The G5 governors in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) appear to be in a fix on who they should lead their support in the February 2023 presidential election.
Governors Nyesom Wike (Rivers State), Seyi Makinde (Oyo), Samuel Ortom (Benue), Ifeanyi Ugwuayi (Enugu) and Okezie Ikpeazu (Abia) are not with their party’s flagbearer, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar on account of the refusal of the PDP national chairman, Dr.Iyorchia Ayu to quit his office despite promising to leave in the event of the emergence of a northerner as presidential candidate.
Sources close to the group told The Nation that the five governors are not on the same page on who they should now support among the leading presidential candidates outside of Atiku.
The governors and their supporters in the newly formed Integrity Group, are understood to have foreclosed the possibility of ever reconciling with Atiku or supporting his 2023 presidential ambition.
One of the sources said yesterday that the PDP leadership has refused to show any meaningful commitment to addressing the concerns of the G5 governors and other concerned stakeholders of the party ahead of the general elections.
“I don’t see any possibility of reconciliation. And this, I can tell you, is the current position of things within the Integrity Group led by the G5 governor of the PDP,” the source said.
“The presidential candidate and the leadership of the party have refused to show commitment to the restructuring we seek within our party ahead of the general elections.
“Instead, they have been boasting that they can win presidency without us. How can people be shouting reconciliation on one hand and be boasting on the other hand? Who does that? The demands of the G5 governors are not personal. But they don’t seem to see it that way.”
Wike, yesterday, declared that Prince Uche Secondus, the immediate [past National Chairman of the PDP and one of the ley loyalists of Atiku in Rivers State, was no longer a member of the party and therefore, could not speak either for or interfere in the affairs of the party.
Wike was reacting to an earlier statement by Secondus that no one person had power to impose a presidential candidate on Rivers electorate.
Wike had earlier in the week, said: “From January next year, I will campaign to my people whom they will vote for,”
He added:” So, all of you who have been in suspense, who have been saying all kinds of things, abusing me, wait. January is here. Not only will I tell them (my people) whom to vote, I will move from state to state (for campaigns) and why they should vote for the person, nothing will happen,” he said.
No decision yet
Authoritative sources in the Integrity Group said the G5 governors were currently divided over their preference for the presidential race. While a couple of them are said to be pushing for the group to adopt and support Peter Obi, the Labour Party (LP) presidential candidate, others suggested Asiwaju Bola Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Some sources said though the issue was yet to be thrown up for discussion among the G5 governors and or their allies, subtle moves were already ongoing by those who prefer Tinubu and those rooting for Obi within the group, ahead of a possible meeting early in the new year to discuss the matter.
One source said: “It is yet to be discussed. But with the obvious reality that we will not support Atiku for the presidency; and with our leaders agreeing that it is better to tell the world where we are going as soon as possible, it is obvious that we will have to discuss the matter, possibly early in the new year.
“As we speak, those with preferences, especially between Obi and Tinubu, are already doing some underground works ahead of the meeting. Even members of the G5 have their preferences and I can tell you that some want Tinubu and some want Obi.
“They all have their reasons for their choices. And as party leaders who share their concerns about the party and the Atiku presidency, we are going to listen to them and allow the group decides where we will go. We have come far together. We have good reasons for rejecting what is going on in our party the PDP.
“So, we will not be swayed by sentiments, instead, we will be open to good argument and reason,’ our source, a member of the National Working Committee (NWC) of the PDP, said.
It is unclear where the interest of Governor Wike currently lies although one of his close aides said the Rivers State governor was prepared to go with the majority decision of the Integrity Group at the appropriate time.
“I will tell you this frankly and I want you to believe me. Unlike what they want people to believe, Wike is a democrat. And sincerely, he started this struggle without any plan in mind. All he wanted and still wants is justice, equity and fairness.
“He wants the next president to come from the south. He has nobody in particular in mind. So, this talk about Tinubu and Obi is not for him to unilaterally decide and he will not do that.
“He understands the expectations of people and he is prepared to support the majority decision. He is just one of the five governors. And we have many prominent political leaders in the Integrity Group. So, at the appropriate time, we will all decide what to do.”
There are also fears among those supporting the choice of Obi within the group that the two PDP governors in the South East may not be disposed to his aspiration. This largely fear is said to be causing concerns as efforts are currently on to sell Obi’s candidature to chieftains of the group in the South East.
“The two governors of Enugu and Abia, who are members of the G5, are senatorial candidates on the platform of the PDP in their various states. They both have gubernatorial candidates on the platform of the PDP to deliver. Their allies and supporters are candidates for various other positions.
“And the truth is that the LP is seen as a serious threat to the PDP in the zone. Supporting Obi is seen by many as a dangerous move that can further popularize and position the LP to win not just the presidency in the zone, but other positions. These governors don’t want to be defeated at the polls. So, it should be understandable if they refuse to share the sentiment for Integrity Group to back Obi for the presidency.”