A retired Army General from a state in the North-Western part of the country reportedly influenced the decision not to pick Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State as the running mate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar.
It was gathered that some conservative Northern elements in the party had prevailed on Atiku to drop Wike despite promising to give him the running mate ticket just after the presidential primary of the PDP.
A source told The Nation that the conservative Northern elements had also prevailed on the Sokoto State Governor, Aminu Tambuwal, to step down for Atiku during the PDP presidential primaries.
The PDP source said the influential retired Army General and a former governor from another state in the North-West zone were the arrowheads of the anti-Wike group.
Atiku had visited Wike at his private residence just after the PDP primary, although discussions at the meeting were not made public.
Running Mate Offer
A source who was privy to discussions at the meeting disclosed that Wike did a debrief of the private chat he had with Atiku.
The source said: “Wike narrated how Atiku told him that he had discussed with Governors Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom State and Delta’s Okowa to make them realize that he was not disposed to picking either of them but that they would be accommodated in the scheme of things.
“The Rivers Governor went ahead to say that Atiku had, during their private discussion, offered him the vice presidential ticket, but that he told the PDP flag bearer that he needed time to consult with his team.”
Confirming the claim, a source close to Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State said Wike had immediately called his principal to disclose his conversation with Atiku.
“I was with my principal when Governor Wike called to break the news.
“My principal had asked him what his response was, to which he responded that he asked Atiku to give him some time to consult.
“There and then, my principal encouraged him to accept the offer,” the governor’s aide told The Nation.
Wike, who later led three other PDP governors to Atiku’s Abuja residence, told the former vice president he would accept the running mate ticket.
“At that meeting in Atiku’s house, Wike told the former vice president that he had made the necessary consultations and was ready to accept his offer,” a source said.
However, Atiku changed his plans at the last minute by picking Okowa after pressure from highly placed PDP leaders in the North.