2023 Insight : Despite crises, Ayu meets governor candidates, boasts of PDP victory in 2023

……. Wike’s media aide fires back at Lamido

Amid internal crises rocking the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), it’s National Working Committee (NWC) was yesterday locked in a meeting with governorship candidates of the party across the 36 states of the country at the party’s headquarters in Wuse, Abuja.

All of the party’s governorship candidates, except Oyo State governor, Seyi Makinde, currently out of the country on vacation, were in attendance at the closed-door meeting tagged an interactive session between the party’s leadership and its candidates ahead of the 2023 elections.

The meeting comes amid calls for the national chairman, Dr Iyorchia Ayu, to step aside by a camp loyal to the Rivers State governor, Nyesom Wike, as part of the conditions for the resolution of the impasse over the choice of Delta State governor, Ifeanyi Okowa, as the party’s presidential running mate.

Despite the worsening crises, Ayu said the party would win next year’s presidential election and win more than 25 governorship seats.

He told newsmen: “The candidates came and expressed their concerns in their various states. They briefed us on the efforts they are making to win the election. I am very happy with the progress that are made so far in various states.

“So, we are happy that members are determined that we don’t just win at the national level. We want to return about 25 governors or more as we used to have. So, the mood at the party is excellent.”

Bauchi State governor, Bala Mohammed, said they believed in the supremacy and sanctity of the party.

When asked about the meeting held between Wike and the presidential candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Tinubu, he said: “The chairman has already spoken. We are loyal party members. We believe in the supremacy and sanctity of the party and he has already told you that the mood is very excellent.

“The candidates are coming together uniting the party to discuss, even issues of reconciliation. So, it is a very democratic party.”

To end the stonewalling between himself and Wike, the presidential candidate of the party, Atiku Abubakar, has headed to the United Kingdom (UK).

It was gathered that the former vice-president would meet Wike today in London some 48 hours after the Rivers governor led some PDP governors to meet Tinubu, also in London.

An aide to Atiku confirmed last night that his boss left for Europe immediately after his appearance at the yearly conference of the Nigerian Bar Association in Lagos on Monday, but he neither confirmed nor denied today’s scheduled meeting with Wike.

According to another source, “the PDP presidential candidate headed for London yesterday after arriving in Paris on Tuesday. He is billed to meet with Wike today in an attempt to resolve the issues between them.”

Some party stalwarts are said not to be happy with the way former governor of Jigawa State, Sule Lamido, criticised Wike. In an interview with Channels Television on Tuesday, Lamido accused Wike of fuelling the post-presidential primary crisis and cautioned him (Wike) against bragging, pointing out that his influence will soon fade after leaving office next year.

He said: “We should forget about Wike. Wike is an individual, I don’t think because he is a governor there he has control and monopoly over the peoples of Rivers.”

But responding, the Special Assistant on Media to Wike, Kelvin Ebiri, lambasted Lamido, saying he (Lamido) is the one cracking the wall of unity in the PDP.

Ebiri said: “It is appalling that at a time when concerted efforts are being made by lovers of true democracy to resolve some inherent contradictions plaguing PDP, Alhaji Lamido and his cohorts, who have since lost their relevance in the polity, are busy creating friction and schism.

“Governor Wike has never claimed to be the custodian of the over three million votes in Rivers, but as the leader of PDP and good people of Rivers, anyone who underrates the governor’s political pedigree or dares to ignore his influence in the state and beyond will be doing so at his own peril.

“Perhaps, Lamido thinks Nigerians are suffering from selective amnesia to have forgotten in a hurry, the ignoble role he and his cohorts played between 2014 and 2015, that culminated in PDP defeat in the 2015 general election.

“We hope that he is not up to such a scheme again to cause a repeat of that history. Otherwise, if Lamido has any modicum of conscience, he won’t be making disparaging comments about Wike, whom many have described as the pillar of PDP since 2015.

“As the 2023 general elections beckons, we wish to advise Lamido to redeem his battered political image by delivering Jigawa State to the PDP, if he can.”

On the part of the ruling APC, the Presidency, on Wednesday, dismissed insinuations of anointed ‘Villa candidates,’ saying he will not betray or undermine the APC ahead of the elections.

He said he would only campaign for APC candidates and not recognise former members of the party or those who have court cases against APC candidates.

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