*How Northern power-brokers secured victory for Atiku

*Ohanaeze denies rejecting Atiku, says group yet to take a position

*Atiku’s emergence as PDP candidate divine — Diaspora group

PDP Presidential Ticket: Fellow southern govs betrayed us — Wike
Governor Nyesom Wike

By Soni Daniel, Clifford Ndujihe, Festus Ahon, Levinus Nwabuighiogu, John Alechenu, Peter Duru & Ibrahim Hassan-Wuyo

Rivers State governor and presidential aspirant on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Mr. Nyesom Wike, who came second at Saturday’s primaries, has accused Southern governors of betraying the power shift agreement.

Wike, who has vowed to remain in the party and support its 2023 presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, disclosed that he almost scuttled the PDP primaries at a stage when the rule was breached but had to maintain his calmness.

The governor spoke at a reception in his honour at the Government House in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, following his return from the presidential primary in Abuja.

Also, commendations continued to flow for Atiku on his emergence as PDP standard bearer, yesterday, as the apex Igbo Socio-Cultural Organisation, Ohanaeze denied saying that it would work against Atiku, adding that it has not taken a position on the issues.

Southern governors’ betrayal
Wike said he was tempted to obstruct the process when an aspirant (Aminu Tambuwal) who had spoken previously was allowed to return to the podium to pronounce his withdrawal, in contravention of the guidelines of the election.

“I have never seen how people can violate procedures and guidelines. Somebody had spoken; it was at that point he was speaking that he would have said I am withdrawing. You don’t call him back,” Wike said.

“I just said: Look, this our party must not be destroyed.’”

He, however, called on his supporters to remain calm, describing his loss at the PDP presidential primary as the will of God.

“It is God’s will, let us not bother ourselves so much,” Wike said, accusing governors of the Southern region of betrayal.

His words: “Shame to those who will sell out their own. I have never seen a thing like that. No wonder we cannot move on with development.

“Look, a region ganged up. Your own region cannot gang up, you become a tool to be used against the interests of your people and you think you have won. No, you have lost.”

Governor Wike said though he did not clinch the PDP presidential ticket, he believes, just like his supporters, that his performance has raised the political profile of Rivers State and other minority groups in Nigeria.

“In the political history of this country, you can count on us. We are not push-overs,” the former Minister of State for Education, said.

Wike spoke as fresh details of how top northern military and political leaders teamed up to secure the ticket for Atiku emerged, last night just as Alhaji Atiku Abubakar embarked on fence-mending visits to some of his opponents, pleading for their support.

Among those Atiku visited yesterday were Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike; former Kwara State Governor and Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki; and former Senate President and Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, Senator Anyim Pius Anyim.

Atiku’s visits

His first stop was the Abuja residence of the first runner-up and Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike.

Atiku, accompanied by his campaign team and a retinue of aides was received by Wike, who he described as a committed party member and worthy opponent.

The PDP candidate explained the reason for his visits on his verified Twitter account. In a series of tweets, Atiku said: “In continuation of my commitment to bring everyone on board in ensuring that the @OfficialPDPNig stands as one united party, earlier today, I visited His Excellency Gov Nyesom Wike at his Abuja residence. This is a continuous process.

“I was also at the residence of Senator Anyim Pius Anyim to pay him a courtesy visit and consult with him on strengthening the cohesion in our great party, the PDP.”

He paid a similar visit to the residence of Senator Bukola Saraki, where he also met the former Senate President behind closed doors.

Atiku’s Special Adviser (Media), Mazi Paul Ibe, told Vanguard that his principal’s visits were part of his fence-mending reach-out to fellow party members especially those who contested the party ticket with him.

He said: “Yes, it is true. His Excellency visited Governor Wike, in his residence today. It is part of his engagement to get all party members onboard as we prepare for the 2023 general elections.

“He went to personally appeal to Wike like he did with Tambuwual earlier to thank them for the roles they all played in ensuring that the party had an exemplary primary. He also went to solicit their support in uniting the party ahead of the task ahead.

“The candidate and the party are on the same page in the quest to redeem Nigeria from the mess the current APC-led regime has thrown us all in. These visits are ongoing, other party leaders are also to be visited within the coming weeks.”

How top Northern power brokers secured victory for Atiku

Credible sources told Vanguard how top Northern military and political leaders teamed up to secure the ticket for Atiku.

The overall aim of the Northern political elites, it was learned, was to stop Wike, who they knew had garnered enough support from across the country, from winning so as to throw up Atiku.

A top source, who is familiar with what transpired before the casting of votes in Abuja on Saturday, told Vanguard that an influential former head of state led the pack that put pressure on other PDP presidential aspirants to step down for Atiku to brighten his chances of winning.

The source said: “It was the former head of state, working with other political and former military leaders who detailed a former defence minister to call other northern presidential aspirants to stand down and pave the way for Atiku.

“The former leader directed the trio of Bala Mohammed, Aminu Tambuwal and Bukola Saraki to stand down from the race for Atiku. When it was apparent that Tambuwal was hesitating, a former president had to personally prevail on the Sokoto governor to step down and at that point, he did.

“Indeed, after stepping down, a former national security officer, who was asked to talk to him and others, commended Tambuwal for being a true politician and acting in the interest of his people.”

However, Vanguard learned that for refusing to obey the directive of the generals and political leaders to step down and pave the way for Atiku, the political brokers are contemplating blocking Bala Mohammed’s bid to retain his governorship or return to the Senate.

The power brokers are suspicious the governor would want to prevail on the person who won in his senatorial district to step down for him, having lost out in the presidential race and they would want to block him from getting back to the Senate as a punishment for disobeying them.

Vanguard also learned that the delegates’ list used for the election might have been tampered with as some names did not reflect all those who turned up to cast their votes.

For instance, the source pointed to the list of delegates from Zamfara State with 14 names which included Yahuza Shinkafi purported to come from Kaura Namoda Local Government Area and Halliru Kuturu from Maradun Local Government Area, saying that a Shinkafi cannot possibly come from Kaura Namoda.

The discrepancies notwithstanding, the northern power brokers are excited over the emergence of one of theirs, Atiku Abubakar, as the PDP presidential candidate and are convinced he will become the next president given the way things are going in the country.

To this end, the presidential candidate is to be formally presented to the former Military President, Ibrahim Babangida at the Hilltop Mansion in Minna, Niger State with other top military and political leaders on Wednesday.

Ortom congratulates Atiku, calls for party unity to dislodge APC

Also, Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State has congratulated Atiku Abubakar, on his nomination as the presidential candidate of the PDP.

The Governor in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Nathaniel Ikyur noted that the emergence of the former Vice President was ordained by God and expressed confidence that if elected, Atiku will “restore security in every nook and cranny of the country, revive our collapsed economy, and bring back Nigeria’s dignity where the sanctity of human lives of all Nigerian citizens will be respected.

“This will also make the social life of every Nigerian much more meaningful as you will rescue Nigeria from bottom to top.”

Fintiri congratulates Atiku

In like manner, Governor Ahmadu Fintiri of Adamawa has congratulated Atiku Abubakar on his victory, which he described as a demonstration of the party’s confidence in his leadership credentials.

The governor’s congratulatory message was contained in a statement issued by his Press Secretary, Mr Humwashi Wonosikou, on Monday in Yola.

Fintiri described the former vice president as a trusted politician, whose contributions while serving as vice president under President Olusegun Obasanjo were immense.

“I have no doubt in his capacity to restore unity, growth and prosperity to Nigeria at these troubling times. He is a trailblazer and role model, whose eventual victory will help inspire and embolden millions of Nigerians to chase and achieve their dreams of greatness and success,” he said.

With Atiku, race to rescue Nigeria has started — Oborevwori

Delta State PDP governorship candidate and Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Sheriff Oborevwori, said the race to rescue Nigeria has started with the nomination of Atiku as PDP presidential flagbearer.

Oborevwori in a congratulatory statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Dennis Otu, said: “I am fully persuaded that Atiku is the leader Nigeria needs in this critical period in our nation’s history.”

The speaker who is also the National Deputy Chairman of the Conference of Speakers of State Legislatures of Nigeria, said; “Nigeria stands to benefit immensely from his (Atiku’s) vast knowledge and experience, resilience, cross cultural appeal, and political savvy.”

PDP BOT chairman lauds Atiku’s emergence, harps on good running mate

Senator Walid Jibrin, Chairman, Board of Trustees (BOT) of the PDP has advised the party’s Presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, to select an acceptable running mate.

In a congratulatory message, Jibrin described Atiku’s victory at the party convention as a good omen not only for the party but also for the entire country.

“We must remember that Atiku was earlier elected at PDP primaries at Port Harcourt in 2019, but was nakedly sabotaged by APC through an unholy way.

“We must remember the good performance of Atiku as Vice President to President Obasanjo; our party must be fully congratulated for playing a good role and of course all our delegates across the 36 states and the FCT,” he said.

The PDP BOT chairman advised the party’s presidential flag bearer to endeavour to pick an acceptable and reliable running mate who would enhance the chances of his victory in the forthcoming election.

“My advice as the PDP BoT chairman is that the party must come together as one entity, fully together as one party, talking with one voice to make our party the greatest not only in Nigeria, West Africa, but the greatest in Africa irrespective of all differences,” he said.

His emergence is divine —Diaspora group

The Atiku Diaspora Support Group says the emergency of former Vice President Atiku Abubakar as the PDP presidential candidate for the 2023 elections was divine.

Chief Franklin Ekechukwu, US-based Founder of the group and Diaspora Director, Atiku Kawai, made the disclosure in a statement on Monday in Lagos.

Ekenechukwu said that since the emergence was divine, Abubakar would win the presidential election.

“I believe that God will finish what he started with the man Atiku,” he said.

Diaspora group roots for Wike as PDP running mate

The Diaspora Support Group based in UK has said that with the emergence of Atiku Abubakar as the flagbearer of the PDP in 2023,it behoves on the party stakeholders to put heads together and work for the emergence of Wike as the Vice-President to complement the renewed journey of taking Nigeria to the land of promise.

The group made the plea in a statement signed by Hon Yunana Shibkau, Convener, Hon Osamudiamen Aghedo, Head, Strategy and Prince Madiba Ibrahim Lapinni, Head, Nigeria’s Strategy and Mobilization.

According to the Diaspora Support Group, “unfolding events in the nation, particularly on the political scene regarding the forthcoming People Democratic Party primaries and the implications of its conduct to the security and socio economic situation in Nigeria today, prompted our responses and the inputs to ensure the best for the peace, progress and prosperity of Nigeria.

“Much as Alhaji Atiku Abubakar has emerged as the flagbearer, it thus behoves on all the party stakeholders to put head together and work for the emergence of Wike as the Vice-Presidential candidate to compliment the renewed journey of taking Nigeria to the land of promise.

“Our national politics must evolve to the point of getting and doing the best for Nigeria. We must work to elect capable leaders, who can make a difference in leadership delivery for the betterment of the people.

“We congratulate Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and hereby pledged to work with and complement his administration in the critical areas of security, development and the unity of Nigerians when elected President in 2023.”

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