2023 ELECTION: PDP Elders Sweat Over G5’s ‘Deal’ With APC

Some prominent elders in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as well as certain members Board of Trustees (BoT) have expressed fears that the purported deal that some of its governors have reportedly struck with the Presidential Candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Ahmed Tinubu, may affect PDP’s chances in the 2023 general elections.

Two BoT members and elders of the party who spoke with Saturday Sun on the condition of anonymity, asserted that in spite of the confidence being expressed by the campaign team of the PDP’s presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar that the party could approach the ongoing campaign and the forthcoming election without the support of five of its governors, there are valid concerns that the party’s chances may be jeopardised if they go into the elections with a divided house.

Governors Nyesom Wike (Rivers), Seyi Makinde (Oyo), Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi (Enugu), Samuel Ortom (Benue) and Okezie Ikpeazu (Abia) fell out with the leadership of the party and its candidate over the governors’ insistence that the national chairman, Iyochia Ayu must resign and the position zoned to the south. The governors, who call themselves G5 or Integrity Group, insisted that the presidential candidate and national chairman of the party cannot come from the north, hence, the chairman must step down and be replaced with someone from the south.

The insistence on Ayu’s resignation has split the PDP, with the likes of former governors of Cross Rivers, Ondo and Plateau, Donald Duke, Olusegun Mimiko and Jonah Jang, respectively, and former vice national chairman of PDP, Olabode George as well as former Minister of Information, Jerry Gana, pitching their tent with the G5.

The BoT members who are founding fathers of the party told Saturday Sun that most members of the board and party elders were unhappy that the party leadership refused to make any concessions to the Wike group. They said even though Atiku’s team says it is not bothered by the crises, the party hierarchy, strategists and elders are very worried behind the scenes that the unresolved issues will negatively affect the party as it goes into the elections.

“Many of us would have wanted Ayu to resign for the sake of peace in the party and let the position go to the south. Even though we are not in support of Wike and his team, at the same time, we see reason with some of the issues the G5 has raised like the need for fairness and balance. We are very disturbed. But then, our hands are tied.

“Behind the scenes, many of us agree that it is not very expedient to have a northerner take over from another northerner but our party members have chosen a candidate in a free and fair primary and we have to support whoever was chosen. Many members have sympathy for Wike and his group but at the same time we are not in support of the route that he has taken with regards to striking deals with our opponents.

“We are very worried because we know the implications of going into the election with a divided house despite Atiku’s campaign team expressing confidence that the crises won’t affect his chances of winning,” the BoT members said. This paper had earlier exclusively reported that all the G5 had debated over whom to support between the presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP) Peter Obi and Tinubu. After their return from a series of meetings held in London with the presidential candidate of the APC, Saturday Sun confirmed its earlier report that Governor Makinde has pitched his tent with Tinubu because of his re-election bid in Oyo State. Though Ortom expressed reservations, Wike is also reported to have decided to support the APC candidate, while other governors will do so discretely. But Saturday Sun can confirm that all five governors have foreclosed any possibility of supporting Atiku either openly or discretely and have in turn received concessions from the APC candidate in exchange for their support.

However, in spite of the activities of the G5, Atiku’s supporters are confident the party will do well in the five states where the governors are in control. “PDP is confident of doing well in Rivers, Abia, Enugu, Benue, Oyo states. These are traditional PDP states and nothing will change next year,” a top party official said.

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