For the first time after the presidential primaries and selection of running mate which resulted in a crisis in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar; and Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State, met, yesterday, to hammer out solutions to the logjam.
The meeting held on a day Atiku named Senator Dino Melaye and Daniel Bwala as his campaign spokesmen with the PDP National Chairman, Dr. Iyorchia Ayu, boasting that the party will win the 2023 polls on account of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, and President Muhammadu Buhari’s alleged failures.
A top ranking member of the party leadership disclosed that the meeting was held in a very cordial atmosphere with both men exchanging banters before meeting behind closed doors.
The source said: “The long-awaited meeting between our presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar and Governor Wike, was held at Professor Jerry Gana’s residence today (Thursday). They both agreed to set up a joint consultation committee made up of equal number of persons (from both sides) to thrash out the issues.
When contacted, a source in Wike’s camp said: “Our principal is yet to brief me but I know whatever decision he takes, he will reach out to us and we will collectively decide the way forward.
“We all agreed at our meeting that our collective political interest will be better served in the PDP. The party belongs to all of us; what transpired before and after our primary is behind us now. “
Also contacted, Atiku’s Media Adviser, Mazi Paul Ibe, said, “I cannot comment because I’m yet to be briefed by my principal.”
Recall that Wike and his supporters were angered first by the scheming, which led to Wike’s loss at the party’s presidential primary and then by the decision of Atiku to by-pass the Rivers State governor in his choice of running mate.
Atiku picked Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State as running mate from a list of three persons nominated by a Special Committee he set up to assist him in his search for a running mate.
Chairman of the committee and Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State, in an interview revealed that the panel had voted 14 to three in favour of Wike as the preferred choice but Atiku chose Okowa.
In response, Atiku had explained that he picked Okowa as it was his prerogative, noting that he felt Okowa, who has both legislative and executive experience would best complement him.
Wike has the backing of some PDP governors and stakeholders. Among other things, they are reportedly demanding the resignation of Dr. Iyorchia Ayu as national chairman; promise by Atiku to do a single term if elected; and headship of the Senate and House of Representatives among others.
In the run-up to the national chairmanship race amid contestation for zoning of the presidential slot, Ayu reportedly promised to resign if the North picked the presidential ticket in line with the party’s established power sharing arrangement between the North and South. Both Atiku and Ayu are from the North.