The peace talks between Atiku Abubakar, the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), and Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike suffered a setback yesterday due to Atiku’s negotiation team inability to show up.
The disappointment was due to a traditional event in Yola, Adamawa State capital, which Atiku attended.
The peace meeting was slated for Port Harcourt, capital of Rivers State.
Also, PDP National Chairman Senator Iyorchia Ayu disclosed that he has no plan to resign.
He noted that he will not resign now or in the nearest future, having been given a four-year mandate to head the opposition party.
There has been pressure on Ayu to resign in line with an reported agreement he entered into, prior to his emergence, to resign if the presidential candidate emerged from the North
Atiku won the party’s presidential ticket, with Wike coming second.
The Wike camp has emphasized on the resignation of Ayu as a major criteria to support Atiku in next year’s election.
Also, Wike’s supporters have disclosed that Sokoto State Governor Aminu Tambuwal should not be included in the reconciliation.
The camp also stated that only a neutral panel should organize the meeting.
But Ayu, according to a tweet by his media aide, Simon Imobo-Tswam, disclosed that he will not resign.
The tweet reads: “The PDP National Chairman, Dr. Iyiochia Ayu, has not resigned and has no plan of resigning.
“For clarity and emphasis, he was elected for a tenure of four years.”
Wike’s team, led by former Ondo State Governor Olusegun Mimiko, was, however, angry that it did not get prior notice of the absence of Atiku’s camp.
Although Atiku’s camp postponed the negotiation meeting for Friday, Wike’s men were considering options last night on whether or not to accept the date.
But Wike is most likely to take the final decision on the fate of the peace talks.
It was learnt that prior to the failed session in Port Harcourt, both groups had organized a seven-man team each to consider the terms for peace in PDP and collaboration for the 2023 poll.
Those in Atiku’s camp include Governor Ahmadu Fintiri (leader), Eyitayo Jegede (SAN), ex-Governor Liyel Imoke, Senator Ben Obi and ex-Governor Sule Lamido.
It was being rumoured last night that a former governor of Kano State may join Atiku’s team, subsequent to his likely defection to PDP.
The Wike’s team includes Mimiko (leader), former Senate President David Mark, ex–AGF and Minister of Justice Mohammed Bello Adoke (SAN), ex-Governor Hassan Dankwambo; ex-Governor Donald Duke, Nnenna Ukeje, one-time Federal Road Maintenance Agency (FERMA) boss Jide Adeniji, Sen. Olaka Nwogu and Mohammed Abubakar from Kano State.
Apart from the teams, both Atiku and Wike were expected to be on standby during the discussion for consultation on terms agreeable to them.
Pioneer PDP National Publicity Secretary Senator Anietie Okon stated that only Wike can bring back the party’s dignity and lead it to victory.
Also, a former federal legislator, Joseph Akinlaja, stated that PDP would have a big problem unless Wike is calmed.
It was also gathered that since the traditional event would keep Atiku away, a shift of the session was mooted.
A source in Wike’s camp said: “We were all disappointed that Atiku’s camp refused to show up after the two groups agreed on a common date.
“There was no prior notice of absence, but we were later told that the meeting could not be held because Atiku went for a traditional ceremony in Yola.
“It shows that Atiku’s camp is not serious and it has demonstrated lack of interest in the peace talks. Their assumption is that Wike and his supporters are insignificant.
“We got to know from intelligence that they are feeling that they have secured Northern votes and we do not matter.
“We are all really angry that Atiku’s men can treat us like this. It is so unfortunate.”
An ally of Atiku acknowledged that the two groups had fixed an arrangement to meet in Port Harcourt.
The source said: “Since Wike came to Abuja to meet Atiku the last time, we decided that our group will be in Port Harcourt for talks.
“But the event in Yola altered the arrangement. We learnt that since the visit was a homecoming for Atiku, Fintiri, who was to lead the negotiation, had to receive the PDP candidate. Apart from meeting with some emirs, Atiku also paid a condolence visit to some families.”
Investigation revealed that some persons in Atiku’s camp were surprised that the peace meeting did not hold.
“To some of us, we felt bad that we did not keep faith with Wike’s camp because we mutually agreed on the date.
“We have advised those in charge of negotiation to rectify the situation because our words must be our bond.
“If those in Wike’s camp could fly from different parts of the country to Port Harcourt for the talks, we have no genuine excuse to be absent.”
There was no official press release from Atiku’s camp as at the time of filing this report.
Okon noted that only the Rivers governor can lead PDP to electoral victory in 2023.
Okon, who spoke with Newsmen in Uyo, suggested that Wike should also double as the national chairman of the PDP when Ayu is dismissed.
He stated that Wike as national chairman would lead the party out of the shackles of confusion and give it direction.
Okon said: “Wike has my support for the national chairmanship of the PDP.
“It is only Wike that can bring the party together again and be as strong as when it was founded to face the battle ahead of us in 2023.
“The solution to the crisis in PDP is for Wike to be made the National Chairman. He is the one that can lead the rescue team for Nigeria. With him, we will be sure of the direction to go.
“When Wike assumes office as the chairman, the party would be felt in every part of the country.”
The PDP chieftain berated Governor Udom Emmanuel for selecting Pastor Umo Eno as his successor, emphasizing that many persons were leaving the party to the Young Progressives Party (YPP).
“I’m happy that more Akwa Ibom people have realized that it is wrong to play on the intelligence of the people. It is apparently wrong to bring God into politics because so many people can come forward to profess communication with God.
“It is also good that the governor has recognised that he made a mistake. What makes a man is the ability to withdraw from such a mistake. Let him apologize to the people of the state and do the right thing,” he said.
PDP should calm Wike
Akinlaja noted that PDP would have a great problem if Wike refuses to support the party.
He said Atiku should have personally visited Wike and other candidates to create a united front ahead of the election.
Akinlaja expressed pessimism that Atiku would accept the result of the ongoing reconciliation talks between Wike’s men and the party.
He also implored Ayu to toe the path of honor and resign as he pledged before the party primary.
Akinlaja said: “I hope that Wike does not refuse to support Atiku and the PDP. It will be a huge problem for the PDP if the matter is not resolved.
“It is sad that we, politicians, are always wiser with the benefit of hindsight.
“When political parties lose elections, they would want to come together after testing their strength at the polls.
“There is no need for any committee because the results might not be accepted by Atiku. A 14-man committee picked Wike as running mate but the candidate said it should be Okowa and that deepened the suspicion.
“If I were the candidate, I would have visited the aspirants. Atiku would have visited other aspirants at their homes and pleaded for support.”
‘Why Ayu should resign’
On the call for Ayu’s resignation, Akinlaja said: “During negotiation, nothing is out of place since Ayu mentioned it himself that he will resign after the presidential primary. All the Southern governors agreed that the South should produce the next president.
“They conceded Ayu to be chairman, believing that it will be easy to argue that the presidential candidate should come from the South.
“The core PDP leaders wanted Atiku and Ayu had no choice but to make a statement that he will resign as a balancing act. His resignation was an action before the primary.
“Now that Atiku has emerged, nobody ought to have told Ayu to resign. He should have resigned immediately based on the understanding. He ought not to be controversial.
“They are now saying it is when the candidate emerges (wins the election) that he can resign. My opinion is different from the core party leader’s opinion.
“The PDP will win in Ondo depending on reconciliation between Jegede and Mimiko.”