After weeks of brickbats since the conclusion of the presidential primary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the aggrieved governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike, and the party’s presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, yesterday evening met behind closed doors in Abuja.
Although details of the meeting were still sketchy as of the time of this report, sources in the PDP said the meeting between the two gladiators took place at the residence of a former Minister of Information and National Orientation and prominent member of the party’s Board of Trustees (BoT), Prof. Jerry Gana, signalling what observers believed were reconciliatory moves to pacify the governor.
It was confirmed that though the meeting took place in Gana’s house, he was not at the meeting. Also, interlopers were barred as the duo met without hangers-on.
A source disclosed: “The meeting took place in a very cordial atmosphere and at the end, both leaders happily exchanged banters openly. The two agreed to set up a small committee of equal representatives from both sides to thrash out issues of differences. That committee will ultimately submit a report to another larger committee that will finally lay the issues to rest. I can also tell you that the two leaders met without a third party.”
At the time The Guardian reached out to party chieftains to confirm the meeting, it was gathered that Wike had arrived in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital.
It was further learnt that the meeting was a follow-up to the meeting by the Wike camp last Sunday in Abuja. The Sunday meeting was said to have encouraged Wike to open his doors should Atiku express a genuine desire to meet him.
The Sunday meeting was said to have listed some conditions that must be met before the Wike group would ceasefire and suspend aggression.
Among the conditions is the need to ask the national chairman of the party, Iyorchia Ayu, to resign, to pave way for a Southerner to lead the party to elections.
The group was equally reported to have insisted that Atiku should sign an undertaking to spend only one term if he emerges the president.
Asked if it should be taken that Wike and Atiku have settled, the source said: “They have started the process; this started with a one-on-one interface. This will lead to a certain level of cordiality and trust and they can now resolve all the issues. The mediation is a sensitive issue.”
The source also said discussions were still ongoing about the choice of the Director-General of the Atiku Campaign Organisation.
EARLIER, Atiku had announced the appointment of Senator Dino Melaye and Dr Daniel Bwala as spokespersons of his campaign. According to a release signed by Atiku’s media adviser, Paul Ibe, the two appointments take immediate effect.
Melaye is a politician and a member of the eighth Senate, who represented the Kogi West Senatorial district. He hails from Ayetoro Gbede in the Ijumu Local Government Area of Kogi State.
Bwala, on the other hand, is a legal practitioner, politician and public affairs analyst. He hails from Borno State.
Recall that Bwala dumped the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) last month over APC candidate, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s choice of a fellow Muslim, ex-Borno State governor, Kashim Shettima, as running mate. Bwala, last week, joined the PDP.
In his remarks, the PDP National Publicity Secretary, Debo Ologunagba, said the APC came to power through propaganda and lies, but PDP’s campaign will be focused on the issues.
Ologunagba, who stressed the need for unity to defeat APC, said “we believe that together we can pilot the affairs of this party, and of course our nation by ensuring that we have this conversation. We will create communication and publicity structures for effective communication to confront the lies of the APC. We are committed to exposing and ensuring that the APC does not hoodwink Nigerians with lies as they did in 2014.”
MEANWHILE, at the APC flank, Tinubu and the leadership of the party, yesterday, unveiled the governor of Plateau State, Simon Lalong, as the Campaign Director-General and presented him to President Muhammadu Buhari.
APC Chairman, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, disclosed this to State House correspondents after meeting with President Buhari at the Presidential Villa.
The chairman also announced the current Minister of State for Labour, Festus Keyamo as the interim spokesman and Hannatu Musawa as the deputy spokesman.
The former Lagos governor, who arrived in the foreground of the State House at about 3:55 p.m. went straight to the office of the President for a closed-door meeting.
Adamu said the party leadership was at the State House to intimate the President about the presidential campaign plan of the party expected to begin work next month.
The APC Chairman, while fielding questions, explained that the Muslim-Muslim ticket of the party would not affect the victory of the party in the 2023 election contrary to the erroneous notion in some quarters.
He noted that Tinubu and Shetimma have a long-standing track record of achievements and successes while in government, saying that what the country required now, particularly at this critical time, was the right people with competence in leadership positions.
Adamu contended that it would amount to sabotage for any member of the party to play up the issue of religion instead of providing support to the party to ensure victory in the 2023 election.
“We in the APC are talking to our members in relation to the issue of religion in the choice of candidates, saying anything short of support for the candidates would be sabotage,” Adamu said.
Fielding a question on his appointment as the Director General of the APC presidential campaign team, Lalong said he would be able to discharge his duties considering his track record in leadership positions as the governor of Plateau as well as the current Chairman, Northern Governors’ Forum respectively.
Also speaking on the Muslim- Muslim ticket, Shettima explained that he and Tinubu possess a tremendous track record of achievements and excellence as leaders.
“Let us discuss issues. How to propel the nation to greatness is what we should discuss, not religion,” Shettima added.
PDP National Chairman, Ayu, yesterday, boasted that having won the governorship election in Osun State, in addition to its control of Oyo State, his party would win Lagos and the presidential election next year.
Ayu, who stated this at the meeting of the party’s National Working Committee (NWC) with former national publicity secretaries, zonal, state publicity secretaries and other stakeholders in Abuja, said PDP stood a chance to win Lagos and the presidential election because it controls the heartland of Southwest, which is Oyo and Osun.
Ayu said: “We will try to convince Nigerians of the disgusting realities that they find themselves in, thanks to the APC and all the lies they told against the PDP.
“I think that message is getting through by the series of elections we’ve gone through. During the elections in Abuja in the six local councils, people voted massively for the PDP.
“In the elections in Ekiti and Osun, again, it was clear that the preferred party that the Nigerian people want to take over power next year is still the PDP. This is not based on lies but based on realities.
“It’s based on the reality of these two states’ elections, never mind we had hiccups in Ekiti for reasons that many Nigerians now know, but we still keyed in on a very important state of Osun.
“This means we now control the heartland of the Southwest and if you control the heartland of the Southwest, you are likely to win in the rest of the Southwest in Ondo, Ogun and of course the big prize in Lagos,” he said.
He urged the party’s publicity secretaries at all levels to convey to Nigerians the failure of the APC-led administration.
THE Northwest zone of the party said it plans to conclude its reconciliatory efforts before the commencement of the electioneering campaign in September. Mr Saliyu Lukman, Northwest APC Vice Chairman, said this when he spoke with newsmen in Kaduna State.
Lukman said that committees were inaugurated with the mandate to reconcile aggrieved members of the party after the primaries, saying they recorded impressive progress across the six states of the zone. The states are Kaduna, Kebbi, Sokoto, Zamfara, Katsina and Jigawa.
“The committees embarked on a fact-finding mission and so far, after our review, progress is being made in each state. We will conclude reconciliation before the campaign commences. Our reconciliatory drive is a record-breaking initiative and we challenge other parties to emulate the same,” Lukman said.
However, the Osun State APC chairman, Prince ‘Gboyega Famoodun, has said it would be needless to go into any pact with The Osun Progressives (TOP), a group in the party backed by the Interior Minister, Rauf Aregbesola, that was seeking reorganisation of APC in the state.
Famous, who addressed newsmen in Osogbo, yesterday, while reacting to the demand for restructuring of the party, said members of TOP lacked competence and moral right to canvass for restructuring of APC in Osun, having worked against Oyetola’s re-election.
He also said for the offences members of TOP committed, APC ward chairmen had been told to write reports on them, noting that the constitution of the party would be used to deal with their different offences.
He recalled how followers of Aregbesola, allegedly boasted that they would ensure that Oyetola would not be re-elected in the governorship election, adding that the group openly campaigned and voted against APC candidates in the poll.
But reacting, the factional state secretary of the APC in Osun, Mr Lani Baderinwa, said the attempt to punish members of TOP would amount to impunity, insisting that the group never abandoned the party at any point.
He said: “They are suffering a kind of amnesia. They seem to have forgotten that so many waters passed under the bridge before we got to this point. The thing that they said the governor wanted to do in the text they read was actually what we started talking about two years ago. We said let’s restructure the party, let’s reinvigorate it, that has been what we have been talking about in the last two years.
“They now accept with us what we have been asking about since, which they refused to acknowledge. It is so sad that they have started again. Instead of getting to be reasonable, so that we can do what we suppose to do together. One of them said with or without TOP they would win.
“Is it not clear now that was a fallacy? We didn’t leave APC. If Adeleke said Aregbesola’s men helped him to win, did he say we voted for him? They said we are inconsequential and they are now crying wolves where none exist.