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Gov. WIKE's Plan To Split PDP Votes Ahead Of 2023

The looming crisis in the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, took a new turn last week when the party's presidential candidate for the 2023 elections, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar threw a soft shade at the party chieftain and Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike.

Asked on Arise Television why he picked Delta State Governor, Ifeanyi Okowa, over and above Wike, Atiku said he chose someone who had “the qualities to be President. The person must have an appreciation of the deep rot which our country has been put by the rudderless All Progressives Congress (APC) government; understands the great suffering that most of our people are going through and the urgency of relieving them of that suffering. He must understand the critical importance of economic growth and development to provide our young people with jobs, hope, and a pathway to wealth.”

He added: “But you must understand that it’s the prerogative of the candidate to pick his running mate — a running mate he believes he can work with amicably, and then also deliver the policies of the party, and also try to unify the country.”

Atiku’s statement has sparked fresh anger from the former Wike’s camp which is already aggrieved by what is perceived as the former vice president’s ill-treatment of the governor in overlooking him as PDP’s vice presidential candidate. Efforts to reconcile the two sides so far have repeatedly hit the rocks with Atiku saying during his interview that he was reaching out to Wike to let bygones be bygones.

Recall that Gov Wike, some couple of weeks ago, played host to 4 southern APC governors at his Rivers state house and held a closed-door meeting that lasted for about four hours. The meetings also had the two-term former governor of Ekiti State, Ayo Fayose, in attendance. Words on the street hold that Wike would be influencing his teeming supporters to divert their votes for a preferred candidate other than Atiku Abubakar.

A PDP member from the south told City People that the influence of Governor Wike on the PDP structure could not be over-emphasised.  He made it clear that Gov Wike’s influence goes beyond the South-South PDP, as it also extends to the North.

“Let’s face it; Wike is more popular than any PDP Governor in the south. After Wike, Governor Seyi Makinde comes next. He is more popular and more influential than the chosen running mate. Gov, Ifeanyi Okowa, and his mobilizing power extend beyond the South. “during the PDP presidential primaries, we were all there and saw how Alhaji Atiku narrowly escaped being defeated by Wike. It took the intervention of Aminu Tambual's delegates to beat Wike. Atiku didn't even get Kano”, he said.

The idea is that the New Nigeria Peoples Party presidential candidate, Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, still maintains a cordial relationship with the PDP in Kano, despite moving to the NNPP. He is also on good terms with Wike. There are even reports that RMK handed over his Kano structure to Wike, while he was leaving for the party he initiated. The idea is for a cross-section of his teeming followers to remain with the PDP and work from inside.

Wike, according to the report intends to mobilize this bloc vote for Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso. Kwankwaso on the other hand has been reported to be softening the grounds for Asiwaju, as there are reports that RMK may soon step down for Tinubu and move his crowd to vote for him. In the South-South, Wike’s grip is firm on the PDP and they do whatever he tells them. 

Recall that 11 PDP governors stayed away from the inauguration of the party’s  National Campaign Council before the Osun State governorship poll. The governors who were absent included: Nyesom Wike, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, Okezie Ikpeazu, Samuel Ortom, and Seyi Makinde of Rivers, Enugu, Abia, Benue, and the Oyo States respectively.

Others absent at the event included the Chairman of the Campaign Council and Bayelsa State Governor, Diri Douye; Sokoto State Governor, Aminu Tambuwal; Bauchi State Governor, Bala Mohammed; Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki, Akwa Ibom State Governor, Udom Emmanuel, and Adamawa State Governor, Ahmadu Fintiri. Incidentally, they are all members of the 128-man campaign council.

A UK-based Nigerian political analyst spoke to City People and warned that Wike is a key player in the forthcoming election.

“Of all the stakeholders in the forthcoming election, Gov Wike is one factor that must not be overlooked. Aside from the fact that he’s still very powerful; he has got nothing to gain or lose in the forthcoming general elections. The most dangerous person to deal with is the man who has power, and has got nothing to lose or gain.”

“As far as PDP is concerned. Gov Wike has remained one constant politician who has never left the party and has continued to sponsor the structures while other key members decamped. His many controversies also keep the party in the headlines in newspapers for all years as opposition. Wike understands the language of his party members and so far, there is no pointer that they would not listen to him”, he said.

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