Wike, Atiku’s rift deepens PDP 2023 woes

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The rift between the Presidential candidate of the opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, and the Governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike may have widen as the National Executive Committee (NEC) and National Caucus meeting has suspended its meeting.

The meetings of the two critical organs were originally scheduled to hold on Wednesday and Thursday.

But a statement by the PDP National Secretary, Senator Samuel Anyanwu, said the postponement was due to “unforeseen circumstances”.

He said new dates for the meetings would be announced in due course.

Although the secretary did not disclose the “unforeseen circumstances” that warranted the postponement, party sources said the decision was informed by a hardline position taken by the Rivers State governor in the ongoing effort to reconcile him with Atiku.

Among other demands, the Wike camp has called on the National Chairman, Dr. Iyorchia Ayu, to step aside and allow one of his deputies from the South to take the office.

The demand is being made in view of the fact that the PDP presidential candidate, the chairman of the Board of Trustees (BoT) and the National Chairman are all from the North.

A source said the invitation extended to Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu by Wike to commission projects in Rivers State ruffled some feathers in the top party hierarchy of the PDP.

According to the source, Wike’s decision to invite the Lagos State governor, who is of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), to commission projects in a PDP-controlled state, was meant to spite the party leadership.

Wike had on July 8, received three APC governors – Governors Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State, Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State and Sanwo-Olu – a few days after Atiku announced Delta State Governor, Ifeanyi Okowa as his running mate.

PDP stakeholders are said to be uncomfortable with the latter-day hobnobbing of the Rivers governor with APC chieftains, especially close allies of the APC presidential candidate, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.

Recall that Wike was reportedly favoured by some highly placed PDP stakeholders and powerful interest groups for the party’s vice presidential slot.

But Atiku on June 16, announced Okowa as his running mate, against a recommendation by a selection committee, which tipped Wike for the position.

Wike yesterday vowed that anybody undervaluing his state’s political capability would be taught a painful lesson in 2023.

He spoke in Port Harcourt during the inauguration of the Orochiri-Worukwo (Waterlines junction) Flyover by Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu.

According to him, the dynamics of contemporary politics had made it unpopular to just gift votes away without the assurance of derivable benefit for the people.

Wike said: “If you say Rivers State does not matter, Rivers State will tell you that you don’t also matter at the appropriate time. If you don’t like us, we will not like you. If you like us, we will like you.

“Nobody will use our votes for nothing. Our votes will matter and Rivers State must benefit from anybody that we are going to support.

“Politics now is no longer just voting for somebody; it is about what you will do for the people of Rivers State.”

He said it would be difficult for any conspirator to upset the voting pattern of Rivers State and support for the PDP

The governor added that those who looted the treasury of the state would not be supported to become Rivers State governor.

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