Those hoping that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) will resolve its crisis and go into the 2023 general election united may be in for a shocker as reports claim that the camp of Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State is fuming over the recent interview of the party’s presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar.
Atiku had, in an interview on Arise TV last Friday, suggested that he could not work amicably with the governor as running mate.
The former vice president had said he chose someone with “the qualities to be President. The person must have an appreciation of the deep rot which our country has been put into by the rudderless All Progressives Congress government; understands the great suffering that most of our people are going through and the urgency of relieving them of that suffering; understands the critical importance of economic growth and development to provide our young people with jobs, hope, and a pathway to wealth.”
He added: “But you must understand that it’s the prerogative of the candidate to pick his running mate — a running mate he believes he can work with amicably, and then also deliver the policies of the party, and also try to unify the country.”
He, however, added that he would soon meet with the Rivers State Governor to resolve any lingering issues between them.
According to The Nation, Wike’s camp were left fuming over Atiku’s interview, claiming the former vice president lied about so many things.
Associates of Wike were surprised by Atiku’s statement depicting the governor as someone he could not work with amicably and the former VP’s denial that Wike got majority votes from members of the PDP selection committee.
A source in the governor’s camp said: “The statements are unbecoming of someone seeking reconciliation and peace. We have been advised to refrain from saying things that can affect the unity of the party, and we did.
“But what can one say about Atiku’s outburst? Is this how to pacify someone who is genuinely angered? It is obvious that some people feel that they don’t need some of us in their race to the presidency.”
The publication gathered that the meeting between the duo scheduled for this weekend did not take place, with the report indicating that Governor Samuel Ortom, who was supposed to convene the meeting, may also be angry with Atiku over comments that depicted him as a liar over the voting of Wike as the preferred nominee for running mate.
“What he said was inaccurate. I can give you a copy that was sent to me; there was no voting there, there was no record of any vote, absolutely not.
“The committee that was set up at my own instance deliberated, but there was no vote,” Atiku had said.
Recall that Ortom had last Thursday stated that the committee he chaired for the nomination of the PDP running mate had recommended three names as vice presidential candidate, with Wike getting more votes amongst the trio.
He had said: “Of course, three names were presented. In the order of preference, Wike, Okowa, and governor Udom – all of them are qualified.
“But the preference was Wike – 14 members (referring to the committee) out of 17. This is the point we are making. Three of them were qualified, but governor Wike was eminently qualified – 14 out of 17 members chose him.”
A close ally of Wike and Chairman of Emohua Local Government Area, Dr. Chidi Lloyd, expressed disappointment with Atiku’s interview.
He stated that his statement during the interview shows that he is not prepared to succeed President Muhammadu Buhari in 2023.
Lloyd stated that Atiku is toying with the over 2.5 million votes Wike can deliver, adding that the former vice president is unreliable.
He said: “I do not want to think that the statement credited to the presidential candidate was actually his statement. I do not think that the presidential candidate, as experienced as they say he is politically, will make such a statement. He wants to exacerbate an already tense situation.
“If that statement was made by him, truly it is obvious that he is not prepared to be the President of everybody. Clearly, he has personalised governance. He sees it as personal estate. He chose someone he can work with, not in the interest of the nation. It makes me very scared as a member of the PDP.
“He chose someone who could be President on a minute’s notice. It is not palatable to come from Atiku Abubakar. His interview has given me an insight into his kind of person. He cannot be reliable.
“Is Atiku saying that the party did not set up a 19-man committee? What was the committee asked to do? He has made his choice.
“As a flagbearer, Atiku had held close to five or six flags of different political parties. One thing is to be a flag bearer, but another thing is to win. But he is dealing with a governor that has 2.5 million votes in his kitty and will deliver them without much ado.
“You are making this kind of statement when we thought that the ongoing reconciliation is genuine. The statement from Atiku is also the statement of those who hang around him.
“We thank God for the reforms in the electoral system; the voters will decide at the end of the day. We are with our governor. Whichever direction he wants us to go, we will go.
“It is not about Governor Wike; it is about Rivers State. It is obvious that we will be left out if Atiku becomes President.”