Efforts to put an end to disagreement over the zoning of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential ticket in next year’s election by its governors failed to yield a positive result at a retreat in Ghana earlier in the week.
They returned from Accra, the Ghanaian capital yesterday after failing to come to agreement on the contentious issue.
The meeting took place between Tuesday and Wednesday.
The governors were divided along the North-South divide at the meeting.
Sokoto State Governor Aminu Tambuwal, according to sources, emphasized on going for the ticket.
He refused a proposal that he should accede to be running mate to a Southern candidate.
There were implications that the governors declined the possibilities of former Vice President Atiku Abubakar in the race for the ticket.
The governors decided to take the meeting to Ghana when they met in Yenagoa for the second anniversary of Bayelsa State Governor Duoye Diri on Monday.
Although Tambuwal was not present in Yenagoa, he joined his colleagues at the Ghana meeting.
Other governors present at the meeting imcludes Nyesom Wike (Rivers), Emmanuel Udom (Akwa Ibom), Bala Mohammed (Bauchi), Samuel Ortom (Benue), Seyi Makinde (Oyo), Okezie Ikpeazu (Abia) and Ahmadu Fintiri (Adamawa).
Information gathered revealed that Governor Emmanuel’s interest in the presidential ticket came to the fore at the meeting.
A source said: “These governors used Diri’s anniversary as a shield to sneak into Ghana for a crucial meeting on zoning in anticipation of the release of timelines for primaries by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
“At the meeting in Accra, the Southern governors insisted on a power shift to the South in 2023.
“From their talks, ex-VP Atiku was ruled out as the party’s candidate in 2023.
“But some of them offered Tambuwal the Vice Presidential slot which he rejected.
“At the end of the day, there was no consensus on any of the presidential aspirants either from the North or the South.
“It was at the meeting that some of them realized that Governor Emmanuel might have shown interest in the presidential race.
“There was mutual suspicion that more PDP governors from the South had presidential aspirations. So, the situation is still dicey in PDP.”
An assistant to one of the governors confirmed the meeting to Newsmen.
There was silence in Atiku’s camp over the meeting.
Security and intelligence agencies were disclosed to be investigating the governors’ motives for moving the meeting to Ghana.
The agencies were acting on hints that there might be more to it.
Meanwhile, Governor Wike dispelled insinuations that the opposition governors’ trip was to select the party’s presidential and running mate for the 2023 election.
According to Wike, those behind the rumor were out to sow the seeds of misunderstanding and to wreck the chances of the PDP in the next general elections.
In a press release by his Special Assistant, Media, Kelvin Ebiri, the governor noted that he and his colleagues had been flooded with calls to confirm a text message circulated by a chieftain of the party that some governors embarked on a weeklong trip to Europe to decide the party’s candidates.
The press release quoted Wike as saying: “I have always said to people in PDP, nobody should cause a division among the governors.
“We are trying as much as we can to build the party back and see that in 2023 PDP takes over governance.
“I don’t understand where he gets this information, this rumor that governors traveled to Europe to decide who will be the presidential candidate and vice-presidential candidate of PDP.
“I wonder why governors will travel to Europe to make such a decision.”
The press release connected the source of the ‘misinformation’ to one of Atiku’s key men.
Wike noted that though the governors have nothing anyone campaigning for the 2019 PDP presidential candidate and former vice president, stalwarts should be circumspect and refrain from causing a misunderstanding in the party.
“Don’t destroy other people because of this, because when you destroy them it will be difficult for the PDP to win the election in 2023,” Wike said.
The governor implored Atiku, whom he portrayed as a well-known political strategist, to warn his men against spreading dangerous rumors that could divide stakeholders.
Yesterday, the United Kingdom High Commissioner to Nigeria, Catriona Laing stated that they are interested in the 2023 election.
Laing said: “We look forward to seeing how much this election matters. Nigeria has been on a democratic journey since 1999. And that, in itself, is something to be very proud of.”