Presidential candidate of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, and his team have perfected plans to break the ranks of Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State.
Also, strong indications emerged that Governor Wike and those sympathetic to his cause may be settling for former Ondo State governor, Dr Olusegun Mimiko, as a replacement for the PDP National Chairman, Senator Iyorchia Ayu, if their plans scale through.
Atiku and Wike have been engaged in a feud over the removal of Senator Ayu.
Recall that the Rivers State governor has vowed not to quit the PDP over his feud with the former Vice President and Ayu, insisting that he would remain in the party and fight for relevance.
Similarly, some of Wike’s allies including Governors Samuel Ortom (Benue), Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi (Enugu), Okezie Ikpeazu (Abia) and Seyi Makinde (Oyo), had announced their withdrawal from the PDP Presidential Campaign Council pending the replacement of Ayu as chairman.
Other members of the group are former PDP deputy national chairman, Olabode George, Donald Duke, Ayo Fayose, Ibrahim Dakwanmbo, Segun Mimiko, Jonah Jang, and former governors of Cross River, Ekiti, Gombe, Ondo and Plateau state, respectively, amongst others.
Atiku moves to break Wike’s ranks
Vanguard was reliably informed by multiple sources that the PDP presidential candidate and leaders of the party are already reaching out to Wike’s allies with a view to prevailing on them to sheathe their swords and work for the success of the PDP in 2023.
A source, who spoke to Vanguard on condition of anonymity, said: “There is general thinking in the party that Wike has nothing to lose and his so-called allies have something to lose, while some of them have nothing at stake.
“There is a thinking in the party that those who have something at stake can be cultivated.
“And you know, this is a delicate thing, delicate in the sense that those individuals do not want to turn against Wike in a dramatic way. They know he can say things about them.”
Another source told Vanguard that the former Vice President has activated a process to reach out to aggrieved leaders of the party.
The source said: “There are some internal processes that have been activated to ensure that those people (Wike’s allies) are properly aligned with the dictates of the party which is to ensure that the party wins in 2023, which in fairness to those people, they are not averse to except for Wike. We don’t even know what he’s up to and those who say they are with him (Wike) don’t know what he is up to.”
Wike’s camp push Mimiko to replace Ayu
Following the unresolved crisis rocking the party, Vanguard was reliably informed that Governor Wike and some of his allies are pushing for former Ondo governor, Dr Mimikop, as Ayu’s replacement.
Vanguard, however, gathered that some PDP governors and leaders, who are sympathetic to Wike’s cause may not be aware of the latter’s plan to push Mimiko forward as Ayu’s replacement.
A source, privy to the subtle move, told Vanguard “Not all those sympathetic to Wike’s cause know what he has up his sleeves but because they have been with him, some of his people are finding it difficult to abandon him.
“Some of them are weighing the possible consequence, part of which is Wike’s perchance for revealing it all and causing maximum damage, some of them are in a quandary.”
‘Atiku won’t do anything unconstitutional’
An ally of Atiku faulted Wike’s push for Ayu’s removal, insisting that the candidate and other PDP leaders would not do anything that is unconstitutional.
He said: “Atiku and leaders of the PDP will never do anything unconstitutional because of Wike because Nigerians are watching. He will keep pushing and even after getting what he wants, he will ask for something else. We know his game.
“There must be a stop to this and that is why we want to move on with his people.
“Those insisting that Ayu must resign are overlooking the constitution which states that his replacement must come from the North. They say it doesn’t matter. But the ripple effect would be too damning because you cannot then insist that the replacement from the North should resign, and then it will affect the national secretary, and down the line.”
Another source said that some of those with Wike was already looking at how they can avoid “becoming collateral victims of somebody else’s war.”
The source noted that some PDP governors sympathetic to Wike’s cause “are already piping down and are willing to work to Atiku and the party.”
Kano PDP chairman wants Ayu to resign
Meanwhile, the chairman of the PDP in Kano State, Shehu Sagagi has joined the list of those calling for Ayu’s resignation, alleging that he manipulated the presidential primary.
Sagagi, in a chat with Vanguard, said that Ayu should live up to his words and resign as he promised.
He said: “Ayu manipulated the presidential primary. I have evidence that he manipulated it. Keep that aside, at least a presidential candidate has emerged and we promise to give him all the support that he needs. But Ayu must resign.”
On whether Ayu’s resignation will affect the party executive structure, he said: “It doesn’t matter. This is something that can be done. How long did it take to organise his election? It is just a matter of consensus. He never visited the 36 states and the FCT, it was just a consensus. So, it is a very simple exercise that can be done.
“My call is for him to resign. I was there when he made the promise at the Bauchi State governor’s lodge in Abuja. He made the promise in my presence, I was there.
“So, at least as an elder statesman, he should honour his words, let him resign.
“The party is polarised such that some members of the party feel alienated and we need those people for the party to be victorious.
“Thank God nobody is denying that Atiku is the party’s presidential candidate. Nobody is saying that he is not going to give him the support to win the election. But at least the Southern members of the party should be carried along so that there is fairness and equity.
“This will not affect the party in any way. We have five months to the election, this can be done,” he added.
Ayu’s kinsmen blast Ortom
Meanwhile, support came for Ayu as his kinsmen, yesterday, berated Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State over calls for Ayu’s resignation.
Ayu’s kinsmen, acting under the aegis of the Jemgbagh Development Association, Abuja chapter, accused Governor Ortom of conniving with his Rivers State counterpart in an attempt to pull Ayu down.
In a communiqué by its Chairman and Secretary, Terver Abor and Thomas Iangen, the group said: “The meeting noted with concern the series of attacks carried out by Governor Ortom with his counterpart, Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State, on the prominent son of Jemgbagh, Dr Ayu, the current Chairman of the PDP.
“We, the leadership of Jemgbagh Development Association, Abuja chapter, as a body have condemned this act and call on those who take pleasure in politics of pulling him down, with their ill motive, selfish interest without the interest of Benue State at heart should desist from such act.
“After extensive deliberations, the meeting came to the following conclusions:
“That we cannot in all fairness to our consciences and our true support brotherhood system within our constituencies, we cannot watch our stakeholder be dragged to the mud because of one’s selfish interest.