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ANALYSIS: An opposition within the opposition? How PDP might derail its ambition



ANALYSIS: An opposition within the opposition? How PDP might derail its ambition

The fallout from the presidential primaries of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) which culminated in the victory of Atiku Abubakar as the party’s flagbearer in the 2023 elections has led to a series of events akin to a blockbuster Nollywood movie.

Despite the reported majority support of the PDP screening committee over the choice of Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, as the party’s Vice-Presidential candidate, Atiku, in his wisdom, decided to jettison this mandate by going for Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State.

This led to the hitherto-combustible Wike turning into something of a recluse — which has caused unease amongst crucial stakeholders within the party who are worried over the present allegiance of the Rivers Governor.

Further worry was etched into the foreheads of party heads when Wike issued a statement after the outcome of the party’s primaries; this was before Atiku’s eventual choice of Okowa as his running mate.

Nyesom Wike, on Monday, May 30, accused some southerners of working against the zone getting the presidential ticket of the party, while addressing supporters in Port-Harcourt, the Rivers State capital.

Wike made references to betrayal, conspiracy, and people who cannot keep to agreements, but he didn’t mention any name in particular.

“As far as I am concerned, there is nothing to worry about. I contested election based on principle and agreement with all the southern governors and the leaders of the south that the presidency should go to the south this period,” he said.

“We have done our own part and we never betrayed anybody, because it is not in our blood to betray. But it’s a shame to those people. Some of the governors from the south are the people they used to sabotage our interest. However, we have shown them that we are not like them. We have the capacity to do whatever is good for us.

“I don’t want to talk about some other people who cannot even win election in their own places. I’ve told them that this election, whoever emerges, I will support, and I am not going to go back,” the Rivers State Governor said.

‘Undemocratic’ Atiku

Samuel Ortom, the Governor of Benue State, further added to the malcontent by berating Atiku for ignoring democratic precepts with his choice of Okowa as a running mate.

During an interview with AriseTV on Thursday, June 30, Ortom disclosed that the majority within the party ranks advocated and voted for Wike to be the party’s vice-presidential candidate.

“Some of us believe Wike has the capacity to lead this country. Unfortunately, the PDP did not give him the opportunity and we further advocated that he should be the running mate. But Okowa was chosen and I expect him to reach out to Wike.

“14 out of 17 committee members chose Wike which is not fair. But if we are in a democratic era and Atiku decided to give it to Okowa, more explanation is needed in order for us to work as a party. He ought to be consulted before the running mate announcement was made,” the Governor railed against Atiku’s decision.

Nonetheless, in order to curtail a snowballing of events, Walid Jibrin, chairman of the board of trustees (BoT) of the PDP stated that the party would do whatever it takes to ensure Nyesom Wike doesn’t defect.

Jibrin said this on Monday, June 28, while addressing journalists in Kaduna.

Speaking on efforts to ensure that the party remains united ahead of the 2023 elections, Jibrin said a reconciliation committee will be constituted to visit the Rivers governor.

This decision by Atiku might be akin to a fait accompli, with Ortom being insistent that Atiku botched the entire process by disregarding Wike.

In the same AriseTV interview, the Benue Governor said that Atiku ought to have reached out to Governor Wike before announcing his running mate for the 2023 election.

Read also: ANALYSIS: Is Nigeria’s ruling party, APC, heading for an implosion?

Governor Ortom said the choice only became a problem because Atiku asked stakeholders to deliberate and decide who his VP would be and then went on to choose another against the will of the stalwarts in whose hands he had earlier entrusted the task.

He went on to say that the development would not have caused any bad-blood, seeing that ultimately the choice was Atiku’s; nevertheless, the PDP Presidential candidate ought to have reached out to those who are aggrieved over the selection, a move which he is yet to make.

“All that was needed even before the pronouncement, after we did our recommendation, Wike would have been reached out to, he is a human being.

“This is a man who has built the party today in PDP he has fought all night and all day to see that this party remains together. So, he would have been reached out to, to say that this is the decision we are taking and this is the reason we are taking this decision, and I think he would have understood,” Ortom explained.

Atiku, in a move to appeal disgruntled stakeholders, said the party was doing its utmost to put its house in order ahead of the 2023 general elections.

In a post on his official social media handles, on Thursday, June 31, he said he alongside the party leadership was working to address the feelings of all party members.

“The Peoples Democratic Party will remain united. Focus on our actions. We are taking action to address the feelings of all party members. The unity in our community is my priority. Our resolve to unify Nigeria starts in our party and moves to the community, then on to society”.

Even with the reconciliatory moves being put in place, rumors have emerged that opposition figures have reached out to Wike by capitalizing on his seeming grieve to persuade him to dump the PDP. This has caused more unease within the major opposition political party which is battling to keep its house in order ahead of the next general elections.

Whether the reconciliatory moves embarked upon by the party would be enough to unify its ranks remains to be seen, but the major opposition party has a huge job on its hands quelling the opposition from within. And it has to do this in good time before the elections if it hopes to achieve its dream of displacing the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) from power.

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