One month after the victory of former Vice President Atiku Abubakar as the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, the party appears to be on a self-destruction path.
It would be recalled that Atiku emerged as the candidate following the dramatic stepdown of Aminu Tambuwal, a move that angered Governor Nyesom Wike and his allies.
“I just decided that this our party must not be destroyed. I would have left where I was sitting down and say this convention cannot go ahead except you allow me to talk. I would have flattened him,” Wike had said some days after the convention.
Many believed that the post-convention reconciliation would have addressed the fallout from the primary election, but the choice of Vice Presidential running mate has further polarized the party.
Atiku visited Wike at his residence in Abuja on the 30th of May, and promised to work with him closely to deliver the party in 2023.
While the PDP has been hailed to have been the only major political party to have sorted the issue of running mate, however, the choice of Delta State governor, Ifeanyi Okowa as running mate seems to be tearing the party apart.
So far, several PDP chieftains have openly challenged the process leading to the choice of Okowa, as many accused Atiku of not keeping to his promise to appoint Wike as running mate.
Although, Governor Wike had publicly said he would not accept to be running mate to anyone. “I’m not coming out to negotiate to be vice to anyone, I’m coming out to contest for the number one position in the country,” he had said.
However, former Governor of Ekiti State, Ayodele Fayose and Governor Samuel Ortom have recently claimed that Atiku offered the VP slot to Wike as compensation.
“Wike never said he wanted to be VP, but when Atiku visited him, he was the one who said, ‘I want you to be my VP’. He said that to Wike. If that then changes, is Wike not supposed to be told? Is he not supposed to know?” Fayose had told journalists.
This was also corroborated by Ortom, who questioned the rationale for jettisoning the recommendation of the 17-man committee on the Vice President.
During an interview on Channels TV, Ortom said 14 members of the committee voted in support of Wike, while only three backed Okowa. Adding that he is yet to decide on supporting Atiku, he nonetheless, admonished the PDP presidential candidate to reach out to Wike.
In any case, there are persons within the party that agree with Atiku’s decision not to pick Wike. Former Governor of Niger State, Babangida Aliyu, had said, “unfortunately, I don’t know if it is his temperament. Sometimes when you speak too much, when you insult your way to power, it does not always happen.”
This is not the first time Atiku will be having challenges over a running mate. Several southeast governors fumed over the choice of Obi in 2018 as running mate to Atiku, who was accused of not consulting widely enough.
David Umahi, who was still in the PDP in 2018, had expressed shock with the choice of Obi as the VP candidate.
“We saw news flying up and down saying that our presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar has picked a running mate from the zone. We were shocked because we were not consulted,” he said.
The National Chairman confirmed this during the inauguration of the 17-man committee on VP selection.
“Our presidential candidate, this time, has decided to carry everybody along unlike 2019 when he didn’t consult widely in his choice of running mate,” Ayu said.
Amidst all these, Atiku believed not to be in the country despite the off-season elections his party is involved in.
Rumour of Wike, Tinubu’s alliance
The crack is also fueling rumour that Tinubu who is in France and Wike, who is in Turkey, had a covert meeting on a possible alliance.
Joe Igbokwe, an ally of Tinubu had posted the alleged meeting on social media, however, the post was subsequently deleted.
This alleged meeting is coming against the backdrop of the recent overture by Fayose, who has been giving signals of possibly backing Tinubu on the basis of “southern agenda”.
“The current President of Nigeria is a 2-term Northern Presidency, thus implying that it MUST be a Southern Presidency in 2023 or NOTHING. Awa ‘South’ lo kan’. Nigerians should await details soon,” Fayose tweeted.
Basir Madandola, a Chieftain of the PDP said that chances of an alliance between Tinubu and Wike are slim.
“Wike has local politics to play in Rivers State. He has a governorship candidate alongside Senate, Reps and House of Assembly candidates that he has to deliver against APC. Mind you, the APC are hungry. They did not participate in the 2019 elections because of a court verdict.
“The only thing that is possible is that he will not be fully involved, perhaps, he will focus his resources on his State. Will APC drop Rotimi Amaechi and others in the State for him?” he said.
He added that the failure of the party to put the entire house in order could be fatal for the party.
“We have 8 months to go. That is more than enough time for reconciliation. Wike has a significant stake and interest in the party. I don’t think that interest can be well protected in APC.
Uncertainty on Iyorcha Ayu
The National Chairman of the PDP, Iyorcha Ayu, has recently come under fire over the post-election crisis, particularly for the “You are the hero of the convention” comment to Tambuwal after the election.
The comment prompted Edwin Clark to call for Ayu’s resignation.
During an interview with Arise TV on Thursday, Ortom refused to defend his kinsman.
When asked if Ayu has mismanaged the party or is innocent of the issues going on, Ortom did not defend him, instead said, “Well, I won’t talk about mismanagement or innocence, but I will say, it is not too late, things can still be amended.”
Mr Ayu has a long history with Atiku. He was the campaign Director-General of the Atiku 2007 presidential race under the Action Congress of Nigeria.
Over the week, the PDP had to issue a statement debunking “reports” that Ayu had resigned.
Crack threatens Osun election
It would be recalled that Saga Gist had in an analysis on Ekiti Election, explored how the crisis in the PDP led to the embarrassing defeats in Ekiti State, where the party came third behind APC and SDP.
Governor Fayose and the Ekiti PDP were left to their fate.
The crisis is also threatening the party ahead of the Osun State gubernatorial election between Gboyega Oyetola and Demola Adeleke.
During the week, the campaign council of the Osun State governorship election was formed, but only Vice Presidential candidate, Okowa and Governor Darius Isiaku of Taraba were present at the event.
Even the Chairman of the campaign council, Diri Douye was not present at the event.