A peace deal between the five aggrieved Nyesom Wike-led Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), governors (G5 Governors) and the party’s presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, may be in the offing, following what appears to be an olive branch extended by the former to the latter.
In what appears to be the biggest glimmer of hope of a possible resolution of the crisis, both camps have, within the last 48 hours, sent out signals of their readiness to give peace a chance.
Wike had, while fielding questions from reporters in Bauchi after his group met with Governor Bala Mohammed, said: “I have said it several times that we are ready for reconciliation; we have never closed the door for reconciliation. All we are asking for is equity, fairness and justice, and that is the hallmark PDP stands for.
“All we are saying, let the right things be done. When the right thing is done, the country would see that the crisis in the party is over.
“These G5 Governors, we are saying, are the bedrock of the party, so we would not close the doors for reconciliation. We are for reconciliation any day, anytime.”
Barely 24 hours after Wike’s statement, Atiku welcomed the G5’s peace overtures. His Media Adviser, Paul Ibe, quoted Atiku as being upbeat about reports that Wike and his group are favourably disposed to resolving all outstanding issues.
Ibe said: “Atiku Abubakar also expresses his commitment to a negotiation that will resolve the crisis of confidence and pave the way for a much stronger and united PDP.
“The former Vice President of Nigeria notes that never at any time of the differences that has ensured have the doors been shut to Governor Wike and his group. He enjoins every leader of the party and their supporters irrespective of their leaning to be open-minded and support the process of resolution of the extant issues.”
However, insiders express fears that the insistence of the G5 governors on the resignation of the National Chairman, Sen. Iyorchia Ayu, could create a bigger problem than it would solve.
A member of the party’s National Executive Committee (NEC), who also spoke on condition of anonymity so as not to “further inflame passions,” said, “Provisions of Chapter 6 of our Constitution which deals with the issue of resignation or removal of national officers state in Section 45 (2), ‘In the case of the National Chairman, he shall hand over to the Deputy National Chairman from his own region/part of the country who shall, without prejudice to Section 47 (6) of this Constitution, act as the National Chairman pending the election of a replacement.’
“Now, Ayu is from the North-Central while our candidate is from the North-East. If Ayu resigns, Umar Damagun, the Deputy National Chairman, who hails from the same North-East like Atiku, takes over. Is this not greater injustice?
“If you ignore constitutionality and bring in an Acting Chairman from the South, the National Secretary, who is from the South-East, will have to also go for us to achieve balance. So, you see, it is not as simple as it looks on the surface.”
Sunday Vanguard gathered, at the weekend, that both parties are, however, working on alternative plans should peace talks collapse irretrievably.
It was learnt that as part of measures to ensure they were not caught napping, some members of the Wike-led G5 Governors are recruiting enforcers under various guises.
In Rivers State for example, Wike himself has so far recruited 200,000 political aides.
A source close to the G5 Governors, who confided in Sunday Vanguard, said, “In pursuit of peace, you also prepare for war.
“We laugh when people with little knowledge of politics claim that because some of the governors are either contesting for office or are interested in installing their successors, the presidential candidate can do without them. A lot of these people are poor students of history. Take the results of the 2019 election in Kano for example.
“During the presidential election, INEC records show that President Muhammadu Buhari, of the All Progressives Congress, scored 1,464,768 (78.9 per cent) of the total votes cast to beat the Peoples Democratic Party presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, who polled 391,593 (21.1 per cent).
“A week later, during the governorship election, based on the results collated at the state collation centre, the PDP candidate polled 1,014,353 from 43 out of the 44 local government areas against the incumbent APC governor’s 987,819 votes.
“It took the cancellation of results in areas where PDP won to force a re-run. There were states where the President lost but governors won, the elections will not be held on the same day remember? Anything can happen.”
Those in Atiku’s camp are also not resting as they have intensified engagements with party leaders sympathetic to their cause in the five affected states in the event peace talks fail.
A source familiar with the development who also spoke on condition of anonymity said: “We are open to the latest peace moves because it will be better for us for everyone to be on board.
“It’s cheaper and less messy but we also have people who have been working for the party and the ticket on ground, we will continue engaging. The election is not going to be held tomorrow and like we always say, 24 hours is a long time in politics.”
A Delta State chieftain of the party, Chief Ned Nwoko, had earlier in the week called on the party leadership to call Wike’s bluff and show him the door out of the party.
Nwoko said: “Wike is a nuisance, quote me anywhere. If I were [in] the leadership of the party, I would have acted differently. I would have done things differently. He has done a lot of damage to the PDP and I don’t know what they are waiting for to show him the way out.”
However, his call has failed to gain traction among party leaders who are of the view that taking such an action will further complicate matters.
Those who share this view hinge their argument on provisions of Chapter 10 of the party’s Constitution which deals with Discipline and says only the National Executive Committee can entertain any question of discipline of members of NEC, governors are also members of NEC.
When contacted, a spokesman for the Atiku/Okowa Campaign, Kola Ologbondiyan, said, “We will soon put our enemies to shame on this matter. We know those who are afraid of PDP’s imminent electoral victory would want the issues we are about to resolve to continue but I assure Nigerians that sooner than later, these outstanding issues will be resolved and Nigeria will be the better for it.”
Meanwhile, the continued absence of the National Chairman of the party, Sen. Iyorchia Ayu, from recent campaign events is fueling speculations about his political future.
He wasn’t physically present at the flag-off of the party’s state campaign rally; he was also not available for the Presidential Campaign rally in Maiduguri and the inauguration of the Party’s Youth Campaign Council in Abuja, on Thursday. He was represented on all these occasions by the Deputy National Chairman (North), Umar Damagun.
However, Director, Strategic Communications of the Atiku-Okowa Campaign, Chief Dele Momodu, allayed these fears.
Momodu said, “I spent time with Ayu yesterday, he is extremely busy, you know we lost the son of our great leader, Senator David Mark, as we speak, the National Chairman should be in Benue.”