The latest emissary of the Peoples Democratic Party’s (PDP’s) presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, to Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, on moves to resolve their differences may have departed Port Harcourt empty handed, The Nation can now reveal.
Mr.Ahmadu Fintiri, governor of Atiku’s home state of Adamawa, arrived at the Rivers State capital on Thursday at the behest of the former vice president to pacify Wike.
Fintiri left Port Harcourt on Friday morning and told reporters in Yola,the Adamawa State capital yesterday that progress was being made in the reconciliation process.
“I’ve just returned from Rivers State where I met with my brother Governor Wike and I can assure you that we’ve started talking and very soon we’ll be crossing the t’s and dotting the i’s,” Fintiri said.
He added: “Politics is all about discussions, meetings, give and take; and I can assure you that the reconciliation process is going well and PDP will come out of it successfully.
“We are focused and the reconciliation is up and progressing. I am the chairman of the reconciliation committee between Atiku and Wike on Atiku’s side, and I can assure you that we will get over it very soon.”
He said he was in a good position to help resolve the disagreement between Atiku and Wike because “I am an embodiment of both men.”
He spoke of ‘encouraging signs’ from the Port Harcourt meeting but also conceded that the task was a difficult one.
Wike, according to him, has contributed enormously to the growth of the PDP and wondered whether the Rivers State governor would allow all his contribution to the party go down the drain if he failed to support Atiku for the 2023 polls or dump the PDP for APC .
“Who are his friends in the APC? Are you telling me those who are now romancing with Wike love him? “ he asked.
“I can assure you that with God, the party will put its house in order before the 2023 elections.
“Even Wike knows he has been by far the biggest investor in the party. Can he now walk away from all of his investment?
“We recognise he loves his people and I can assure you that he will have a fair deal if it comes to that, just to put the crisis behind us.”
However, political sources told The Nation in Port Harcourt yesterday that Fintiri may have exaggerated the success of his mission to Rivers State.
One of the sources confirmed that Fintiri was indeed in Port Harcourt on Thursday and met behind closed doors with Wike.
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The source said the meeting did not achieve much because while it was ongoing some anti-Wike forces in Atiku’s camp scripted a report that the governor had removed all PDP flags in the Government House.
Said the source:”Fintiri is Wike’s friend. Atiku sent him on Thursday to talk to the governor. They met behind closed doors. But you know that day something happened:the same anti-Wike forces in Atiku’s camp sponsored a post on social media that the governor ordered his CSO to pull down all PDP flags in Government House.
“I don’t think the meeting achieved its desired results and that was why the governor spoke out on Friday. Fintiri left the state on Friday morning. So, everyday people behind Atiku are widening the crack and these people are very close to Atiku.”
The source said it was the same complaint the governor made to Atiku when both of them met recently in the Abuja home of a former Minister of Information, Prof. Jerry Gana.
“But I believe that soon they will find common ground to resolve their differences. Atiku should do more in calling his attack dogs to order,”` he said.
Another source said: “The crisis is not unusual in any party. But I have the confidence that it would be resolved and the party members will move on in peace. It is not a matter of Atiku paying a visit to Wike.
“This is a matter of the ability of the elders of the party and leaders of the party to do the right thing. If the party could survive the Sheriff’s era, it can resolve any issue that comes.
“I believe that the governor and the other leaders of the party especially the presidential candidate will be able to find a common ground and many party members believe that too. Both aggrieved parties have good intentions for the survival of the PDP.”
Yet another source drew attention to the statement made by Wike about Atiku on Friday during the inauguration of the Rivers State House of Assembly Quarters.
According to the source, the tone of the governor on that day did not suggest in any way that both camps had made up.
Among other things, Wike said: “I have kept quiet and busy delivering dividends of democracy for my party to win election; people are busy plotting how they will win election, but others are busy trying to see how they will lose election.
“If they lose election nobody should call my name. I have told the candidate, you will lose this election and you will win this election because of people around you. Anybody who knows me knows that if I was going to court, I would have gone to court within two weeks after the primaries because it is a pre-election matter and after two weeks you can’t go to the court.
“The legal adviser of the party called me and I told him you know there is mischief going on; you know me very well if I am going to court it is not those kind of lawyers I would have used and I don’t even know the lawyers. I want to tell the candidate (Atiku) that it is his group that are doing all these things. Let the world hear.
“They are the ones plotting all these things thinking that they would spoil my name. You cannot. The other day they said I removed all PDP flags in Government House. We are supposed to be talking about how you will win election, not about these people. They are not doing him any favour, rather they are trying to make him not to win election.But if that is what they want, I wish them good luck.
“But after my commissioning of projects nobody should say Wike has started. When I start, I have been on my own, they are looking for my trouble. Allow peace to reign. If you say your mother will not sleep, you too you will not sleep at the appropriate time.
“I told Atiku the other day, all these governors you think are good with you what happened in 2019? Nobody wants to say the truth. Today instead of plotting how to win an election, they are talking about Wike. Wike is not important, why are you worried? Allow Wike to rest.”
Asked last month in a television interview to confirm claims by Atiku that he had reached out to him, Wike said: “When people tell lies, it is most unfortunate. Some senators called me and said Atiku Abubakar said he sent Saraki to me. That is unfair. It is not correct.
“I was in Spain, Bukola came to me and said ‘my brother how do we settle this problem?’. I asked, ‘were you sent by Atiku Abubakar’?, he said no. I said okay, ‘what do you want me to do? Look at the issues’. He said he didn’t know this and that. He said the matter was serious”.
He recalled that prior to the primaries, Atiku visited him in Port Harcourt to solicit his support, and wondered whether Atiku no longer knew the road to his house after winning the ticket.
Wike said: “Abubakar has never reached out to me.Forget about sending scavengers.Some of them will call my friends and say tell your guy to support us. It has reduced to that level. Some of them, I don’t know, would call me and be begging me not to leave the party. Who is talking about leaving the party?
“Atiku Abubakar came to my house and asked me to support him. So he doesn’t know my house again? Now, people I don’t even know are calling me to support him. They are trivialising issues. No way. I will not accept that. Atiku Abubakar cannot say he has sent somebody to me. Let one person say he was sent to me by Atiku Abubakar.
“Every day I read on newspaper you sent a committee to come and see me. I love this party and I have remained committed and I have been able to build this party. I am not one of those who are running around the presidential candidate. They are all scavengers looking for how they will survive.”
Atiku and Wike’s disagreement stemmed from the former vice president’s choice of Delta State Governor Ifeanyi Okowa as his running mate in preference to the Rivers State governor.