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Nigeria: Confusion in Rivers Governor Wike’s Camp over Choice of Presidential Candidate

Stakeholders in Benue, Enugu and Oyo states in dilemma as key players favour former VP Atiku.

There appears to be crisis in the camps of the Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike and his four other colleagues over the choice of the presidential candidate they would support in the February 25, 2023 presidential election.

This is as stakeholders in the five states, who are also contesting elections have gradually begun to disagree with their self-styled Integrity Group members, who had made known their intention to announce their preferred candidate by January.

Wike and other members of the Integrity Group like Seyi Makinde of Oyo State, Samuel Ortom of Benue State, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State and Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State, however, seemed confused as their followers have declined supporting any other candidate outside of Atiku Abubakar.

This dilemma and apparent despondency was due a recent comment by the Wike that he would decide, who to vote for in the presidential election later in January 2023.

There’s a suspicion that Makinde is in a deal with the All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential candidate , Bola Tinubu, for support swap.

Yet, in the Southwest zone, the party has not been seen to be pushing  the agenda of the G-5 governors as the publicity secretaries of the PDP in Ogun, Ondo, Lagos and Ekiti, said recently that there was no justification for the resignation of the National Chairman, Dr. Iyorchia Ayu.

The PDP spokesmen, who met included Hakeem Amode, Lagos; Kennedy Peretei, Ondo; Hon. Raphael ‘Wumi Adeyanju, Ekiti and Asiwaju Bankole Akinloye, Ogun.

By this, it is further believed that Makinde might as well be on his own, as the party’s spokespersons might have stated the position of the party in the Southwest.

THISDAY reported that the party had been polarised following call in some quarters for the resignation of Ayu.

Makinde, one of the two PDP governors in the South-West, had called for the removal of Ayu, ditto a former Deputy National Chairman of the party, Chief Bode George, who argued that both Atiku and Ayu could not come from the same zone.

But this is yet to sit well with members of the G-5 group. Thus, while the Governor of Benue State, Samuel Ortom, has yet to decide between the Atiku and his Labour Party counterpart, Peter Obi, stakeholders in the PDP were still yearning for Atiku.

Ortom had said at different times that he had no grudge against Atiku, but Ayu, who hails from the same senatorial district with him.

In Benue State, out of the three senatorial districts, Senators Abba Morro and Gabriel Suswam were said to be supporting Atiku, while  Emmanuel Yisa Orker-Jev was not contesting and Ortom has indicated interest to replace him. But he has to contend with Ayu, who is from the same senatorial district.

Ortom has since embarked on his campaigns for the office of the senate, but he was not asking the party faithful not to vote Atiku or told them he was yet to reach a decision on the presidential candidate to be voted for as Wike did recently.

Last week, he was in Uyo to see the chairman of the PDP presidential campaign council, but silent on whom, he would urge his people to vote for.

Curiously, the  former two times Senate President, David Mark ware pushing for Atiku and indirectly alienating Ortom from the voters.

The situation is dicey in Abia as THISDAY gathered that the state governorship candidate, Prof Uche Ikonne, has  defied his governor, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu and paid a courtesy visit  to Atiku, during which he pledged loyalty.

A member of the delegation told THISDAY that the structures in the state was in firm control of the former governor of the state, Senator Theodore Orji, who is leading the Atiku campaign in the state.

The vice  chairman of PDP in Abia, Abraham Amah, announced before  the state PDP flag-off campaigns that the party would not fail to speak truth to issues, because of its support for Atiku’s presidential bid.

In Enugu, the stakeholders like a former governor of old Anambra State, Senator Jim Nwobodo and his cult-like supporters have continued to mount pressure on Ugwunanyi to support Atiku.

Ugwuanyi has been struggling to ensure that his choice governorship candidate won the March governorship election, hence, sources believed that it would be suicidal for him  to allow Chijioke Edeogar of the Labour Party to win.

Unlike Wike, he is contesting to replace Senator Utazi in the Senate, coming up same day with the presidential election.

Also, the like of a former governor of Enugu State, and former national chairman of the PDP, Okwesilieze Nwodo, and other stakeholders have been campaigning for Atiku and PDP in the state.

Former Gombe State governor, Ibrahim Dankwambo, who was the campaign director general of Wike’s presidential  campaign, has joined the Atiku campaign.

Others, who have also joined Atiku included a former national chairman, Uche Secondus, Senator Lee Maeba, former deputy speaker of the House of the Representatives, Austin Opara, Lt General Kenneth Minima, among others.

Meanwhile, Atiku, yesterday, said never before have Nigerians been pushed into multi-dimensional poverty as in the era of the administration of the President Muhammadu Buhari-led APC government.

Similarly, one of the PDP presidential spokesmen, Dino Melaye, said the high cost of prices of food stuff during the Yuletides, showed how Nigerians have been pushed to see extreme poverty.

In a statement, Atiku said, “This is one Christmas like none other. The times are hard and no thanks to the ruling APC that has run our economy to a malfunction.

“And that is where the message of Christ becomes relevant as always. The despondency of this time, and the uncertainties that come with it, requires of us to organise ourselves, establish the truth and advocate for what is right.

“The APC has made more Nigerians to live in multi-dimensional poverty – that’s the truth. Nigerians must make sure that the APC is never allowed to return to power in 2023. That is a just cause.

“To defeat the APC and Recover Nigeria will require that we organise ourselves under the banner of the Peoples Democratic Party. The election next year is a contest between truth and falsehood. I cannot thank you enough for your choice to stand at the right side.

“I will admonish that you continue to work hard. Our opponents in this election won’t let go easily. When we apply the teachings of Christ to remain steadfast on the right cause, we shall overcome. Nigeria shall overcome!”

Melaye, on his part, said the high prices of food stuff in the market showed how further Nigerians have been pushed down the level of multidimensional poverty.

He also berated the Minister of Information and National Orientation, Lai Mohammed, for criticising that, Atiku’s plan to open the borders will lead to insecurity.

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