Former governor of Jigawa State, Sule Lamido, yesterday, dismissed the idea of reconciliation between the Rivers State governor, Nyesom Wike, and the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar. Lamido said no one had offended the embittered governor of the oil rich state.
The former foreign affairs minister also sent a subliminal message to Wike, who often took pride in his supposed control of Rivers State, saying being governor is not an indication that he also has monopoly over the state.
Nonetheless, Atiku and Wike were set to meet in Paris, in furtherance of moves to resolve the post-presidential primary crisis rocking PDP. That was amid rumour that Wike was already frolicking with the presidential candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.
The former Jigawa State governor, who spoke on Politics Today, a Channels Television programme, said PDP should leave Wike alone, because if anyone had offended him at all, it was the convention, and not any individual.
Describing Wike as an emperor in Rivers, Lamido said those who had so far visited the governor as part of a reconciliatory move between him and Atiku were well-wishers, who did so at their individual levels.
Lamido stated, “Listen, get this very well, those who met are simply well-wishers. They are not known from the party, but well-wishers of both Atiku and Wike.
“Now, the convention produced a candidate, who won the primaries. If there is any offence, it is the convention, who offended Wike and not Atiku, not party Chairman, not anybody.
“If he attacks the convention, which produced him as governor on two occasions, and produced his candidate for governorship and other positions in Rivers State, that means there is a problem. So, nobody has offended anybody.
“Those who are meeting with Wike are well-wishers of Atiku, who want peace in the PDP. They are not for PDP but for Atiku, as a person and not as a candidate. Wike is a PDP man and he says he wants to reconcile, reconcile with who? Who offended who?”
When asked if he was sure Wike would not leave the party or work against Atiku in next year’s election, Lamido said, “Wike is an individual, I don’t think, because he is a governor there, he has a total monopoly of the whole Rivers State.
“He was too bombastic. ‘I will not allow this, I will not allow this’, which one will he allow? Please, leave Wike alone. He has the right to do whatever he wants. He is the emperor in Rivers and is only speaking because he is a bluff.”
However, on the peace meeting between Atiku and Wike, a reliable source told THISDAY that the decision to meet in Paris was to avoid prying eyes and make the peace meeting tension-free.
It was learnt that Atiku left Nigeria yesterday, after attending the 62nd Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) Conference in Lagos.
THISDAY gathered that the meeting in Paris became necessary following the deadlock on the peace talks between the camps of Atiku and Wike last Friday in Port Harcourt.
Should the meeting between Atiku and Wike hold as planned, it would be the second face-to-face meeting between the former vice president and the Rivers State governor since the crisis broke.
The disagreement followed the PDP presidential primary, which Wike believed he was poised to win, but for an alleged gang up that he thought was from the very top in the party. The first meeting was at the private residence of former Minister of Information, Jerry Gana, in Abuja.
The crisis, at the moment, seems intractable, hence the personal intervention of Atiku to attempt to reach a resolution on the main issues in dispute. It was not known if their supporters were participating in the meeting.
Wike’s team, it was gathered, insisted that the national chairman of PDP, Dr. Iyorchia Ayu, must resign as a precondition for further discussion.
Former Governor of Ondo State, Olusegun Mimiko, had led the Wike team during the meeting, while the Atiku team was led by Governor Ahmadu Fintiri of Adamawa State.
Speaking on the outcome of their Port Harcourt meeting held recently, a source told THISDAY, “It is already out there. Ayu must go was given as a condition precedent to settlement and parties were told to consult their principals again for further consultation.
“By implications, it simply means that the meeting is deadlocked. Although Atiku’s team promised to convey Wike’s position to their principal and revert.”
Apart from Mimiko, others at the meeting representing Wike were former governors Ibrahim Dankwambo of Gombe State, his counterpart in Cross River, Donald Duke, and former Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), Bello Adoke.
Fintiri, who led the Atiku camp, had on his team a former PDP governorship candidate in Ondo State, Mr. Eyitayo Jegede, and former senior special assistant to former President Olusegun Obasanjo, Aliyu Ndabawa.
Speaking after the meeting, Fintiri said, “Yes, we are aware that Nigerians are anxious and waiting for us to take over in 2023. We have met as leaders and members of same political family and have open discussions. It is a work-in-progress and we will continue.”
Mimiko, on his part, said, “This is a reconciliatory process. There are issues discussed and we will further discuss.”
THISDAY gathered that the main issue on the part of the Wike camp was the question of inclusiveness. He said all his supporters should be carried along in the electioneering expected to kick off September 29.
“We are waiting for a green light from the reconciliatory camps to enable the party summon the National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting to approve membership of the presidential campaign council of the party,” a PDP source said.
Last Thursday, at a meeting of the PDP National Working Committee, THISDAY was told that members of the NWC asked Ayu to seek audience with Wike as a way to end the crisis.
A source at the meeting told THISDAY that some NWC members volunteered to go with Ayu to see Wike as a team, but Ayu rejected the idea of either going to see Wike or speaking to him.
A formal statement from Ayu’s media office last week had stated, “We restate, therefore, that the PDP National Chairman, Dr. Iyorchia Ayu, has not resigned and has no plan of resigning. For clarity and emphasis, he was elected for a tenure of four years.”
The relationship between Ayu and Wike went awry after the presidential convention, when Ayu described the governor of Sokoto State, Aminu Tambuwal, as the hero of the convention for stepping down at the last minute for Atiku, handing him victory.