
According to sources, Wike and his supporters are horse-trading in the meeting to make a decision whether to back the APC candidate in the 2023 presidential election.
They are also reportedly scheduled to meet with Peter Obi, the presidential candidate of the Labour Party.
“This meeting is a confirmation that the Rivers State governor, Nyesom Wike, even before the 2022 presidential primaries of the PDP, has been working underground for the APC candidate, Bola Tinubu.
“This move is a clear indication that the Governor Wike-led group has been deceiving the leadership of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in fruitless reconciliation meetings, but has already decided to play the ‘spoiler game’ by destroying the party from within, frustrate the chances of the PDP presidential candidate in the 2023 presidential election, Atiku Abubakar or when the push comes to shove, move en mass to the APC or Labour Party when the PDP least expected.
“It is important to note here that, part of Governor Wike’s plan ahead of the 2023 general elections, is to use the former governor of Ondo State, Olusegun Mimiko and other surrogates in Katsina, Kebbi, Cross River, Kano and other states to destabilise the campaigns of the PDP, especially the chances of its presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar,” sources said.
As efforts to broker peace between Atiku and Wike continue to suffer setbacks, the party’s Board of Trustee chairman, Walid Jibrin, last week called on the two camps to show restraint and give peace a chance.
There has been a serious face-off over the May 28 presidential primaries won by Atiku. Wike, who came second in the exercise, felt bitter because of the way his loss came about and the immediate reaction of the National Chairman of the party, Iyorchia Ayu.
Ayu was heard in a viral video commending the role played by Sokoto State Governor, Aminu Tambuwal, during the Convention, describing him as the “hero of the convention.”
The face-off was further made worse when Atiku opted for Delta State Governor, Ifeanyi Okowa, as his running mate instead of Wike, who was said to have been nominated by a committee set up by the party for the selection process.
Since then, efforts to reconcile the two and forge a united front, even as election campaigns are due to start in September, have proved abortive.
Jibrin in a statement on Thursday argued that it was about time both camps see the internal crisis as a “misunderstanding” and not a “problem.”
The statement read, “I wish to call on all members of PDP and all Nigerians to remain calm and never create bad blood and confusion on the state of our party.
All efforts are on the ground to ensure reconciliation between Wike, the party, and the presidential candidate Alhaji Atiku Abubakar.
“What is happening now should never be categorised as a problem but misunderstanding within the party. In this period leading to the 2023 elections, we should concentrate on how to win all positions to be contested and seriously adhere to the provision of the party constitution.
“My strong advice is for us to give strong support to the present Reconciliation committee set up to resolve all issues.
“Thereafter BoT the highest advisory organ of the party will give more encouragement leading to greater success of PDP.”
The two camps have been playing a cat and mouse game over the last three or four weeks. Wike’s team had reportedly made the resignation of Ayu as a precondition to allowing any peace talks with the representatives of Atiku.
But it was learnt that the former vice president’s camp is unwilling to entertain Ayu’s resignation as a pre-condition for reconciliatory talks.
Besides, it is also initially insisted that the venue of the peace talk be moved away from Port Harcourt, the capital of Rivers State. However, that particular condition might have been removed as the last heard meeting between the two camps took place in Port Harcourt.