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By Dapo Akinrefon, Egufe Yafugborhi & John Alechenu, ABUJA

Following the frosty relationship between the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, and Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State, indications emerged yesterday on how governorship candidates of the party brokered peace with the latter.

Both Atiku and Wike have been at daggers-drawn over the removal of PDP National Chairman, Senator Iyorchia Ayu.

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The Rivers governor and those sympathetic to his cause are aggrieved, following their perceived marginalization in the scheme of things within the party.

But as leaders of the PDP hold a crucial National Executive Council meeting in Abuja, today, indications of what to expect began from the meeting of the National Working Committee, NWC, which was presided over by the National Chairman, Iyorchia Ayu, at the National Secretariat, yesterday.

Meanwhile, Governor Wike, yesterday, declared that the forces bent on alienating him and his allies in the power-sharing equation of the PDP, ahead of the 2023 elections, would account for perceived misdeeds in coming days of reckoning.

How governorship candidates brokered peace with Wike

18 PDP governorship candidates had met with the Rivers State governor in Port Harcourt, days after first meeting with the party’s presidential flag bearer and former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar.

Though details of the meeting were not disclosed, multiple sources, both at Rivers Government House and one of the governorship candidates, told Vanguard that the meeting ended on a good note.

One of the sources, who spoke to Vanguard in confidence, said the candidates were able to get a commitment from Wike to ceasefire and work in the interest of the PDP.

A governorship candidate, privy to the meeting said: “18 of us were at the meeting, including the son of former Jigawa State governor, Alhaji Sule Lamido.

We threw banters, as to how his father has been attacking Wike.

“We had a useful discussion and the outcome was positive. Governor Wike made us feel at home during the meeting. At the end of the meeting, Governor Wike committed to a ceasefire and being an honourable man, the governor will not do anything that will hurt the interest of the party once all the matters are discussed.”

Another Government House source, who spoke under condition of anonymity, said: “The meeting was positive and everyone there went away with a positive impression that all is going to be well with the party.

“One of the commitments the candidates extracted from the governor is that he will cease fire. The governor also promised not to work against the party. He opened up to them and they found the meeting very useful.”

Our meeting was fruitful — Ashiru

Speaking at the end of the meeting, the governorship candidate in Kaduna State, Mr. Issa Ashiru, said the sensational feud between the former Vice President and Governor Wike might be over.

On the outcome of the meeting he and 17 other PDP governorship candidates had with the Rivers State governor in Port Harcourt, Ashiru said: “It was a fruitful, open discussion with sincerity. We are home and dry. We discussed issues that border on the situation within the party.”

Ashiru, who declined to give details of the meeting, said: “We have discussed this with the presidential candidate. We are here with our brother and friend (Wike). Issues that border on what has happened have been sorted out.

“The issue has been resolved as far as I’m concerned because we have heard from both sides. We are going to meet with the National Working Committee to take a decision.”

Tension remains high as PDP caucus, BoT, NEC meet

There was, however, tension during yesterday’s NWC meeting, presided over by the National Chairman at the National Secretariat.

Though the meeting dwelt heavily on the agenda to be presented to the party’s caucus and NEC, the party’s effort to reconcile aggrieved members also featured. 

It was gathered that some members of the NWC from the Southern part of the country, expressed the opinion that the party’s National Chairman could have handled the issue better.

It was also learnt that a group of 15 NWC members held a meeting at the Abuja residence of a prominent member (name withheld) on Tuesday night and resolved to pass a vote of no confidence on the National Chairman. The NWC has 19 members.

A source privy to what transpired behind closed doors, said: “The meeting was basically to iron out some housekeeping issues such as the membership and structure of the Presidential campaign council, how to handle disagreements in some state chapters especially Kano and Osun States. 

“The party will decide whether to have congresses or some form of ad-hoc arrangements among others.“

Besides, the source, who spoke in confidence, said: “Issues discussed also included the party’s reconciliation efforts. It was noted that the NWC needs to do more to resolve the dispute because as things stand, what we see are individual and group efforts.”

NWC didn’t move to oust Ayu — Ologunagba

However, the National Publicity Secretary of PDP, Debo Ologunagba, denied speculations that there was a move to get Ayu to step aside during Wednesday’s NWC meeting. He said throughout Wednesday’s NWC which he attended, the issue of Ayu stepping aside was never mentioned.

PDP caucus meeting begins in Abuja

Meanwhile, the caucus meeting of the PDP was underway, yesterday, as at press time at the Akwa Ibom State Governor’s Lodge, Asokoro Abuja.

Those present were the presidential candidate of the party, Atiku Abubakar; the Chairman and Secretary of the PDP Board of Trustees, Senators Walid Jibrin and Adolphus Wagbara, respectively, Sokoto State Governor, Aminu Tambuwual and his Bayelsa State counterpart, Douye Diri as well as the Bauchi State Governor, Bala Mohammed.

Others include the deputy Governors of Edo and Benue States, Philip Shuaibu and Benson Abounu respectively among others. As at the time filing this report, neither the Rivers State Governor nor his Deputy had arrived.

Although the agenda of the meeting is still shrouded in secrecy, it was gathered that the party leaders are to deliberate and reach a consensus on the agenda for the National Executive Committee meeting scheduled to hold in a few hours time.

Some of the issues in focus include: the membership/ structure of the Presidential Campaign Council, the state of the party especially with respect to the peace process and any other business the committee of the whole may agree to discuss.

Wike, others absent as Atiku meets presidential aspirants

In a related development, Governor Wike was conspicuously absent from a meeting of former presidential aspirants of the party convened by Atiku in Abuja.

Also absent were former Senate Presidents: Bukola Saraki and Pius Anyim. Those at the meeting included Dele Momodu, Mohammed Hayatu-Deen, Tari Oliver, and Charles Ugwu.

The PDP standard bearer expressed gratitude to them for accepting his invitation while formally thanking them for accepting the outcome of the primary that produced him as a candidate.

Those alienating me‘ll account for misdeeds — Wike

Meanwhile, the Rivers governor, yesterday, said that forces bent on alienating him and his allies in the PDP will account for perceived misdeeds in a coming day of reckoning.

Speaking at the inauguration of Emohua Campus of the Rivers State University, and the flag-off of staff quarters, he said: “If you take everything, it will purge you. So, better do the right thing now.

“Don’t sit there and think that you can muscle me and you can do everything, you can manipulate anything. You can think you have the number to make sure you take everything, but the time is coming when you will account for it.”

On the value of quality stewardship, the governor said: “If any PDP state is not doing well, don’t think you will be voted for because APC is not doing well. For example, if in Rivers State we didn’t do well, then you’ll say because APC did not do well at the national, then the people will vote for us.

“They will tell you PDP you didn’t do well in Rivers State. People don’t understand that. And that is why the party should respect us and know that we are the ones campaigning for the party. Because we have what to use to campaign.”

The governor explained that his administration has avoided the pitfall most governments suffer because they do not set aside the requisite budget for projects they conceptualise.

We’ll fight for our space within PDP — Makinde

Referring to recent jabs thrown at Wike and his allies by PDP chairman, Senator Iyorcha Ayu, over the PDP crisis, Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State, who was a special guest at the occasion, said: “If children are doing all of these (Wike’s projects) I think what Nigeria needs are children. So my brother (Wike), you can rest assured that Nigeria appreciates you.

“Even the fight that we lost, we did not lose with our heads bowed. We stood for the truth and for what is good for the country. We will continue to fight for our space within PDP. We will fight for what is good for our people.”

Vanguard News Nigeria

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