Following the reports that the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Senator Bola Tinubu, met with the five aggrieved governors of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), better known as G-5 governors, in London, the main opposition party has revealed that it will wait for the five governors to choose their preferred presidential candidate before it takes action against them.
Governors Nyesom Wike of Rivers State, Seyi Makinde (Oyo State), Okezie Ikpeazu (Abia State), Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi (Enugu State), and Samuel Ortom (Benue State) withdrew their support for the presidential candidate of the PDP, Atiku Abubakar, over the refusal of the National Chairman of the party, Dr. Iyorchia Ayu to resign.
THISDAY gathered authoritatively that the five governors met with Tinubu and four of them struck a deal to back the former Lagos State governor in the February 25, 2023, presidential election.
Under the deal, Wike and Makinde were said to have agreed to openly declare support for Tinubu, while Ugwuanyi and Ikpeazu agreed to secretly work for the APC candidate’s victory for fear of backlash from the South-east.
Ortom, however, was said to have opted to work for the presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP), Mr. Peter Obi.
But despite the strong indications that the meeting actually took place, Tinubu yesterday denied that he met with the five governors as reported.
Tinubu’s position was said to have followed protests by the APC candidates in Rivers and Oyo states, who expressed shock that such a deal was struck to sacrifice their positions without their involvement.
However, the Chairman of the PDP Presidential Campaign Council and Akwa Ibom State Governor, Udom Emmanuel, yesterday met with Wike and Ortom.
PDP’s position was revealed by Governor Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State.
Tambuwal who also doubles as the Director General of the Atiku/Okowa Presidential Campaign Organisation said the PDP is a law-abiding party, hence it won’t take any position on mere speculations.
Reacting to the reports on the secret meeting between Tinubu and the five governors, the Sokoto State governor noted that PDP is a law-abiding party that would explore lawful avenues to bring any of its erring members to book.
He said the party would wait till the G-5 governors make an official pronouncement.
This was contained in a statement issued by Tambuwal’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Muhammad Bello, on Friday.
“The PDP will respond to the antics of five of its governors currently being speculated to be in political alliance with the presidential candidate of the APC, Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
“It is not a war of attrition. I always submit that in this business, whatever it is that you are doing, even if you try to hide it, it will come out. You cannot plan and execute a political project in your bedroom. You must come out with it.
“So, when my colleagues resolve on what to do, I think it is then that the party will now respond on whatever position they have taken,” the statement added.
Tinubu, has, however, denied that he met with the five governors.
In a statement issued by his Media Office and signed by Mr. Tunde Rahman, the former Lagos State governor described the purported meeting with the rebel governors as false.
Rahman said: “As usual with him (Tinubu) when the year is coming to an end to take time off his busy schedule, take a little rest and proceed to Saudi Arabia to observe Umrah (Lesser Hajj), Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu was in London during the week en route Mecca, Saudi Arabia.
“While in the United Kingdom, Asiwaju Tinubu noted some articles in some national newspapers in Nigeria, alleging a secret meeting was held in London between him and the G-5 governors who are members of PDP.
“These reports, to say the least, are not only in bad faith but also evil-intentioned. They were published to advance the political interests of the writers and their sponsors.”
According to him, Tinubu has stated categorically that he was neither bothered by these articles nor by their sponsors who are well known.
Rahman added: “But we must point out that the APC candidate is entitled to meeting any political actor or stakeholder that is important to his campaign and plans for the country and that desires to engage with him.”
“Tinubu said the truth with respect to his present itinerary was that he came to London on Boxing Day, Monday, December 26, 2022, to spend a few days in preparation for his trip to Saudi Arabia.
“He (Tinubu) explained that after spending some time in London, he has now proceeded to Mecca where he is at present observing Umrah,” Rahman explained.
The former Lagos State governor said he was scheduled to return to the country within the next two days to continue with the campaign.
Emmanuel Holds Talks with Wike, Ortom
Meanwhile, the Chairman of the PDP Presidential Campaign Council and Akwa Ibom State Governor, Emmanuel yesterday met with Wike and Ortom.
Emmanuel met Wike and Ortom at the Rumueprikon country home of Wike in Obio-Akpor.
Though details of the meeting were not disclosed, the three governors were seen posing for a photograph after the parley.
Emmanuel was said to have rushed down to see the leaders of the G-5 as part of last-minute efforts to pacify them to drop their grievances and work for Atiku.
The three governors, who spoke after yesterday’s meeting, said their discussions were convivial and devoid of politics.
Wike disclosed that his relationship with Emmanuel had not diminished irrespective of their political differences.
He said: “Politics is not what will divide brothers and divide friends. Everybody knows my relationship with Udom, and we will continue to maintain that relationship.
“We may have different political affiliations or thinking that should not divide the brotherly love or create a gap among us.”
On his part, Emmanuel explained that his visit was not political, but a demonstration of brotherly love in the spirit of the yuletide season.
He said: “Actually, this is the season of love. Within this period if we don’t demonstrate that love, love not shown is love wasted.
“I think that is what we are trying to demonstrate, brotherly love, friendship. And then in the spirit of the season, we must visit one another.”
Ortom said part of their discussion also centred on how they could best add value to governance in Nigeria.
He said: “We are going into 2023 and we shared among ourselves how we can best add value to our government, how we can best add value to our people, how we can do things that will help add value to our country Nigeria.
“And that if there are any issues in the past which we have done wrong, we look at it and say, look, let’s forgive one another and move forward. They are private issues.”
Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja and Blessing Ibunge in Port Harcourt