Contrary to speculations that the Governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike, his Oyo State counterpart, Seyi Makinde and the Akwa Ibom State Governor, Udom Emmanuel shunned Thursday’s Osun State Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Governorship rally, the three have given reasons for their absence.
In separate interviews, Friday, aides and close associates of the PDP governors, explained that their principals were absent due to prior engagements.
They equally explained that it was erroneous for anyone to link their absence to disagreements over the choice of one of their colleagues, the Delta State Governor, Ifeanyi Okowa, as the party’s presidential running mate.
Governors Wike and Udom were two of the three candidates recommended by the Governor Samuel Ortom-led committee for consideration as running mates to the party’s presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar.
Atiku picked Okowa who was second on the list of recommended candidates but his choice appears to have generated ruckus within the party.
Explaining his principal’s absence from the Osun event, Chief Press Secretary to the Oyo State governor, Taiwo Adisa, said it was wrong for anyone to accuse the Governor of shunning the event.
Adisa noted that contrary to what PDP detractors were speculating, Makinde who would have loved to be physically present had a prior engagement in Europe which unfortunately coincided with the Osun rally.
He further said although the governor was away, he gave directives to his staff to provide sufficient logistics support as well as ensure that a powerful delegation as well as support for be all party dignitaries from the Ibadan Airport to Osogbo.
Adisa further said, “Apart from all these, the Chief of staff to the Governor led officials of Oyo State to the rally.”
“So, there is no truth in the speculations linking the absence of Makinde from the Osogbo rally to Governor Ifeanyi Okowa’s Vice Presidential candidacy”
Speaking in a similar vein, the immediate past National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Kola Ologbondiya, who explained Udom’s absence noted that the Akwa Ibom state Governor was away due to “circumstances beyond his immediate control” which had nothing to do with the choice of the party’s presidential running mate.
Ologbondiyan said, “He is equally not at war with the leadership of the party over the matter.”
A source close to the Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, who preferred anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media, dismissed speculations that Wike was still at odds with the party over the issue of presidential running mate hence he stayed away from the event.
The source said, “The issue of running mate has come and gone, we have moved on.
His Excellency has been out of the country for about a week. He just arrived in the United Kingdom (UK)late Thursday, the records are there. “
He also dismissed speculations that Wike’s meeting with some All Progressives Congress Governors of South West extraction was preparatory to his defection from the PDP.
There source explained that those who wished ill for the PDP conveniently ignore the fact that the Ekiti State Governor, Kayode Fayemi, is chairman of the Nigeria Governors Forum where Wike plays prominent roles; the Ondo State governor is chairman of Southern governors forum and Wike is also a member of that forum.
Governor Wike equally has a joint responsibility with the Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwu-Olu on the battle over the issue of the collection of Value Added Tax (VAT).
The source further said, “There is also no truth in the speculations that Governor Wike is leaving the PDP for another party. He won’t do that. He is a big leader and stakeholder in the PDP. Let’s not join those spreading baseless rumours. “