Okowa Leads Fresh Reconciliation Moves
The perceived solidarity among the G-5 governors of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), might be put to test soon, as recent overtures made by the camp of the presidential candidate of the party, Atiku Abubakar to reach out to aggrieved parties might have started yielding fruits.
This is even as the Vice Presidential candidate of the PDP and governor of Delta State, Ifeanyi Okowa, has been mandated to lead the fresh reconciliation moves.
The G-5 governors are Nyesom Wike of Rivers State; Seyi Makinde of Oyo State; Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State; Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State; and Samuel Ortom of Benue State.
The quintet has been at loggerheads with the leadership of the party since the emergence of Atiku as the presidential candidate of the PDP.
Though the other four governors beside Wike were not on the ballot as presidential aspirants, they’ve however supported the agitation spearheaded by Wike that the national chairman of the party, Iyorchia Ayu should step down and pave the way for a Southern replacement.
Atiku’s several attempts to reconcile with the G-5 governors have not been productive, as it appears that Wike, who is the leader of the group, is unwilling to embrace peace until his conditions are met.
With barely two month to the elections, it was gathered that two members of the G-5 governors, especially Ikpeazu and Ortom, might be softening their stance.
Though the duo has not openly declared their support for Atiku, Saturday Sun gathered that their aides and political allies were already mounting pressure on them to soft-pedal.
Already, Ikpeazu’s media aide, Enyinnaya Appolos, has sponsored campaign posters in Abia, State containing the photos of Atiku, Ikpeazu, the governorship candidate and National Assembly candidates. The caption of the poster is ‘5Over5’.
So far, Ikpeazu has not attended any campaign rally of Atiku, but it was gathered that the PDP foot soldiers in Abia State have been instructed to campaign for the presidential candidate of the party to avoid a division in the state chapter of the ruling party.
A PDP source said Ikpeazu’s action may have been informed by the fact that he’s a senatorial candidate and is careful not to be left in the cold if Atiku eventually wins next year at the polls. The source said the governors are careful not to be seen to have dumped Wike, who incidentally, is the only member of the G-5 governors who is not a candidate in next year’s general elections.
Ikpeazu, Ortom and Ugwuanyi are senatorial candidates, while Makinde is running for another term in office.
On the other hand, Okowa, has repeatedly met with Ortom, as parts of moves to secure his support.
Ortom, like Ikpeazu, has not openly declared his support for Atiku, but the PDP source said the Benue governor might soon direct members of the party in the state to work for the presidential candidate.
The PDP member revealed that there are plans by members of Atiku’s camp to meet with Ugwuanyi, who has no personal grouse with Atiku and has not openly attacked the PDP candidate, before the end of the year. It was learnt that Atiku’s camp believes reconciliation with Ugwuanyi is important to help galvanise votes for Atiku in the South East.
Unlike the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Atiku currently has no governor from the South East, openly supporting him, despite his strong outing in the region in 2019.
The source said: “Atiku said during the week that he had met Wike about five times. That might mean that the party is done begging him, since the Atiku camp believes that Wike has been frustrating all the reconciliation moves so far made.
“But members of the Atiku camp are working on the fact that, unfortunately for Wike, other governors are candidates and they need the party, as much as the party needs them. If they campaign against Atiku in their states, it will backfire.
“That’s why the vice presidential candidate of the PDP, Okowa is now leading the new reconciliation moves. Their target is to bring the other four governors to the fold. They’re succeeding already, I can assure you.
“If you’ve noticed, Ortom and Ikpeazu have become less critical of Atiku. Same thing for Makinde. Ugwuanyi has never attacked Atiku before. Right now, I can assure you that the crisis will soon be over. As for Wike, we believe he will move over eventually.
“The party has not completely ruled out further moves, but Wike needs to show that he’s ready for the reconciliation.”
The crisis is also believed to have played a role in the suspension of a traditional titled expected to be bestowed on Atiku by Olubadan of Ibadan land, Oba Olalekan Balogun.
In a December 7 letter to Atiku by the traditional ruler, the PDP flag bearer had been informed of plans to have the traditional title of Aare Akogun of Ibadanland conferred in him.
But in a new statement issued on December 12, the ceremony has been suspended. A palace source said the conferment of honorary title on Atiku was put on hold based on the decision of the Olubadan Advisory Council.
Another source said the state government might have played a role in the hurried suspension over the lingering face-off of the G-5 governors, including Makinde, with Atiku.
Meanwhile, a member of the PDP Board of Trustees (BoT), Chief Ebenezer Babatope, has told Saturday Sun that the party’s elders will soon meet and find a lasting solution to the crisis.
He said the issues threatening the peace of the party were normal in a political party setting, adding that the crisis would soon be resolved by the elders who are members of the BoT.
When contacted, one of the spokesmen of the PDP Presidential campaign Council, Charles Aniagwu, said “all I know is that continuously the leaders of the party have continued to approach members of the G-5. It is a continuous process; because we believe that we need to move together as one party. We will continue to talk. One day, we will be able to find a common ground.”