Indication emerged on Thursday that the Presidential Candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, has struck a deal with the members of the G-5, the five aggrieved governors who are members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Reports had exclusively reported on Wednesday that Tinubu and the five governors will meet in Europe where a deal on their alliance for the 2023 presidency would be struck.
An impeccable source close to Tinubu told this paper that the meeting was held on Wednesday at the London residence of the APC presidential candidate.
He said all the G-5 governors; Nyesom Wike (Rivers), Seyi Makinde (Oyo), Samuel Ortom (Benue), Okezie Ikpeazu (Abia) and Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi (Enugu), attended the meeting.
In attendance from the side of Tinubu included Governor of Jigawa State, Badaru Abubakar and former governor of Ekiti State, John Kayode Fayemi.
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Before the commencement of the meeting, the source said all other persons present at Tinubu’s residence were excused.
“We have agreed to work together with the G5. The agreement rhythm with our desire to forge together a government of national unity.
“When the history of this political epoch is written, the names of Wike, Ortom, Makinde, Ugwuanyi and Ikpeazu will be written in gold for the courageous decision to place national interest above all other considerations,” he said.
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He also said that the governors are to remain in PDP and work for the actualisation of Tinubu’s presidency while pursuing their other political interests.
Another source close to a sitting governor confirmed the meeting but added that they are still fine-tuning the modalities of the alliance for the benefit of all parties.
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The crisis rocking the PDP revolves around the five governors. Since former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar emerged as the flag bearer of their party, they have been calling for the resignation of the PDP national chairman, Iyorchia Ayu.
The five PDP governors were unavailable for comments last night as they were yet to return to the country. Wike had recently foreclosed supporting Atiku, saying he would make his candidate for the presidency known to the public next month.
The governors have been weighing options between Tinubu and the Presidential Candidate of the Labour Party (LP), Peter Obi. Daily Trust could not establish if all the five governors will support Tinubu at the end of the day considering the peculiarities of their stake in the political permutations.
Govs will be sanctioned if … – PDP
The PDP said it will not hesitate to bring the full weight of its constitution to bear on any member that goes contrary to its laid down rules and regulations no matter how highly placed.
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Reacting to the romance of the governors with Tinubu and Obi, the National Publicity Secretary of the party, Debo Ologunagba, told Daily Trust that the party will not spare any member that violates the constitution of the party.
Ologunagba disclosed that everything was still in the realm of speculation but if anything untoward happens, the PDP is a “Party that deals with rules and laws, we have our organs and processes and we follow our rules. The party takes action after due consideration of all the issues.
“So when those things happen, the constitution of the party will deal with them. We are a party that is very organised, united and concerned about the elections and Nigerian people, but that does not mean that if anybody, no matter how highly placed, goes contrary to the provision of the constitution of the party, the constitution will not kick in.”
Ortom’s senatorial bid
Governor Ortom’s senatorial bid would not likely be affected if he supports the presidential candidature of either Peter Obi or Bola Tinubu in the 2023 election, sources familiar with what is happening, said.
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Some members of the governor’s PDP and close allies believed that he has a firm grip on his Benue North West Senatorial District, which covers seven local government areas.
Ortom’s allies, however, think he would have a slight change in Tarka LGA where APC’s strong leader, Senator George Akume, who is the Minister of Special Duties and Intergovernmental Affairs, hails from as well as part of Gboko LGA, the homestead of the PDP national chairman, Dr Iyorchia Ayu.
“Whether Ortom supports Obi or Tinubu, it will not affect his senatorial bid. It will not affect him except for the voting pattern in Makurdi metropolis, which is usually dicey because the sitting government never wins elections in the state capital because of its homogenous nature.
“But, Ortom broke the jinx and won in the last election. So, he would likely scale through again,” one of the allies said.
Also, a PDP stalwart, who declined his name in print, said the power of incumbency will determine the governor’s senatorial election and not his support for either of the duo.
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How alliance will affect Makinde’s second-term bid
Unlike Ortom, the second term bid of Oyo Governor Makinde is being threatened by the continued insistence of the G-5 governor to work against Atiku while backing either Tinubu or Obi.
Makinde is the only first-term governor among the quintet. Although Ortom, Ugwuanyi and Ikpeazu are seeking senatorial seats, Makinde’s ambition is the most threatened considering the dynamics of Oyo politics.
The state is controlled by many political gladiators that it is difficult for a single politician to be the major determinant in an election.
Makinde won the 2019 election on the strength of a coalition of gladiators who wanted to oust the then-ruling APC and stop late Abiola Ajimobi from installing a successor.
Despite Makinde’s insistence on not supporting Atiku, some leaders of the PDP in the state, including a former Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Dr Wole Oyelese and a former Minister of State for FCT, Chief Olajumoke Akinjide, have all declared support for Atiku.
An Ibadan-based political affairs commentator, Rasheed Olanrewaju, said if not well-managed, the opposition might take advantage of the crisis in the PDP to take over the state.
“Seyi and his advisers need to think through their actions. It is a dicey situation. If Tinubu wins the presidential election, the momentum might favour APC in the state, especially those PDP leaders working for Atiku who might work against the governor to pay him back.
“If Atiku wins without Seyi’s support, it is also dicey because the APC candidate, Teslim Folarin still enjoys a good relationship with some leaders in the PDP, where he was until 2017. So they can decide to work for him and negotiate his return to the party after the poll, ensuring PDP still controls the state. Some PDP stalwarts are already campaigning for him,” he said.
While declining to comment on the report that Makinde and the other G5 governors will announce their preferred presidential candidate in January, Makinde’s Chief Press Secretary, Taiwo Adisa, maintained that his principal will be re-elected on the strength of his performance in the past three and half years.
Anxiety in Amaechi’s camp
Also, Tinubu’s romance with Wike is unsettling the camp of the former Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, who came second during the presidential primaries of the APC in June.
Though Amaechi was named as the special adviser on infrastructure in the Presidential Campaign Council of Tinubu, Daily Trust reports that he has not been participating in the campaign exercise.
The former governor of Rivers State, who was the campaign DG of President Buhari in 2015 and 2019, has been at loggerheads with Wike since 2013.
A source close to him in Abuja told this paper that Amaechi was not being treated fairly by Tinubu and the people around him.
“It is an understatement to say he (Amaechi) is not happy. When Oshiomhole went to Port Harcourt, he asked the people to only support Tinubu and that for the other positions, they should support Wike. A similar thing was re-echoed when the Ebonyi governor visited the state,” he said.
He, however, faulted the report that Amaechi was mulling defection to the PDP.
“It is not true that he has met Atiku. He is not leaving APC, the party he co-founded,” he said.
A chieftain of the party in the state, Steve Nwankwo said that whatever alliance Wike has with Tinubu will not in any way diminish the influence of Amaechi in the party.
He said that Amaechi had laboured to build the party structures in the state saying that the former minister and his supporters were not afraid of whatever alliance governor Wike has with the APC presidential candidate.
The Publicity Secretary of APC in Rivers State, Mr Darlington Nwauju, said Wike’s alliance with Tinubu was in the realms of conjectures and speculations.
By Ismail Mudashir, Baba Martins (Abuja), Abiodun Alade (Lagos), Hope A. Emmanuel (Makurdi) & Victor Edozie (Port Harcourt)