PEOPLES Democratic Party (PDP) National Chairman, Iyorchia Ayu, and some other prominent elders of the party have launched moves to mend the cracks caused by the choice of Delta State Governor Ifeanyi Okowa over Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike as the vice-presidential candidate of the party in next year’s election.
Wike had defeated Okowa by 16 to 3 votes in a shadow election to determine who would be the running mate to Alhaji Atiku Abubakar.
But the story unexpectedly changed when Atiku jettisoned the voting and went for Okowa, a decision party sources said has not gone down well with the Wike camp.
There has been no official reaction from the Rivers State governor since Atiku announced his choice.
Party sources told The Nation that Ayu is now poised to move fast on the bad blood generated by dropping Wike for Okowa.
It is understood that the PDP chairman plans to meet Wike, former Delta State Governor James Ibori, Southeast PDP Governors’ Forum, and other stakeholders on the matter.
It was also gathered that Ayu may have mandated some party elders to commence reconciliation efforts in some states as part of moves to douse the ongoing tension generated by the outcome of the PDP presidential nomination exercises.
“A team of party elders will be holding talks with supporters of Governor Wike in the South-South geo-political zone soon. Chief among the people they will be meeting is Chief Dan Orbih and his group in Edo state,” one of the sources said.
“Efforts are also on to convene a meeting with party leaders in the South West to discuss the outcome of the nomination exercises. The leadership of the party in the zone had agitated for the presidency to rotate to the southern part of the country. With the outcome of the convention and the emergence of Governor Okowa as presidential running mate, there is a need to meet with our people in the zone and give them the much-desired sense of belonging,” the source added.
One of the party’s members dissatisfied with the process that produced Okowa as Atiku’s running mate, Kassim Afegbua, had threatened to leave the PDP.
The former Edo State Information Commissioner believes Wike was cheated and labeled Atiku’s choice of the Delta State governor as a reward for treachery.
He premised his claim on the May 2021 meeting of Southern State governors’ hosted in Asaba by Okowa where the governors resolved that Nigeria’s next president must come from the south.
Another party member and factional governorship candidate in Ogun State, Segun Showunmi, appealed to those who lost their bids to become presidential and vice-presidential candidates to support the party ahead of the 2023 general elections.
According to him, reconciliation efforts are ongoing within the party to ensure the PDP is united ahead of the elections.
“There is no need to brood or start to act irresponsibly or is it the time for disloyalty and crass opportunism against the party except you never really loved the party,” he said.
Continuing, Showunmi said: “There is a serious campaign ahead and all wits and skills will be needed. There is a need for unity for the party and country. People must be gallant in victory and humble when things don’t go their way.
“The umbrella is big enough to accommodate every one of us as Nigerians and as party men and women. What is before us is a situation that calls for sober reflections and measured actions and utterances.”
Wike makes first public appearance since Okowa nomination, attends Aguma’s wedding
Governor Wike yesterday made his first public appearance since the Thursday announcement of Governor Okowa as the PDP presidential running mate.
Wike, who appeared unruffled, was accompanied by his wife, Eberechi Suzette, a high court judge, to the wedding ceremony of Mr. Chima Emmanuel Aguma.
Chima is the son of the late Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice of Rivers State, Emmanuel Chinwenwo Aguma (SAN), and the immediate past Commissioner for Social Welfare and Rehabilitation, Mrs. Inimefien Aguma.
He tied the nuptial knot with Jessica Nwamaka Akpe, at St. Paul’s Cathedral Diobu, Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital