There is suspense in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as loyalists of the party’s flagbearer, Atiku Abubakar and Rivers State governor Nyesom Wike meet today to reconcile the two parties.
This is as the Board of Trustees (BoT) has urged party leaders to guard their utterances over the crisis within the party.
It also urged the camps loyal to PDP presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar and the Rivers State governor Nyesom Wike, to focus on how to resolve the lingering tussle in the party.
Chairman of the BoT, Sen Walid Jibrin lamented that the party ought to be concentrating on how to win all positions to be contested and adhere to the provision of the party constitution.
Meanwhile, there is suspense ahead of the today’s reconciliation meeting between the warring camps to mend cracks arising from the emergence of Delta State governor, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa as Atiku’s running mate.
Atiku’s choice of Okowa over Wike who came second during the PDP presidential primaries and enjoyed the backing of some governors and party chieftain to be vice presidential candidate of PDP, had set off weeks of face off between the presidential candidate and the Rivers State governor.
Following the intervention of the Board of Trustees (BoT) and some party leaders, Atiku and Wike met for the first time two weeks ago at the Abuja residence of former information minister of PDP founding member, Prof Jerry Gana where they agreed to set up committees of equal membership to iron out contending issues.
Both camps setup seven-member committees to deliberate on the matter. While Adamawa State governor, Ahmad Fintiri is heading the Atiku team, some members in the Wike committee include, former minister of justice Adoke.
As part of their demands, Wike’s camp insist on the resignation of the PDP national chairman, Dr Iyorchia Ayu, a power sharing formular and commitment that Atiku would serve for one term.
Although the Atiku team is yet to make any demands, the call for Ayu’s resignation has been rejected by Atiku’s loyalists. Ayu has also declared that he has no plans to vacate office until his four-year tenure expires.
However, the BoT chairman in his statement yesterday said, “I wish to call on all members of PDP and all Nigerians to remain calm never create bad blood and confusion on the state of our party noting that all efforts are on ground to reconciliate (sic) between Wike, the party and the presidential candidate Alhaji Atiku Abubakar. What is happening now should never be categorised as a problem but misunderstanding within the party.
“At this period leading to the 2023 elections we should concentrate on how to win all positions to be contested and seriously adhere to the provision of the party constitution.
“My strong advise is for us to give strong support to the present Reconciliation committee set up to resolve all issues.
“There after BoT the highest advisory organ of the party will give more encouragement leading to greater success of PDP.”
However, ahead of the much anticipated meeting of the two committees today in Abuja, LEADERSHIP Friday learnt that the demand for Ayu’s resignation would determine the entire outcome of the reconciliation process following the broadening call for his stepping side.
Besides Wike’s camp’s insistence on Ayu’s exit as party chairman, some party leaders like former national vice chairman of PDP, Chief Bode George and a former presidential aspirant, Sam Ohuabunwa have also urged Ayu to resign.
LEADERSHIP Friday gathered that the crisis has since crept into the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party as members have since aligned along line of their political benefactors.
However, BoT member of PDP, who spoke with LEADERSHIP Friday on condition of anonymity noted that it was unfortunate that the party had spent so much time on this issue.
The BoT member from the South East hinted that this round of reconciliation offers a critical opportunity for all party leaders to get their act together, stressing that “the outcome would be crucial to how Nigerians perceive us going into the election.”
He however expressed optimism that “the party will come out better for it.”
Another party source however said regardless of the outcome the meeting, the party would kick start the process of setting up its campaign council by next week, adding that the friction has “taken so much time and cost us some mileage, if we must be frank to ourselves.”
Recall that the party postponed its National Executive Committee (NEC) scheduled for last week over the raging impasse. The meeting would have deliberated on the constitution of the presidential campaign council, it was learnt.
However, a former member of the House of Representatives, Chief Ogbonna Nwuke, has said the choice of venue for the reconciliation meeting between the camps of the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike, should not be an issue.
This is as he said members of the PDP and Nigerians were expecting a positive outcome of the meeting where all issues that have been stumbling blocks within the party will be resolved.
Nwuke, who spoke yesterday in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, during a telephone interview with LEADERSHIP, said the reconciliation meeting will be a major test for the leading opposition political party.
He said: “I think the venue should not be an issue. What really matters is if the convenes of the meeting are serious and sincere because Nigerians are watching and PDP members are also watching.
“You can see already that the reactions coming from the media suggests that are blaming the flag-bearer and his team for stalling. So, clearly, whether the meeting holds tomorrow or not, it will be a major test for the PDP.
“You know there are are quiet a lot of PDP members who want unity in the party. There are also a lot of Nigerians who want the PDP to be better placed now to take over from the APC; they are watching from the sidelines to see what tomorrow’s meeting will be like. Nobody can cross the bridge until you have seen the bridge.
“There are expectations that the meeting will hold; there are also expectations that all the issues that have been stumbling blocks within the PDP at this time will be addressed fairly and openly.”