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Atiku: PDP G5-Govs Throw Followers Into Confusion

Atiku
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The decision of the five aggrieved Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governors – Nyesom Wike of Rivers State; Seyi Makinde of Oyo State; Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State; Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State and Samuel Ortom of Benue State – to vote for another presidential candidate other than the PDP’s Candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, in the February 25, 2023 election is already causing confusion and anxiety among their followers.

The G5 Governors had been at loggerheads with the leadership of the PDP after the party’s presidential primary where Atiku emerged as the presidential candidate.They said for equity and fairness, the presidential candidate and the national chairman of the party cannot come from the same northern zone.
They have therefore demanded the resignation of the party national chairman, Dr Iyorchia Ayu and his replacement by a Southerner.

But Ayu has maintained that he will not resign his position, saying he will stay till the end of his tenure . In return, the G5 Governors-led Integrity Group has boycotted the party’s presidential campaign which is ongoing across the country.

Last December, the G5 Governors went a step further when they said they will not back the PDP presidential candidate, Atiku, in this year’s presidential election.

Wike, who announced the decision of the G5 – Governors – led Integrity Group a few weeks ago in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, said the group would announce the presidential candidate they will support in the election this January.

The G5 Governors were in London at the tail – end of last year where they met on the choice of a presidential candidate, but they couldn’t agree on a particular candidate.

Feelers from the meeting revealed that why Wike and Makinde were favourably disposed to the All Progressives Congress, APC candidate, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, Ortom preferred the Labour Party, LP, presidential candidate, Mr Peter Obi, while Ugwuanyi and Ikpeazu are said to have insisted that they will not openly disclose their preferred candidate.

However Ortom came openly to back the endorsement of Obi by the former president, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo. Ortom, in a statement by his special adviser, media and publicity, Terver Akase, hailed Obasanjo for endorsing Obi as a good successor to the incumbent, Alhaji Muhammadu Buhari.

Ortom said Obi would provide leadership that Nigerians desired adding that, if he were not a member of the PDP, he would have led Obi’s campaign across the country. The governor said Obi is the man who can effectively tackle the economic, security and other challenges facing the country. He said Obi possesses leadership qualities and guarantees justice, equity and fairness for all Nigerians

Those who are more worried by the decision of the G5 Governors to vote for another presidential candidate other than Atiku are the PDP National Assembly candidates in the five affected states and other states of the federation who will go to the polls on the same day with Atiku Abubakar .

They are wondering how the electorate, mostly illiterates, would be able to distinguish between their ballot papers and that of Atiku on the election day.

They are also of the views that the announcement of another party’s presidential candidate by the G5 – Governors as their preferred candidate may mislead the electorate into voting generally for that party’s national assembly candidates on 25th February, 2023 and that will jeopardise their ambition of representing their people in the national assembly.

This has created confusion and anxiety among the PDP National Assembly candidates. Perhaps this was what was in the mind of a prominent member of the Integrity Group led by the G5 Governors and former Ekiti State governor, Dr Ayo Fayose, when he said despite his misgivings about the current state of affairs within the PDP, he will not defect to the All Progressives Congress(APC) and will not support any other party’s presidential candidate in the coming election.

Fayose also restated his support for the Governor of Rivers State, Wike, in his contention with the presidential candidate of PDP, Atiku. Fayose said that despite his support for the Rivers State Governor, he will work for and mobilise for Atiku in the coming election.

“A lot has been said, but like I have said many times, let me state it here expressly again that I will never join APC for whatever reason,” he said.

” In all the issues we are having as a party, no one has said that Alhaji Atiku Abubakar is not our presidential candidate . No one has said too that Dr Okowa is not our party’s vice presidential candidate .

“Also, we have Senatorial, House of Representatives and House of Assembly candidates here. Among them is my biological son, Joju, and others who are my political sons and daughters. My interest is that all these candidates should win elections.

“Therefore, I am appealing to those who are angry to stop being angry. Those who are fighting should stop fighting. Let us face the 2023 elections together and win first. After that, we can resume the fight.”

Fayose’s son, Joju, is contesting for the House of Representatives slot for the Ekiti Central Federal Constituency 1, while his long time media aide, Lere Olayinka, will contest the House of Representatives election for Ekiti Central Federal Constituency 2.

Also, three of the G5 Governors, Ortom, Ugwuanyi and Ikpeazu are contesting for Benue North West, Abia South and Enugu North Senatorial elections on the platform of the PDP.

Speaking with THE WILL, a PDP Senatorial Candidate in Oyo State who doesn’t want his name in print, said their fear has heightened because of the past experience in the state.

He said in 2007, when the then incumbent Governor, Senator Rashidi Ladoja, lost the PDP governorship ticket because of intrigues, he directed his supporters to vote for the PDP candidates in the state assembly election but should not vote for Bayo Alao – Akala who was the PDP governorship candidate.

” He directed the PDP supporters to vote for the late Isiaka Ajimobi , who was the ANPP governorship candidate. Before we knew it, people voted enmasse for ANPP governorship candidate and the House of Assembly candidates resulting in ANPP having a large number of members of the House of Assembly. Most PDP candidates, who ordinarily would have won the election, lost because of Ladoja’s directive. That is our fear,” he said.

Their anxiety became more pronounced last Thursday when at the campaign rally to begin the second term campaign of Governor Seyi Makinde, Governor Wike, while addressing the crowd that thronged the Mapo Hall Ibadan, venue of the rally, told PDP supporters to vote for Makinde, the PDP candidates for Senate, House of Representatives and House of Assembly but they should wait for Makinde to inform them who to vote for in the presidential election.

The PDP faithful rebuffed the idea as they started shouting Atiku, Atiku and rained insults on the G5 Governors who were present at the rally. Some of the loyalists of Makinde, who are contesting the coming elections in Oyo State, became jittery as they fear that people may turn against them in the coming elections.

Speaking in an interview, former Deputy Governor of Oyo State and State Coordinator of Atiku/Okowa Campaign, Alhaji Hashim Gbolarumi, said the G5 Governors cannot do anything like announcing a presidential candidate other than Atiku

” They are only trying to put everybody in some anxiety. It doesn’t work that way. For instance, they said they are all PDP members and have not left PDP and they have candidates who are vying for positions on the PDP platform.

” They have candidates for Senate, House of Reps, House of Assembly on the platform of the PDP . If they have these candidates, what are they talking about? And they have said they are not defecting from the party.

” I cannot wait to see where Seyi Makinde will openly tell the people of Oyo to vote for somebody else. He cannot say that or he will see the other side of the electorate of Oyo State.

” I mean people will definitely not agree with him and they will continue to express their displeasure.

” With due respect to the governors that came last Thursday, it will be an insult. If you look at the viral video, you will see people telling the governors that whether they support Atiku or not , they will see the consequences.

” What the G5 Governors are saying is not the best approach to seek redress in any political gathering where you have benefitted. It is not done that way,” he said.

It was gathered also that despite belonging to the Wike-led G-5 Governors currently at loggerheads with the presidential candidate of the PDP, Atiku, over the refusal of the PDP National Chairman, Ayu to resign, the Obingwa Local Government Area kinsmen of Gov. Okezie Ikpeazu, have not only adopted but vowed to deliver Atiku in the council.

But notwithstanding Ikpeazu’s position, PDP in his Obingwa Local Government Area , adopted Atiku and his running mate, Okowa, as their choice for the forthcoming presidential poll. They vowed to deploy every arsenal in their political armoury to ensure Atiku sweeps the polls in the entire Local Government Area .

According to them, party is supreme in everything, hence they have no option than to support the party’s flag bearer as loyal party faithful. Addressing party faithful, and stakeholders at Abala Primary School recently, Chairman of PDP in Obingwa, Seth Agomuo, declared the loyalty and unflinching support of the party members for Atiku.

He said that PDP in the Council would not discriminate, but will give their block votes to all the party’s candidates in different categories of the elections.

As a party chairman, and a true party man here in Obingwa, I want to clarify something. As far as I’m concerned, and a true party man, hence candidates have emerged after contested primary elections, such candidates now belong to the party and the party will support them.

“That’s the truth. I’m a true party man. Whether you love the candidate or hate him, that doesn’t matter as long as he emerged from a primary election conducted by the party.

“So, as far as I’m concerned and as far as I’m the PDP Chairman in Obingwa, we shall only vote for PDP candidates from Alhaji Atiku Abubakar to the Senate, House Representatives, Governor and the State House of Assembly.

“We are PDP and that’s our stand. We’re Igbos, but our party comes first before any other thing,” Agomuo said.