There is palpable suspense in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as the Rivers State governor, Nyesom Wike, and governors in his camp converge again on London.
Sunday Sun gathered that Wike and his Benue State counterpart, Samuel Ortom left for the United Kingdom on Thursday night. They were to be joined in London by the Abia State governor, Okezie Ikpeazu, while they expect to meet with the Oyo State governor, Seyi Makinde, who is already abroad on vacation.
A source close to one of the governors told Sunday Sun that the trip is to enable the quartet brainstorm on current development in the party.
He said: “Wike and Ortom have travelled to London. They went to meet Makinde. They are in London as we speak. I don’t know about Ikpeazu. But he should join them.
However, it could not be ascertained as at press time if the group would meet with any of the presidential candidates like they did the last time.
Peace talks between the Wike group and the PDP presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, suffered a set back last week, after the party’s National Chairman, Iyorchia Ayu, described the governors opposed to his continued leadership of the main opposition party as “children”, who were not part of the formation of the party.
However, the Rivers governor, in his response to Ayu, said that since the national chairman does not want the PDP to win the 2023 polls, they would help him actualize his aspiration.
Wike, Ortom, Ikpeazu and Makinde had met with the All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential candidate, Bola Tinubu and former President Olusegun Obasanjo and the Labour Party presidential candidate, Peter Obi on their first London trip.
They also met with Atiku where they reportedly insisted on the replacement of Ayu as the party’s national chairman ahead of the 2023 polls, as a condition for reconciliation in the party.
However, there was suspense in the party yesterday as some PDP leaders expressed concern on what the next move of the Wike group would be. A top party source told Sunday Sun that “there is a game going on in the PDP because the first round of talks did not yield anything.”
Nevertheless, PDP leaders are making frantic efforts to end the crisis within its fold, which have stalled its preparations for the 2023 presidential campaign.
To this end, Sunday Sun gathered that the party has scheduled crucial meetings of its National Working Committee ( NWC), National Caucus, Board of Trustees (BoT) and National Executive Committee (NEC) in the weeks ahead.
The meetings, inside source said, are part of efforts by the PDP to rally its leaders and stakeholders to find a middle ground in the crisis rocking the opposition party, in the aftermath of the nomination of its presidential candidate and running mate, Atiku Abubakar and Ifeanyi Okowa, respectively.
Meanwhile, there is strong indication that Wike’s allies may soon dump him for Atiku.
Sunday Sun learnt that Wike’s main allies: Governors Samuel Ortom, Makinde and Ikpeazu are developing cold feet in the fight with Atiku, the PDP standard bearer.
A highly placed source close to one of the governors confirmed that after weighing all the options, Wike’s allies have decided that supporting Atiku to win the 2023 presidential election remained their best option.
It was learnt that Governor Ortom is particularly not comfortable with Wike’s insistence that the PDP National Chairman, Ayu, should go.
Our source said that though Ortom was initially not happy with Ayu, but he had to succumb to the pressure from major stakeholders to support the party boss who is from his state, Benue.
Sunday Sun also gathered that supporters of the Oyo State governor who are angry are already mounting pressure on him to abandon Wike to secure his second term bid.
Similarly, a source close to Makinde said that major stakeholders in Oyo State are pressurising him not to sacrifice the political fortunes of PDP in the state on the altar of friendship with Wike.
“Makinde has more stake in PDP as he will still go for his second term. You cannot fight forever. Major stakeholders in Oyo are asking what is in this fight for us.
“Wike is engaging in anti-party activities. If he wants to defect to another party, he is very free to do so. He is not the only person that has lost a primary election. Why is Amaechi who also invested so much in APC not taking the same route?” the source queried.
Meanwhile, the Special Adviser to the Benue State governor on Media and Publicity, Mr Tervez Arkezev, who spoke to Sunday Sun said that the story that his principal may dump Wike was a fat lie.
He described Governor Ortom as a man who believes in equity and justice, stating that his position on the seeming battle between Atiku and Wike is to ensure that the right things are done in the PDP.
“As we speak, Wike, Ortom and Ikpeazu are in London for a meeting. So, how can somebody say that they want to abandon Wike”, he asked.
The face-off between Wike and Atiku, among other reasons, started following the choice of the Delta State governor, Dr Ifeanyi Okowa as Atiku’s running mate on the one hand, and the insistence of the Rivers governor’s group on the removal of Ayu as PDP national chairman, on the other hand.
The call for Ayu’s removal by Wike and his supporters was consequent upon the emergence of Atiku, a northerner, as the party’s presidential candidate.
Wike is insisting that Ayu, also a northerner, should resign from office to give room for a southern national chairman for fairness, equity and balancing.