As the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar and the opposition party’s leadership make moves to reconcile aggrieved members, loyalists of Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State have listed conditions for peace.
Wike’s loyalists have called Atiku to drop his running mate, Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State, for the Rivers State governor.
Recall that Governor of Benue State, Samuel Ortom, ex-Plateau State Governor Jonah Jang, and others had criticized Atiku for rejecting the recommendations of a panel to pick Wike as running mate.
Naija News reports that the PDP on Sunday raised another panel headed by Atiku to pacify Wike and convince him not to leave the party.
The Chairman, Gokana Local Government Area in Rivers State, Confidence Deko, in an interview with The PUNCH, said Wike did not deserve the treatment he got from Atiku and the PDP.
He said, “As far I am concerned, Wike has done so much for the PDP, and I don’t think he deserves what the party gave to him. Come to think of it, Atiku Abubakar and the party asked the National Working Committee to find out who becomes the vice-president. A report was submitted, and he (Atiku) ignored the report, and then picked Ifeanyi Okowa, the Delta State Governor.
“I am not saying he is not supposed to use somebody, but I am of the view that if he was part of those who asked the NWC to search for who becomes the vice-president to be, and they gave him their recommendation, he would have acted on it.
“But to me, it looks very odd that after submitting the report to him, he went and announced Okowa. I don’t think that Wike deserves what Atiku has done to him.”
“The only option is to remove Okowa from there and announce Wike. In 2019, Wike brought the highest number of votes from South-South,” he added.
Also speaking, some members of the House of Representatives loyal to Wike said the opposition party would fail if it sticks to Governor Okowa.
The PDP lawmakers also criticized the National Chairman of the PDP, Senator Iyorchia Ayu, for taking sides in the crisis rocking the party.
When asked if the party should substitute Okowa with Wike, a member of the House from Kogi State, Teejay Yusuf, said it was possible if the presidential candidate could see the value the Rivers governor would add to the PDP ticket.
He said, “That will be the choice of the candidate. It would be his prerogative to do that. It is not for me to suggest that to him. If he sees that Wike will add more value to the ticket and say, ‘with the way it is, I can manage the ripple effect of taking Okowa out,’ why not, if not?”
“Okowa is a PDP governor, but nobody can deny the fact that Wike has the will and the capacity to make this party stand on its feet.”
The lawmaker, however, dismissed reports that Wike would dump the PDP for another party.
“I know that the standard-bearer is a politician of repute, and he knows the dynamics, but he is a human being. So, if he made the wrong decision, I believe that, fortunately, the Electoral Act (2022) gives ample time; we have eight months to the general elections. In politics, one day can be a million days. A lot can be done in one day,” Yusuf told The PUNCH.
Another PDP lawmaker from Rivers, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said Atiku knew what to do to restore peace in the party.
He asked, “Has he (Wike) not laboured for the party even when the likes of Atiku ran away (to the All Progressives Congress) and went to support this disaster (the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari, retd.) that we have on our hands. Was he (Wike) not the one that went to court – up to the Supreme Court – and rescued the party? Has he not supported the party in every way, form, and manner? Even God hates injustice.”