The Peoples Democratic Party’s presidential candidate, former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar, on Thursday met with the Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, in London as part of efforts to resolve the crisis with the governor.
The PUNCH gathered that Atiku pleaded with Wike to support him in the 2023 presidential election.
A close associate of the governor, who confided in The PUNCH, said the former Vice-President had agreed to meet all the demands of Wike.
Earlier on Thursday in London, the United Kingdom, former President Olusegun Obasanjo met Wike in a move aimed at building broad support for the aspiration of the Labour Party’s presidential candidate, Peter Obi.
Besides Wike and Obi, allies of the Rivers State governor, including governors Seyi Makinde of Oyo State; Samuel Ortom of Benue State; Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State and former Cross River State Governor, Donald Duke, were also at the meeting.
The relationship between Atiku and Wike worsened a few months ago after the PDP presidential primary, which was won by the former Vice-President.
Atiku reportedly shunned the recommendation of a PDP committee, which recommended Wike, who came second at the presidential primary, as the running mate.
Wike became resentful after Atiku chose the Delta State Governor, Ifeanyi Okowa, as his running mate.
Although the PDP set up a panel to reconcile the two men, Wike insisted on the removal of the party’s Chairman, Iyorchia Ayu.
The meeting of the peace committee comprising loyalists of Wike and Atiku ended in a deadlock in Port Harcourt on Friday as the former Vice-President’s men did not grant the request of the governor that Ayu should be removed.
It was also gathered that Atiku’s delegation rejected a demand that the PDP presidential candidate should serve one term if elected.
A highly reliable source at the meeting between Atiku and Wike in London, said the Adamawa State Governor, Ahmadu Fintri, accompanied the former Vice-President to the meeting.
Although the source did not specify Wike’s requests, he said Atiku had agreed to meet all the demands of the governor.
The source stated, “He (Atiku) has agreed to meet all demands. He will sign an undertaking on all the agreements. Once he is able to meet them, the Wike group is ready to work with him. The details will be made known.”
Earlier on Thursday, newsmen learnt that the associates of the Rivers governor expressed their preferences for the All Progressives Congress presidential candidate, Bola Tinubu, over Obi.
Wike and the ex-Lagos State governor had met in London on Monday.
The former APC running mate placeholder, Ibrahim Masari, on Wednesday confirmed that Tinubu met Wike, adding that they would continue to meet in due course.
“The meeting was basically on the 2023 presidential election and by God’s grace, we are going to work with Governor Nyesom Wike. He will assist and we are going to win the election with ease, by the will of God,’’ he told the BBC Hausa from London.
According to him, Wike does not have to leave the Peoples Democratic Party before working for Tinubu.
Tinubu, who had come under heavy criticism over his preference for a Muslim-Muslim ticket, is seeking to bolster his chances at the February 28 presidential poll by luring Wike to his camp.
Confirming the meeting between Obasanjo and Wike on Thursday, a member of the Rivers governor’s camp, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to speak to the press on the matter, disclosed that the meeting was about the 2023 presidential election.
When asked by newsmen if there was a possibility of an Obi/Wike alliance, the source said, “Obasanjo is working on that, but many of us (Wike’s camp) prefer Tinubu.”
Shedding more light on the camp’s preference, he added, “Tinubu has a political structure and base. Although Obi is ‘Obidient’, he doesn’t have a structure and base. Obi’s candidacy will only rub off on the PDP’s stronghold.”
Another close associate of the Rivers State governor, who confided in one of our correspondents, said Obasanjo hinged his support for Obi on the need for the South-East to produce the next president.
The source, who was privy to what happened at the meeting with Obi, stated, “You know Obasanjo; if he believes in something, he works for it. His presence at the meeting was to convince Wike to support Obi. He believes the Labour Party’s presidential candidate is competent.”
The Spokesperson for the Peter Obi Support Network, Onwuasoanya Jones, confirmed the meeting.
He said, “I can confirm that Peter Obi met with these PDP governors and our former President, His Excellency Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, in London and I can tell you that this is one out of several such meetings that have been held and will still be held as we approach the 2023 elections.
“Of course, the discussion is centred on salvaging our dear country from an imminent collapse, and there is a consensus among Nigerian patriots that Peter Obi is the most reliable of the candidates to drive this vision.”
Atiku advises supporters
Meanwhile, the PDP presidential candidate has called on all stakeholders of the party and his supporters to desist from making statements that were capable of compromising the ongoing reconciliation process.
According to him, such reconciliation would further strengthen the party and bring all its leaders together.
The former Vice President said these in a statement signed by his Media Adviser, Paul Ibe, in Abuja, on Thursday.
He said, “It has become imperative to appeal to all party members, leaders and everyone related to, connected with or associated with the presidential candidate of the PDP, Atiku Abubakar, to desist from making comments that potentially reduce the optics of PDP’s image as a united political party.
“This appeal becomes necessary in order to call the attention of party leaders and members to the diversionary antics of the ruling All Progressives Congress which, in manufacturing a false impression of division within the PDP, aims to hoodwink the Nigerian public to overlook the monumental failures of the ruling party.’’